In Pursuit Of Work-Life Balance: Rocking The 9-To-5 Side Hustle With Kris McPeak

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A number of us work outside of our day jobs—be that to earn some extra or to pursue our calling and passion. Either way, balancing our full-time with our side hustle can be extra challenging. How do you manage? In this episode, Penny Zenker invites educator, author, and podcast host who loves to rock the 9:00 to 5:00 side hustle, Kris McPeak. Kris shares some of her strategies for finding the time to have a side business while still enjoying that downtime doing other things she loves. Speaking to those who are struggling to do the same, she talks about how you can take a step back and decide what brings you joy and what brings value to others. Plus, Kris also shares with us her book, The 9-to-5 Side Hustler: A Guide to Balancing Your Day Job with Your Small Business, and her biggest shortcut to achieving that work-life balance.

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In Pursuit Of Work-Life Balance: Rocking The 9-To-5 Side Hustle With Kris McPeak

I am excited to have Kris McPeak with me. She’s an educator, author, and podcast host who loves to rock the 9:00 to 5:00 side hustle. We’ll know what that means. By day, Kris works for a community college foundation and in the other eight hours, when she’s not sleeping, she runs a non-for-profit master swim team with her hubby and hosts a podcast called Elevate Your 8. Kris is the author of The 9-to-5 Side Hustler: A Guide to Balancing Your Day Job with Your Small Business and two other books. She enjoys swimming, knitting, binge-watching dark TV shows, and spoiling her eleven-year-old mutt, Duke.

Kris, welcome. Tell me about this side hustle. If you work a day job, why do you need a side hustle?
Some people come to 1 of 2 places. The first place is they feel like they need a little bit more money to do something extra, whether that’s plan early for retirement, buy a new car, create a savings account, or run your expensive hobby, whatever it is. The second thing is sometimes, we have a calling or a passion that’s “outside of what we do for a living.” We want to pursue that along the line of what we do with our day jobs. More so, what I love about the time that we’re living in is that you no longer need permission to follow some of these passions. If you want to write a book, you can write a book.
Amazon will let you self-publish. If you have a message and you want to share something with the world, you can start a podcast or have a YouTube channel. If you want to sell an online course about how to apply for graduate school, you can do that. Nobody needs to say, “Yes, it’s okay. You’re good enough to do this.” We’re living in the era of the entrepreneurship world and particularly with the side hustle because not all side hustles provide you with health benefits and those types of things.
Being able to go to your 9:00 to 5:00 whether you love it, tolerate it or whatever, and then spend some other time during the day or the weekend working on a side hustle or a small business that drives your happiness and joy level to another place. That’s where my calling came from. It’s right on the heels too of my husband and I deciding to start the swim team. That was a group thing that we started together, but then there was part of me that’s like, “I want to do something extra in addition to that.” That’s where I got the idea to write my first book, and then the podcast came after that.
I want to challenge you for a second. People talk all about residual income and finding ways to earn money whether it’s in your business, outside of your business, or do things that you’re passionate about. I don’t like the expression. What’s a side hustle? Does it have to be a hustle?
You are right. I will say that I get a lot of pushback on that. Here’s where I’m coming to connect with the word side hustle or in this case, the book is The 9-to-5 Side Hustler. I took one of Ramit Sethis’ online quizzes. He’s the guy that wrote the book, I Will Teach You to Be Rich. Talk about an online guru, the man knows how to market his courses and people will pay huge dollars to learn from him. I took one of his free quizzes. It was like, “What kind of small business should you start?” I took the quiz and it came back with this idea like, “You are a hustler.” I’ve had the same reaction that you had like, “I don’t like that word.” It sounds like either the Paul Newman movie or Larry Flynt’s magazine.
