Millennial/Gen Z dictionary has expanded to introduce new vocabulary for daily activities. Working a lot is called hustling or grinding or “get that bread”, being in many jobs makes you a freelancer, and a job that is small is called a side hustle? Whichever term you choose, having multiple jobs has been around and will stick around. But at what cost?
Hi everyone, it's Fabian from the think-team. Recently, su-re.co introduced a new rule to all the staff members. Our founder and CEO Tak suggested, or actually straight up told us to have second jobs. I could only smile, feeling validated for what I've been doing. Here's a story of my attempt at a work-work balance and my take on hustling.
I've always liked being busy. Holidays are something I look forward to, but I always end up occupied with additional work, such as side projects, or things that people usually don't care about when they finally have spare time. I have a billion hobbies that I pursue once in a blue moon (you can read more about: Becoming a Violinist: Multi-specialist pt 3. (su-re.co)). I do what makes me happy at the moment, but of course this mindset has its tradeoffs.
As I plan my weeks, I try not to make specific plans as micromanaging never works for me. I used to think doing many things while waiting for my kettle to boil was ultra-productive, but I end up exhausting myself when applying this method to everything. However, when I only work when I'm most inspired, I also mess up my schedule, so there is still value in being disciplined. My days usually end up with researching at night and choreographing during the day. They aren't very consistent and let's face it, as much as I love being spontaneous, a routine does bear less clutter in the brain.
Let me share with you some of my 2021 highlights.
Thursday 25th of February, I stayed up until late to submit a proposal to the Bill Gates Foundation. That same night I was practicing for a choreography to be performed on the Saturday. So I was practicing dance in the evening, then revising tables at around 11PM.
The next morning I arrived at the office around 8AM, to instruct biogas construction, while creating my slides that I have to present the week after. I spent my day checking the biogas, revising my slides, revising my colleague's slides only to present it again the same afternoon. I rushed back home to eat, only to have a three-hour general rehearsal. I woke up the next day to finish my blog, perform on stage, and pass out. I had no room to rest until Sunday, when I finally spent it on learning how to watercolor in a cute cafe in Kedungu. The Monday was an intense week of Tokyo University lectures.
This experience was quite surreal actually. During the moment, because I had things to think about, I had no space to anticipate on my next moves. I was really present the entire time. I like looking back at this moment to remind myself not to stress about the future too much. Because we accomplish so much more just by focusing.
The month of December was arguably the busiest. I had taken up two freelance jobs that paid well. I was translating documents for a brand consultancy company and I was teaching dance in Green School. I was also teaching dance at a local studio every Wednesday. Then, I get spontaneous opportunities such as video/photoshoots on the weekend. They are always last-minute. I remembered rushing from a Dyatmika Sunday Market in Sanur, all the way to Pantai Nyanyi to take dance shots on a windy sandy atmosphere, which was challenging. On another instance, I had to teach a pop-up class on Friday night and then had to drive to Uluwatu the next morning for another.
Top all of this with my workload in su-re.co, either presenting or meeting or writing, and that's when I realized that I signed up for a burnout.
Surprisingly (and thankfully), I did not have one. I was enjoying everything I did, but I probably could have just slept more. And to look back at all of it, was it worth it?
Yes and no.
I learned that perhaps this is why starting 2022 felt a bit slow for me. Maybe I was trying to avoid the same busy-ness. I needed to focus on my targets in su-re.co and I also needed to prioritize my health (e.g. sleep). I rejected several offers this month because I needed to restart. I had to move out of my place, which was a good time to declutter, and rethink how I should create a routine that I can stick to. I missed cooking myself a good meal, enjoying the sunsets, and having weekends. I lost a bit of that in December. And this is when I realized how the "hustling" culture can be very damaging.
I will never regret my decisions because of what they taught, but had I repeated the month of December, I would have planned better. I realize I fell into the trap of hustling. Everyone here probably relates to the pressure of being the best they can be at their age, earning the highest, being the most experienced. But realistically, how can you be all of that when you’re early in your career?
In the end, I like having multiple jobs because I like investing in many skills at once. I also get exposed to the different industries this world has to offer. Most importantly, I like meeting new people and learning their life stories. Dancers and researchers are equally struggling to make it out there. Realizing that everyone is struggling and every early 20 year-olds is broke, has unaddressed traumas, and is learning about themselves. This makes me feel comfortable with my discomfort.
So how shall one attempt at a work-work balance? Truth be told, I'm also still learning. It's that sweet spot of taking enough offers that stimulate you while not burning you out. I become more motivated with all my jobs when I have several interesting ones. But I always believed in performing best at fewer jobs than being mediocre at many. So I try to keep that in mind when offers come to me.
Most likely, the answer is time management, as cliche as it sounds. But thinking about it, If I time my week properly, 35 hours/week in su-re.co gives me room to do at least 5-10 hours/week for other jobs, while still having a weekend. It could actually be more humane than University.
Anyway, there is way more to this lifestyle than what I wrote, so I will probably write a second part. Do you have a second/third/fourth job right now? How do you balance your work-work life?
Let me know in the comments below!
Thanks for reading!