How A Side Hustle Saved My WorkLife And My Well-Being

Three Years Ago, I Was Feeling the Burnout From Working the Long Hours Required As Founder of a Start-up …

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Three years ago, I was feeling the burnout from working the long hours required as founder of a start-up … those were Saoirse’s opening words as guest-speaker on WorkLife Well-Being at her university’s annual alumni day. But let’s hear Saoirse’s full address to understand her story:

A How A Side Hustle Saved My WorkLife And My Well-Being Case Study:

Saoirse’s WorkLife Well-Being Alumni Address:

Three years ago, I was feeling the burnout from working the long hours required as founder of a start-up. I was feeling overwhelmed and I knew I needed to reorganise my WorkLife. I lived in and worked from a small studio flat, and it was messy, it was disorganised, it was full of so much stuff, I could never find anything. But I didn’t have the time, energy or motivation to tidy it up, or so I thought.

Sage Wisdom

My dear and wise friend Anne came to visit, and over a few beers, I shared my woes, telling her how I no longer had the same clarity of thought in my thinking, and how I was struggling to focus my mind. “Tidy your home, and you’ll tidy your mind,” she said. But I don’t have the time, was my argument. “You need a side-hustle,” she responded. I think you’ve had too many beers, I said. I don’t need to take on something else, I need to let go of something.

That’s exactly my point,” she said. “You need to declutter, and you also need to reframe. You need to shift your focus from all the reasons why you can’t do something to emphasising what’s possible. By shifting from a negative mindset to a positive mindset you’re implicitly acknowledging that it’s possible. And I have the perfect book that’s going to help you,” she continued “It’s an easy, yet insightful read.

Come over on Sunday and while you get started on it, I’ll make us lunch.” You really have had one too many, I responded, if you think reading a book is going to help me. “All I ask is you give it a try,” she answered. Knowing she wasn’t going to give up, along with the fact that her Sunday roast is the best in town, I agreed.

Book Wisdom

On arrival at her home that Sunday morning Anne took me directly to her wonderfully relaxing courtyard patio. Awaiting me was The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo and soon to follow was a pot of her home-brewed coffee. Informing me lunch would be a couple of hours she left me alone. Wanting to make good with my promise to give the book a try, I got stuck in.

Anne was right, it was an easy read, and more importantly, it was insightful. It elicited self-feedback through self-questioning. Such as asking myself:

Why do I want to tidy?

I want a space that’s not cluttered was my response.

In preparation for getting started, I had to visualise my destination by asking myself:

What do I hope to gain through tidying?

I discovered my goal of wanting a space that’s not cluttered was too broad.

I had to think about it more deeply so that I could vividly picture what it would be like to live in a clutter-free space.

Wanting a more serene lifestyle was what came to me. Closing my eyes, I saw myself in my home:

My bookshelves were choc-a-bloc, with the overflow on my windowsills blocking my view across the rooftops of London, and London life in the streets below. I had more books and magazines all over the floor of what is my workspace/ living room during the day and my bedroom at night. When I’d go to bed I’d have to move the clothes which wouldn’t fit into my already stuffed wardrobes from my bed to the floor, and then in the morning put them back on the bed, so I’d have a pathway to move around. My lifestyle could not have been called serene by any stretch of the imagination.

The book prompted me to go more deeply into what I meant by a serene lifestyle. I wanted windowsills and floors that were clean of clutter, to make my home a calm space to work from during the day, and a peaceful space to relax in at the beginning and end of my day.

In the morning I wanted to have my first coffee sitting in my window seat (which was covered in clothes), slowly waking up watching the sunrise on a new day. At night, I wanted to sit and read looking out at a moonlit sky as the day came to a close.

I wanted to be enlightened, I wanted inspiration, I wanted creativity, which has always come to me through imagination. I wanted to day-dream — I’d been feeling blocked, and my night dreams were troubled — I wanted to be carefree.

Going deeper into knowing my Why (Why I want to tidy), led me to know what I wanted. This also allowed me to know that tidying would allow me to have the enlightenment, inspiration and creativity I wanted and needed to live my WorkLife with the serenity I deeply yearned. I had all of this knowledge by the time Anne came back to let me know lunch was ready.

With this knowledge came energy, the energy I needed to tidy my home. The book stipulated making tidying a special event, thinking of special events reminded me of early morning hikes I always liked to take whenever I wanted to explore somewhere new and different, or when I simply wanted to be alone with my thoughts. I decided I’d make the following weekend my special event of tidying, and take the same approach as I did with my hikes by rising early when my mind was at its clearest, and my power of discernment sharp.

And it worked, I got everything I wanted. But what was perhaps most profound was the immediacy in which it worked, together with how what I wanted remained with me over the coming days, weeks and months, actually that never left. I now live a WorkLife filled with serenity.

The enlightenment, inspiration and creativity I gained, or actually regained, gave me back the clarity of thought I needed in my thinking, and allowed me to focus my mind. This was integral in saving my WorkLife because without that I risked losing everything. While I didn’t explicitly set out seeking well-being in my WorkLife through tidying, this came about as a natural, holistic and powerful by-product for which I am truly grateful.

Words of Wisdom

If there are times in your WorkLife when you feel overwhelmed or you’re reaching burnout, I encourage you to reframe. By shifting from a negative mindset to a positive mindset you’re implicitly acknowledging that it’s possible, and that’s the beginning of a pathway to your WorkLife well-being.


What began from a place of feeling burnout and being overwhelmed in my WorkLife, took me on an unexpected path to not only overcoming my challenges but also coming through with a strong sense of knowing that my experience could help other people’s WorkLife well-being. This has led me to develop my weekend project of tidying into a side-hustle. I’ll share more about that in my talk later today: How A Side Hustle Can Super Charge Your Skill Set and Effectively Future Proof Your WorkLife. Thank You.

Next time Saoirse will tell her story of How A Side Hustle Can Super Charge Your Skill Set and Future Proof Your WorkLife.

Todays featured book is: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying, by Marie Kondo

How A Side Hustle Saved My WorkLife And My Well-Being… is part of a series of people’s stories of how a side hustle made a positive impact in their WorkLife. Stories of how a side hustle helped: their well-being; take ownership of their WorkLife; enable opportunities; build financial security; utilise existing skills; develop new skills; connect with their community; establish their reputation; to stand out; to distinguish themselves and their uniqueness; bring new opportunities their way, and much, much more.

WorkLife Book Wisdom Stories:

The intention of the stories I share is to inspire you through people’s stories of their WorkLife experiences. Through these stories, you will learn about people’s dreams and ambitions, along with the challenges, obstacles, failures and successes they encountered along the road of their WorkLife journey. And how they used the power of book wisdom to help them find the inspiration and guidance to navigate their path to live their WorkLife with passion, purpose and pride.

My hope is that these book wisdom stories will help you throughout the chapters of your WorkLife Story.

I believe stories are a powerful mechanism for teaching, a powerful medium to learn through, and a powerful way to communicate who you are and what you stand for.

Published by Carmel O' Reilly

Carmel O’ Reilly: WorkLife Learning Practitioner & Writer Author of WorkLife Book Club, Your WorkLife Your Way and The School of WorkLife book series. Created to help you manage your WorkLife Learning. Blogger & Podcaster: Telling people’s powerful stories about WorkLife challenges & successes Founder of My guiding statement is to help people pursue their WorkLives with greater clarity, passion, purpose and pride by creating continuous WorkLife learning programmes that are accessible to everyone.

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