How to Handle Working Two Jobs without Losing Your Mind

It’s challenging, but not impossible.

Reviewed by Chris Leitch

How to Handle Working Two Jobs

Given how stressful our lives have become, no one really wakes up one morning and thinks “I want a second job — just for the thrill of it!”.

In the vast majority of cases, people who work two (or even three) jobs do so out of necessity, be that their financial circumstances or a strong need to develop new skills and change career paths.

No matter your personal reasons, doubling your workload can be challenging, both mentally and physically. In this article, we’ll talk about navigating working two jobs at once, as well as what the benefits are and some of the most common difficulties people face with it.

The benefits of working two jobs

Though challenging, working two (or multiple) jobs has its benefits. The main ones are:

  • Increased income: Two jobs, two salaries. When you’re paying off debt or grappling with the rising cost of living, some extra money can be of massive help.
  • Better job security: Many industries lack the job security that workers need to feel in order to thrive. Having a second job can alleviate that insecurity.
  • Broader experiences: This can allow you to expand your skill set faster as well as make more connections within one or more fields.

Is working two jobs worth it?

This will depend on your circumstances and your reasons for picking up a second gig on top of your full-time job. If your main motivator is wanting to boost your income, and you’ve already asked for a raise at your current job but had no luck, then finding a second job can definitely be worth it.

The same goes for when you’re working in a field you dislike, or in a dead-end job with no prospects for career progression. A second job can help you build the necessary skills and experience to move in a new direction.

Of course, working multiple jobs comes with its downsides, too: it strips you of a lot of free time, making it likelier for you to experience higher levels of stress or even burnout.

Should you tell your employers you have two jobs?

The answer (again) is that it depends. Be sure to read through company policy and your employment contract, and see what your employer expects of you.

Generally, as long as your second job doesn’t interfere with your performance and there is no conflict of interest, your employer should have no problem with you taking on an additional role elsewhere.

Still, you might want to tell them anyway for transparency’s sake, and so that you can justify setting firmer boundaries with them. You won’t be able to take on last-minute shifts, for example, or stay late, once you have a second job to worry about.

10 tips for balancing two jobs

Working two jobs at the same time is no stroll in the park. Here are 10 tips that can make it a little more manageable:

1. Keep your schedules separate

Unless you want to lose both of your jobs, your work schedules should be kept separate. Not only will this allow you to ensure that you’re giving your undivided attention to each job at a time, but it will also keep you from experiencing the cognitive overload that is multitasking. In other words, it will preserve your sanity.

Though it will require some thought and planning, as well as transparent communication with your managers, it’s an important step you should take to protect both your mind as well as the quality of your work in each role.

2. Work on your time management

This one is obvious! Getting to work on time and finishing your tasks on time also means leaving on time. If time management isn’t your strongest suit, don’t panic; this soft skill can be developed with a little bit of effort — and technology has your back.

Start relying more on reminders, day planners, to-do lists and timers if you need to. They can help you keep track of all your responsibilities as well as stay on track when it comes to carrying them out.

3. Set firm boundaries

Maybe up until now you’ve been the type of person to pick up extra shifts at the last minute or stay in after hours just to help your team out. Though (in moderation) that can be a good way to show that you’re reliable and dedicated to your profession, you most likely won’t be able to continue that way when you find a second job.

Not only will it be practically impossible to go above and beyond all the time, it will also be bad for your mental and emotional health to try and do so. In other words, you’ll have to learn to say “no”.

4. Work on your organization

Much like working on your time management, building your organizational skills can be a lifesaver when working two jobs. Your time at work will simply flow more smoothly when you’re on top of things, allowing you to preserve your productivity.

If your workstation is in a permanent state of disorder, and you keep on wasting time looking for things and panicking when you can’t find them, you’re also likelier to make mistakes, hand in your work late, and leave the office later (and more fatigued) than you would had you just been a bit more organized.

