How To Balance A Side Business While Working A Full-Time Job

by | Aug 27, 2019 | career & business, corporate, solopreneur | 2 comments

I’ve genuinely enjoyed being a part of the corporate world and where my career path has taken me (let me just say that not all 9-5 jobs are terrible and soul-sucking). But like everyone else, I have other interests outside of my job. I’ve considered myself a writer since the age of 5 and that passion came flooding back last year when I decided to start L&I

It was a way for me to get creative and write again, while simultaneously helping women pursue happiness and fulfillment in their lives, specifically in their careers. Within a few weeks of launching, I started treating L&I less as a hobby, and more like a business. It was never a goal of mine to be an entrepreneur and start a brand or business, but it sort of just happened naturally and gradually over time. 

I started bringing my blog topics to life in an event setting and started hosting events in Chicago, which gave me my first revenue stream. I also began pitching myself and working with brands 1:1 on both event sponsorships and partnerships, where yet another revenue stream was realized. Earlier this year, I also launched my Ultimate Guide to Crafting Your Resume e-book, after noticing how many people turned to me for resume reviews. I put so much time and effort into those reviews and providing feedback that I knew it would be advantageous to have a PDF download where people could learn my tips and tricks.

Needless to say, between the writing, the event planning, the brand partnerships, the L&I resources I’ve created, and not to mention the social media posts and #kelscareerchats Stories & IGTV videos I’ve shared, it has been A LOT of work. 

I’m often asked, “How do you it all?” Well, friend, you’re in luck, because I’m sharing it all in this post!

How to Manage Your Business While Working Full-Time Pinterest Pin

Shift Your Priorities & Make Time

Your full-time job should always come first, but if you want what you’re building to become a business, then you also need to make that a priority. When it comes to working on your side business, you have to intentionally make the time. In order to do this, you will need to get smart, make sacrifices and set boundaries for yourself.

  • Take advantage of “dead time” –  “Dead” time can be time spent on a long car ride, commuting to the office, or aimlessly turning on the TV. I like to use every bit of time that I can so when I find I’m in those situations, I think about what tasks I could be working on or completing.  I do my best to use that time wisely to listen to informational and inspirational podcasts, work on my social media post captions, or brainstorm ideas for my upcoming book. I try to focus my time away from being on my phone or watching TV and better utilizing that time to work. I’ve really tried to stop the mindless scroll that I find I do when “dead” time rolls around. 
  • Be selective with your time – For me, L&I is basically another full time job, so I have to be selective about how I spend my time. I learned to stop being the “yes” girl and began saying no to things that I knew wouldn’t serve me because I truly just don’t have as much time anymore. 
  • Be selective in who you spend your time with – As you build your side business, you consciously or unconsciously start to surround yourself with other like-minded individuals. Because of that, when you add those individuals to your circle in addition to all the other people who were in your life before, it can be overwhelming to make time for everyone.  You need to choose wisely!

Get Organized & Set Goals

Organization is so key! Sometimes it can be hard to master, but once you do, you find how much clearer your thinking is and how much quicker you’re able to locate things. There’s three things I did to get myself organized in balancing L&I and my full-time job:

  • Merged my work and personal calendars into one – This way, I can see at a glance what my week and month ahead will look like in terms of everything in my life from work meetings to after-work commitments to the workouts I schedule, as well as time blocked off to work on L&I.
  • Created folders in Google Drive – I’ve sorted everything related to my business into separate folders to easily locate my projects such as my blog posts, my events, and my book, as well as administration items such as my finances (where I keep track of my business costs and income). 
  • Started using Todoist – Thanks to my coach, Emily, who introduced me to this amazing little tool! I use Todoist to organize and manage all my projects for L&I and set goals for them. I have respective tasks for each project that I intentionally set deadlines for. Every day, I look at the next 7 days ahead to determine my priorities and what days I am allotting to work on them. 

Kelly sits at Soho House and writes about how to balance a side business with a full-time job.

Get Committed & Stay Focused 

When you set goals for yourself, it can be easy to put them off and make excuses. It’s why I’ve implemented a few things over the past few years to keep me committed and focused. 