In the time that we're living, you no longer need permission to follow some of your passions. Share on X I was like, “I don’t like thinking about myself in that way.” I kept reading through the description. What he was talking about was exactly the type of person that I’d identified with. Somebody that feels active and passionate about something usually has 9 or 10 tabs open on their computer at one time who will go run the thing and work it until it’s done. The more that I read this description, I was like, “I do identify with that.” It was exactly the way I reacted to the concept of being Gen X. I did not want to own that for the longest time. I’m like, “That’s not me. That’s my baby sister who loves grunge music and wears flannel.” As I learned more about that too, I accepted my Gen Xness. Side hustler with me is more like an identifier as opposed to Gary Vee’s hustle where it’s like, “I’m only going to sleep two hours a night because it’s all I need and I’m going to go.” Those people are not honoring their life balance and that’s not what I’m about.
That’s why I was challenging you because there are people who don’t have a side thing. You don’t make it sound attractive, “Have I got to hustle?” As you said, like Gary Vee’s sleeps two a night type-of-thing. It’s like, “No, thank you.” I get it. I just wanted to make sure that you made it clear for other people that it’s more about a side driver.
It’s about a small business as opposed to anything else. There’s something about saying side hustler that feels active and exciting. Your point is well taken and it’s something to think about because I haven’t rebranded yet.
It’s something to think about in terms of making it feel and sound more attractive for those who aren’t already doing it. You said you’re all about work-life balance. How does one have a work-life balance when you’ve got two jobs, a family, a not-for-profit, and a sports team.
It’s all about prioritizing what you’re going to get done in those other eight hours that you’re not sleeping or working your day job. What I’ve come to be aligned with is understanding, knowing, and being able to count on exactly how long it takes me to do certain things, and not being one of those people that says, “It takes me two hours in the morning to get ready for work.” Are you getting ready for work or are you scrolling through your phone for 45 minutes before you get your ass out of bed? Are you eating breakfast or are you eating breakfast while you watch a 30-minute news show? What we do in the world of multitasking, which as we know, there is no such thing as multitasking. We switched tasks.
All of those extra things that we lump in and we don’t even think about is where we’re wasting a lot of time. I don’t like to do that. I like to be able to say, “I can get my shower done in seven minutes. I can be dressed and have a little bit of makeup on in another five, and be out the locker room.” I know what my commute is like. Even in LA, which is hard to count on traffic, I’m very confident in being able to say I can get to and from work in 20 to 30 minutes. I’m making use of that time being able to go on doing my commuting, and also engaging in my professional development and my learning. I love to listen to podcasts and audiobooks.
I’m doing the best that I can, and I try to empower other people to not waste time, not fall down the black holes, not get sucked into the 45-minute Instagram scroll or the Facebook stuff, those types of things. If you say during this time of the day, from 6:00 to 7:00 on Mondays and Wednesdays is when I’m going to sit down with my hubby and we’re going to work on things for the swim team. From 7:00 to 8:00 on these nights of the week, I’m going to do my social media planning, work on my email list, or build a new course, something like that. I have these slots on different days of the week where I do certain parts of my businesses, either myself or with my hubby.
The other time is when I work into engaging in the things I like to do like binge-watching the dark shows. What I’ve come to realize too way back in the day when I had one job, I was this crazy movie buff and I was a serial theater jumper. I would see 2 and 3 movies in a weekend. I did that every week for 10 or 12 years. That was my weekend. That was my entire hobby downtime. It was seeing movies. I started running in my early 40s, competing in marathons and half marathons. Now I see fewer movies because I’m training.

