Why this Aussie works every single day
MORE than one million Australians have taken on "side hustles" or extra work outside of their regular full-time jobs, according to the latest figures.
Some do it as a way to pursue creative interests, while others rely on the extra income to meet the escalating cost of living.
It's a booming trend made easier by the constant connectivity of modern life, which allows people to work just about anywhere, but one that experts warn comes with significant risk.
General practitioner and community health consultant Michela Sorenson believes a big contributor to rising rates of mental illness is that many Aussies across the board are spreading themselves too thin.
"Gone are the days where you come home from work and the day is over and you switch off," Dr Sorenson said.
"Everyone has phones that connect them to work all day, everyday, even on holidays. They're checking emails, taking calls, staying looped in. Taking calls or replying to emails when you're sitting by the pool on holiday shouldn't be normal, but it is."
Add a side hustle on top of already demanding full-time jobs and you've got a recipe for disaster, Dr Sorenson believes.
A side venture, regardless of how big it is, requires an investment of time as well as some sacrifices elsewhere in life, she says.
"These side hustles are tackled in people's downtime when they should be resting recuperating from their day jobs. It doesn't leave a lot of time to recover from stress," Dr Sorenson said.
"People sleep less. They're not resting. They might limit social encounters because they're busy. It's exhausting and draining, and at some point, something's got to give."
Kitch Catterall's side hustle is a social media consultancy, Cattera Social, that actually began as her main job - a few freelance clients here and there to earn some money until she found full-time work after graduating university.
When the 24-year-old eventually landed a gig, she didn't want to stop her work on the side because she enjoyed the creativity and independence.
"I have this full-time job that I'm learning so much from and that allows me to be part of a bigger team, working on a lot of different things with bigger brands, getting great opportunities," Ms Catterall said.
"Then I have my own thing to keep me busy. I really like being busy. I like having stuff going on."
And busy she is. Ms Catterall works seven days a week.
Monday to Friday, she's with a public relations agency in Melbourne doing content creation and social media.
"Then I do eight hours each Saturday and Sunday on my side hustle as well as another couple of hours at night during the week," she said.
"Yep, seven days a week working. I don't have a day off. I go to the gym after work every night, so that's probably my time to myself. Although when I get on the exercise bike to warm up, I'm doing stuff on my phone."
Dr Sorensen said taking on too much and having little-to-no downtime can lead to a range of physical and mental health issues.
"There's a wide spectrum of symptoms ranging from chronic headaches to neck and back pain through to sleep difficulty and vitamin and nutrient deficiencies," she said.
"Frequent illnesses due to your immune system being shattered are common too."
Jason Bryce didn't intend to take on a side hustle in the beginning but an underwhelming experience at his kids' swimming lessons inspired him to look into becoming a coach himself.
The veteran Melbourne journalist joined a surf club around the same time and was part of a group of casual ocean swimmers who were joined by more and more onlookers.
"It kind of went from there," Mr Bryce explained.
He runs group classes on a Saturday at Williamstown beach that have become so popular that he's considering expanding to Sunday mornings to keep up with demand.
"It's fantastic and quite uplifting to help people get over their fears and go for a swim in the open water," he said. "I've also made a real business out of it. It's quite lucrative."
He also does the odd private lesson and has a handful of clients who train twice a week at a local pool, but apart from that, he tries not to let his side hustle get out of control.
"It's a way for me to combine keeping fit and healthy with making a bit of extra money," Mr Bryce said.
"I've tried to make sure that this is a side hustle that I can get something out of too. I wanted to get fit and stay healthy, I wanted to get in the water myself … I get to do that. I don't want a side hustle where I'm sitting at a desk staring at a computer screen."
For his investment of time on a Saturday, Mr Bryce makes about $400. That's then his pocket money for the week, he said.
"If I want to have a beer on a Saturday night, I don't have to feel guilty about dipping into my pay," he said.
Ms Catterall's side hustle has proved very lucrative, and she banks about $700 a week on top of her full-time work salary.
"I use that money mostly for savings. Occasionally, I'll treat myself and buy a few bits and bobs," she said.
"It's kind of a weird feeling - I've come from being broke when I was at uni, not even able to afford going out for brunch. I don't have to live pay to pay now."
Unlike Mr Bryce, her work on the side absorbs virtually all of her free time, although Ms Catterall said she loved the creativity of it all.
"I'm on location, I often work with friends. I think I'm lucky in that respect - it's not a side hustle where I'm trapped at a desk. I love it," she said.
Although Ms Catterall admits there are some downsides to her gruelling way of life.
"There's a constant feeling that something is due. There's always something to do.
"Sometimes on a weekend if my partner wants to do something, I do miss being able to go and do it. I'm often scheduled throughout the day," she said.
Dr Sorensen said it was important for side hustlers to maintain a focus on self care.
"Scheduling time for yourself is important. Switch off, go get a proper lunch, do some exercise, get some fresh air - these are critical," she said.
"Sleep is a big one too. Keep a night routine where you turn the computer off and put the phone away at a set time so you can have a bit of downtime and go to bed at a decent hour.
"And when you need to, say no. The sun will still rise and still set if you decline something."
Earlier this year, business adviser Brian Dorricott told news.com.au that there would come a time when people without a side hustle would be in the minority.
"There is a risk in having all your eggs in one basket - for example, if you work for one company and you are made redundant," he said.
"But if you have something else going in the background, it can look good on a CV and it's part of a risk mitigation strategy."