Jenessa Williams champions the art of being a professional multitasker
We’ve all been there. You’re meeting a friend of a friend for the first time, or you’re on a first date, or at a networking event. Sooner or later, once names have been swapped and the weather discussed, the inevitable question falls: ‘So, what do you do?”
I’ve always struggled with this question. Without overthinking it, I’d say I was a journalist. I interview interesting people, share stories that I think are important, and as a reviewer, have a legit excuse to take pictures of my food and at gigs. But in honestly, journalism is only the tip of what I do. On any given day, I’m a shop worker, a freelance writer, blogger, a Masters student, an eBay shop owner. Sometimes you’ll find me running the door at a gig, or teaching a group of students. Very, very occasionally, you’ll find me sleeping. No day is exactly the same, and quite frankly I’ve never been happier.
...why not explore all of your passions and make money at the same time?
Whilst I count myself exceptionally lucky to be able to make money doing the things I love, I’m certainly not alone. The Millennial generation are quickly coming around to the perks of life with a portfolio career, determined to build a life in which they can have it all. A personal inspiration of mine, Emma Gannon, even wrote a book about it – The Multi-Hyphen method, which champions the freedom of turning your side hustle into something more serious, even if it’s just for fun rather than funds.
Slowly but surely, we’re coming around to the reality that the workplace is just different to how it was 30, even 10 years ago – no longer do you go to college, train in one role and stick in that industry forever. Now, we’re all about the personal brand, the ability to keep up with technological advances and changing whims – and why not explore all of your passions and make money at the same time?
Writing is still my very first love, but the truth of the matter is, I really do believe that my main source of work is all the better for the time I spend NOT writing – the conversations I have with customers, the mental challenges of being a student, the experiences I have when I’m not crouched over my laptop. Through being a multitasker, I’m more cultured and more socialised that I ever used to be when I had one day job.
Being freelance of course, does come with it’s own set of risks. I’m pretty knackered most of the time, and there’s no boss telling me when I can quit for the day. At times it can be incredibly lonely (part of the reason I keep that part-time shop job, with a bunch of excellent colleagues who’ve become a huge part of my social life), and there’s certainly been more weeks of chasing late invoices and refreshing an empty inbox than I would care to admit.
Being a multitasker saved my bacon come rent day
As a masters by research student, I don’t have any course friends, and the pressure of self-motivating can be a struggle. But when things are going well, there is truly no better feeling that knowing I’ve put dinner on my own table through skills that are uniquely mine. I can work when I’m truly inspired, whether that be from my bed, the local coffee shop, and I have sole control of the office stereo in my spare room (Beyonce Fridays ftw).
When I’m bored, I can mix it up – seek out new clients, pare back from things that aren’t exciting me, go out for a spontaneous trip to the gym or the shops. Rather than putting all my eggs in one company’s basket, there’s always another stream of revenue to follow, other skills to fall back on. Being a multitasker saved my bacon come rent day as a newly-qualified graduate, and now, after many years of solid graft, it’s enabled me to put down my share of a deposit on my partner and I’s first home.
So what does the future look like?
I’m saving as much of a fiscal safety net as I can for the slower months, and I hope that one day soon I’ll complete my Masters, progress to my PhD and eventually achieve my ultimate goal of teaching and writing as an academic. Most of all, I’d really love to write a book. But even then? I’m sure I’ll still be trying to squeeze in some sewing classes or a yoga course. Life’s a buffet baby – why stick to one food group?