Notes from a Floating Life Thoughts about productivity, digital living, and leading a simpler life

Time, Money, and Side Projects

Most of us can use a little extra money. But aside from a getting a big raise, winning a lottery, selling everything we don’t need, or having a wealthy relative kick off and leave us everything, there’s only one way to do that: a side project or a part-time job.

That’s all well and good in theory. Work a few extra hours in the evening or on the weekend, then watch the money flow in.

The reality can be a lot different. While we all could do with making more money, it’s not as easy as some people would have you think. Chances are you’re not going to get one big gig that will pull in a huge amount of money. It could happen, but it’s more likely that you’ll be working at, and chasing, multiple gigs.

It’s also a matter of time versus money: is the time you’re putting into a side project or part-time job actually worth the money? Sure, you might be shoring up your coffers, but that could come at a cost. You might not be getting as much sleep as you need. You might not be eating the way you should or getting the exercise that you need. You might experience higher levels of stress. You might be spending less time than you should with family and friends. You can’t put a price on any of that.

A few years ago, I had several side gigs writing for a number of online publications. I was making decent money overall, but I didn’t have as much time as I wanted to do the various other things that I wanted to do. I took a close look at some of those gigs. I quickly deduced that the the amount of time that I spent working on them wasn’t worth the pay. Not even close. So, I dropped them.

The upshot? I had more time to do the various things that I couldn’t before. My wife and daughter stopped calling me Mr. Nesbitt. I was making less money but wasn’t as rushed and was (and still am) happier. All of that was, and is, worth far more than the income that I turned my back on.

Before you decided to jump on a side gig — either because you really want or need the money, or you’ve fallen for the idle hands myth — think about the bigger picture. Think about what you’re giving up to gain that bit of extra cash. Then, ask yourself whether or not it’s worth it.

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