Keeping spirits high while working full time

Or: Building a business while having a stressful job

I previously wrote about how it is hard to split your time between differnet deisciplines you have to juggle as a solo founder. However when bootstrapping many solo founders work a regular job, while building things on the side. This can be pretty exhausting and I'm starting to feel it.

I'm still working 32 hours per week in a regular job, in order to keep the lights on and because I don't want to risk it all by quitting my job without having another safe income. When work gets stressful though, it is hard to focus on building things after work. You're already exhausted coming home but there is this voice in your head, reminding you of the contract you made with yourself, to push your side project. Phew. So what do you do?

Focus on what you love – or whatever works
Whenever I feel overwhelmed by work, or any other situation really, I go to the gym. It's my outlet for more than ten years now and I know that I can always go there and come back home in a more relaxed state of mind. It is kind of counter intuitive, because I'm more exhausted (physically) than before working out. However having a 'thing' that helps you keep balance is awesome, no matter what it is. I highly reccomend everybody to find their 'thing' and stick to it, especially when everything is stressing you out and there seemingly is no time to waste.

Separation of concerns
As developers we often talk about separation of concerns, meaning you should split up different things into their homogeneous parts instead of mixing them. Funny enough this can also be applied to the rest of your life. I often fail at it but keeping your worries about work at work and not taking them home (separating your concerns) can be super helpful. If you manage to do it, you keep bad energy and stress away from what you love and your brain will keep associating yur side-project with all the fun and joy it brings, even though it is never all fun — I know.

Talk to people, take your time, have fun!
If you're anything like me, you are building a business because it's kinda fun! Making money with it is more or less important but I would never endure the process of building a product without enjoying it. It's a good idea to keep that in mind when things get stressful. The entire endeavour is supposed to be fun, not add stress! It's also important to be realistic about your goals – Businesses aren't built overnight. What often helps to reinforce this is talking to people. Close friends, family but also (maybe most importantly) people who are also on their way to build a business on the side. It helps to see that they are going - or have gone - through the same things.

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