How To Work a Full- and Part-Time Job and Avoid Burnout

How To Work a Full- and Part-Time Job and Avoid Burnout

Working a full-time job and a part-time job at the same time isn’t easy. However, it can be a great way to move your career forward by quickly building your skill set. It’s also an option for anyone looking to fulfill their financial obligations.

If you find yourself in this situation, be careful. There’s a fine line between advancing your life situation and causing burnout. Burnout is often caused by an overwhelming workload and can lead to exhaustion and irritability. It’s something to proactively avoid.

In this article, you’ll learn several tips to help you maintain balance and health as you simultaneously manage full-time employment and part-time work. You’ll also better understand what causes burnout and learn how to identify the symptoms.

Avoid burnout

Reasons for working a full- and part-time job

Let’s define full-time work before getting too far ahead. While standards vary by country, in the United States, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) defines a full-time worker as an employee working 130 hours in a month, or 30 hours per week. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires overtime pay for nonexempt employees clocking in more than 40 hours per week (regardless of the type of job).

The number of hours worked often impacts whether you qualify for employee benefits like health care. In the United States, the Affordable Care Act requires many employers to provide health insurance to employees working at least 30 hours per week.

The average number of hours worked varies based on location. In Canada, the standard hours for full-time employees is 40 hours each workweek. Some full-time workers in the Netherlands average less than 30 hours each week.

Regardless of where you live, a full-time job is a significant commitment of time and energy. However, more than 4 million Americans work a primary full-time job and a secondary part-time job.

Why do so many people work two jobs? Many, especially in a time of rising inflation and fears of a recession, are simply trying to make ends meet. Other reasons may include:

  • Saving for the future. Some full- and part-time workers want to better prepare for retirement or protect themselves from financial uncertainty.
  • Enjoying the work. People who enjoy their work may seek additional opportunities to do what they love.
  • Paying off debt. Maybe you can make ends meet with just one job, but you take on a second role to pay off debt quicker.
  • Gain additional experience. Working a second job may be a viable option if you want to move into a new field or build your resume.
  • Buying something special. If you’re saving up for a big purchase, working a second job may help you get the funds together faster.

Whatever your reason for working two jobs, don’t sacrifice your health and well-being in the process. Let’s dig into the definition, causes, and symptoms of burnout so you know the signs.

What is burnout?

The American Psychological Association (APA) Dictionary of Psychology defines burnout as a state of physical, emotional, or mental exhaustion. Burnout often results in lower levels of motivation, decreased performance, and negative feelings about oneself and others. A recent survey revealed that 6 in 10 American workers currently experience some degree of burnout.

Burnout has a number of potential causes, including (but not limited to):

  • Too much (of the wrong) work. Many people assume burnout is caused by overwork. While this can certainly be a factor, a growing amount of research suggests you’re more likely to feel burned out when you don’t have a sense of the impact your work is producing.
  • Feeling too little control. Some individuals may burn out when they don’t feel like they have any control over their schedule or workload.
  • Little to no recognition. You’re less likely to burn out when you feel your work is appreciated and validated.
  • Low sense of belonging. Everyone wants to feel a sense of belonging in their workplace. Without that cohesion, the odds of burnout quickly increase.
  • Having poor work-life balance. It’s easy to bring stress from work into your personal life. Once this starts to impact your relationships and leisure time, burnout may be on the horizon.

Those beginning to experience burnout may notice symptoms like:

While burnout is a serious condition, there is still hope for treatment and future prevention. Keep reading to learn more about how to manage burnout.

Why burnout is a serious consideration when working two jobs

Being both a full- and part-time worker means you have fewer hours for rest and self-care. Developing a work-life balance can be quite challenging in these situations since you have very little time to recharge. Your productivity may drop, and you may struggle to cope with the stress you feel from your responsibilities.

Burnout can be physically hard on your body, and you may start getting sick more often. You may reach a point where you need to rest and stop working altogether.

However, some people can’t take an extended break. If you reach a point where you feel burned out, you might have to look for ways to recover while still on the job.

People who aren’t burned out but want to avoid reaching that point in the future can take additional preventative steps.

Having a work-life balance helps you excel professionally and stay energized. This balance is especially important for independent contractors and self-employed individuals who must proactively manage their own work schedule and protect themselves from working too much.

In the next section, we’ll cover five tips that will help you effectively manage your responsibilities while still prioritizing your own health and well-being.

5 tips to manage a full- and part-time job effectively

The following five tips will help you manage multiple jobs while avoiding burnout. This list isn’t exhaustive, but it represents a good start.

  1. Know your personal and professional goals
  2. Stay organized in everything you do
  3. Look for ways to be more efficient
  4. Take time off
  5. Remember to stay flexible

1. Know your personal and professional goals

Having a strong understanding of your personal and professional goals will help you focus on your top priorities and enable you to do your best work.