TBT 141 | Side Hustle

The 9-to-5 Side Hustler: A Guide to Balancing Your Day Job with Your Small Business

I broke my foot right around the time that we got big into the swim team. I obviously wasn’t running. Now I’m spending more of that time working on these small businesses. I find as I’m proceeding through the years, the things that are important to me are changing. I wasn’t in a mature mental state during all those years I was seeing those movies that small business was attractive to me, but now I’m in a space where it is. It’s as much fun for me, if not more fun. I can’t see movies in a movie theater as it is, but I don’t want to. It’s more fun to create a course, make a freebie, or email the swim team.
You’re creating your own experiences.
I love the way that you described that. I’m creating my own experiences and sharing with whoever is willing to listen and who wants to listen to what I’m learning from it.
To back up a little bit is you still have time to do those other things that are downtime. You still binge-watch your dark shows, and you still get all this other stuff done. It’s not like, “I won’t have any free time.” It sounds like you have more purpose. You’re getting involved in those things that give you more overall purpose and you’re connected to that. Therefore, that makes you want to do things more effectively and efficiently. You have time for that purpose and you also have time for the downtime.
I could not have said that better myself. Penny, you nailed it. That’s absolutely it.
That’s what people were thinking. How do you have any downtime if you have a side business? I’ve talked to some people and they have a side business. They can’t seem to get past the plateau that they’re stuck in their side business because there’s not enough time from what they say to give it the attention that it needs. It flounders or doesn’t go where they want it to go. What could you advise somebody who’s in that position?
A lot of times when you’re starting something from scratch and that word flounder is mentally sticking with me. We live in a society where there’s instant gratification everywhere. If you’re going to go into a small business, anything like that, that’s going to change the way that you spend your time. Even as a hobby that requires a lot of learning like riding horseback, playing guitar, learning the sitar, whatever it is.
That all requires time. Why do we blame time? We always blame time, “I don’t have enough time.” It’s always the topics that we had.
We live in a society where there's instant gratification everywhere. Share on X I hate that because I read everything that Laura Vanderkam has ever written. I have the same 168 hours as you do. It goes a long way with me. If I tell that to anybody else, I want them to call me on it because I don’t believe I don’t have enough time to not do something. I’m having to prioritize what I do and be much more intentional about that. The concept of starting something from scratch and learning something new, you have to be prepared to know that you’re not going to go from picking up a guitar to being Eddie Van Halen in a week’s time.
This is a marathon, not a sprint. We’ve heard that expression a dozen times. I’m not making enough money on either side to leave my day job. At the same token, I don’t want to leave my day job. I’m happy with what I do from 8:00 in the morning until 4:30 in the afternoon. I have this passion for this other thing that I can work on now. I’m not in a hurry. I’m happy doing what I’m doing. You are right to challenge me on the word hustle because it’s not the mentality that I have.
You’re not hustling. You’ve got drive.
I have drive and purpose. I liked the way that you said that.
What struck me as you were talking about it and what I see a lot of people have a challenge with, especially with this “I don’t have enough time,” this whole prioritization, and how important it is, why do they have a difficulty prioritizing? I have my own theory on this but I want to know what yours is.
We sometimes don’t know what’s important to us. We’re so oblivious to the time suckers that we don’t realize that those things have taken over in a sense. If you miss your kid’s soccer game because you had to answer ten more emails before you left the office, what was the more important thing for you to do? Was it to finish up and get to your kid’s soccer game or to get to those ten emails? I have a supervisor who will say like, “Nothing that we do or don’t do is going to hurt anybody or let anybody die.”
You’re not brain surgeons. That’s what I’m telling my clients. Get over yourself, you’re not that important.
We don’t give ourselves credit for being smart enough to do the things that we want to do. We feel an immense amount of pressure to be things that we’re not and/or keeping up with the John Doe’s. It’s like that whole comparison thing. I fall victim to this myself and I have to remind myself that that person’s path is not my path. I have my own path and I need to be happy with that. As soon as I turn that switch on, I feel so much better. We get stuck in that rut of wanting to do more than what makes sense to do and/or prioritizing the things that are important to us. Is that 45-minute Instagram important in your life as opposed to ten other things that you could be doing with that 45 minutes like walking around the block, doing weights, doing those dishes so that they don’t sit there all day and smell when you get home?

TBT 141 | Side Hustle

Side Hustle: Productivity is making the very best use of your time within the framework of finding joy, stabilizing joy, and doing the things you know you were put on this planet to do.

