Balancing a full-time job and two side projects: Ask Chanele McFarlane!

Chanele McFarlane - Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Do Well Dress Well

Chanele McFarlane is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Do Well Dress Well. The website is a resource for professional women to succeed in style and their careers by providing networking, personal branding and wardrobe advice. She is also a Digital Marketing Consultant for Vision Vertical. But this isn’t her 9-5, she has a full-time job as a Digital Marketing Coordinator!

We had a chance to chat with Chanele and asked her a few questions about how she balances her demanding schedule and juggles all of her priorities. Chanele will be speaking YWiB’s The Side Hustle: Panel and Meetup event so come on out to hear more about how this accomplished women manages it all!

  1. How do you balance your full-time job, side project and personal life?

For me, the key to the balance between all three is prioritization and organization. When you have a number of things that demand your time, you have no choice but to begin prioritizing which things are the most important. For example, before starting Do Well Dress Well, I would always come home and watch a few hours of television before falling asleep. Now, that’s pretty much impossible for me to do as it means that I lose out on valuable hours that I could be writing blog posts or any other work to help build my brand presence.

I always start each week with a “master to-do list” that outlines every single action item that needs to be completed. With my entire list in mind, every morning I create a “daily to-do list” that has 2 or 3 things that I have to focus on for the day. When you break up your large to-do list into smaller lists, you’ll instantly feel less overwhelmed. It’s also important that you then assign a priority to each thing on your list - 1 being the most important.

I have found it helpful to designate certain days to focusing solely on my side projects. Monday and Wednesday evenings are for Do Well Dress Well and Thursday evenings are for Vision Vertical, my consultancy business with my husband. Tuesday and Friday evenings are usually reserved for relaxation. I then use the weekends to catch up on work for both while also ensuring that I take enough breaks, spend time with family and go on a fun date night. Sometimes, I do have to move my designated days around depending on my work schedule or other unexpected things that may come up but for the most part, I stick to this schedule. I’ve also started taking advantage of my lunch breaks so that I can save some time in the evenings. I like to use my lunch hour to draft a few blog posts, respond to emails, plan my Instagram feed using Planoly and schedule social content using CoSchedule. Being productive during this time has really helped me to accomplish more during the workweek.

Also, having a planner and a notebook is so, so important. I use both a physical planner and my Google Calendar to keep me on track. I like to use colour-coding not only to be a bit more organized but it allows me to see how much time I am allocating to each area in my life. For example, if my calendar is full of the colour pink (the colour I use for Do Well Dress Well items), I compare that to my other responsibilities to see if I need to adjust my balance.

Finding the right balance is certainly not something that happens overnight. I started my business back in February and it’s only now that I feel like I’m at a point where I’ve found the organizational methods that work for me. It takes a lot of trial and error (and yes, it took a bout of burnout as well) but through that experience, I’ve now found a balance that allows me to successfully maintain the relationships in my personal life.

  1. What inspired you to develop Do Well Dress Well and what was the process for developing and launching the website?

About 4 years ago, I was walking to the train after a long evening at my internship when the words literally popped into my head. I was at a point in my life where I was thinking about my “purpose” and what it means to succeed. I was performing well at my internship but another thing that I noticed was how much my personal style was becoming a part of my brand. I realized how much “doing well and dressing well” have in common and realized that there weren’t any resources to help guide you with both. After years of going back and forth on whether to start a website and always having people ask me questions relating to career advice and professional image, I decided it was time to bring my idea to fruition.

The process for developing and launching took about 3 months. I spent at least a month conducting research to figure out what elements I wanted to incorporate on the site. During this time, I read a lot of blog posts and spent a crazy amount of time on Pinterest gathering inspiration. I then spent about a month on elements such as setting up my domain (I actually bought it in 2014 but didn’t do anything with it) and hosting, figuring out what type of theme I wanted, setting up a business email, securing my social handles and sorting out any technical things. Lastly, for one month, I focused solely on content because I didn’t want to launch without having at least a few posts there.

  1. What is your advice for professional women looking to turn their ideas into developed projects?

Start today but make sure you are at a point in your life where you can be consistent. Being consistent is way more important than having the perfect logo or website theme. When I initially started Do Well Dress Well, I had a very different brand image than I do now. I was extremely indecisive when it came to finalizing a logo and design so I decided to just launch the website and begin building an audience. I consistently wrote 2 blog posts a week and posted on my social media channels and eventually my following began to grow. Once I reached a point where I was like “Okay, I can really do this!”, I knew it was time to go back and design a brand image that I loved and so 4 months after initially launching, I rebranded into the look that you see today.

I also recommend finding someone (whether it’s a friend, acquaintance or family member) that will hold you accountable. Thankfully, I not only had my husband who (lovingly) nagged me every day that I needed to get Do Well Dress Well up and running but I had a few friends who would send me texts and emails every few days to ask if I’ve made any progress. I’ve found that once you share your ideas with other people, it will encourage you to keep focused as you don’t want to let them down.

Last thing - make sure that you’re passionate about it. It’s so easy to come up with ideas but I encourage you to really pinpoint the ones that you truly have a passion for. These are typically the ideas that you just cannot stop thinking about. It’s the first thing on your mind when you wake up and the last thing on your mind before you fall asleep. When you decide to pursue a side project, there is going to be so many late nights, early mornings and a lot of missed events because you simply need as much time as possible to dedicate to it. If your project is a passion, you won’t be bothered by the change of lifestyle because it genuinely makes you happy and it is allowing you to become the best version of yourself.

  1. What has been the most rewarding aspect of Do Well Dress Well and what has been the most challenging?

The most rewarding aspect is being able to be a valuable resource of information and inspiration for women in various stages of their careers. It genuinely makes me so happy when someone leaves a comment on the website or tweets me to let me know that they found a particular blogpost helpful, they successfully used my networking tips and I have inspired them to dress better at work. I’ve truly found my purpose in creating valuable content and creating networking experiences to help women live remarkable lives. The most challenging has been the lifestyle adjustment as building and maintaining a brand definitely takes time! It was tough at first getting used to waking up extra early to get work done before heading off to my full-time job but now that I’ve found the right balance, it has become less of a challenge.