How Do You Balance Your Day Job and Online Marketing Efforts?

Last Update: January 27, 2018

This is something that I have really struggled with over the years without much success and I've never been able to find a balance. Obviously the day job pays the bills, but it would be nice for the online marketing job to pay the bills and be able to ditch the day job.

However, while I'm still working the day job in order to advance and get paid more, I need to improve my knowledge and skills by studying at home. I may have 2 hours during the day and more time on the weekend, but then I have to decide on how to divide that time between my online business and studying for advancement in my day job.

When I think about it, like I'm doing now, it seems relatively simple to just divide part of my time to my studying and part of my time to working on my business. The reality of it is that I end up just focusing on my business or just focusing on studying for advancement at my day job or periodically becoming detached from both and doing nothing, but living life.

Any ideas for making progress on both fronts concurrently?

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IvyT Premium
I sure do have ideas, and am happy to relate my experience, but you'll still need to find a fix that suits your own circadian style! I do a little of my online study before going to work each day, and then more in the afternoon and evening when I return home.

OK, here goes. Pardon the length in advance!

1. I've been burning the candle from both ends for so long, I can't recall it ever being any other way. During my childhood, it was a great struggle for my family to make ends meet, so I went to work at an early age, doing hard physical labour, often after midnight, with my mum. I was always a cheerful kid, but sometimes it got me down. I remember the shock and shameful realisation of 'oh, we're poor people!' and how we must look to others. Oh, the dumb things we worry about.

Anyhow, the lesson I learnt during this stage was just about showing up. I remember the exact moment it happened. I was already in my teens, and had been living this other life in addition to my cheerful school-kid life for years, but often a little begrudgingly.

So there I was in the middle of hauling some heavy machinery, at around 1am, and rather than thinking how much I didn't want to be here, I suddenly thought: I don't care if I do or don't feel like doing this anymore - it needs to be done. I will do this, and I will move on to other things. Better things. And right then and there, the very idea of it felt so liberating, that I had more stamina than I needed to finish the job.

2. Later on, marriage and kids followed, and there were different lessons to learn about time and energy. Up until this point I'd developed a serious 'mad scientist' working style, which was just about my being locked away without food, sleep and sunlight for as long as it took to finish something. Not possible with kids and work! So I started to look for other ways to stay on track, so I could tackle work in whatever tiny moments presented themselves.

The lesson from this stage of life was about project planning, and properly identifying my requirements in tiny detail, writing them out, and then telling myself to do them, one by one, as if I was me, telling someone else. These task lists were very mobile, and could be knocked off even while waiting on school pickup in the parking lot. Even five minutes was great! I got very good at project outlines, and lists, and sub-lists of lists, which I still perversely relish crossing off today (no seriously, I love it).

3. Next stage - the kids are older, the work day is getting longer. I became concerned not just about finding the time to do things, but what I did at different times of the day, to get the best result. I'm an extremely early riser, and I noticed in those first efforts straight from sleep, that while the world was under a veil of silence...I did more, and better quality writing than at any other time of the day.

So I started to use this time to generate new ideas, on pen and paper, write rough drafts of things I loved, and set myself tasks for later in the day. Around 3-4am, on. It turns out there's some science to validate this choice! I stumbled upon some research that spoke about the first stage of the day being one in which your best and most creative, idea-generating self was active, and to not spoil the early day's efforts by answering email or doing dry admin chores. Save the later day after lunch for process-driven tasks.

4. Now I'm here: things are not calming down. The days are a festival of messy ambition! So I have introduced the family to the idea of a productivity journal, and I want to use the very last waking moments of the day to just review, very very briefly in a few sentences, what did I do today. What worked. What didn't. Plus three things I will definitely complete tomorrow. Studies of workplace trainees show that this activity improved retention of new ideas by 31%. Great Googleness, I will take every little percentage I can claim.

If there is anything in this long scrawl you think you can action for your benefit, I'll be happy. I don't find balance. I just work out when my mind and body are suited for different kinds of work, and project manage to the crumbs so that I can steal time for small tasks wherever I find it. And just stick at it, no matter what mood I'm in.
ThomasPaul Premium Plus
Hi Ivy,

Thank you for the reply. You've given me a lot to think about. I think I'm definitely going to have to get better at working in smaller chunks of time and to do that I'm going to have to get better at planning my work out and documenting what I have done, so that I can pick up where I left off instead of wasting time remembering what I was doing.

