This post is not about juggling objects. If you want to learn to do that, go here (and don't forget your dexterity!).
This post is about juggling projects. Namely work projects and outside projects. More and more, folks are turning to alternate business ventures or hobbies that may or may not make any money. Etsy shops, freelance projects, start-ups, photography gigs. They all take up lots of time, and with 40 hours (and sometimes then some) of regular work smack dab in the middle of the week, how do you keep them from interfering?
This topic hits really close to home, as I am a juggler myself (work and blog). So these tips are from my experience. I am a firm believer in keeping my work life and the rest of my life separate. This isn't to say that I'm impersonal and antisocial at work, but I dedicate a productive 40 or so hours a week to my day job so that I can have my nights and weekends to myself.
Whatever it is that you "produce" in your side venture can mainly be done outside of work hours. You can make your etsy wares on weekends, write blog posts the night before or even earlier in advance, or do your web design work from your couch during TV time. As I'm writing this, it's 7 p.m. Tuesday night and K is making dinner.
I'm talking about comment moderation (if you do that sort of thing), processing orders, troubleshooting, etc. These things can't wait as long as emails but can wait until lunch or a break. I respond to comments at night, sometimes the same night, sometimes the next.
With the prevalence of smart phones that keep your personal email at arm's reach, it's hard to avoid reading other emails during the day. I keep all my notifications on my Droid silent and usually keep my phone face down so I can't see when a new email comes in. I check it when I'm at a natural break, and then do a quick triage to see if this needs to be answered now, lunch, or tonight. Sure, any businesses you may be working with won't be there to get your email when you send it from home later on, but seeing your reply the next morning is still pretty good. This, of course, depends on what exactly your side projects are.
If you do have to take in-person meetings, try to add it on to the end or the beginning of the day. For example, if you work 8-5, a 5:30 p.m. meeting may be within someone else's regular workday. Or if you work 9-6, an 8 a.m. meeting may be tough for you, but shouldn't put off your client too much. Lunch is always a good option, too--if it's not something that you can eat while you're doing, you can always bring lunch or snacks to munch on when you're back at your desk.
Around the water cooler
Depending on what your side projects are, you may or may not have told your coworkers about them. If you have, by all means chat about your projects with your work friends, but I would caution against talking about it too much, lest you give the wrong impression. My blog is public knowledge if you're looking for it, but the topic rarely comes up at work, except when we're talking about related things (social media, web traffic, etc.). For me, it's become more of a tool for building skills that help me at work, so I can usually turn it around to more work-related topics.
Mental sanitySometimes it all just gets to be too much. Give yourself a break every once in a while if possible. Take a break before taking on another project from a client or compile an inventory of goods to sustain a week's worth of orders. I've taken breaks for mental sanity, sickness, and just plain ol' vacation. It's good for your soul.
So there you have it. A few of my tips. Another thing to be aware of is that companies often have policies on appropriate use of their property--their computers, their software, their Internet connection. Be aware of what these policies might be at your work, and (if you like your job) take care not to cross the line. When it doubt, things can usually wait until you're off the clock.
How do you keep your work and other work separate?