  • Write daily to-do lists – I use To-Doist to keep me focused from a project and task level, but then I also like to physically write out to-do lists when I know I really need to focus. I know it seems crazy to have to-do lists in multiple places, but I find writing things down for the day holds me more accountable (and challenges me to cross them off!). 
  • Set time aside each day/week – I intentionally block time off on my calendar to work on L&I in both before and after the workday, depending on the week and other commitments I have. I used to work on L&I in the late evening hours but found that was leading me to feel burnout, so I’m now in the process of becoming a morning person! This helps me too because I start my writing or whatever tasks I need to complete when my mind is fresh and ready to tackle the day. I also will use any downtime on the weekends to my advantage. Pick the times that work best for you and your schedule! 
  • Focus on one task at a time – Okay, I’ve heard allll the benefits of batchworking (where you focus/work on one thing for a certain period of time) so I’m really working on this. I’ve found that by concentrating on one task at a time, I actually am more productive and get more done in a designated period of time.  
  • Find a place that inspires and motivates – When you’re working (both in your 9-5 or your side business), go to a place in your office, head to a coffee shop, or sit outside and get inspired. I personally find I’m more focused when I’m in a setting other than my desk, like when I’m checking out a new cafe or sitting outside on my balcony. Not only does it boost my productivity, but it also boosts my mood!

Avoid Burnout & Take Care of Yourself

Balancing a side business while working full-time is NOT easy. It’s a lot of work and it’s also a lot of sacrifices. And one of the biggest sacrifices we make is not making time for ourselves. I’ve encountered burnout numerous times since starting L&I because I let work overrun my life. Here’s what I’ve learned:

  • Give yourself grace – Ultimately, the full-time job comes first and you have to remember that. That’s 40 hours a week of your time and sometimes you just won’t have the energy or motivation to work on your business. And that’s perfectly okay
  • You may need to cut back – It can be easy to get caught up in everything you think you need to be doing to grow your business. When I started L&I, I was posting to the blog twice a week, sending out a weekly email and trying to be present on all social media channels. With a full-time job in the mix, it was way too much. As much as I didn’t want to, I knew I had to take a step back to avoid running myself into the ground. 
  • Learn to delegate – Over the last few months especially, I realized I can’t do it all. I am not Wonder Woman, as much as I’d like to think I am. As a result, I’ve asked my husband, Adam, to take on more of the household responsibilities that I sometimes can’t get to anymore. He has really stepped up and supported me and I cannot thank him enough – he is such a gem. I’m also looking into hiring a virtual assistant or someone to help me with more L&I related tasks to help propel my business further. I’m a bit of a control freak, so we’ll see when I actually pull this trigger 😉
  • Take care of and make time for yourself –  Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, eating right, making time for exercise and most importantly, making time to spend with people who you love and make you happy. And on those days where I just need to unwind and relax, I turn to these five things

Kelly pondors what it's like to have a side business while working full-time.

How are you balancing your side business while working full-time? Are you excelling or struggling? Let me know in the comments! Pink lipstick stain

Welcome to Lipstick & Ink®, your home for everything career and life inspired. I’m Kelly, a Chicago-based career coach, branding consultant, and speaker.

Whether we’re working together on achieving your career aspirations, refreshing your professional documents, or crafting your brand, think of me as your career sidekick who is going to push you to your potential and cheer you on every step of the way.




  1. This post is brilliant! thank you so much for sharing. It’s so refreshing to hear someone FINALLY say that they love their 9-5 and that it comes first. I’m the same – I love engineering but I’ve realised I do want to expand my blog into something more. Reading this has made me realise that I have put so many mental barriers up about growth, and so I’m going to work hard at shifting those and start to look at more strategic growth of my work. Love your work Kelly!

    • Thanks so much for reading, Meg! I think it’s so refreshing too to finally just admit that I LOVE my job when so many are preaching to quit the 9-5 life and be your own boss. I’m glad this post helped you realize that you do have the possibility to make your blog into something bigger and I can’t wait to see you start growing it even more!


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