5. Prioritize self-care

We can’t overstate how important looking after yourself is. Even working a single job can sometimes be enough to knock us out when we neglect other areas of our lives, such as eating well, resting, socializing and getting in a bit of daily movement.

Set alarms for taking breaks and eating lunch (we’ve all met people who skip meals!) if you have to — but just make sure that you do these things. You can’t expect your mind and body to cope with the pressure of working two jobs if your “tank” is always on empty.

6. Protect your primary job

When you’re already working a part-time or full-time job, it’s important to ensure that your productivity won’t suffer gravely the moment a second job enters the picture. Besides maintaining the quality of your work, you’ll also want (as mentioned) to stick by the employment terms you agreed to.

In most cases, picking up an extra job is fine — as in it won’t get you in trouble with your current boss — so long as you don’t work for a competitor.

7. Keep one day a week to yourself

This might require a bit of planning and coordination, but try and get your work schedules to align in such a way that you’re left with at least one full day per week to yourself. This doesn’t have to be on the weekend; in fact, if you can, it might be useful to free up a workday.

The reason for this is so that you can run errands and schedule in medical appointments as and when you need to — besides resting, of course.

8. Be mindful of how you spend your free time

Though when you’re stressed and tired, the easiest thing to do is distract yourself with mindless (and endless) scrolling on social media, you’ll probably want to be mindful of that. Not only can excessive screen time worsen your mood, but it can also compromise the quality of your sleep, meaning you won’t be resting as deeply as you could be.

Instead, try and get some exercise in (even if it’s a short, brisk walk in the morning!), go out with friends and family, and make some time for relaxing activities like reading.

9. Set goals to work towards

Giving yourself clear goals to work towards can help you stay afloat when you’re juggling two jobs. These can include deciding you’ll ask for a raise once your probation period is over, or setting a timeframe within which you’ll teach yourself a new hard skill.

This can help you stay motivated and even pave the way for you dropping one of your two jobs in the future.

10. Practice living in the present

Mindfulness can be the hidden ace up your sleeve when it comes to juggling multiple jobs successfully. Learning to dedicate your full attention to one thing at a time means you can keep your mind from wandering — and catastrophizing.

Besides minimizing your stress levels, staying anchored in the present can also allow you to perform better at each of your jobs.

FAQs about working two jobs

Now let’s answer some common questions regarding working two or more jobs at once.

Q: Is working two jobs legal?

Sometimes referred to as moonlighting, working two jobs at once (even if both are full time) is not illegal. Your employer can’t fire you for it, unless you’re breaching the terms of your agreement with them: for example, by working for one of their competitors.

Q: How will it affect my taxes?

If you’re starting a second job to hit your financial goals, be sure to review the terms of this new job carefully — including your compensation and benefits. Your side gig may put you in a higher tax bracket, especially if you’ll be working full time, meaning you could end up with a significantly larger tax bill down the line.

Q: What happens if I burn out?

Strengthening your relationships at the office and outside, getting some daily exercise and sunlight, resting adequately, and maintaining healthy boundaries with your employers can all help — but only for so long.

If you’re significantly struggling, it’s best to ask for help; whether that’s from your manager, a licensed therapist or a personal financial advisor, depending what the main source of your stress is.

Key takeaways

Finding a second job can seem like a good idea when you’re in need of extra income — though it can get exhausting after a while. That’s why it’s good to come up with a plan of action, where possible; a specific goal to work towards, such as learning a new skill or saving a certain amount of money within a specific timeframe

Knowing that your busy schedule won’t last forever can be a great way to stay motivated and keep going!

And remember:

  • When looking to add a second job to your schedule, you must prioritize learning to manage your time effectively.
  • If possible, choose a second job with a fairly flexible schedule so that you can preserve your work–life balance as much as possible.
  • Moonlighting is not illegal, so long as you keep your schedules separate and there is no conflict of interest.

Do you have any more tips to share on how to manage two jobs? Let us know in the comments section if you’ve done it before.

Originally published on December 11, 2018.