Taking multi-tasking to a new level

Tough financial times call for some difficult decisions. For many people that means taking on extra work to make ends meet.  One person who has taken on two extra jobs is Carolyn Calmonson who says that having a variety of part-time jobs has its benefits too

Carolyn has run a women’s gym in Manchester for the last eight years. In the last few months the financial crisis has taken its toll on the business. “It’s really hard out there,” says Carolyn. “I’m trying to keep the business going, but the financial climate has impacted on it. Fewer people are going to the gym now and I can’t see any growth in the business for a while and meanwhile food and fuel costs are going up. I’ve got three daughters. I have to keep the money coming in so I decided I needed alternative sources of income.”
First, she set up another business as a social media consultant to small businesses and already has a few clients. And she is now working as an independent stylist for jewellry business Stella & Dot.
Carolyn had been thinking about setting up as a social media consultant since last year. “I saw an opportunity and had dabbled myself as a small business. I realised that if I wanted to do something I just needed to get going. I put a few feelers out and got a couple of leads. Many SMEs know they need to do social media, but they don’t understand how to do it or think it is too hard. They need someone to show them what to do,” she says.
Carolyn has only just taken on the Stella & Dot business. She works at the gym at least 30 hours a week and does paperwork in the evening and at weekends. On the days she is at the gym she starts at 8.30am. It closes between one and four  in the afternoon which is when she does much of her social media and Stella & Dot work.
For the social media work, she does Facebook and Twitter updates for her clients and keeps an eye on what their competition is doing. She then spends two hours a day on the Stella & Dot work. She’s back at the gym from four to eight two evenings a week. “Any spare time I have I am working,” she says.

Burn out
Her daughters are 16, 14 and 11 and she splits the childcare with her husband who is in sales. “There is always one of us around,” she says. Her eldest daughter, who has her own part-time job, is doing GCSEs and needs support and someone to help her revise.
Carolyn admits she feels “completely stretched” with her 45-hour week, but says she doesn’t know what else she can do, given the economic situation. On the plus side, though, she loves doing social media and adores the Stella & Dot jewellry. “I’m a bit of a Twitter freak,” she laughs. “I enjoy my work. Doing different jobs keeps you focused and motivated and the jobs can feed off each other.”
However, it can sometimes be difficult to remember which hat she is wearing.
She has only been doing the extra work since the new year, but is worried she will burn out. “All I can do is just get on with it,” she says. “I’m always tired and stressed, but I reckon I’ll have to do it for another five to 10 years until the girls are grown up. It’s my choice because I want the girls to go to good schools and to university.”
Carolyn thinks the girls are fine with her extra hours. “I don’t think it does them any harm to see me working hard and to understand that they can’t get everything they want,” she says.
The good thing is that she does her extra work from home so she has maximum flexibility and is always there for her children if they need her. “I could have found a big corporate job in the City, but I don’t want to do that,” she says. “I want to be around for my family so I looked for jobs which involved working from home.”
Even with her gym business, she has a good degree of flexibility as a business owner, which makes doing the other jobs possible. She runs it with her business partner and five employees. She adds that doing so many jobs and being a mum means she has to be very organised. “I make a lot of lists,” she says. “They say women are good at multi-tasking and that’s why we can do this. We are strong.”

*If anyone is thinking about setting up their own business and wants to become an Independent stylist for Stella & Dot they contact Carolyn directly. Her contact details for Stella & Dot are www.stelladot.co.uk/carolyncalmonson
carolyncalmonson@hotmail.co.uk. Twitter: @CarolynStylist.

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