When the clock strikes 5 PM, it’s quitting time! Well, maybe for everyone else.

But if you work multiple jobs, it’s time to re-focus and get back to work—for the rest of the night. And when you finally hit the hay at midnight, you only have a few short hours before you wake up at the crack of dawn to start all over again.

Working multiple jobs isn’t all that uncommon, whether you’re saving up money, starting your own business, or gaining experience in an unfamiliar industry. But with early mornings, late nights, and way too many responsibilities to keep track of, it’s pretty hard to find a balance between fulfilling your commitments to those jobs and maintaining your sanity.

I’ve been working two jobs for several months now, and while I still don’t have that balance down pat, I have picked up a few strategies that have made my work-packed life a little easier. If you’re on the verge of losing your mind (or quitting your extra jobs), try these five tips to get back on track.

 

Find Quick Fixes for Life Tasks

When work takes over, the other things necessary for a healthy, balanced life often become afterthoughts. Think it was tough to make dinner or have a regular workout routine when you had one job? Add a second (or third!) and the feat seems nearly impossible.

But in my experience, staying active and filling my body with good fuel plays a big part in keeping me sane and energized. And while I can’t commit to a comprehensive workout every day, I have found that I can at least do something. Try taking a walk or climbing up and down your building’s stairs a few times during your lunch hour. Or, look for a video workout that’s sensitive of your time constraint (30 Day Shred and Insanity have some half-hour workouts that are easy to squeeze in your day).

You can also find ways to simplify your cooking routine. (After a few too many Taco Bell dinner runs, I realized needed to give myself some quick options at home.) Crock-pot meals are great—throw a bunch of ingredients in before work and dinner will be ready by the time you get home. Or, make a triple batch of your favorite dinner recipe on the weekend and eat leftovers throughout the week.

Plan Out Your Week Ahead of Time

If you’re not keeping a close eye on your work schedule (as well as your social calendar), unexpected events can easily pop up and ruin your productivity. Just when you think you have a free night to work on your freelance projects, your other boss calls you to remind you about the charity gala you’re required to attend that same night.

To help keep your priorities straight (and your sanity intact), take a few moments over the weekend to think through your schedule for the week. For example, maybe there’s a meeting or happy hour you want to attend on Wednesday night, so you’ll need to shift the majority of your evening work to Monday and Tuesday.

Once you see your workload distributed throughout the week, you can also make a smart decision about anything else that pops up—if you have to decline a dinner invitation, you’ll know way ahead of time (saving you those awkward last minute “I’m so sorry, but I have to ditch tonight” phone calls). In the long run, you’ll be able to get your work done more efficiently—and fit in some time for the fun stuff, too.

Give Yourself Some Time Off

When you work multiple jobs, you’ll often hear advice to take at least one full day off during the week. And if you have the flexibility and schedule to do that, by all means—take it!

On the other hand, your mega-packed work schedule may not allow you to take an entire day off—and even if you try, you may not be able to shake that guilty feeling that creeps up when you’re baking cookies and watching a Real Housewives marathon instead of doing something job-related (I’ve been there!).

In the end, I don’t block out an entire day to myself, but I do try to give myself at least a few hours fully off at some point during the week. And more importantly, I focus on letting my mind relax, instead of worrying about the work I’ve done or still have left to do—which brings us to the next point:

When You’re Not Working, Don’t Think About Work

Juggling two jobs can have your mind spinning—for one job, you’re worrying about your expense reports and sales deadlines, and for the other, you’re racking your brain about whether you approved your employees’ timecards. Even when you’re not technically working at any job, it’s common for your thoughts to take over and prevent you from actually relaxing—which completely sabotages the little time off you do have.

There’s no magic cure for this, but to help you get your mind off work when you’re, well, off work, start by keeping running to-do lists of what you need to do at each job—and what you’ve actually done. When you physically cross “approve employee timecards” and “submit expense reports” off your to-do lists, you’ll be able to rest easy, knowing that your responsibilities are taken care of.

Then, once you know your to-dos are taken care of, try to separate yourself from your work. If you have a work cell phone or constant access to your work email, leave it at home, upstairs, or anywhere where it won’t constantly alert you about every new email. I’m not saying ignore your work—but for a few hours, make sure it’s out of sight (and out of mind).

Keep the End Goal in Sight

Let’s face it—you’re probably not working multiple jobs and 100 or more hours per because you’re bored and have nothing better to do with your time. You might be trying to pay off student loans or saving up for a down payment on a house. Maybe you’re freelancing to try to break into a new field—or to start your own company. Whatever your reason, this extra job (or jobs) is getting you just a little closer to that goal.

So when you’re entrenched in the day-to-day of your multiple jobs, it’s important to keep that end goal in mind—and remember that it is, in fact, an end goal. That means: You won’t be working this many jobs forever.

To stay motivated, keep a realistic time frame in mind. For example, once you earn a certain amount, you’ll quit at least one of your extra jobs. Or, maybe once you hit the year mark at a part-time, experience-gaining job, you’ll start looking for a full-time gig.

But for now, remind yourself to look at your jobs as the means to that end—they’re temporary, and as long as you can power through for a little longer, you’ll reach your ultimate goal.

Tell us! How do you survive working multiple jobs?

Photo of busy woman courtesy of Shutterstock.