In the News

How To: Balance a Career and a Creative Side Passion By, Erica Horning

Living and working in NYC has been a life goal since I was…12 years old? Seriously. I love this city. I made the move to Manhattan about two months ago, and let me tell you, I’ve been enjoying every minute of the drastic change from suburban Pennsylvania life to the hustle and bustle of New York City.

As expected, getting settled and figuring out the best way to balance all of the things that are important to me has been an interesting process. I love working out, volunteering, cooking, shopping, trying new restaurants and doing happy hour all around the city, spending time with family and friends, writing…the list could go on and on.

However, one of the most important things I’ve continued to make a priority in my life has been freelance writing. It’s a fun, stress-free outlet for creative expression that I very much enjoy.

I write for a web-marketing firm located in Boston, MA—doing press releases, blog posts, and social media management for their clients. Freelance writing is a great side-gig, but things can get somewhat hectic when trying to work a full time job and a have this creative passion on the side.

So here are a few tips that I’ve found to be immensely helpful in my purist of staying sane while balancing the two.

1. Get in the groove. For me, I try to allot about 4 hours during the week for writing, and a few hours on the weekend as well. I am an early-riser, but for some reason I cannot concentrate and write creatively and productively in the morning. Instead of trying to force myself to write in the morning (like I used to) I now write in the evening/night. It works so much better! Find a rhythm. Learn what times of the day work best for different things and go with it.

2. Become a pro at time management. Once you have that rhythm, take full advantage of it. Stay disciplined. When I’m at work, it’s time to work! I don’t mix the two, and it really helps. I’m so much more focused, attentive, and ultimately productive when I dedicate 100% of my time, energy and focus to one OR the other for a certain amount of time. So instead of trying to “multi-task” and do a poor job at 10 things, focus on one at a time.

3. Make Deadlines. Make deadlines for yourself. Write them down, set a timer, or do whatever it is that you have to do. Be realistic, but stick to the deadlines you create for yourself. I usually map out a plan for how I’m going to complete an assignment or writing project. After I’ve made my deadline, I feel a huge sense of accomplishment. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t like feeling accomplished!?

4. Reward Yourself. When you meet your deadlines, celebrate! I’m a HUGE believer in rewarding yourself. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant, but after you’ve finished that project on Thursday night, read that book you’ve been thinking about all day. Or go grab some drinks downtown with your friends! Whatever the reward, I can guarantee you’ll be way more motived to concentrate and finish the task on-time.

5. Stay inspired. This is extremely important. I read a ton about social media, web-design, and SEO. When I have a little more time, I love browsing other blogger pages or catching up on authors who I think are stellar writers. I also love art, vintage shopping, and music. It’s crazy, but it gives me ideas and keeps the creative juices flowing. Whatever inspires you, make time for it! It will make a huge difference in the quality of your work, as well as your personal productivity.

Although I am very focused on my career (as many of you probably are), I love writing and doing social media way too much to give it up! These tips have helped me find some balance between the two, and have allowed me to do a great job at both my career and free-lance writing. Hopefully you can find one, or two, or even a few of them to be helpful in your own busy life at work and beyond!