I'm definitely not a morning person and I grudgingly get up at 5-5:30am in the morning for my day job, so waking up an an hour earlier probably won't be the solution for me.

After posting this I've been mulling over the different responses and I think I have to just start "paying" myself, or more accurately my business, first in regards to time. Instead of studying for advancement in my day job first thing when I get home, I'll do one thing for my business when I get home from work and only when that's done study for my day job stuff.

The productivity journal is pretty interesting. I find when I look back at what I didn't accomplish over past periods of time that it can be motivating to avoid that lack of accomplishments. I can see how doing that on a daily basis could help keep me focused.
Defiant6 Premium
Let me tell you, that has been the million dollar question for me. It has been a massive struggle for me the last few years to find a good balance between the 2.

What I'm doing differently this year is writing a journal daily of my specific goals, weekly checklists, daily checklists, successes, failures, etc...and it has been a tremendous help so far. A journal is something I would recommend to you.
hirohurl Premium
I think this is a very common struggle. I'm a freelance English language teacher in Japan and took on a lot of extra classes last year. Good mula, but it does make it challenging to do anything more than "tread water" in my online business.

This year I'm not taking on new classes and have shed some of the ones I took on last year. Instead, I'm going to FOCUS on doing what I really want to do, i.e. build my online business.

If you REALLY want to build a profitable online business, then you need to BUILD your online business. Commit to it, believe in it, focus on it, obsess about it, and MAKE TIME for it.

You can do that by NOT heading in the opposite direction of trying to "study for advancement in my day job."

Study for your day job or for your online business?

IF you believe you can build an online business, you will know which option to choose.

Here at WA there are some new coaching programs by some of the Ambassadors. You might want to join one of those to get some outside pressure...

As for "living life" - I was big on "living life" until I realized that it involved hanging around with "friends" who did not share my goals and weren't interested in seeing me succeed online. Once I set my own conditions on my life, I began to drop out of "living life" to focus on "building my business" - still got a long way to go... still get distracted... BUT I do have a clear focus now.

Focus on building your online business and you WILL be living life to the full!

That's my goal for 2018 too.

All the best,

David Hurley
ThomasPaul Premium Plus
I can see your point about how studying for advancement in a day job is going in the opposite direction, but studying for advancement in my day job is likely to lead to a more immediate increase in my income through a pay raise or being able to get a job with another employer that pays more. Working on my business isn't likely to have an immediate increase on my income, it's more of a long term thing.

The whole thing that brought me back in(and always brings me back in) was when I preparing for taxes. My online income for 2017 was dismal, but I was surpised to see $80 in commissions from Amazon on a site that I really haven't touched in a long time(even though at one time it was generating $75-$100/month when I was actively working on it.) This inevitable brings me back to the place of "I need to start working on my websites again."

I'm not a big fan of coaching programs, ultimately I know that the outside pressure isn't really going to help me and in fact sometimes is more detrimental to my good.

By "living life" I was really just referring to getting stuck in the day to day grind of working, coming home, vegging out, and then doing the same thing the next day.
VeronicasLuv Premium
Although I don't have a full-time job, Thomas, I find that I really need to embrace more structure in my life.

You mentioned that you "may have 2 hours during the day and more time on the weekend". My suggestion would be to jot down your current schedule, nothing fancy, but in writing down what you do from the time you awaken until you go to bed, you may find that you have more gaps than you realized.

There's something that Bo Tipton uses that I'm going to start using for myself: a timer. It's old-fashioned but this will help me to stay on track and not to veer off course.

All the best in coming up with a schedule, Thomas.
ThomasPaul Premium Plus
Yeah, I definitely time management is a big issue, but I think focus is another issue. If online business is top of my mind I usually make some progress and work on my sites. However, when I get caught up in my daily grind I'll lose focus and not even think about it. Before I know it a month, two months have gone by without me working on my business at all.
VeronicasLuv Premium
Oh...I didn't realize that so much time could lapse without you working on your site, Thomas. I think you made a great observation in saying that you think there's another issue.

But it actually makes sense: I'm just guessing here, but the results from your job are probably much more tangible than the results from your online business, so, logically, it would make sense to spend more time on that which would offer your "reward" sooner.

But it all comes back to your "why" and how you can fit in your online activities on a consistent basis, even if it's just a couple hours a week, without neglect of expanding your knowledge for your current job.

I do hope that you're able to come to a resolution soon, Thomas.
MKearns Premium
Not having a day job that's academic for me!