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How to Launch Your Side Gig & Work Full-Time

In days gone past, people might have stayed up hours past their bedtime - even skipping essential sleep to work a second job and get ahead - a practice otherwise known as “ moonlighting.”

These days, however, there’s a whole range of people sneakily using their ‘already paid’ working hours to engage in work for their side projects - it’s the new “ daylighting .”

Back in 2012, John Mr. McKee, author of Career Wisdom: 101 Proven Strategies to Ensure Workplace Success was quoted on the Global Mail as saying of the practice:

“It's definitely becoming more common now. The economy has everything to do with that. It's all about protecting one's future."

If it was becoming even more common three years ago, what’s the situation with daylighting now? And can you actually get away with launching a profitable side gig in your full-time working hours?

What drives people to daylighting?

It all comes down to money and freedom.

For one thing, daylighting is all about diversifying risks. We live in unstable world, in a very competitive marketplace. And when it comes to the cost of living and day-to-day expenses, there’s often a fine line, many people are living right on the edge.

If you were to lose your job, would your whole world fall apart? Do you have debt to pay off, financial stress, or even just the need to take a vacation? For many, the answers to these questions would be a resounding ‘yes’.

As a result, for many people, daylighting just makes sense. It makes sense to have something else to fall back on; even if it’s only a small something, it’s like personal insurance.

Even if it’s not for financial reasons, it’s often just the need to foster creativity, engage in self-education, or enhance the skills that give people a competitive edge in the marketplace.

The employer’s case for daylighting

It’s very easy to assume that all this extracurricular activity is going to have negative consequences for employers, costing them valuable time and money.

But it turns out that this isn’t exactly the case.

Since 95% of workers waste up to two hours per day on places like Facebook and Twitter anyway, daylighting can be a much smarter way for them to “waste” those hours. And if they’re happier in their current jobs and developing skills that will, in turn, benefit their original company, there’s clearly more to the equation than previously considered.

Having two jobs is not a new thing. People have been doing it for many years; perhaps not during their full-time work hours, but with the age of the Internet, many opportunities have opened up for people to pursue different avenues according to more flexible schedules.

The Behance team, on 99U, shares the benefits for employers who encourage daylighting, seeing it as a win-win opportunity for the ‘slash/slash generation’ of those concerned with work/life and work/work balance.

In their experience, empowering employees and nurturing creativity and interests can actually lead to higher productivity and more loyalty.

Daylighting or inspiring innovation?

Innovation is change

Google is one of the largest tech companies in the world, and they wouldn’t be that way if they weren’t people-centric.

Interestingly, the company uses a 70/20/10 rule to structure productivity, which Annika Steiber - who has a first-hand, insider’s view of Google - terms as “an ambidextrous organization” principle.

The way it works is that 70% of employee time is spent dedicated to core Google business tasks, 20% is dedicated to projects related to these core business tasks, and 10% dedicated to anything else employees want to work on - Google-related or not. Employees could use that 10% for daylighting or for exploring projects that could contribute to Google’s future.

Annika Steiber shares that:

“Continuous innovation must combine two different forms of organizational logic within the same organization. These are daily production, which works best with a conventional planning-and-control approach, and innovation, which requires greater freedom, flexibility, and a more open attitude toward experimentation.”

Further, as Business Victoria points out :

“Innovation is often associated with the introduction of new products or services in your business; however, it can also be about changing the way you do business.”

The ability to change the way you do business is critical. It’s how Google has managed to maintain innovation and leadership in the market.

The fact is , if you can get your employees to dedicate their full focus, attention and commitment even 70% of the time, you’re going to get powerful results.

Here’s a short list , just to emphasize the benefits of allowing daylighting in your organization:

  • Enhances competitiveness by encouraging capabilities and passions
  • Improves employee satisfaction and retention
  • Maintains a proactive business approach that matches current modern changing conditions
  • Builds company positioning and incentive for attracting top notch employees

Should you consider daylighting?

Why not, if it can help you get ahead, nurture your creative interests, and make you better at your current job?

Many people are out there doing it, even adding $1,000 a month to their income.

For example, Kerry Hannon shares on Forbes how she wrote as a freelancer for different, while still working in house with another employer.

In the same article , Kerry interviewed Kimberly Palmer, another daylighter who wrote a book on the topic called the “ Economy of You: Discover Your Inner Entrepreneur and Recession-Proof Your Life .”

