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How to manage side projects while having a full time job

Recorded – watch the full episode on YouTube.

What tips you have for folks who have their own side projects – what advice would you give them to help them do better?

Mayuko Inoue: So I have a video about how to manage a side gig along a full-time gig on my YouTube channel. So like and subscribe to https://youtube.com/helloMayuko, but yeah, I think I did the side gig thing for two years while I worked full-time as a software engineer. And it was challenging. I mean, I think I started my YouTube channel because originally I just wanted to do more stuff outside of my full-time role. I was just really hungry to be making an impact in a different way from the stuff I was doing in my nine to five. So I was just really, really wanted to freaking do this. But even with that hunger it was still hard to manage it.

There were times where it was crunch time at work, or I was just really burned out by everything else that was happening. There was a period when I was working at Patreon, and I was commuting three hours a day. And so life stuff was still happening all alongside that, but I just really enjoyed doing YouTube. Very early I defined what it was that I was trying to do on YouTube – my very first video I posted was a day in the life of a software engineer back in 2017. That went viral by pure chance and luck not anything about how the YouTube algorithm works. And so that kind of like set forward this momentum of me making more videos and actually having a channel and not just a one-off video, but yeah, I made that and I was just like, I don't know what I'm doing here though.

"I was just really a hungry to be making an impact in a different way from the stuff I was doing in my nine to five."

I made that video. That was fun. But what else should I make? I don't know! Should I be posting on Instagram now? What the heck am I doing? Luckily at that time, because I was working at Patreon, I was surrounded by a lot of incredible creator people. And I was able to talk to Jack Conte, who's the CEO of Patreon who is an amazing creator in his own right. He's been doing YouTube for so long. He's had many successful channels. And I was just like, "Jack, I don't know what the heck I'm doing." And he really helped me to focus what that was. He asked me some really hard questions: why did you make a video? Where do you see yourself in five years? What are you good at? What do you not want to be doing? What excites you?

It was these kind of intense questions that I had to ask myself – what am I doing here? What do I want to do? And so it was basically within that first six months that I was able to identify that I want to make YouTube content to help people from underrepresented backgrounds enter the tech industry and feel like they belong here. And that was kind of like my mission statement. I was like, “that is what I'm here to do. I don't know how I'm going to do it, but whatever I do it's for that one thing.” And that hasn't really largely changed that much. Like my thing is still very much about the tech industry feeling scary – everything that happens online, the conversations around Google and Facebook, etc, is just toxic.

How can we make it feel like we want people here? Because we do. And how do we make them feel like they can succeed? After I identified that it was really easy for me to get that motivation, whenever there was a video idea that came up. I was like, "Oh, why do I want to make this video? Because I want to help people who are having trouble with interviewing, or who were interested in iOS development." So I think really identifying that is important.

And the answer can be anything. It can be anything from, “it's going to help me get a job in the future,” to, “it's just fun. And I'm having a lot of fun doing it.” Or even, "I don't know yet, but I want to keep doing it."

"Motivation is the hardest thing when it comes to side gigs."

Those are all valid answers, but motivation is the hardest thing when it comes to side gigs. And I think asking yourself those questions and doing some really deep introspection can really help with that a lot. But I think in the meantime too, I went to therapy and I still go to therapy to help me balance my life better and make sure that I'm not burning out and making sure that everything else in my life is not suffering.

I'm someone who needs like nine hours of sleep and needs to eat well, or else I can't function as a human being. And I need other people to help me sometimes remind me to take care of myself. I think I do a pretty good job because I will stay in bed all day. But I think it's just a lot of introspection is what's worked for me for how to do all that.

Paul Hudson: I've got questions, but I just want to say, folks, she's absolutely right: therapy is amazing. Before lockdown, I saw a therapist every single week. It really, really helps having someone else to talk to. You know who's not going to judge you, who'll ask you very gentle questions, who wants the best for you. It is a huge thing.

"I think really identifying that, why do you, you want to do this is important. And the answer can be anything."

If you're listening and you're thinking should I get a therapist? You should get a therapist. I wish I could remember who tweeted this out, but they said you either go and see a therapist and deal with problems yourself, or you're making other folks deal with your problems for you. Someone's got to deal with them – it's either going to be your colleagues or it can be you and your therapist. So take the easy nice way.

Your mission statement is quite perfect. It's just beautiful – I love it! And I don't think perhaps everyone listening realizes that when you are having a very hard time in your full-time job and you've got family or friends or life gets in the way, your roof's leaking, who knows what, to then say, no, no, no. I'm going to still make time in my day, my week, whatever, to make this idea, this video. I know it will help people. And every video you make is a gamble, right? Because it might not be anywhere near popular enough given the amount of hours you put into it cause it's a lot of work making videos.

And so to say, I'm going to put this thing here and carve out extra time even though I'm feeling tired or worn out, I'll find the time to do that because you knew your audience needed it, want it, would benefit from it is just amazing. It's like a chef's kiss over YouTube Live. I just absolutely love that message because it's just exactly where I want more people to be.

This transcript was recorded as part of Swiftly Speaking. You can watch the full original episode on YouTube, or subscribe to the audio version on Apple Podcasts.

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