To succeed at having a side hustle, you must have an unreasonable amount of passion. Especially if what you’re passionate about isn’t related to your career.
Fortunately for me, my passion aligns with my career. I’m a filmmaker and I have worked in post-production at RPA ad agency’s in-house production company for four years. I recently released a feature documentary called "The Honest Struggle," which is about an ex-gang leader coming home and reinventing himself after serving over two decades in prison. The film took me about 10 years to make and I was somehow able to pull it off with the following tricks.
Embrace the FOMO
We’ve all experienced "FOMO" or the fear of missing out. I had to get used to this feeling. You must be willing to basically socially outcast yourself. Hanging out with friends on the weekend wasn’t an option for me. I used my weekends and nights to work on my film and I got really used to telling my friends and co-workers I was missing that party, show, dinner, etc. Trying to have a killer social life while working on an ambitious project doesn’t work for someone who works a 9-5 for a living.
Work Closer to the Hustle
I was only able to complete The Honest Struggle because my work at Helium, our production department at RPA, really lines up with what I’m passionate about. My co-workers helped design the art for the film and I was able to utilize equipment and space to make the project a reality. The agency even gave me an award that recognized me for pursuing a passion project outside of work. The award, called Beyond RPA, recognizes associates who inspire their peers with their pursuits outside the agency. The goal is to celebrate the lives associates lead outside of work. If your workplace isn’t supportive of what you do, you should look elsewhere to find something more open to you pursuing the hustle. Make the most out of the time you have Because most of my time during the day is spent at work, I had to learn to be resourceful. When you’re taking on large passion projects, you learn to multitask. You juggle multiple projects and multiple relationships. You learn to be super focused and it forces you to be organized. I use the Pomodoro Technique and I’ve found it to be incredibly helpful. You spend 25 minutes focusing and take a five-minute break in between. Besides my weekend dedication to my side hustle, I used all the time I wasn’t at work for my project. Living in Southern California, you can’t escape traffic. So I used my time in the car to make calls related to my film.
Collaborate Like a Killer Bee
Be a collaborator. While I was making my film, I identified key players that could help me in various aspects of the production from helping to fill in as sound people, writing grants, doing outreach, and transcribing audio. Additionally, people in my networks who were pros at these tasks were happy to exchange services for their own projects down the line.
I’m a big digital calendar person. I use Google calendar to help remind me of my tasks for the day. If I don’t get to something, I can easily drag and drop the task to another day. I use Calend.ly to schedule phone calls so I don’t waste 10 emails trying to coordinate a time that works for everyone. If your passion is something you can only do outside of work, set benchmarks. Give yourself deadlines, prioritize, skip out on hanging with friends on the weekend, make the most of your time and organize and you’ll see that it’s possible to accomplish everything you want. I’ve found that creating work that you truly care about is a great way to avoid burnout in the long haul that is your career. The 9-5 can feel like an endless hamster wheel without fulfillment, but I have found a great sense of purpose in my work outside the 9-5. Not only has it made me a happier person and a better employee, it has helped shine a light on a story of people who underserved and overlooked.
Justin Mashouf is a senior editor at RPA Los Angeles.