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While most of my professional life is dedicate to the magazine, over the past couple of years, I’ve also made it a point to have at least one side project to keep me occupied outside office hours.
For the better part of last year, that one side project was hosting and producing Pecha Kucha Singapore, a rapid-fire show and tell event for creatives and professionals alike. Although I have been able to occasionally overlap work with Pecha Kucha, that project is largely unrelated to my day job.
But working on that, as well as several smaller projects like copy writing and hosting, has inevitably helped me with my editorial job.
Not convinced? Here are four titbits I’ve taken away from having side projects:
1. It forces you to have better time management
Being a deputy editor for a magazine is predominantly a nine-to-six job but like any other job, there are days where an eight hour workday does not apply. However, taking on (realistic) responsibilities outside the office in the form of being involved in a social club or taking part in an event forces you to be better at allocating time.
It is important to make sure you’re not taking on too much work, and know when to draw the line. Managing your priorities, and being sensible about both your professional and personal work is very important, but if you are able to do so, you’ve pretty much unlocked a work-life balance that fits your lifestyle.
2. It expands your skill set and confidence
Here’s a secret: I have massive stage fright. Despite years of hosting events and moderating on-stage panel discussions, the thought of jumping on stage in front of hundreds of people makes my stomach turn. But as they say, practice makes perfect.
So while my fear of being on stage hasn’t completely disappeared, it has been a bit more manageable over the years. It’s also helped me be a bit more comfortable conducting interviews. I mean, if I can handle a crowd of 200, what’s a one-on-one, right?
In the same way, employees might be able to learn new skills which may give them an upper hand at work, or even just see things from a different perspective.
3. It builds your network
Like I’ve mentioned, some of the people I’ve met through work have been able to help me with a side project, or vice versa, but not everyone you meet while working on a side project will be beneficial to your day job. Regardless, it doesn’t excuse the fact that being exposed to more people expands your social circle, and you’ll never know who you might meet.
4. It builds your professional brand
Companies aren’t the only ones busy with building a brand these days. More and more people are investing in their personal branding and reputation as it increases employability and credibility.
But just because an employee is suddenly crafting a strong personal brand doesn’t mean he’s looking for a new job; remember that your staff are company ambassadors even outside the office. An employee who is confident, have several skills and boasts a strong professional and personal network will only speak volumes for your organisation as well.