Life of an Architect

Life of an Architect

Ep 149: Moonlighting

April 21, 2024

This will be the 5th time in 5,209 days that I have put my opinions about taking on extra work outside of your normal job and typically during ridiculous hours of the day and night. This practice has become to be known as “moonlighting” and depending on your age and where you are at in your career, it is either the light at the end of the tunnel or an oncoming train. Andrew and I originally had something else scheduled for today’s show but this topic has been forcing itself into my brain over the past month or so and I want to talk about it . Welcome to EP 149: Moonlighting.

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Today we are going to be talking about moonlighting. I mentioned in the opening that in some capacity, I have brought this topic up for discussion 5 times over the past 14 years but it has never been the focus of a dedicated podcast episode. Is that irony?

answer are from a poll I presented on my Instagram account with an average of 1,200 responses per question

Fun Facts jump to 01:52

The etymology of the word “moonlight” as a verb, "hold a second job, especially at night," and this version or use came into use in 1957 (implied in the verbal noun moonlighting), from moonlighter "one who takes a second job after hours" (1954), from the notion of working by the light of the moon. Earlier the verb had been used to mean "commit crimes at night" (1882), from moonlighter in reference to members of organized bands that carried on agrarian outrages in Ireland.

Did you know there was a phrase called “sunlighting” which is in obvious contrast to the word “moonlighting? “Sunlighting,” as the term indicates, is work done outside the company—but with complete transparency and within the boundaries of what is allowed by professional ethics and individual conscience. sunlighting is considered ethical because it is done transparently after work hours and does not conflict with the employee's obligations to their primary employer.

The names suggest that moonlighting is done after hours and without the knowledge and consent of your employer while sunlighting is doing essentially the same thing with full disclosure and the approval of your employer.

Experience with Moonlighting jump to 8:39

Andrew and I have both taken on moonlighting jobs in the past, and since I don't really want to speak for Andrew, I will admit that my experiences fall into both the moonlighting  AND sunlighting categories. I've also had both positive AND negative experiences. One of the things I tried hard to convey in today's episode is that I can see both sides of the argument of why moonlighting takes place, it's value to the individuals, and the benefits that can happen as a result of the extra experience and, and lets be completely blunt about this, the extra money. I bought my first house with moonlighting money ... and the client on that job also stiffed me on my completely reasonable  bill (I worked without asking for immediate payment for services rendered until the business was up and running and to this date, almost 30 years later, they have never paid me ... I should let it go but it provides an extremely valuable life lesson).

Side Effects of Moonlighting jump to 15:58

Originally this was going to be a list of pros and cons, but the pro list was short and incredibly easy to identify. Our conversation on the cons was really about the ramifications - or side effects - or taking on moonlighting work. Without any real effort, the first things that came to mind are:

Decreased productivity
Health problems
Getting Fired

These all seem pretty bad to me and came to mind instantly and there is a cascading of effects - meaning, #1 leads to #2 which leads to #3, and so on.

Working long hours can lead to exhaustion and burnout, which can result in decreased productivity, increased errors, and even serious health problems such as heart disease,