In my previous articles, I introduced the concept of the “Gig Economy”: the increase of free-lance, contract, project, part-time and multiple-jobs work which is signaling a change in how we see “career”, work and the entire job-search process and employer/employee relationship.
In this article, I will discuss one of the biggest challenges the Gig Economy presents to workers: how to manage their time, both when busy with multiple gigs and when in between gigs.
Unlike “stable” jobs, the gig economy doesn’t guarantee a Monday-Friday or 9-5 schedule. Neither it means working for just one employer or in one single role or job tittle.
Those who by choice or by force are part of the Gig Economy may find themselves either too busy juggling many gigs or with too much time in their hands. The more professional or specialized you are, the more control you may have over when and how you tackle projects, which allows you to manage your time wisely and take time off to explore areas you were not able to when you were employed full-time.
Once you jump into the Gig Economy, you may have to develop higher time management skills. In the more traditional jobs, employers are concerned about your time off: how many vacation days or sick time you take (based on what they allow you), when you start and when you leave. They are, however, much less concerned about how you use the time while you are inside the office. This leads to a lot of burn-out, laziness and boredom as employers are either overwhelmed with tasks or get excessive time in between tasks depending on how efficient and quick they are. As a result, you are not required to manage your time: you just need to show up. Most of the times, the company you work for, your manager or supervisor will manage the amount of work you’ll have.
In the Gig Economy, managing your time is key. You need to become organized and efficient and juggle what may be different projects and employers or clients at the same time. Having a calendar, an agenda and a routine, and knowing how to relax after each gig is essential.
The Gig Economy also provides with long periods of time off (or, if you are smart, you can plan them yourself). This may happen because you can’t find gigs (or clients) or because you decided to take a well-deserved break. What to do with this time?
The main difference between a “traditional” job from one in the Gig is that in a traditional job (quickly disappearing) you work hard, get a two-week/year vacation and plan to retire after 40+ years of usually non-stop work in the same type of industry. In the Gig Economy, however, you get to use many more skills and may work in different industries (sometimes at the same time) but your periods of “unemployment” may be longer than two weeks and you may not want (or may not be able) to retire at the same age as you have planned.
So here are some ideas of how to use that “in-between” time:
- Take a well-deserved rest and explore hobbies, visit family, read those books accumulating on your shelves, watch movies, play with your children, write....instead of having one big retirement when you may not be healthy or strong enough, why not take many “retirements” now and truly enjoy life.
- Go back to school: training in a new skill you are curious about will provide skills you can use in the next gig, an opportunity that is closed to those working full-time.
- Network: this is an excellent time to really connect at a deeper level with people and organizations you would like to work with/for and may lead to a great gig!
- Plan your next move: use this time to reflect on your life and decide whether you want to continue in the same city, with the same lifestyle or career or may want to open your own business or consultancy.
- Work on a “survival” job with the goal of learning new skills and getting money flowing while you plan your next move.
- Volunteer, apply to an internship or become an apprentice for a trade you always were curious about. These are all excellent ways to get training and explore new areas without risking money or committing to a long-term job you may end up not liking.
- Get a notebook and write every idea about what you would like to do with the time off when you leave that job when you get laid off or are in between gigs. This list will help you to decide how to make the best of that incredible gift that not enough people enjoy in these days of “busyness”: time to live your life!