November 1, 2013

How to Survive a Full time Day Job, and Your Belly Dance Business

balancing work and belly dance business

First of all I want to thank Jessica who if you do not know, is a belly dancer in Tampa who is all around awesome! She contacted me about something I know a lot of us struggle to deal with, which is trying to balance a full-time day job, with a belly dance business

Let me just start out by saying, it is NOT EASY! Is it possible, why yes of course, but you will really need to be VERY strong in a little phrase I call “Time Management” and a support person for when you need to vent.

For the 9am-5pm Day Job Belly Dancer

balancing work and belly dance businessIf you are someone that has the type of job where you only worry about work from 9am-5pm it will be MUCH easier to balance your belly dancing life at night with your daytime job with a few simple tweaks. Why? Because once you are home, that is it, no contacting clients, or finishing the day’s tasks before tomorrow’s meeting, or etc… you arrive home, and the rest of the night is up to you.

I highly recommend making a chart with personal and dance asks from 6pm-11pm for example for every weekday. For ex:
Monday Night:

1 hour to cook
1hr to unwind with your family and pets
1 hr to organize and check on marketing activities
1 hour to choreograph or drill.

The next day you can change it up a bit and stay up an extra hour.
Tuesday Night:

1hr working out
1hr dance technique
1 hr cleaning
1hr relaxing
1hr for a creative outlet

And so on and so forth. I find that the type of day job that has a “clock in/clocking out” setup while still presenting its challenges is much easier if you plan your week ahead of time.

For My Peeps Who Work in a Dynamic Workplace

If you are a person like me who is in a field that requires you to create solutions for others, hang on to your hats because this is where most people will fail when it comes to trying to keep belly dance goals chugging.

I did this for a while and honestly, I had so many times where I felt sad because the last minute case or dilemma would pop up and the one night I had planned to choreograph would instantly be lost. Working in a dynamic field often means that you must be extremely flexible in your personality type. Something many dancers struggle to cope with or simply do not have the personality type to handle well.

If you have a dynamic job, chances are many times the stress of work will come home with you. For super highly motivated individuals such as myself, I often feel personal responsibility for ensuring a client’s dilemma gets handled as soon as possible (I am a sucker for helping small businesses) and that often means not being able to relax until the task is done.

Strain on my relationship began to occur as I could not get my mind to relax, and having to change dates and plans around day by day really put a damper on having a personal life. That is when I started to do things a little differently…

Belly dance businessChanges Part I

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED working for my old company, but you have to be very honest and specific about your ultimate goals with belly dance in a job like that. If it is just a simple hobby, balancing work life and classes will be a no brainer.

But for those like me who want to leave their thumbprint and make belly dance a lifelong career, being highly selective of what 2-3 activities you want to excel at will be imperative. You must be very careful of not biting more than you can chew.

I found that saying “no” had to happen more often to my manager and co-workers. I also discovered that waking up a couple hours earlier made a HUGE difference in my productivity and personal life.

I used to wake up at 9am and come into the office at 10am, but that was leaving me with too much to do at night when I should be relaxing with my love or doing dance practice. So slowly but surely over two months I changed it all and began making it a priority to wake up at 7am. I would go to bed at midnight and wake up at 7am and have the necessary amount of sleep to feel ready to go with my day and get a lot of dance-related tasks and marketing things done early in the day.

I know, I know, you love sleep, but as long as you get 7 hours, your body will be quite happy, assuming you eat and exercise correctly.

Changes Part II

So all in all, if you could make a recipe of what helped to make life work I would say it was:

1. Choose 2-3 very specific things you want to be good at in your dance career, all others are either a) not truly important to your long term goals, b) something you can automate or have someone else do c) stuff that although less important is still necessary and can be done when you have a couple free hours later  in the week at some point.

2. Do not be afraid to say “No” when there is too much on your plate. This is very important.

3. Choose 2-3 days out of the week, that no matter what, you will do all you can to have finished work before evening (unless if a client emergency occurs).

4. Wake up earlier and start the day with breakfast and a good 1.5-2 hours extra of nothing but giving your business what it needs to chug along.

5. If dynamically changing work environments are not you, be honest with yourself and do not make the mistake of being miserable until you retire. Be brave and look for the next step.

6. Plan you days ahead of time, in realistic hour to hour breakdowns.

7. If you are not organized and need someone to help you become organized, do not be afraid to seek out a belly dance business manager to kick you in the butt.

Do What YOU Know is Best

Well, although there is no clear cut way to help everyone, I hope this helps some of you out there dealing with trying to balance, school, work, your personal life and your belly dance business. It is no easy feat, but if you truly want to succeed in belly dance (no matter to what extent), a few tweaks and planning will lead to much more success and productivity while still making time for your loved ones.

Love the blog? Subscribe above and for more on juggling belly dance business and work read my other blog “The Productivity Juggle”

5 Comments on “How to Survive a Full time Day Job, and Your Belly Dance Business

November 2, 2013 at 5:07 pm

It was great to read it, many helpful advices. I’m not a profesional belly dancer, but I’m also not a beginner, I would say I’m somwhere near to be semi-pro. I’m working full time in an office, which takes a lot of my time, but it also gives me money to learn further (and we all know how expensive workshops with international teachers can be).
So actually it seems that I do not have much time for belly dancing. But after reading what you wrote Jennifer I thought to myself – the day of all the people in te world lasts exactly the same – 24 hours. And there are people who work full-time and they still do amazing things, have interesting hobbies. So yes, you’re right ” you arrive home, and the rest of the night is up to you”. I guess I need to make some plans for my next week afternoons 🙂

Greetings from Poland!

Jessica Marie Bellydance
November 5, 2013 at 2:03 am

I love this article!! Sorry for the late reply…

I will definitely take some of your suggestions to heart. And I am totally on board with waking up earlier! Now that I do have the 9-5 type of job instead of the working nights after school, I have a lot more free time, and I find I get MORE things done in the 2-3 hours before work than I do in the 5 hours after work before bed. When I come home I need to wind down after dinner and any extra work or I will never sleep. Thanks so much for answering my questions so well!

November 5, 2013 at 4:03 am

I am so freaking happy you liked it Jessica, after all you were the smarty pants who requested this fab topic. Thanks again for giving me request to write on the topic. Glad it could give a few ideas. All ideas welcome, it is something many dancers struggle with.

November 5, 2013 at 4:05 am

Wow Poland, well welcome and thanks for reading this post. Hope you enjoy this blog which is full of belly dance mayhem. It is so true, no matter where in the world we are we all have 24hrs. Would love to hear what plans you made for you and your work and dance and life 🙂

October 7, 2014 at 12:51 pm

Hi Jennifer, I’m not a professional belly dancer, but I am a professional salsa dancer. I dance in a prestigious company in NY. My problem is that I work 4 days a week 8am-3pm (with a long commute) in a professional job, and I have rehearsals Mon-Thurs 7pm-11/1130pm. I am EXHAUSTED! And now, I am not being chosen for performances because I cannot travel on the weekends because of my job (I must be available Fri-Mon.) I am 30 and don’t feel like I have more than a few years left to dance at this level, but I also need to pay bills. I am trying to find a way to be happy but it seems there is no way to balance my dreams with my sucky real life job. Any suggestions or ideas? I need to make money by working less days (and not by stripping or escorting).


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