Maintaining mental and emotional focus is key to prevent burnout. While you can try working multiple remote jobs by brute force through overworking, why do that when you can try practicing good S.P.A.C.E. – sleep, presence, activity, creativity, eating – and get into an effortless state and getting more things done in less time. We’ll take a closer look at how you can stop on top of your Overemployed game of navigating multiple meetings and to-do lists while preventing physical and mental burnout.
Why Sleep Is Important To Prevent Burnout
A common factor in success in two jobs is, of course, concentration and focus. Sleep is at the heart of it. Without sleep, you’re not protecting your knowledge worker’s asset, aka your brain. Without sleep, we lose focus and our ability to prioritize. This is what sets the Overemployed Pros from the rest of the pack. If you get into a lack of sleep, it becomes a vicious downward spiral. Before you know it, you lose concentration and focus, and your stress begins to increase, further impacting your sleep, focus, and eventually burnout. Therefore, protect the asset. Get 8 to 8.5 hours of sleep, it’s the new Overemployed status symbol. Plus, with a full night of sleep every night, you feel like a million bucks! What’s not to like. Pro tip: try keeping your phone away from the bedroom and reading or meditating before sleep every night – we call it getting into a pre-sleep flow state. We love rituals and routines, the foundation of living a sustainable Overemployed life.
What Leads To Burnout When Working Two Jobs
While working from home, there are tons of distractions, from your other job to kids and roommates. Over time, these micro stressors pile up and lead to burnout, putting you in a constant state of anxiety and leading to a lack of motivation and apathy. It’s essential to keep micro stressors in check with plan periods of 90-minutes focus time. Check out the symptoms of burnout here.
Multitasking Is A Myth
Brain scans and scientific studies have proven that humans are unable to multitask. When people claim they can do “two things at once,” it is essentially context switching back and forth really quick. Similar to working two jobs. You can’t be working two jobs “at the same time” since it’s scientifically impossible. Convincing your employers of this concept is another story, especially when you’ve got a heartless boss who doesn’t care what you’ve to do for your kids or your mental health.
“You’re not paying attention to one or two things simultaneously but switching between them very rapidly.”NPR
Similarly, do you notice it takes time to get “in the zone?” A University of California-Irvine study claims that it takes 30 minutes to refocus once you are distracted. The key takeaway here is to try to chunk your concentration between two jobs in three to five 90-minutes blocks if that’s possible. More on that in timeboxing below.
Identify Factors Impacting Concentration and Focus
To improve success at two jobs, you need to know the factors that impact your concentration and control it. These are some of the major factors:
-Nutrition and Diet
-Stress (sleep, presence)
-External distractions (presence, stay in the moment)
-Lack of motivation (creativity over monotony)
If there’s one takeaway from all of this, it’s to remember to practice your S.P.A.C.E. daily. We recommend a 5-year journal to track your S.P.A.C.E. and your 5-year Overemployed journey to financial freedom, reflecting back each day what you did on this exact day 1, 2, 3, or 4 years ago.
Strategies To Prevent Burnout While Working Two Remote Jobs
One strategy to help with concentration and focus is timeboxing. Timeboxing can give a greater sense of control over your workday. To do this, you set a block of time and assign it to a specific task and only that task. This forces you to think about what is the highest priority and block off distractions. Apply this to your calendar. With WFH, a lot of companies are introducing “focus” time.” This is timeboxing.
Sleep is paramount to learning, memory consolidation, and focus. Lack of sleep increases cortisol which leads to anxiety. Use #1 – Timeboxing to help keep to a regular sleep schedule. Sleep is usually the first thing that gives when things get stressful. Have you noticed that your mind drifts when you don’t get enough sleep? It’s no coincidence. You don’t want to lose focus and mix up your job #1 with your job #2 during concurrent meetings. The bad news bear follows after that.
3) Block WFH Distractions
This one is obvious. Blocking the distractions sounds simple, but we find ourselves addicted to distractions in today’s connected world. We subconsciously reach for our phone, even if it’s not in our pocket. In an office environment, there’s tons of way to go about it.
- Setup do-not-disturb time.
- Do not use reply all.
- Turn off notifications
4) Exercise And Eat A Healthy Diet
As a knowledge worker, your number one mission is to PROTECT THE ASSET, aka your brain. Super obvious, right? Also, tons of studies have proven that exercise and what you eat are paramount to operating at the highest level. Working two jobs, you might find yourself engrossed in an intense work schedule that you forget to exercise. It’s also super common for people to skip meals, eat at your desk, or grab unhealthy fast food. An important strategy we use is to plan and stick to a schedule. Use meal prep companies to get prepared ingredients shipped to you.
