How to Work Two Full-Time Jobs and Survive

Millions have worked double shifts to support their families and even the New York Times wrote a recent article on people having to work four jobs or more! When your life is committed predominantly to work, this can be draining to the soul and leave little room for time with your loved ones or caring for yourself. But in a world where people are just trying to make ends meet by taking on secondary employment, you’ll need a guide that will layout a game-plan for not just surviving but thriving against the harsh demands of our modern society. 

How can you work two jobs and survive?  Working for a 2nd employer makes balancing work and family even more difficult.  With some strategic thinking, you can make it easier to hold down a second job.

  • Diversify your industries
  • Always check with Human Resources
  • Try to Make the Second Job the Flexible One
  • Set Financial Goals
  • Plan Your Meals
  • Never Give Up All of Your Relaxation Time! 
  • See your loved ones
  • Consider Making the Second Job a Side Hustle
  • Cut What Is Not Working
  • Ask Yourself If It Is Necessary

With more than 13 Million US workers having more than one job there are more important things to consider than just how tired you’ll be, such as filing a P46 tax code and legalities that you may not currently be aware of. Protect yourself and do this properly by doing your beforehand research. This will protect you from long-term stress and allow you to focus on doing what you do best – making money, taking care of the endless list of demands, and basically being a superhero!

What is a Second Job?

Since the IRS defines a full-time job as, “a full-time employee is, for a calendar month, an employee employed on average at least 30 hours of service per week, or 130 hours of service per month,” – having two full-time jobs would be working a minimum of 60 hours a week and 260 hours a month. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics defines full-time as 35 hours. And many employers consider a full-time job 40 hours a week which means you’ll have to work 320 hours a month to qualify for the benefits of double full-time employment.

These two figures are only to prove that some employers define ‘full-time’ differently than others.

Working 60-80 hours a week will be incredibly taxing on the other demands in your life and require excellent time-management skills.

The real difficulty won’t be as you start out, it will be avoiding burn out which could render you exhausted mentally and physically for months. You don’t want to risk spreading yourself too thin or you will have nothing to give to your family, friends, or yourself in terms of proper hygiene, meditation, and daily care.

How to Work Two Jobs at Once (And Survive)

If you are determined to work two jobs and be a Rockstar, we commend you and want you to have every tool in your artillery belt to succeed at it and not go crazy.

If you are going to last for any extended amount of time, you’ll have to put your mental health first.

The burn-out is legitimate and unhealthy, not always being above the worth of your sanity. But you are superwoman (or superman!) and you feel ready to take on the world!  

Some survival tips to keep yourself sane while you conquer it all are:

#1 Diversify your industries

You have two approaches here – to diversify or to find a second job in the same field.

Some recommend finding a completely unique industry to make each day a little different. You’re already tired from working 40 hours in restaurants, and you want to make it 80?

It may be in your best interest (and for the sake of variety) to find a very different second job from your first.

But to argue the opposite side of this argument, it may be easier to find a second job that relates to the field of your first. For example, if you are a teacher that needs more cash, use those skills and that experience to find more work. Tutors are always in demand and this is an extension of what you’re already doing.

You will have to ask yourself what is better for your mental health – doing the same thing on double-duty or giving yourself some diversity.

Another point which we will cover more in-depth later is conflict of interest. Be sure you are not being hired at your first jobs’ major competitor’s firm. This will most likely be a conflict of interest, so diversifying your industry can help you avoid some sticky legal drama.

#2 Always check with Human Resources

We realize you may not want to admit to your first employer that you need more income than they are currently offering, but this could avoid a lot of headaches for you. 

It could also save your job because an angry employer that feels you’ve kept a secret job could end much worse than simply being honest. You want to at least offer them the respect of checking that it is not a conflict of interest.

If you are certain there is no legal hindrance that could risk your first job, you may want to keep the second job quiet. But if it comes back around to bite you in the tush, you may regret not just being honest with your employer in the first place.

Usually, they will be understanding that you have ends to meet and informing them of your scheduling will help them to be more flexible. Don’t expect them to be ‘too flexible,’ because they will expect the same level of work from you as before. And you may have more eyes on you now than ever.