In the book, Palmer shares how her journey to daylighting was prompted by unstable financial times during the Great Recession. Being driven by fear, as many people around her were being made redundant, she opened an Etsy shop and started selling digital ebooks alongside her regular, full-time job.

From there, she didn’t just protect her finances - she discovered a whole new world of creative empowerment to explore that fostered her skills and personal growth.

The downside to daylighting

Clearly, there are advantages to daylighting, but don’t discount the possible disadvantages - you have to be able to juggle all the balls you’ve put into motion.

You’re going to be expected to perform up to par in your original position, and you can’t let that slip. We’re all human, and there are only a certain number of hours we can work, things we can do, and stress we can take before things start to fall apart.

As a result, you’ll need good time management skills, as well as the ability to sustain self control and allocate specific time blocks to each task or job you take on.

You’ll also need to consider if you can stay competitive in your current marketplace by taking on another position. Taking this into consideration, looking for a complimentary job might be a good strategy here.

For example, if you work as a HR manager, perhaps you could consider freelance writing about HR as a secondary source of income. It would force you to constantly be researching - meaning you’ll be up-to-date on the latest in HR - essentially boosting your ability to move up the career ladder in your current position as well.

If you’re successful, taking this route will also go a long way towards convincing your current employer to support the 10% work time you intend to spend on your “other” job.

Should you tell your boss about your daylighting ventures?

Daylighting worker

When it comes to the crunch, should you even tell your current boss about your daylighting aspirations?

There’s certainly no hard and fast rule at play here. You’ll need to consider your unique situation before making a decision.

Firstly, gaining the acceptance and permission of your current employer could be a possible ‘guilt-free’ solution.

In the past, people have certainly found ways around this. For example, a preschool worker was given approval to make phone calls for her ‘other job’s’ real estate appointments during classroom nap time.

Kerry Palmer, an author on this topic, shares that it’s surprising how many employers actually do support these additional adventures.

Palmer shares that: “Because they see their employees learning new skills, including valuable entrepreneurial, e-commerce, marketing and social media skills, on their own time, and then bringing those abilities back to their main employer.”

Palmer's research on the topic really highlights the fact that this could be “the new normal” moving into the future, for both employers and employees alike. Therefore, you may be in for a pleasant surprise when your boss gives you the seal of approval.

However, not all companies will be receptive to the idea of employees working for others while “on their dime,” despite the benefits highlighted earlier in this article.

In some cases, it will depend on your objectives. For example, if your ultimate goal is to ditch your current day job, then it’s probably not such a good idea to tell your boss.

You’ll also want to check your employee contract for any rules regarding work on other projects. If you decide to not tell your boss and get caught, you don’t want to be left facing a court case due to breach of contract.

Finally, consider the relationship you have with your manager and his or her personality. If your boss is the suspicious sort, even introducing the idea of daylighting could call your commitment to your current position into jeopardy. It will then be up to you to decide whether daylighting or the more traditional moonlighting will be a better fit for helping you achieve your financial and career goals.

How do you get started with your side-gig?

Ready to move forward with daylighting? Palmer suggests that you just go ahead and jump in. Get your feet wet and be open to trying new things.

Further, Christine Ryan Jyoti shares a number of great tips over on Fast Company:

  • Be smart about your start-up costs - There are many different ways to get started for zero cost to you, which makes perfect sense for a side-gig. Try aiming for $100 or less to get started.
  • Be bold - No idea is too wacky, and don’t be afraid to experiment in order to find something that’s suited to your passions and interests.
  • Listen to your customers - People will let you know what you’re doing right and wrong, so take their feedback and use it to hone your skills and abilities.
  • Be organized from the get-go - Daylighting effectively will be very difficult without good time management skills and effective organization. Remember, you don’t want to drop the ball. This is especially true when it comes to being organized with admin tasks and keeping up with your tax requirements.

This new concept of daylighting really does seem like a great option if your job isn’t using your current talents, if you want to explore more creativity, if you want to develop new skills, or if you’re looking to set aside a bit of extra cash for retirement or an upcoming holiday.

And, as we’ve shown, it’s certainly appears to be the way of the future for companies, particularly for the ability to offer greater benefits for competitive positioning in the modern marketplace.

That said, daylighting is still very much a personal decision. If it’s one that you’ve made, we’d love to hear more about what you’re doing and how you got your boss on board.

Share your story by leaving a comment on our LinkedIn page .

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