Things are really chaotic in the job market at the moment. The job-for-life is all but gone, and even the career-for-life idea is fading fast as organizations move from permanent, full-time workforces to contingent workforces composed of freelancers, casual staff, temps, and part-timers.
For those of us who prefer the stability of traditional employment, this modern employment environment can be quite disorienting. For others, however, it’s a welcome development, thanks to the variety, flexibility, and freedom that come with this new model.
But regardless of whether you’re a willing or reluctant participant in the gig economy, you have a new employment challenge to confront: In order to make enough money to support yourself, you’ll need to work multiple jobs. I call this the “portfolio” or “slash” career: Instead of being an accountant, you now have to be a an accountant/musician/tree surgeon.
The challenge is not in getting these jobs. There are plenty of gigs available in the temp and freelance marketplaces. No, the challenge is in juggling two, three, or even four jobs at once without going insane.
To succeed in your portfolio career, you need to be an expert multitasker. Unfortunately, very few of us are “programmed” for that. That means we have to take extra steps to refine our multitasking skills and manage our careers carefully.
Here are four tips to help you do just that:
1. Create a Portfolio out of Jobs That Suit All Aspects of Your Personality
If you have three jobs that are pretty much in the same line of work – e.g., barista, waiter, cashier – then there’s a real chance that your flexible portfolio career will just turn out to be one monotonous and repetitive blur.
By varying your gigs and taking up a range of jobs that appeal to all aspects of your personality, you can build a much more satisfying portfolio career. For example, let’s say you like to be social, but you also like some alone time, and you like working outside when the weather’s nice. Your ideal portfolio career might be barista/delivery driver/gardener.
2. Look for Synergies Between Your Gigs
Even if you build a portfolio of different jobs that suit your various needs, you can still find some beneficial overlap between your seemingly disparate roles.
For example, if you are a barista/delivery driver/gardener, you could subtly inform some of your regular coffee customers at the coffee shop that you are a gardener. Before you know it, your customer base will be booming. Similarly, you could sell the vegetables you grow as a gardener to the coffee shop at which you work.
If you look for and exploit these cross-selling opportunities, you’ll spend less time doing sales and marketing and your work will be more profitable.
3. Favor Flexible Gigs
It will be far easier to juggle multiple gigs if each one is flexible in terms of hours. That way, you’ll be able to ramp up and scale back according to what makes the most sense at any given time.
If all your gigs are rigidly structured, you’ll find it much harder to strike a balance – and you’ll be unduly stressed as a result.
4. Set a Yearly Earnings Target
If you don’t have an earnings target, you may end up working more than you need to – and that’s a great way to mess up your work/life balance. Having an annual target gives you direction and tells you when you need to crank it up and when you have time to take a breather.
If you want to have a successful portfolio career, you’ll need to knuckle down and become a master in managing and prioritizing your time. It may not always be easy, but if you follow the tips set out above, you should find that juggling multiple careers isn’t so bad after all.