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Put a Little Muscle behind That [Side] Hustle!

If you only have one job, are you even really working?


I loathe papers and presentations that begin, “Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines [insert] as …” But since I’ve started down that path, I may as well finish: “… work performed for income supplementary to one’s primary job.” There it is: I now officially think less of myself, but at least we begin with the same understanding of “side hustle.”

Once upon a time I used to think of a side hustle as a trendy way of saying, “I have a second job.” A side hustle is more than just a second job; it’s often a hobby, passion, or personal interest that someone has chosen to (try to) monetize—and why not? In today’s economy, if someone wants to pay me for pictures of my pinky toe, I’m going to go find the best darned nail polish the dollar store has to offer!


Side hustle: An origin story

It costs a lot of money to run a business with employees. In fact, according to GGFL, a tax planning and accounting firm in Ottawa, it’s estimated that an employee who earns $1.00 needs to generate at least $3.15 in revenue for the employer to earn $1.00.

For the math fans in the crowd, that’s an additional $1.15 of overhead costs, 40 to 60 percent of which goes to other non-wage employee-related costs (such as payroll taxes, paid leaves, training costs, and health taxes).

From a worker standpoint, the cost of living (including my groceries) has never been higher, peaking at a year-over-year 8.1 percent increase in the cost of essential goods and services in June 2022 (when it already wasn’t cheap).

Their popularity comes as no surprise: “gig economy” employment relationships are based on contract work where one is not an employee, but rather an independent contractor (and therefore exempt from the expenditures listed above). Thusly, behold the meteoric rise of the side hustle.


Is the juice worth the squeeze?

Depending on whose survey you subscribe to, up to 50 percent of the working population (US and Canada) has a side hustle; they spend on average of 11 to 16 hours per week on the hustle; and the most common earnings for a side hustler is anywhere from $200 to $625 per month, although the range can be much wider.

These are pretty underwhelming numbers, if you consider it a straight, time-for-pay proposition, especially because the work is generally performed in the time they have off from their primary job.

If viewed through a “monetize my hobby” lens, there is research to illustrate positive mental health benefits. This would seem to corroborate the commonly held belief that if you “do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”

Of course, squeezing fresh juice can also come with a lot of pulp: burnout, less time doing the (other) things you love, and potential strain on family and friend relationships (due to time constraints) are all very real risks.

Studies show a pretty clear correlation between weekly hours of work and poor mental health, anxiety, and depression. We also know that mental health and physical health have an undeniable interconnectivity, so tread carefully, especially if you feel like you have to convince yourself that your side hustle is enjoyable.


Could I? Should I?

Two other important questions to consider before jumping down the rabbit hole or when deciding whether or not you should continue on your side-hustling journey:

  1. Can I juggle it with my current job?
  2. Am I being fair to my current employer?

You will be searching for time to work on your hustle and, let’s be honest, being paid time and a half while you’re on the clock might be pretty appealing. A word of warning, though: your employer likely won’t take kindly to your side hustle becoming a company-funded venture. Tread carefully or it could quickly become your only hustle. You cannot create more time; you can only hope to borrow it—consider this before diving in.

Balance is key

During your downtime away from your “downtime,” consider doing something that will in no way present you the opportunity to make money. There are plenty of health benefits (mental and physical) to …

  • getting out in nature
  • spending more time with the people you have positive relationships with
  • substituting screen time for me time with (for instance) …
    • learning an instrument
    • listening to music
    • painting

Here are a couple of my favourite tools for maintaining balance and drive:

  • Calm app—for meditation and breathing exercises
  •—online classes with the world’s most knowledgeable teachers on pretty much anything side-hustle worthy

Work smarter, not longer

A little hard work never hurt anyone, but there are studies to support the notion that long working hours impair cognitive function. On top of that, your 16-year-old self would probably call you “lame,” “boring,” and someone they don’t want to be when “they grow up.” Here are a few ways to avoid disappointing mini-you.


It not only improves health and longevity but also keeps the old hat rack polished.

Take your vitamins

To support your brain function, consider B vitamins.

Meditate or perform breathing exercises

These are some of the best things you can do for your cardiovascular health.


Head to your local health food store and explore the possibility of adding adaptogens (natural medicines including herbs and roots) to your health regimen.

Go for launch!

If you do have an idea that makes you giggly, you owe it to yourself to give it a spin. Here are a few tips to help you along:

  • Use your calendar and clock to book specific time to dedicate to your hustle each week, and don’t go overtime.
  • Invest in technology and services from others to have the things done that you don’t know how to do; figuring it out yourself is a huge time-waster and a momentum killer.
  • If it’s starting to stress you out, put it down for a while and walk away until the flame is reignited.
  • If a fun opportunity comes up during your blocked-off time, go do it instead; don’t stop living life while you’re trying to build the life you want to be living.



No Proof

No Proof

Raise a glass and say cheers to not-so-hard drinks

Matthew Kadey, MSc, RDMatthew Kadey, MSc, RD