Another bonus to being honest is that it could spark a conversation about a higher wage, promotion, or a more livable circumstance within that company. See if you can come to an agreement and possibly work just one job, for your sanity!

#3 Try to Make the Second Job the Flexible One

When taking a second job, don’t take on two rigorous jobs, only one. 

The second should be with a more flexible or part-time employer that understands you have other commitments and works with your schedule. This could make all the difference in the longevity of this double-employment lifestyle.

If you need to make that second job a full-time one, be sure it’s something you love doing or that is enjoyable to you. Two jobs that drain you will only lead to premature burnout. You need day-to-day that you don’t dread, or this lifestyle change will not become permanent.

#4 Set Financial Goals

This is a great way for people to get in-and-out of that second job, by setting a goal and knowing the exact target they are seeking to hit. Once that target is hit, they’re out.

Your goal could be:

  • Once I pay off student loans
  • Once I pay off the medical bills
  • Once I’m ahead on my bills and not behind/feeling secure
  • Once I have $10,000 saved up for retirement

These are just some examples, but once you’ve reached your goal, go back to a single form of employment.

You may want to set this goal before you find that second full-time job to know precisely the goal you are working towards. It will give you a focus to keep at the forefront of your mind which can be very motivating. It will also make the situation feel less permanent, less never-ending, and less stressful.

If it’s temporary, you can treat it as such.

#5 Plan Your Meals

You will need a way to keep nourished or you won’t make it through the first week. This is a serious lifesaver, especially if you are preparing meals for the entire family but you won’t be home during some mealtimes.

Create healthy meal plans and designate one day a week to cook for the entire week. You can make the children’s lunches on this day and freeze fruit for smoothies. This will make easy on-the-go meals you can grab and head out the door easily.

It could be ‘casserole Sunday,’ or you could make your day off a family-bonding time to meal prep. Make grilled chicken, vegetables, rice, and easy things you can pack with you for the week.

Something like lasagna is easy for the kids to heat up in the microwave and leaving fruit around will help everyone involved.

#6 Never Give Up All of Your Relaxation Time!

Perhaps the most important tip of all for longevity. You need downtime, or you will have nothing to give – to either job, yourself, or your family.

Give yourself at least one full day off a week to sleep in until noon and eat chocolate.

If you schedule all of your days filled with work and don’t set boundaries for this, you will quickly feel the effects of being a work-mule and not feeling like a human.

Humans need downtime. So until they make us all A.I. Robots that don’t need sleep, you’ll need at least one day to yourself. Giving yourself that one day, unapologetically, could mean all the difference in this game-plan lasting less than a month, or lasting for years.

#7 See Your Loved Ones

Life is about relationships and quality time. Work is the thing we have to do and you’re lucky if you can find something you love to spend your days doing. But it can’t be all about that because humans are social creatures that require socialization to feel content.

If you are not getting this time, your emotional, mental, and even physical health can decline. Even an animal left in captivity can become ill from not properly getting socialization with its own kind.

Socializing is literally necessary to our life and we can get gravely ill when deprived of it.

It’s one thing to make this a temporary decision, but if you want the double-employment to last for the long-term, you’ll never survive it without your support team. Relationships make us happy and add value to our life.

Especially if you are working to support a family, you don’t want to miss those precious years of your children’s lives that are so formative. You’ll never get those years back. Work when they’re grown!

#8 Consider Making the Second Job a Side Hustle

Working for yourself will be much more rewarding than working for a single employer.

Perhaps put that energy into monetizing a passion of yours that is much more likely to keep you sane than working a drive-through window or office job.

There are so many side hustles today where you can open an Etsy Shop, be a life-coach, inspire people, train people, and do things remotely that don’t involve you commuting all over town.

Here are some side hustle tips to get you started if you are interested in this alternative to a full-time job.

#9 Cut What Is Not Working

Anything taking energy from your body that does not need to be draining you, needs to go!

Whether this is:

  • Toxic people
  • Toxic habits
  • Wasteful spending
  • Wasteful time management
  • Self-destruction
  • Family judgments

Whatever is making your life harder – It’s got to go.

You don’t have time for it with one job, let alone two. Cut what isn’t working and move forward ten times lighter.

