How Many Side Hustle Hours Is Too Many?

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If you're taking on a second gig, it's important not to go overboard.

Key points

  • A second job could help you boost your income and improve your financial outlook.
  • It's important to strike a balance when working a side hustle to avoid burnout and compromising your main job.

In the course of my career, I've held down several full-time, salaried jobs, but I've almost always had a side hustle at the same time. Working those side gigs has allowed me to meet different goals. At one point, that extra work -- and income -- came in handy when I'd recently bought a home and had to replenish my savings after paying for a move.

But at several points in time, I've pushed myself too hard on the side hustle front by working too many hours. If you're looking to get a side hustle, that's a mistake you should really make every effort to avoid.

Striking a balance with a side hustle

There's nothing wrong with pushing yourself to do work on the side and boost your income. But one thing you don't want to do is put in so many hours for that side hustle that you're compromising your physical and mental health.

If you work full-time and take on a 20-hour-a-week side hustle, that could mean leaving yourself with virtually no downtime. That could easily lead you to burn out and be miserable.

Also, working too many hours on your side gig could mean leading yourself down the road toward sleep deprivation. Again, that's not a good thing health-wise.

Putting in too many side hustle hours could also impact your main job -- and not in a good way. Imagine you're constantly showing up to work exhausted because you were hammering away at your side gig till all hours of the night. If your productivity slows down, it could not only compromise your job, but also make it so you're passed over for things like raises and promotions.

For this reason, it's important to strike a balance when taking on a side hustle. Take a look at your schedule and see how much time you spend outside of the office now. Then, factor in the time it takes to address life's responsibilities -- cleaning your house, going to the supermarket, and so forth. From there, figure out how many hours you're left with and make sure to carve out a few for socializing and downtime. Once you've done that, you may have a better sense of how many side hustle hours you can reasonably put in each week.

Start slowly and work your way up

If you're new to having a side hustle, it may help to err on the side of working fewer hours to start with, and then ramping up if you feel you're able to. Say you run some numbers and figure you can manage 12 hours of working a side gig each week. That may seem doable, but you don't know to what extent that second job might drain you. You may, for example, need to load up on extra sleep due to working a side gig.

Therefore, instead of starting out by committing to 12 hours a week, begin with a gig that demands eight or nine. If you find that your schedule is manageable after a few weeks, you can work your way up to 12 hours.

A side hustle could really work wonders for your financial health. But it's important to not get in over your head. If you drive yourself to the point of burnout, you might quit your side hustle. It's better to work fewer hours on the side than risk having that happen.

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