How To: Balance Passion Projects & Full-Time Jobs


Often during our interviews, the person we're speaking to has a hidden talent, or favorite hobby outside of work. Asiya Yakhina, digital product designer from last week's interview, is no exception. While her workdays are spent improving the experience of NYT subscribers, when she isn't at work she's drawing. It can be tricky to stay focused on her illustration projects outside of the office, so below see her top 4 tips on balancing work and outside passions. 

"Finding time, energy and motivation are the most important things to solve for in that situation, so here are my tips:" 

1. Have a goal in mind.
"Having an articulated goal, no matter how ambitious or humble it is, gives you a point to move towards. You are a dot and your goal is a dot. The line in-between is your journey. Thinking about how to proceed in this journey is the first thing that will make the journey possible. The goal might change for a million of reasons, but as long as it’s there, you can keep moving."

2. Break down your big goal into many mini-goals until they sound like concrete and achievable tasks.
"It’s easy to get intimidated by a larger problem full of unknowns. But as soon as you recognize that you have an unknown, that very fact becomes known. And from then on, you can either learn enough information to eliminate the unknown or consider it a necessary constraint and work with what you have. Either way, you’ve turned a scary unknown thing into a series of steps that you’ll take to address it."

3. Tell your friends about it.
"Friends are generally nice people who like to hear about their friends’ side projects and get genuinely excited when they do. They can be a source of encouragement when you’re stuck, and, who knows, maybe your passion project can become their passion project too."

4. Be patient with yourself.
"It’s tricky to have enough creative energy after a full day of work. Some days will be worse than others and on those days you’ll just have to give yourself time to rest. Getting things done is important but taking a break when you need one will actually make it possible."

Thank you so much for this helpful advice, Asiya! Readers, after you re-start that side project that's been forgotten about for months, come back next week to learn about the day-to-day life of a candy maker and cookbook author. (Artwork by Asiya Yakhina).