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Moonlighting: Juggling multiple jobs to earn more

Last updated on: August 10, 2010 14:10 IST

Photographs: Uttam Ghosh Preeti Bose

Moonlighting or working multiple jobs at the same time is gradually catching on as more young people sacrifice their free time for the chance to do something more rewarding (either professionally, financially or otherwise). So, what is it that makes them take up a second job? What is it that gives them the vigour and will to carry on when, at the end of a long day, their body says, 'No way!' but their spirit says, 'Oh yes!'

Vivek Sharma, a Pushcart nominated poet, published scientist, and currently a post-doctoral research associate in mechanical engineering at MIT has thought through how to juggle more jobs than one. "The only means of multitasking is by involving your most honest abilities and trained instincts in extra work that is intellectually, spiritually or economically necessary, or as the Mahabharata says it, the four drivers being Artha, Kama, Dharma and Moksha."

Well, we all have our reasons. For most however this is why they decide to moonlight:

Meeting expenses and managing a better lifestyle
One of the primary reasons for anybody to take up another job is to make ends meet. I remember working two jobs at the start of my career just so I could get things that would have been out of reach with only one paycheck. It was draining at times, but the focus on having some money for a rainy day and a better lifestyle kept me going!

Aspiring for an enhanced quality of work life
The usual array of work sometimes is just not enough to keep us going. Some of us need the high of a much more well-rounded work life. As Debadatta Baxi, rewards manager with a confections company who is also a freelance writer, confesses, "While being part of some of the best companies where I was asked to put in eight hours diligently, go home, sleep well and come back rested, I strove to maintain a solid work-life balance. But I wanted to slog and learn the maximum because I admired TINA (There Is No Alternative to hard work), I would write in my free time."

Chasing dreams
Some begin moonlighting in search of their childhood dreams. 2Blue aka Tirthankar Poddar, lead singer of the Mumbai-based rock band Zedde and a senior IT professional reminisces, "As a teenager, when I heard songs like AC/DC's Back in Black, Led Zeppelin's Black Dog, and Deep Purple's Highway Star for the first time, my life was suddenly mapped out before me. Today, I love my Dr Jekyll-Mr Hyde lifestyle.

"While some see me as a meticulous project management professional, others only know the reckless rock 'n' roller. And these two extreme characters, residing in the same physical body, seldom co-exist peacefully. It sure is a tightrope walk when it comes to doing justice to these completely separate lives, but this is what drives me and keeps me alive."

Preeti Bose heads learning and development for an FMCG company in Gurgaon. The views expressed in this article are personal and not of her organisation.

Turning a casual hobby into passion

Sometimes, one of our casual hobbies slowly morph into something vital, something that leads us to a change in our vocation. Shekhar Shidaye, a former graphic designer in an MNC, says, "With my experience, I was more into managerial activities which were not creative; and not my ultimate goal. I continued working and one day I just realised that I have a passion to travel and photography was my hobby already. So, why not mix both and start enjoying life once again?"

Enjoying a thrill and excitement away from a humdrum existence
Raamesh Gowri Raghavan, poet and writer by night and copywriter by day, admits pretty candidly, "Scribo ergo sum (I write, therefore I am). I have a day job writing copy lines for myriad ads. A day job that demands a two-hour harried morning commute, running after buses, jumping into moving trains et al.

"There are approvals and rejection from bosses, meeting people, smiling at strangers, running around, doing and undoing paperwork, brainstorming, brain-draining, thinking, banging my head against the wall for that one great-selling line. And then going back home, too tired, too exhausted to do anything. To do anything but write, that is. I write because I must. I'll die if I don't. It isn't just a passion. It's existence."

Preparing for career change
A drastic change from one profession to another can be unsettling for some of us. Panning it out over a period of time makes sense. Shidaye finally took the plunge from freelancing to full-time photography recently as he felt the transition was long due!

"Slowly but steadily, while I was taking pictures, I developed my own photographic style to present things the way I see them. My work improved to such a degree that seniors in the field of photography appreciated my work and asked me to be more dedicated. Now, I am into full-time photography working on my favourite subjects including travel, documentary, corporate and feature photography!"

Dos and don'ts of moonlighting

Get a job that is as interesting and/or rewarding
Unless the second job offers either money or gratification at least in some measure, it can be tough to carry on. "Planning and, to a certain extent, stretching myself has allowed me to focus on my enthusiasm in writing articles despite hectic schedules. I have been successfully managing this even today only because I enjoy doing this with a passion," admits Baxi.

Check with your primary employer
Most companies have policies about conflict of interest and employees are made to sign agreements to ensure against the same. Check with the HR department of your current organisation that your second job does not come in the way of carrying out your duties, either in terms of time or nature of the task.

Start with a short-term assignment
Before you launch completely into another profession, it might be prudent to test waters. Short-term assignments that do not take too much of your day will lend you a fair idea about the money, satisfaction, and hours involved. You will be richer in more ways than one and can take educated decisions based on first-hand experience.

Manage time well
Keep moments aside for your family and friends and your primary job/profession. Your second assignment should not cut in into anything that is otherwise important to you. Poddar is fortunate that his project timelines can be managed by the project leaders and managers.

"I'm the point of escalation as far as timelines and day-to-day transaction level activities go. Of course, I monitor them but my absence doesn't get in the way of deliverables. Also, I mostly play on weekends and that's another blessing," he happily states.

Baxi corroborates the view: "Prioritising and focusing on what is important has always been the first thing during a working day."

Beware of burnout
Shidaye puts is simply. "Initially, sacrificing lazy weekends was little tougher than I had expected. This was hectic initially, but then juggling between weekdays at office and my passion on weekends became easier as I was able to follow the important switch-on and switch-off theory."

As is evident, burnout can either be mental or physical. You need to draw a line between adrenaline rush and exhaustion!

Keep the distances close
If you are really in need of a second job, the easier thing will e to ask your current employer for extra task/shift for additional compensation. If this does not work out, take up a second job that preferably offers the convenience of work
from home. If this is beyond span of control, at least try to save yourself a long commute at the end of the day. Save the energy for the second job; not the tiring commute!

Sharma further elucidates on multitasking: "Multitasking comes spontaneously to some extent, but as tasks become tedious or tremendous, the will to do multiple things will come from the will to hold on to a love, an ideal, an idea or an image about oneself. I am a scientist for ninety percent of my waking hours, but the poet/writer within who gets less than ten hours by choice, sustains my inner self."

He goes on to lay it out beautifully. "The will sustains us, strategy ensures that we get to different fronts in time for proper assault, and yet, this does put a considerable strain on the self. If you are like me, if you burn both sides of the candle, you burn more and you burn faster. But, "I know my words, like embers, with turn to dust/ and yet I burn, for dazzle I must."

Why we do what we do is critical. Some like to take it easy, some thrive on pushing the envelope to continue taking in all that life has to offer. To each their own!