How to get to personal projects while working a day job

Most evenings, you have no energy left. After you get home, you just want to veg out. Have a nice dinner and watch some TV.

At the same time, you are ambitious. There are many personal projects you’d work on, if only you had more time—and more energy.

How can you make time and energy for your personal projects while working a day job?

The answer isn’t to hustle. You don’t need to forgo your lunch breaks or work like a maniac during your 20-minute train ride to work. You certainly don’t need to get up insanely early to work on your projects before you head to work. In fact, that would only make things worse, as you’d probably lose out on sorely-needed sleep.

If you force yourself to work on your personal projects when what you really need is a break, you might end up burning out or resenting those projects.

Instead, work smarter. Spend less time and energy on your day job. There are ways to do that while performing as well as you always have. Here are some things you could do:

  • Spend less time commuting by regularly working from home.
  • When working from home, spend part of your day working on your own projects. (If you work efficiently, without the distractions that exist at the office, you will still get plenty done for your day job.)
  • Better yet, move to being evaluated on your output, not your input.
  • Work four days a week at your day job. (Do the math; it might lower your income less than you think.)
  • Change jobs; find one that’s less exhausting and that’s closer to home.

I realize that it will take some effort to try these things. For example, your boss might not immediately be thrilled at the idea of you working part time.

But if you want to pursue your own projects, the alternative is never making any progress on them and always feeling guilty and disappointed. 

Yours,

— Peter

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