9 Ways to Take Advantage of Your Full-Time Job

From someone who currently has a 9-5 and a side hustle, it’s easy to see other people who work for themselves, sigh and say, “that would be so awesome.” And in my mind, that is “making it.”

But the truth of the matter is, it’s trading one set of problems for another. Instead of the dream of having a day to work from home, it becomes the struggle of making deadlines so you can get things done. Instead of freedom to do work you love it becomes the struggle of making something people will buy. Instead of the long commute to work it becomes the struggle to find new clients.

The more I’m alive, the more I’m discovering that it’s not going to be perfect on the other side – wherever the other side is. It’s never greener over there, unless you water it. You can make your full-time job as wonderful or as miserable as you want and trust me, I’m speaking to myself when I say that. So today I have compiled a list of ways to be thankful for your full-time job and also some ways to use it to your advantage. 



1. You have complete creative freedom

Having a full time job may not seem like a luxury, but for your creativity, it definitely is.

Due to the fact that you have a reoccurring paycheck from the 9-5 you can be as creative as you want to be. If you decide to quit your day job in a dramatic move of independence when you don’t have some solid footing (money coming in) it can be the end of your creativity.

It becomes less about the craft and more about getting paid. In Being Boss (a podcast for creative entrepreneurs) Emily Thompson says, “nothing kills creativity more than desperation.” I believe that to be true.

When you’re desperate to make money, you know you need to come up with a good idea it puts a lot of strain and pressure on your creativity. Some people thrive under this type of pressure and can make things happen rapidly, but for some of us the pressure can get to us and it can be harmful to the free-flowing creative juices. 


2. You can take risks

When you’re working a job with a steady paycheck you have the mental space and sometimes the financial freedom to take chances with your side hustle.

If you want to try something crazy and do an art installation downtown and see what will happen, you can without the worry that you won’t be able to pay your electric bill.

Especially if you’re just starting out and you haven’t found your niche, your audience, or your favorite medium, now is the time to experiment and see what you like. Find out what you’re best at and experiment with the process.

In the book “Ignore Everybody: And 39 Other Keys to Creativity” Hugh McLeod writes a chapter entitled “Keep Your Day Job” for this very purpose, calling it the sex and cash theory. Meaning there’s the day job: cash and the side hustle: sex, and when the side hustle becomes the day job you lose the drive and creativity in place of stress and worry. I don't know if  I agree with that 100%, but I can see some good points.

When you're doing your thing on the side, it's yours alone. You can take risks and be creative however you want and you can be very selective about what projects you work on. 


3. Use your job as a stepping stone

My older brother does property management and he wants to become a property owner and he said once, “your employer hires the competition,” meaning the job you have now can prepare you for what you want to do for yourself.

So if you’re currently at a full time job that is in a similar vein as what you want to do for yourself, learn all there is to know first. 

Rather than jump off the deep end before you may know all the ins and outs, take a step back and really learn the entirety of the job so you can see if it’s what you want to do or not. Use the time to your advantage and soap up as much experience as you can. 


4. Use your job’s resources

So, my 9-5 is at a specialty printing company where we do high end printing - which has some pretty nice perks. I have the opportunity to do some design work and I also am the prepress printer. So I print digital jobs. I’m currently learning about different kinds of paper, what kinds are best for which jobs and the mechanics of printing and design and it’s so beneficial to my skill set.

Even though my job can sometimes be stale from lack of creativity, it’s helping me become a better designer. Knowing the ins and outs of printing is very helpful in this industry.

Or if you work at an event management company and you want to be a wedding coordinator, soak up all the opportunities you have of managing so the transition can be seamless when you go off to start your own company.


5. Get free training

Your job is the one place where you can get paid for learning new things.

Like I said earlier, I do digital printing and design but I didn’t always do that. When I first got hired I did shipping and I grew into the role of prepress and printing later on.

When you work hard and show you’re a good student and you have the opportunity to move laterally (or hopefully up) in the company to a different department to do something you’re more passionate about. You never know until you ask.


6. Learn while doing the daily

If your job allows you the freedom to wear headphones this is perfect for you.

There are so many incredible resources at your fingertips from podcasts to youtube videos to webinars to lectures — use that opportunity to soak up and learn from the pros while in your cubicle.

Or, if you don’t have that opportunity, learn what you can on your lunch break, use that time to sketch, think and plan for your own personal projects.

At the print shop where I am, it's nice to have copy paper at my disposal. So when I'm at my desk and an idea hits me I can quickly grab a pencil and sketch it out or write it down. A lot of times I write things in the Notes section of my phone too. 

Having a quick way to scribble down ideas for you to mull over later is invaluable. 


 7. Go at your own pace

Like I said earlier, when you have a steady paycheck, the beauty is, you can work has much or as little on your side hustle as you want.

If your goal is to go full time at the end of the year, calculate how much free time in the day you have to work on things and plan accordingly.

If you don’t mind your full time job and are enjoying having both things going, take your time. The beauty of it is that it’s all up to you.

I watched a replay of an Ellechat which is a live weekly webinar from Lauren Hooker of Elle and Company the other day. The replay I watched was called “The Hang Ups of Starting a Blog or Business.” Lauren had a guest on and they chatted about how they started their businesses and blogs and the difficulties of starting. The guest, Robyn of Real Food Whole Life, made a shocking confession (to me anyway).

Amidst her wildly successful blog she maintains her full time job.

I would think once you start monetizing it’s 'see ya later' to your 9-5. But Robyn was saying how she enjoyed that she had a lot of creative freedom because she had a steady income from her full time job.

She said she may make the transition but she admitted that she was very happy with the current situation and that was really encouraging to me, knowing that it IS possible to grow something while maintaining a full time job and a life.


8. Develop social skills

If your job interacts with customers this can be a great chance to work on the client relationship and understand how things work, what client meetings look like, or how to interact with people in different scenarios.

So, for me, at my full time job I was given the task to do some event branding for a local business. I had never worked one-on-one with a client before so I was really excited to get started.

But, as it turned out, it was one of those horrible client experiences. But the experience showed me a lot of different dimensions of the client relationship. It also showed me how to handle situations in the future. Now I can better approach difficult customers for my own business.


9. Grow your side hustle organically

Do you know what grow organically means?
It’s means growing really slowly.

Which can definitely be a bummer especially if you really don’t like your full time job.

But, growing organically is the sure way to a successful long-term business.

Sure, you have some of those jobs that happen overnight but most of them have taken a lot of blood, sweat, tears and time. It takes time to grow your thing and I think there’s no way around it.

Whether it be months or years it will take a little while. With the financial reassurance of a 9-5 you can afford for your side hustle to grow slowly. If you up and quit your job the day you launch your site it may be a bad idea simply because you haven’t built up an audience.

Don’t be discouraged if you’re growing slowly and still maintain a 9-5, right now you can take your time, develop your craft, get paid to learn more and you have the option of taking risks. I say, it’s a win-win-win-win.

Do you relate if you have a full time job?

What, if any, are your plans for transitioning to working for yourself?