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Multiple jobs disorder
Once upon a time in a town called London (Ontario) there lived a girl in her early 20s. In the morning she sat in the cathedral-windowed office of the Holocaust Research Institute and entered the ISBNs of books into an old-school Mac. Lunch was eaten on campus. After lunch, she helped install terrible art at a well-meaning but terrible art gallery. Then she pedalled her bike extra fast up the hill all the way to Tim Hortons where she served coffee and donuts till midnight. Somewhere in there she tried to study as well since she was doing her fourth year of an undergrad program. Poor girl.
Nah, she was just fine, she had the energy and was in her 20s; she was invincible and was going to live forever. Besides, this is how many students live – working two, three jobs while going to school. Looking back at the life of our heroine, I’m not sure how that’s even possible but it was. (Check out this interesting New York Times article on young people working multiple jobs.)
Working more than one job is not, however, exclusive to student types. And unlike students, many people work more than one job to simply support their families (to put things in perspective, the average cost per year per child is about $10,000). Currently, there are more women than men holding multiple jobs. Consider these findings from Statistics Canada: “Women make up a growing share of employees holding more than one job. By 2009, about 56 per cent of multiple job holders were women. This is because the percentage of women holding more than one job continues to grow, while men’s share remains relatively constant. In 1987, four per cent of employed women held multiple jobs; by 2009, 6.2 per cent of employed women did so. The corresponding share of men working at more than one job over this period rose from 4.2 per cent to 4.4 per cent.”
Whether you’re a man or a woman, it doesn’t really matter what your reasons for having more than one job are. According to the Ask Men site, the reasons are:
Compensation – Well, duh. Ask Men points out that “most people who work two jobs rarely do so to get luxury items, rather, they simply want to find a way to afford the basic necessities. In this case, it is more a factor of having to work more than one job than wanting to.”
Utility – Some people take on extra projects because they simply want to. Maybe there’s another job they’re interested in exploring, maybe they work one “main” (boring, well-paid) job but feel like they would love to do something more fun, something that gives them more satisfaction but that has fewer guarantees. For example, I once worked as a copywriter (boring, well-paid) but in my free time I wrote articles for magazines and some short fiction. Ask Men says this, “if you like something, try to understand why you wish to get involved in extra work and in what capacity. It's also quite all right to dip your toes in something before diving in; in fact, this is recommended.”
Success – Another reason for people taking on extra work is because they want to further their current career. So, being a brand new teacher you could take on private tutoring classes to get more experience and increase chances to further your teacher career.
Whatever your reasons for working more than one job, there are ways to manage it without feeling burnt out, unhappy and bitter about your situation. When I juggled three jobs as a student (yes, I was the heroine!) I dealt with my stress by riding my bike to my third gig — the exercise would improve my mood immensely and I was able to survive the few hours at Tim Hortons (I quit eventually because I couldn’t take just “surviving” plus I got another research gig). Anyway, the point is that it’s doable, and thanks to Tips for Working Multiple Jobs, Don’t Quit Your Day Job: Managing Multiple Jobs at Once and Doing More Than One Job: How to Juggle Multiple Roles at Work, we’ve come up with a list of 10 short tips for making working multiples work:
Trial period – If you’re not sure you can handle more than one job, pick up another gig but give yourself a permission to quit if the extra position interferes with your main one (i.e., via scheduling conflicts), if you hate it, if you can’t manage your time, etc.
Schedule – You will need to run your schedule like a drill sergeant. You have to make sure you have a system (such as a calendar or even a scheduling app) that will coordinate the shifts of the first job and the second (this is probably easier if your main job has you on a regular schedule).
Vacation – Right, don’t forget that you’ll need to look beyond your weekly or monthly schedule in order to book vacations, holidays, future birthday parties, weddings, baby showers and all that other stuff that makes life full.
Number of hours – Be kind to yourself because unless you’re an Energizer Bunny you will burn out.
Moonlighting – The Don’t Quit Your Day Job article states, “There are only certain circumstances in which your employer has any legal right to ask you to stop working at your second job.” Some of these circumstances are that you’ve signed an agreement that prevents you from working for the competition or providing consulting services. Also, “If you’re on call for both jobs at once, your employer can say something. But in most other cases, your employer has no grounds to object.”
Daily segments – Beyond working out your many shifts so that they gel seamlessly, you still need to attend to other daily tasks. Make sure you factor in your family obligations (laundry, groceries, etc.), events (kids’ soccer games) and, most importantly, some downtime too — you don’t want to burn out! (Consider looking into apps to help you manage all of your life compartments better; Eisenhower is an app that will “help you identify which tasks to do now, schedule for later, delegate, or not at all”, juggle is another task-organizing app.)
Breaks between jobs – Try to have enough of a break between job number one and job number two. This will help you switch mentally from one set of tasks to another and will cause less stress.
Fun job – If you can, try to have fun in your other job. Heck, try to have fun in both but above all, don’t let yourself get trapped in two (or more) miserable jobs — that’ll cause a lot of stress and you’ll be resentful about what you do instead of being passionate .
Caution about staying competitive – According to the Doing More Than One Job Article, “Working two jobs means that you have less time than your peers to devote to each role. Therefore, staying competitive can be a real challenge. Analyze every hour of your day to see where you have free time to keep up with trends.”
Quitting – If it’s not working out for you (stress, burnout, family issues getting in the way, physical strain) then quit. If you don’t, the negative outcomes may affect your main job (or your preferred job ) and you might lose two of them. I hated my Tim Hortons job but loved the Holocaust Institute research gig, yet I almost quit both. This is because I couldn’t recognize that my stress was related to the fact that that I had to stand on my feet, serving surly customers, while around me were the nauseating vapours of deep-friend donuts. But once I pinpointed this, it was good-bye forever.