How to Survive a Month with 3 Jobs

Money is obviously a factor but the lack of sleep quickly outweighs that.

Several friends and people online asked why I haven’t posted any articles in over two months, when I was going to be, and why I haven’t returned their calls or Facebook invites to dinner.

The reason: in December I had three jobs.

And not just three part time, burger flipping jobs, three full time, complex, and time consuming programming jobs.

I was teaching client side and server side JavaScript at Full Sail University, working as a lead architect on a multimillion dollar medical records project for the government, and consulting with a very fun and successful startup called NeoReach.

Here is what I learned.

Time Management

I’ve hated sleeping since I was born and have fought against it my entire life. This lack of wanting to sleep gives me extra time to do work late into the nights. I’ve never pushed this too much, usually getting at least five to six hours of sleep each night, but December of 2014 was different.

When you work you trade time for money. If you work too much you start running out of time for things like socializing and sleep. In these situations you start trading your relationships and sleep for money and when you do that you start becoming antisocial and fatigued which leads to frustration and grumpiness.

I was working at my government programming job from 8AM to 4PM, my Full Sail job from 6PM to 1AM, and my consulting job was scattered throughout the day while I wanted for emails or messages from the first two jobs.

I would end class at 1AM, go home, and struggle to turn my brain off, knowing how much I had to do when I woke up. Often I would get to bed around 2AM or 3AM and wake up at 7:30AM to prepare my notes for my daily 8:30AM meeting.

For short periods of work this is okay but over a month of time it starts affecting your work and your life in general.

How Lack of Sleep Affected Me

Like most people, I found with lack of sleep my brain was always in a haze. I couldn’t think clearly or quickly. When you’re flipping burgers it’s not a problem, but when you’re paid for your brain power it is.

I also became irritable quickly, especially at myself. I pride myself on my ability to articulate complex ideas in an easy to understand manner to a large audience. It’s one reason I became a teacher and consultant, and is usually what I’m hired to do, but with lack of sleep I wasn’t able to speak quickly or confidently. I wasn’t able to get people organized and moving forward correctly on a project, which meant that I had to spend more time helping them one on one, which in turn lead to even less sleep and a foggier brain the next day.

Why Would Anyone Do This

Money is obviously a factor but the lack of sleep quickly outweighs that.

For me it was because I like working. I like interacting with groups of people on projects and seeing the project progress.

I didn’t want to leave Full Sail because I liked my job and the interaction it brought, I didn’t want to quit the government job because I wanted to help shape the project and see it through until the next major release, and I didn’t want to stop consulting because I wanted to be involved with a sound minded startup like NeoReach. In all three jobs I also enjoyed the people I worked with, which is something that I rarely hear people say.

The Solution

Obviously I had to quit some jobs, but which ones? I had worked at Full Sail for nearly three years and met a large amount of great students who have gone on to work in amazing positions, I had only worked for the government for six months, and I was just starting work with NeoReach.

The obvious job to cut was Full Sail.

I gave my two week notice and concluded my job in January working only part time.

In December my government job became a remote job, which freed up more time because I no longer had to commute to the job site. I was free to work from home.

These two events gave me some time back and for a short time I was feeling better.

But in mid January something happened. NeoReach was growing. They wanted more time from me and asked me to come on full time. I knew I couldn’t make the schedule work, but they basically made me an offer I couldn’t refuse in terms of pay and involvement.

NeoReach wanted me to run their development team. They were willing to let me run it however I wanted as long as deadlines were hit.

While I had been doing something similar with the government I couldn’t say no to a startup. The government project was massive and every decision required multiple layers of approval before it would get implemented. Because of this it would often take several weeks to make simple changes, such as implement a session caching server like Redis.

NeoReach on the other hand was nimble and quick, making changes to their product as the market changed. It took them less than six hours to get Redis installed and working as a caching layer. It would be another week before it would get deployed into production but their organization and lean startup mentality is what made them appealing.

About two weeks ago I gave my two week notice at the government job finishing up my tasks and leaving. While working there for only six months isn’t what I wanted to do I felt the pros of working at NeoReach outweighed the cons of leaving the government position.

Tomorrow I start my full time position at NeoReach and I am sure I will sleep well tonight knowing that for the foreseeable future I won’t be slowly killing myself from lack of sleep.

So, How Do You Survive a Month with Three Jobs?

Simple. You get organized and become dedicated to following a schedule. You become efficient with your words and interactions because any wasted time is less time you have to sleep. You stop doing your hobbies and try to get your fun from knowing how much work you are getting done.

But the best way to survive a month with three job is simply not to. Quit two of them and you will be much happier.

1 Comment

  1. Amen to that. Great post. Summed it up perfectly in the last sentence. Congratulations Alan! Good on ya.

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