As you said, it’s the comparisons. Should I be doing this? Tony Robbins talks about shoulding on ourselves? We’ve got all these shoulds that get in the way. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. We are people-pleasers too. We want to please others. We want to be responsive but we don’t want to be known as that person who’s not responsive. Letting go is the hardest thing that we have. It’s the, “I can’t do that.” What does that mean? Will I disappoint somebody? Either way, you’re going to disappoint someone. If you don’t get to that soccer game, you’re going to disappoint the most important people in your lives. For some reason, we prioritize others over those that are important to us, “They’ll understand.” We need a mindset shift in that.
I saw someone once with these t-shirts that say, “You’re not that important.” You don’t think that everybody is hanging on our every word, us getting back to them, and that client is going to go away if they have to wait an hour or don’t get an email until the morning. Some of them will but at the end of the day, you’re not driving yourself crazy. You’ll know that the people that you have are the people that you’re meant to have. It’s finding a way to let go of what we can’t do.
It’s not feeling like we have to do everything by ourselves especially at the day job, “It’s not going to get done if I don’t do it.” It’s not going to get done right and trusting that you have the capability to help someone else on your team, assist you with a project, teach a skill to somebody else so that they can participate with you. There are many things that we can do in the workplace to get things off of our plate that aren’t hurting ourselves, and not putting a lot of work on somebody else. Maybe because you’ve taught your administrative assistant to do this one task to help you out, now they’ve got a skill that they didn’t have before. You’ve helped them in their professional development.
When I get to do that, I get so excited because that’s something I thrive on. It’s knowing that if I’m responsible for someone’s professional development, I want to be all-in on that. It’s not just telling them, “You’re great because you came to work on time every day this week,” and crap like that. I want to be able to say like, “I was impressed that you took the time to help me with that project by learning this database and stuff like that.” We don’t do enough of that in the workplace, especially as managers.
We don’t give people the recognition that they need, we don’t invest in their self-development, and we don’t delegate well enough. That’s the problem. It’s we either dump it and say it’s out of our hands, let them figure it out, or we’re a micromanager. We need some guidance on the delegation. I do have to tell you that it’s my favorite thing to do. I try to do it first thing in the morning is to delegate something. At the end of the day, when I got done not only what I had to do but what someone else does for me to advance whatever it is I’m working on.
In your morning routine, you plan in your head that you’re going to delegate something to somebody on your team or in your life.
I’m not as consistent. I’m working on making that an everyday thing because it takes preparation to delegate. You have to be ready and know who you’re going to delegate it to, what exactly you’re going to delegate, and not dump it. I need to also be clear as to what my objective is.
My hubby will say, “Don’t fast do this, Kris. If you’re going to do it, do it right. If you can’t do it right, you can give it to somebody else who will or tell me so that I don’t put that expectation on you.” I know when something is important to him with the swim team, he’ll say to me, “Please, don’t fast do this.” I’m like, “I got it.”
We don't give ourselves credit for being smart enough to do the things that we want to do. Share on X I ask every guest this and I’d like to hear what your definition of productivity is and why.
Productivity is making the very best use of your time within the framework of finding joy, stabilizing, joy, and doing the things that you know that you were put on this planet to do. I’m productive when I’m helping a student at my day job. I’m productive when I’m supporting my husband when we’re working with his coaches. I’m productive when I’m focused on an activity that I’m good at and that makes me happy. That’s probably a very good definition.
What I’m hearing is you say you’re productive when you’re doing something of a higher purpose.
This is why you’re so good at this show. That’s the perfect way to describe it.
You gave me three examples so that’s what I heard. That goes in line with what you were talking about. You don’t waste time doing things because you have that purpose and drive. That makes a lot of sense. I want for the audience to think about, have you lost some of your purpose and motivation? How do you get reconnected? How do you take a step back and decide to evaluate what brings you joy? What brings value to others and how does that serve you in that context? People are disconnected and it’s time to get reconnected to each other, to what matters to us and our community.
That’s the reason why people should pursue jobs that they don’t hate. It’s okay to change your vocation if it’s not bringing you joy or you’re not using your talents. I’ve always tried to tell students like, “Don’t be a pre-med student because your parents want you to. If you hate chemistry, you are not going to make it to medical school. You need to figure that shit out for yourself.” I spent 25 years in higher education and it has taught me one thing. I’m not a parent so I’m giving away advice that I don’t have myself, but it’s because I’ve worked with students for so long.
Parents can’t dictate to their kids, students, or children who and what they need to be with their life. If you’re not pursuing something that brings you joy or you’re good at that lets you serve your higher purpose, you’ll never be successful. You’ll resent it for the rest of your life. I see folks come to campus every year and they’re like, “I’m in pre-med.” “That’s exciting. Why do you want to do that?” “My parents are doctors.” “That’s great but is that what you want to do?”
Without the why’s that you want to bring it back then we’re disconnected. Going back to your point about why people stay in jobs they hate. It’s because they’re disconnected. It’s a transaction. It’s like, “If I do this, I get some money for it.”

TBT 141 | Side Hustle

Side Hustle: Nobody should be complaining about not having any time to do anything. The reason you don’t is that you’re wasting your time, and you’re not prioritizing it.

