How to Handle Working Two Jobs (without Losing Your Mind)

Businessman balancing office supplies
Master1305 /

In today’s fast-paced society, balancing life and work can sometimes feel like a mythical unicorn quest. Usually, the work part eats at the life part of, well, life, so you can imagine the implications of working more than one job will have on your days.

Having a second job or a side gig is becoming more of the norm these days, with a plethora of reasons as to why this happens. Some people take on a second job to supplement income for basic survival or to generate some extra cash for a purpose. Others may have a second job that’s part of a hobby or a passion but isn’t viable yet as a single income source. And then there are the future full-timer hopefuls who are trying to turn their side gig into a full-time career.

No matter the reasons you have a second job, it's not an easy feat to accomplish. Taking into consideration the demands of life and each job, juggling all these is quite a daunting prospect.

Working two jobs can become more manageable and even enjoyable if you keep in mind the following principles, as well as a clear view of why you decided to tackle two jobs, as that is your ultimate saving grace.

Here’s how to handle working two jobs – and survive to tell the story.

1. Programme for Success

Juggling two jobs is almost impossible if you lack programming. I’m not talking about a simple to-do list, but rather complete programming of your life. From seeing friends to running errands to rest time, everything needs to be programmed for you to be even close to succeeding in handling two jobs.

There’s a plethora of apps that can help you with your new busy lifestyle such as Fantastical and Informant. Or, if you are anything like me, a good old-fashioned daily planner does the trick.

2. Learn to Say ‘No’

There comes a time in life where we need to learn to gracefully refuse certain things that no longer serve us. Be it partying during the week – or weekends – or taking on another task that you aren’t obliged to take on, you need to prioritise what you tackle and beware of hidden time-wasters. 

A one-hour detour from your schedule now and then is no big deal but consider the aftermath of taking that hour. Does it throw your schedule off whack? Does it eat into the time for more important things? Choose wisely.

3. Look After Yourself

To be able to perform in both your jobs, you must ensure that looking after yourself is a priority. I’m not just talking about eating right – there are services for that – or making sure you clock in your daily workouts at the gym.

Looking after yourself in its broader sense is about infusing pleasure and fulfilment in your life. Be it some time to curl up on the couch with a good book or your favourite Netflix series, a walk on the beach, a massage or a haircut, you need to make the time to look after your body and mind.

4. Take Advantage of Non-Productive Time

When I worked out of town, my daily commute was over an hour long each way. Not only did I start my day earlier than my colleagues, but I also finished later, and I had a long drive on both ends of my day. I learned how to take advantage of those hours on the road by utilising them and making them some of the most productive ones.

I listened to the news on the radio, listened to podcasts and audiobooks, made time to call family and friends to catch up or to schedule appointments (with the help of hands-free devices, of course, because safety first) and even rocked at some off-tune solos in the car to unwind.

Figure out how you can gain back unproductive hours, and you will surely see a difference in your productivity and energy levels.

5. Master Your Skills

Learn how to hone and master your skills for each of your jobs. In turn, this will make you more productive and efficient, and it will do wonders in alleviating stress once you have your routines down to a T.

You will not only take less time in completing your tasks; once you master those skills, your workload will seem less or simpler, leaving you with an extra few moments to clear your head before moving on to the next one.

6. Ask for Help

It’s okay to admit you are in over your head and ask for help. No one said juggling multiple jobs would be an easy task, but for you to need to do it, there must be a reason.

Ask for help when you need it, be it a little help from a coworker on completing a seemingly impossible task or a partner picking up some slack at home. Asking for time off is the biggest help you can ask for, especially if you are always tired, irritable and overworked.

7. Protect Your Main Source of Income

A second or third job may be supplementary income or some money-making hobby, but you need to look long and hard at your priorities and make sure you protect the job that gives you the most substantial part of your income.

Make sure you clock in your hours and complete your projects on time in order to enjoy some job security at your main income earner. Not only does this make financial sense, but it will also ease the burden of having two jobs by ensuring continuity and the main portion of your income.

8. Have a Long-Term Plan

As with most of our actions, having an endgame or a specific, measurable and attainable goal makes the process justifiable, and the results should equate that goal. Your end goal is your guiding light as you juggle multiple jobs and the process is measurable against it. For example, you might decide to work a seasonal job for increased income for a specific cause, such as saving up for a trip or a major purchase, and this end goal will help you endure the fatigue of working multiple jobs.

On the other hand, if your second job is a personal side hustle (one that may lead to a career change or becoming self-employed), then where you set the end goal is entirely up to you, but it most likely is to earn enough to make it a viable primary job or career. If that’s the case, once you consistently start making the goal amount, you can start cutting down on hours or quit other jobs as you progress and build your business.

9. Make Sure One of the Jobs Is Something You Actually Enjoy

When something is a labour of ‘love’, it’s more enjoyable and fulfilling, and it doesn’t feel like work most of the time. Yes, you will feel the effects of the work, but the feeling of accomplishment and pride will help with the tired feet and mind. Having a job that you enjoy doesn’t feel like working very much, and one that goes beyond the financial gain will always ensure that you flourish in that sector.

10. Make Time for What’s Important

Your child’s Christmas play, your spouse’s big speech, your friend’s wedding or your high school reunion, there are moments you cannot claim back if you miss them. No matter how many pictures or videos you see, nothing can make up for your absence, on both sides.

Special moments like these are usually planned out ahead of time, giving you plenty of warning to take time off to attend. You will never be able to recreate the moment or the memory, and on the flip side, you will forever disappoint the person for whom the event was important. With the right programming and some extra effort, these events can be included on your schedule and the warmth that you gain trumps the double shift you had to take to get the time off.

While by no means easy, having two or more jobs provides an array of benefits that can work to your advantage. You will have an increase in income, and multiple streams of revenue means that even if something goes wrong in one job, you will still have other sources keeping you afloat. Additionally, if one of those jobs combines a passion or a dream career, it will provide you with a creative outlet and joy that makes you forget the long hours and fatigue.

Working two jobs requires a specific skillset that is headlined by time management skills. Flexibility, perseverance and a competitive streak complement and enhance the experience, while you pick up new skills and explore careers that may come in handy for future goals and plans.

Even if a second job is only part-time and your aim is to increase your income, for whatever reason or goal, it speaks quite highly of your transferable skills and work ethic. Not only that but it also provides you with an opportunity to multiply and diversify your network, a network that could potentially help you unlock the ultimate career.

And there you have it. Simple rules to make working two jobs a little easier and a lot more worth it.

Have you worked multiple jobs before? How did you handle the experience? Share your thoughts and tips with us in the comments section below.