#10 Ask Yourself If It Is Necessary

Do you really need to be working 80+ hours a week and sacrificing your health? Or are you doing it because you want things to get easier faster?

It might be easier on your body and health to avoid burnout and take things a bit more slowly.

Working 60 hours a week for 10 years to pay off your debt instead of 80 hours a week to pay off your debt in 8 years.

It’s not a huge difference but the side-effects may save your body a lot of distress, harm and exhaustion. All of which could harm the potential of your next 10 years, so be like the tortoise and don’t try to win the race. Ask yourself if it’s really essential or if you are just torturing yourself a bit.

Legalities of Working Two Jobs at Once

Now that you have some survival tips, let’s discuss the legalities behind this next step you are embarking on. 

You are legally allowed to work two full-time jobs and the government has no grounds to stop you from doing so. Your employer may feel you’re spread too thin and your employer can fire you whenever they please under the ‘Employment At Will’ precedent.

If your employer feels you are not completing your tasks at a high enough quality or you are displaying a performance-slippage due to being exhausted from two full-time jobs, they are absolutely allowed to terminate your employment. 

If you are leaving one job or plan to get a new/secondary job, you may need to fill out a P45 Form for the UK. This summarizes your income during that year to date from a certain employer.

If you don’t have a P45 from your former employer, you will need a P46 to get a tax code.

This will allow you to not be obligated to inform any of your employers what you made at your former jobs and you can still ask for an allowance to be split of your earnings. 

You also want to beware that Money Under 30 advises, “If you work limited hours, your second paycheck may not withhold enough in federal taxes each week, even if you select zero exemptions on your W-2.”

Working two jobs can sound very appealing from the outside but you may need a W2 or W4 Form if you are an independent contractor and taxes will be more complicated with two employers.

We recommend hiring an Accountant or Tax Specialist to assist you because any errors in your taxes could land you with more debt and legal fees than you can handle with two jobs, let alone with three or four. You don’t want to get yourself into worse debt or risk losing all of your hard-earned money, so take the tax-step very seriously and don’t rush through it.

Conflict of Interest

A conflict of interest is when your employer does not want to risk their proprietary information being linked to a competitor or company in the same field.

In a few cases, the conflict of interest between your two employers could be illegal and result in legal action being taken against you, the employee. Research the policy, standards, and if there are any conflicts of interest you should be aware of before job hunting. 

Other forms of conflict of interest are when you:

  • Employ a family member or friend (Relational C.O.I)
  • Employ a love interest (Relational C.O.I)
  • Employ someone for financial gain that is not taxable (Financial C.O.I) 
  • Employ someone with informational access that offers profit to a competitor that could steal your concepts, product ideas, marketing techniques, or confidential information (Confidential C.O.I)

You may not want to let your primary employer know that you are working two jobs, but you may have to.

If you want to avoid that, be sure you know all tax requirements, documents and obligations to be aware of, and at least research to confirm that each employer does not have a conflict of interest against each other.

If your employers are arch-enemies or there is a legal restriction regarding employment by both companies, you can easily lose your job with both firms.

Advantages to Working Two Jobs

Some of the advantages to grinding out either a temporary or long-term span of double employment include:

  • Making ends meet
  • Paying off student loans or medical debt 
  • Saving for your children’s college fund, your retirement, or the future
  • Having room in your budget to save a percentage of your income, which you may not be able to do on one income alone. 
  • Not all financial eggs in one basket.
  • You are making connections and networking in multiple business structures. Meeting more people in your field and spreading yourself out to more opportunities. 
  • Experts say that you gain a sense of psychological freedom, not feeling tied down to one employer.

Disadvantages to Working Two Jobs

To offer you an honest perspective, we believe in weighing both sides out and fairly playing devil’s advocate. Moonlighting isn’t all roses and lollipops.

Doubling up on full-time employment could have catastrophic effects on your health and wellbeing that aren’t worth any amount of money.