Start by identifying your overall purpose. Ask yourself questions like “What do I really want?” and “What’s most important to me?” Think about what you want the future to look like, and work backward to create steps that will help you get where you want to go.

Feeling added stress from keeping a second job a secret from a primary employer is pretty common. If this stress is caused by fears that you might be terminated from your full-time role because of your second job, it may be worth asking if the part-time job is appropriate.

But often, being open about your second job can help you feel less overwhelmed. It removes any guilt you might have about keeping secrets or fears that you might be caught. And you don’t have to worry about making up excuses when you have scheduling conflicts.

How open you are with anyone about what you do in your free time is largely a personal choice. But keep in mind that some employers require their workers to sign a noncompete clause. Ensure you don’t have such an agreement in place before pursuing a second job.

2. Stay organized in everything you do

You can’t (and shouldn’t) put your personal life on hold—even when you have two jobs. Since you don’t have as much free time, take extra steps to stay organized and ensure your personal and professional tasks are complete. Possible ideas include:

  • Tracking progress. This will provide a sense of accomplishment by measuring the tasks you finish and showing you when you’re most productive.
  • Creating to-do lists. Write down everything you need to do and organize the list based on the most urgent or high-priority tasks.
  • Using a calendar. Keeping track of scheduled meetings and events will keep you aware of what you have coming up so you don’t miss any appointments or obligations.
  • Keeping your environment clean. Maintaining a neat and tidy workspace will eliminate distractions and help you remain comfortable while you’re working.

3. Look for ways to be more efficient

You can’t create more time, but you can look for ways to be more efficient with your time. Limit how long you spend on nonessential activities that don’t contribute to your goals.

For example, many people can save time on commuting if their employer allows them to work from home.

Looking for more ways to boost your efficiency? Consider these ideas:

  • Set a timer. Also referred to as the Pomodoro Technique, this strategy can boost efficiency and improve time management by creating an additional sense of urgency to block distractions and finish your work.
  • Outsource household tasks. If you’re willing to spend a little extra money, you can outsource chores like laundry, house cleaning, and yard work.
  • Learn to say no. Being a full- and part-time employee simultaneously means you must develop the ability to turn down more opportunities—as hard as that may be.

4. Take time off

Work-life balance can be at stake when working two jobs. Time off helps you rest and enjoy life so you can return to work energized and motivated.

Remember that not all time off is created equal. Here are some tips to help you reap the greatest benefits from your time off work:

  • Pay attention to your body. Perhaps taking a nap or lying on the couch is the best way to spend your time off. Maybe you prefer to go for a run or spend time outside. Use your downtime to do whatever your body needs in the moment.
  • Complete personal tasks. Your time off may include tasks like running errands, changing your oil, or cleaning the house. While these activities aren’t entirely fun or relaxing, doing them will give you peace of mind and allow you to relax.
  • Disconnect. Physical time off won’t make much difference if you don’t mentally disengage. Give yourself a break from work emails and instant messages to truly disengage.

5. Remember to stay flexible

No matter how hard you work to create the perfect plan, the unexpected may still happen. In situations like this, it helps to be creative with your time and resources to complete the most important tasks when necessary.

Here are a few more ideas that could help:

  • Monitor your stress. All jobs produce some stress, but you must decide how much you can handle (especially over the long term).
  • Don’t neglect relationships. Working multiple jobs can strain your key relationships. Continue to carve out time in your schedule for family members and friends.
  • Know when to stop. Working two jobs might only be something you can do temporarily. Perhaps you need to develop an exit plan if you reach a point where being a full- and part-time employee simultaneously is no longer a viable option for you.

You may also find that leaving some white space or margin in your work schedule allows you to respond to urgent concerns without throwing off the rest of your to-do list or schedule. This is crucial when trying to manage full- and part-time employment at the same time.

Where can you find quality full and part-time jobs?

If you’re hunting for a full- or part-time job, you have several places to look. Many people use job boards or attend job fairs during their job search. Contacting professional organizations in the fields you’re interested in is also a good idea.

Keep in mind that you’ll want to find employers open to their employees working full- and part-time positions simultaneously and can offer flexibility to suit your personal lifestyle.

Upwork maintains an extensive database of open full-time positions and independent talent work opportunities. You can consider plenty of options that match your interests, passions, and skills.


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How To Work a Full- and Part-Time Job and Avoid Burnout
The Upwork Team

Upwork is the world’s work marketplace that connects businesses with independent talent from across the globe. We serve everyone from one-person startups to large, Fortune 100 enterprises with a powerful, trust-driven platform that enables companies and talent to work together in new ways that unlock their potential.

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