“A perfection of means, and confusion of aims, seems to be our main problem.” - Albert Einstein
It’s pretty apparent by now that live music performance will not be my side hustle going forward. Regardless of COVID-19, performing won’t be on my radar for a while because I don't want to leave home with a new baby. So I’m pivoting to online activities.
With only a few months left until baby number two joins us, my side hustle work is probably not going to be as deep, meaningful, or focused as I would want it to be. But I can still move forward with my music and writing by making use of the past, sharing everyday life, and forming a future vision.
If you enjoyed last week’s post about managing side gigs when life gets hectic, here are ten additional ideas.
1. Work Ahead
Even though working ahead can occasionally put us out of touch with a fast changing world, there are many benefits to allowing yourself a long break once you have everything up to date. It’s definitely better than quitting altogether if you have a side hustle that allows it. (For me, I would like to be three months ahead on the blog before the baby arrives. I don’t expect any deep work out of myself while sleep deprived.)
2. Build a Community Around Common Interests
Even if you don’t know why you are building an audience/community, it doesn’t hurt to have an online presence where you share common interests with others.
When I think about discussions with my children in the future (regarding the purpose of social media), I plan to tell them about this approach - don’t wait until you have a product or service to get online. Just bond with people over common interests, and if you have something to offer them someday, you will be in a good place (and not have to start from scratch). Even when participating on social media doesn’t feel “like me,” I remember my future self five years from now may thank me.
3. Plan on Interruptions/Lack of Closure
While some people think stamina is hard, other people find interruptions even worse. My default nature is to focus for hours until I get my writing just where I want it. However, now I have to learn how to set shift and divide my attention in little sprints.
Batching is my favorite way to work, but it can be impossible given zero stretches of time. Recently I’ve heard about an alternative - “timeboxing.” Timeboxing uses short structured bursts of idea generation - setting strict time limits and pulverizing perfectionism.
As I write this very moment, I am aware of the fact I will have to stop soon and then come back to this very paragraph after putting my son to bed.
(I’m back now… what was I saying?)
4. Employ Checklists
With frequent interruptions comes the necessity of lists and a sense of organization in order to refocus. Just like how you want your airline pilots and doctors to use checklists in routine situations or emergency situations, a checklist can sometimes save you from yourself when life gets hectic. I haven’t done it yet, but I’m thinking I should probably employ a checklist for every blog post. For example…
- Does the title clearly represent what the article is about?
- Did I include at least one relevant quote?
- Are there any quick visuals I could add that would aid the post?
- Is the post about creativity, music, history, or business? If not, why does it belong on the blog?
- Did I link to at least one outside article, blog, or podcast?
- Did I link to my own articles within the blog?
5. Promote More
Advertising doesn’t need to take as much thought as deep work. In fact, it can build off the back of it. I struggle with the idea of promotion (always have), but I should be honest with myself about its necessity going forward. Why have I created all of this material (songs, articles, etc.) if I don’t promote it?
I’ll start simple by getting the weekly blog images on Instagram with a paragraph or two from the article. (It’s pretty crazy that I have an entire Instagram presence where I never mention the blog.)
6. Practice Intentionality on Social Media
I’m toying with the idea of backing off from social media completely when I’m within a month of my due date (and then only joining afterward while breastfeeding). However, I think it’s important to log in and respond to people who’ve mentioned my work or shared something with me to be polite, give back, and stay relevant.
Any advice on this? What do you think?
When coming back online, I hope to not “give in” to the feed or scroll for the sake of scrolling. For example, sometimes Twitter only serves me the same small group of people and I find it important to go into the profiles of other people I follow and hit like on their material so it comes up again. Also, I want to delete forces I don’t enjoy without feeling guilty about it.
In addition, I don’t want to get sucked into mindlessly grazing pretty images on Instagram or Pinterest. (It’s very easy to do when lacking focus or tired!)
Also, I want to forget Instagram’s “You’re All Caught Up” hook. I literally want the satisfaction of seeing it and that makes me feel like a lame-o. There’s no such thing as being “caught up” socially. Instead, the focus should be on people and accounts I like (where a true relationship could develop). Then, giving them my time.
7. Practice an Hour of Giving
In an ideal world, I would love to give an hour of my time each day to the work of others. Commenting on blogs, commenting on social media posts, sending genuine emails to people who’ve sparked my curiosity and influenced me, retweeting and supporting other businesses, writing podcast reviews, etc.
This time commitment is hard, so it will just be an hour a week instead of an hour a day during maternity leave. And sometimes my attention will just go to a long-form good book or listening to new bands. All of this “work” is quite frankly easier than creating, and it’s something I can do when I’m tired. When done right… it doesn’t even feel like work.
8. Decide on Consistency… or Being Better?
“Great work habits lead us to address specific problems systematically. Sometimes we even stumble upon a great idea along the way.” - Eric Karjaluouto
An audience likes consistency but an audience also loves quality.
- Should I share on a schedule?
- Or conduct researched content that only shows up sporadically?
Right now, I try to say something on some social media platform somewhere each day. (Quite frankly, I usually gravitate towards material that disappears after 24 hours because I don’t think what I am offering yet is that good.) Should I give up on the treadmill? Even the treadmill of a blogpost every Tuesday? Just to see what happens when I prioritize something different, something more meaningful, or something like freelancing (that brings in money)?
Like I said, I’m not sure. It’s simply interesting to be aware there’s an engine between these two trains of thought and this engine drives your business. The rules driving you may be outdated, bogus, or come from somewhere that works for others but not for you.
9. Read/Learn/Skill Build Slowly
No matter how busy life gets, podcasts and books can always be a resource during a semblance of downtime. I have so many things I want to learn about. While these informal forms of learning may not be deep, I’m OK with skimming the surface over and over again and seeing what it adds up to. Whether my own project or someone else's, I like to answer these questions...
- Why does this matter?
- Who does this impact?
- What is this now and what could it be?
- Where does it lead me to next?
I like to be entertained and informed at the same time. If anything, I can easily share what I listen to and read each week if people are interested.
10. Put Time Into The One Thing That Would Make Everything Else Easier
This is a powerful idea I plan to spend more time on next week. In essence, if multipotentiality haunts you and you have tons of ideas but zero time, what project could you follow through on that would eventually drag all other ideas out of the doldrums and support them?
For me, the surprising answer is blogging. Given the dismal statistics on blogging versus podcasting and vlogging, next week I will explore why.
Sayonara live performance!
Writing this post really helped me “face the music” about where I’m going with this blog and my indefinite hiatus from live performance. This upcoming fall will be different. It will be hard. But everything worthwhile is.
Did you catch some of the questions I had above for myself and my writing? Any advice?
Who do you listen to or read that ignores a schedule and only posts here and there (while still thriving)?
DISCLAIMER: AS ALWAYS, IF YOU NEED PSYCHOLOGICAL OR FINANCIAL ADVICE PLEASE SEEK A PROFESSIONAL FOR YOUR SPECIFIC SITUATION.