The disadvantages you need to consider include but are not limited to:

  • You could falter on one job, or both, and end up losing one job, or both.
  • The commute to not one job, but two. 
  • You’ll be mentally and physically exhausted.
  • Not giving 100% to one job let alone two.  
  • Some employers do not allow you to have a second job so you will need to confirm this before job hunting or it may get you fired. You don’t want to risk losing your main hustle for a side hustle. 
  • May not be making that much more by the time gas and expenses are factored in.
  • Your health may suffer or decline.
  • The infamous burnout.
  • Being sleep-deprived.

If this is a temporary way to get ahead on some debt, more power to you. But we can’t recommend it as being a healthy lifestyle adjustment, even just for the lack of sleep and rest it will leave you with.

Why You Shouldn’t Spread Yourself Too Thin

We would be remiss if we didn’t cover the drastic side-effects of not sleeping enough that may be worse than any monetary issue of working two jobs.

Sleep deprivation is listed under the disadvantages, but this factor alone could greatly influence your quality of life and health. Not to scare you, but the side-effects of not getting enough sleep are:

  • It causes accidents on the road and leads to 1,550 deaths a year on the roads, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
  • Sleep helps us to think on our toes. If you’re not sleeping enough, frankly, you’re dumber and slower. This isn’t me talking, it’s science!
  • Your reaction time will be much slower 
  • It raises your risk for heart disease, heart attack, heart failure, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke.
  • 90% of people with insomnia have another health issue or disease. 
  • Those not sleeping enough are 5xs more likely to fall into depression or anxiety
  • You may suffer from becoming more forgetful
  • You more easily gain weight because of leptin and ghrelin chemicals in your brain that are decreased from a lack of sleep.
  • All-in-all, it increases your risk of premature death.

The point – make time for sleep! Sleep is probably the biggest tip I can give you to succeed at double-employment. Without it, you will begin to falter at both jobs and in your personal life. 

So it’s better to slow down and make some money than overwhelm your body and make no money. It’s not the way I would convince you, but sometimes money is the only thing that makes sense to people. 

Final Tips for Survival

Business Insider says in a piece called, Job Numbers Aren’t As Good As They Look, “In a robust economic recovery, the number of full-time workers should be rising, and the number of workers employed part-time or holding multiple jobs, should decline. The rise in the number of multiple jobholders is troubling and is yet another signal that there is still slack in the labor market.”

Some parting words of wisdom on how to survive this wildly evolving job market with double-employment are:

  • Beware of scams – many job sites have scammers that will offer you a deal too good to be true. If it seems that way, it probably is. A common scam to look out for is when they want to send you a check to your home address for $2,000-$10,000 and ask you to run some errands and pay people for them, like a local orphanage or pick up supplies.
    • They will tell you that the remainder after fees is all for you, usually at least $1,000. Do not cash it or they will have access to your bank accounts, steal your money, and the check will bounce a few days later. Red flag #1 – Do not ever pay to work.
  • Take time for yourself – the world spins madly on but you need to relax from time to time, do your nails, go golfing, enjoy a sport, be with family, and savor your living. Without this time, there will be little to fuel your fire and keep you motivated.
  • Consider a seasonal job or something short-term to not over-exert yourself. A part-time job may do the trick and you do not necessarily have to work two full-time jobs.
  • Get a day Planner – like this one that allows you to keep track of plans, manage time, write about your gratitude which leads to more joy, and an entire psychological approach that most day-planners won’t offer you. With top ratings and hundreds of purchases, you can read about how it’s helped people’s lives.  
  • Don’t commute too far – keep the jobs local because you don’t have time for 2-3 hours of traffic each day. Be realistic about your in and out times and don’t over commit yourself to each employer. Which leads me to – 
  • Don’t promise too much – under-promise and over-deliver. Not the other way around. 
  • Protect your place at the first job – don’t give everything to the new job and lose all you’ve worked for in your last position. Find a balance for each employer so they do not feel placed on the back-burner. You don’t want to lose the first position that you’ve grown dependent on so be sure you can meet every employer’s needs as well as your own. If not, cut something. 
  • Ask for help – you may need to ask for more support from your loved ones. They are here for you and should pick up the ends and pieces that you won’t be able to carry alone. 
  • Start your own business! Here is a link to some of the Most Lucrative Side Hustles.

Most people are living paycheck to paycheck and there is no shame in surviving. Just make the decision to do so while still thriving!