5) To-Do Lists
To-do lists are classic and time-honored methods for productivity, concentration, and focus. Thinking through what you need to do and listing them will help you prioritize and minimize what you need and don’t need. Just keep it short, like 1-2 things for the day, inclusive of personal and work. The to-do list also keeps you accountable to make sure you finish what you set out to do. Add all of the above strategies (1-4) to keep yourself accountable to practice S.P.A.C.E. and perform at your best in both two jobs.
Keep Your Health In Mind Above All Else
All these tips should be evident in today’s world hyperconnected world (try Digital Minimalism when not working). But above all, we can use a reminder once in a while. It’s far too easy to get caught up with the stress of working two jobs and spiral into burnout. Remember, you became Overemployed to prioritize life not work.
Finally, remember there is always the choice of dropping one of your jobs. Ask yourself why you started two positions in the first place. None of this is worth it if you cannot keep your health and focus on what matters, your family.
This is the way to preventing burnout.
How do you handle family time? I am 2 months into J2, and just had a big fight with my husband wanting attention.
I am confortable with both jobs, love the extra income, just that I get tired sometimes.
How do you make it so that you don’t stop paying attention to your personal health and relationships?
Have your husband get off their butts and do 2J as well…pull your weight man! On a more serious note, setting boundaries and getting buy-ins from your significant other is all part of the OE managing expectations.
I’m in a somewhat different situation: Not in tech, almost 60 (so could retire if necessary) but I started working on a building a side gig after reading about this in the WSJ. I work a management job and for a few years, I worked as a college adjunct professor at night, mainly because I wasn’t being challenged at work and I enjoyed it. But anyone who’s worked as an adjunct will tell you that you’ll never get rich.
My main job is a bit boring but we all often work at home at night or on the weekend, either to catch up or to replace time out of the office on personal matters. I always thought I could change industries and become a consultant, if only I wasn’t tied to a butt-in-the-seat job. Voila! The WFH covid pandemic gives me the opportunity – hey now I can take classes or train and be doing something on the side, have meetings, call people, go to another workplace. Now that I’m not tied to 8-5 then I can always make up time at night after doing other things during the day.
I’ve made big strides starting a consulting-type business: It could earn a lot, it fits my personality and will allow me to be my own boss and work from anywhere. I’ve done so much already. Marketing plan written and networking has started. Contract development, done. Training class almost done.
Management types have done this forever but the risk is that our employment rules specifically prohibit outside employment without permission, which I doubt they would give because my consulting is too close to our business. I won’t cross ethical lines, won’t solicit business from clients or potential clients of my main job.
In my industry everyone knows everyone so there is no way to get another job without people finding out. But consulting is different than applying a for a job using references. There is some risk that they’ll find out and fire me, but I’ve decided that it’s better to beg forgiveness than ask permission. The other thing is that I’m leaving my LinkedIn profile up, for consulting marketing purposes, so someone may tell the people at my job. After I get the business up and running, I’ll quit the main job or go part-time for health insurance or something.
I haven’t been this excited in a long time.
We’re excited for you! Welcome to the Overemployed journey. Re-discovering a purpose in life is always exciting — like being a kid again!
Thank you Isaac. I have tried working part-time in the past and being honest with my employer about how many hours I was putting in. I got just as much done as my full-time coworkers, yet I was paid significantly less and faced overwhelming discrimination – all because I was transparent about being part-time. I’m back full time now with a different company, but the experience left me extremely jaded. So, the next time I decide to work part-time, I am not going to tell a soul and I’m guessing nobody will be the wiser.
Great site Isaac! there is just one thing holding me back. Can your new employer contact your current employer on the last date with current employer during the background verification process?
Why even show them about your current employer if you don’t have to?
Background checks typically come before offers (or offers are contingent on background checks). So your new employer wouldn’t expect you to have put in a resignation yet. And if your current employer needs to be made aware of job search for the check, you can always tell them you weren’t offered or declined the position.
A good way to get proper sleep is to take a bath or shower before bed. IA bath or shower is better than alcohol or other products.
First off, I want to say I love this site, even though most of the articles aren’t relevant to my desired goal. I am an older knowledge worker, looking to cut down my hours significantly while still getting paid for a full time job. So my goal is similar to yours, but without the extra job. I would love to see an article or section of your website devoted to folks like me. Cheers.
Oh, this is a great suggestion thank you! I’ve been thinking about how work and life would be in a few years once I’ve reached financial freedom, and much like you, I’ll probably still want to work (and get subsidized health insurance) but at 20-25 HPW (hours per week) at most. A bit futuristic for me, but I’ll try to put myself in your shoes and write a post on what life looks like post-OE.
Thank you Isaac. I have tried working part-time in the past and being honest with my employer about how many hours I was putting in. I got just as much done as my full-time coworkers, yet I was paid significantly less and faced overwhelming discrimination – all because I was transparent about being part-time. I’m back full time now, but the experience left me extremely jaded.
The difference is, with financial independence you then get the power to be much more selective with the work you choose to do and what you put up with from an employer.