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6 ways to successfully juggle more than one career

Friday April 5 2019

Careers, like everything else in life, are not cast in stone.

Careers, like everything else in life, are not cast in stone. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Are you passionate about multiple fields and are worried about sacrificing parts of yourself if you focus on just one career? If you are, the changing career landscape was designed with you in mind.

Careers In Government, a forum for the exchange of news and information of interest targeting to more than 20 million Americans working or seeking employment in the public sector highlights the concept of ‘transdisciplinarity’. This is a fancy word for inter-disciplinarity of training approaches to work and career, where more and more people have moved beyond having just one career in their lifetime.

"How combining disciplines can help your career", an article on the site, notes that the idea of a career as a pre-determined and linear path is being challenged in many areas. The approach that many tend to favour now is that of a changing set of mini-careers, riding a carousel rather than climbing a ladder, where you get on and off at various points in your life.

If you therefore find that you have the opportunity to pursue all the different passions that you have, you are in good company. You belong to this statistic of people who are willing to do more, challenge themselves more and experience life in a multifaceted way. Careers, like everything else in life, are not cast in stone. But even as you plan to use your youthful energies to figure out what truly makes your heart dance, there are a number of practical steps you will have to take to ensure that you do not become jack of all trades and a master of none.


1. Invest in learning

Your passion is allowed to lead you to diverse paths that you would like to pursue, but do not allow yourself to simply be led by passion. Just like the career you purposefully studied for, invest in learning about the additional career you want to take on. Passion dictates what else you can do, but it is skill that will make you excel in what you are passionate about, therefore take advantage of the various learning forums that are at your disposal, including training workshops, master classes by industry experts and taking advantage of free online courses. You have to grow your knowledge and understanding of the other area you are passionate about to excel in it.

2. Make sacrifices

Wanting more than average means doing more than average. Look through your schedule and see what can be sacrificed. At the end of the day, getting ahead means doing something out of the norm. So as you contemplate the idea of building more than one career, remember that something will have to give. Your weekends will become busier, you might have to stay up late an extra hour every night to read, put aside some money and clock in two more years for that additional Master’s degree. Progress rolls on the wheels of change, realignments and readjustments.

3. Balance time

This will sound like a broken record, but yes, balancing your time is important. Unlike when that extra thing is simply a side hustle that is dispensable, understand that now you are faced with two or more competing passions equally important to you, but that priority has to be given to one at a time.

“Work will fill the time available for its completion,” goes a phrase coined by British historian and author, Cyril Northcote Parkinson (Parkinson’s Law). It sums up what you may need to do to maximise the time at your disposal for all the different goals that you wish to achieve. This also speaks into the sacrifices that you will need to make on the demands of your time.


4. Become good at multitasking

The notion of multitasking is understood rather loosely in regular contexts, but if you are talking about doing multiple things in strictly professional contexts, then multitasking is a skill on its own that you will need to learn and nurture to help you flow into the different hats that you want to put on. Adam Gazzaley, MD, PhD in his TED Talk "Brain: Memory and Multitasking", says that due to the brain’s three key limitations, attention, working memory and speed when dealing with massive information, the brain has high sensitivity to interference.

Cleverism, an online site that covers career-related issues, which describes multitasking as “a must-have skill”, points out that while multitasking, the brain is forced to stop and re-focus attention each time a task is switched, resulting in a loss of time. To successfully run more than one task therefore, the ability to do more than one thing at one go must be nurtured.

5. Recognise when you need help

Working continuously, apart from fatigue, can make you become a workaholic, especially if working on things that you are very passionate about. In such a situation, you do not recognise it when you are tired. The rule of the game remains: under-promise but over-deliver. Understand that you are handling more than is expected of you. Always prioritise your tasks, be disciplined about that as this is the only way you can accomplish all the tasks. Apart from that, learn to take breaks. Burnout is real. You also need to learn to make commitments that you can keep.

6. Understand and honour your biorhythms

Biorhythms are the natural ways that your body works. When are you most productive? What times of the day are you able to accomplish certain tasks and when do you struggle? The strength in understanding your biorhythms is that you will not spend too much time trying to apply yourself to work when your body is not in synch. That way, you will work when you can function fully and therefore flow better with your different tasks.