It’s chasing the money. I heard Michael Neeley say that on a show.
We chased something, the less we have of it. Think about that.
That’s why I love the Gallup Organization and the StrengthsFinder. That is my favorite personality assessment in the history of the world because it’s based on positive psychology and all about finding engagement. Every single book that Tom Rath has written because he speaks the truth in a way that’s obvious but you don’t think about it. I’m a big fan of Tom Rath books and a big fan of the StrengthsFinder stuff.
Your show is about working smarter. You’re talking about some work-life balance and your approach to it. What’s your shortcut? It could be a tool or a way of thinking. What do you consider your biggest shortcut?
The notion that every new day is a reset. If there was something that was high up on my must-do list or even my want-to-do list that I didn’t complete, I’m not going to beat myself up over it because tomorrow is another day and I can do it then. Warren Beatty said in the movie Bugsy, he’s like, “Everybody deserves a second chance.” Being able to still close your eyes at the end of the night and say, “I got stuff done and I’m okay with that. The dry clean, I can get tomorrow or I’ll make a quick phone call and make sure I can still submit that report.” The things that we positively know we have to get done, we’re going to get that done. Whether it is that we do the Parkinson’s Law thing where it’s like, “I’m going to cut this out for the month that it takes until it’s due or I’m going to finish it in the hour before it’s done. Okay, it’s done.” You can check that off and lay your head on the pillow at night, knowing that I got done what I needed to get done.
One of the shortcuts that I use to help me with being present with what I did get done, as you said, there are always going to be things on that to-do list that you didn’t do. It is longer than the daily hours or minutes. I started to write down daily wins in addition to what I’ve planned so that I get reconnected to the things that I did do and how that’s driving me forward. That made a huge difference in how I end my day. I’m not like, “I didn’t get this done,” and focused on what I didn’t do. It’s always another way to end the day in a positive note. Kris, is there anything else before we end our show that you wanted to share around work-life balance?
What I would love to share is the philosophy behind my show. I explained this to people like, “What is Elevate Your 8? What does that mean?” I’m like, “Let me outline this for you.” I came up with this after I wrote my first book. I was in conversation with a colleague. We were talking about time management. I was like, “I realized that if I’m only working eight hours a day and I’m getting eight hours of sleep every night to take care of myself, then the only thing I have to worry about is those other eight hours.” She’s like, “Kris, that’s brilliant. I never thought of it that way but it’s true.” The whole notion of we have to be a workaholic to be successful is a load of BS.
If you're not pursuing something that brings you joy or lets you serve your higher purpose, you'll never be successful. Share on X I have strongly resented supervisors that have made me feel like I can’t get my job done unless I’m there until 7:00 and coming in on every Sunday to answer email. In fact, that’s why I switched from working in college housing to working in development because I’d had enough of getting the life sucked out of me. I was not following my purpose anymore. If we’re thinking about how we spend the other eight hours of our day, what are the things that are important to us?
It’s important that I have some fitness and that I get to knit a little bit every day. It’s important that I pour some good time into my businesses, my time with my hubby, and making sure that Duke gets a walk a couple of times a day. If I’m honoring those two things, my alignment with my work, life and wellness, then everything else is simple. I’m very pleased with the way that I’ve chosen to outline that because it’s working well for me and hopefully, it will work well for some of the readers.
Many times when people have day jobs, they have a system that they work with. They may have time blocks, meetings, or they plan their work. Sometimes, strategies are cross contextual but for whatever reason, we don’t plan what’s important to us in our private life. Having eight hours a day, if you look at it, that’s a lot of time.
If you do the math then you work through the week. If you do it as a 168 hours a week thing, by the time you’ve added it all up, after you’re done with your 40-hours a week of work, you have three full days’ worth of time to do other stuff. If you put it in those contexts, nobody should be complaining about not having any time to do anything. The reason you don’t is that you’re wasting your time and you’re not prioritizing it because you’re stuck in those other time sucker things. I use the Instagram scroll as an example a lot. People would be appalled if they could track how much time they’re spending with their face on their phone.
We should cut off everybody’s finger. It’s a new discovery for me. If we cut off the scroll finger, what do we do then?
You have to talk to somebody, God forbid. That would ruin everything.
Kris, thank you so much for being here and sharing your tips and your wisdom. Where can people find out more about you and your podcast?
They can go to and they can also find me at Everything about the show is there. Take a listen. I would love for them to hop on and tell me what they think.
Thank you so much for being here.
Thank you for having me, Penny. This has been a load of fun. I appreciate it.
Thank you all for being here because you guys are the crux of the show. The last point about the eight hours of work, eight hours of sleep, and then what we do in between. That is the perfect recipe for balance if you think about it. Take that and do with it what you will. Give yourself a call-to-action as to how you’re going to better plan your eight hours in between, and what you’re going to do to be more purposeful so you can eliminate the waste that’s sucking away that time. We’ll see you next time.

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About Kris McPeak

TBT 141 | Side HustleKris McPeak is an educator, author, and podcast host who loves to rock the 9-to-5 Side Hustle. By day, Kris works for a community college foundation; and in the other 8 hours when she’s not sleeping, she runs a non-profit masters swim team with her hubby and hosts the Elevate Your 8 Podcast. Kris is the author of “The 9-to-5 Side Hustler: How to Balance Your Day Job with Your Small Business,” and two other books. She enjoys swimming, knitting, binge-watching dark TV shows, and spoiling her 11 year old mutt, Duke.

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