You’re working full-time with a significant other and two kids at home. You want to find time for work, family, yourself AND your side gig so you can turn it into a full-time business. How can you POSSIBLY find time to work on that side hustle so you can finally make your corporate escape? Well, there is no simple answer and it’s definitely not easy. You just have to MAKE the time if this is a priority for you. It CAN be done though and I’m going to give you some tips on how to do it! The main thing is that you need to really be all in and committed to it. Remember, according to Steven Covey, “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”
The first step is to ask yourself your “why”. In a previous blog, I talked about the importance of considering why you want a side hustle. Is it because you want to pay off some debts? Do you just want to have a second income to supplement your current one? Or do you really want to eventually turn that side hustle into a full-time gig? Whatever it is, it’s important to understand why you want to go down this path because the more compelling your “why” the more likely you are to make the sacrifices needed to get there.
Some ideas for making time to work on your side hustle include:
Wake up earlier
This is a no brainer—if you want to try and find extra time in your day, wake up earlier. You can start slowly, just waking up 15-30 minutes earlier to start. Then in a few weeks wake up an hour earlier and see how it goes.
It is possible to change your habits and sleep experts offer these tips:
- Set the alarm and put it across the room: the most obvious tip is to set your alarm and put it across the room so you have to wake up to turn it off (snoozing is not an option).
- Check out the sleepyti.me app: it calculates the ideal time you should be falling asleep based on what time you want to wake up. It works by counting backwards in 90 minute sleep cycles. Waking up in the middle of a sleep cycle leaves you feeling tired and groggy, while waking up in between cycles wakes you up feeling refreshed and alert.
- Get out in the sun soon after you wake up: maybe schedule a morning walk or run to kick-start the day (I walk my dogs first thing in the morning)
- Drink a glass of water when you wake up: drink at least 16oz of water. Water kick starts your metabolism, hydrates you, helps your body flush out toxins, and can give your brain fuel first thing in the morning (then you can have your coffee afterwards).
- Keep up the routine (even on weekends!): I know this is tough but sleep experts recommend that you keep up your routine, even on weekends, if you really want to start becoming more of a morning person. Consistency is key to changing your habits.
Work on your side hustle during your commute
Whether you drive or take a bus or train to work, it is possible to get work done while on your commute (you just have to get creative). If you’re in the car, consider listening to podcasts or audiobooks on business or entrepreneurship (this is what saved me when I used to have a two hour daily commute and was tearing my hair out!). If you get ideas for your side gig or blog, get out your voice recorder and start taking voice notes. You could potentially have a whole blog post outline by the time you get to work. There are even online tools you can use to transcribe your notes once you get home. If you take a bus or train to work, you can also listen to audiobooks, podcasts or even take an online class. The nice thing about this scenario is that you can also take written notes at the same time. In fact, you can do any kind of computer-based work now that you’re not driving and have internet access. (Also, don’t forget that time on an airplane if you travel for work).
Work during your lunch break, after work or on weekends
Working during lunch is an easy one because typically you can find an empty conference room, go to the cafeteria, visit a local Starbucks or even work in your car. This can potentially give you 30 minutes to 1 hour a day to work on your side gig. Working on your side hustle AFTER work is another option. Whether it’s waiting for the kids to go to bed or skipping that episode of Real Housewives of (fill in the blank) you can potentially get an additional 2 hours or more to focus on your business in the evening. Yes, building a business requires sacrifice and finding time on the weekend is also potentially part of it. The key is consistency and carving out the same schedule every weekend
Use “wait time” to do small tasks
You know all those times you find yourself waiting in the doctor’s office, at the hair salon or even getting a pedicure? Even if you find small blocks of time you can use it to accomplish simple tasks. This will turn otherwise idle time into time you can get even a few things done or just use it as time to organize your thoughts.
Start saying “NO” more often
Start getting comfortable setting boundaries and saying NO to the activities that don’t serve you. Many times, we want to please people and don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings but turning down that happy hour invitation might be worth it if it gives you a few extra hours to work on your dream gig. I even found this great article with some templates you can use to cancel plans at the last minute (professionally). Even if you turn down just one activity a week, that can make a huge difference. Warren Buffet said it best: “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything.”
Use Time Management Techniques
By employing effective time management techniques you’ll be able to reduce stress and be more productive as you work on that side hustle. Here are some suggestions:
- Create consistency in your weekly calendar: we can’t manage time because it’s constant but we can manage ourselves! Take the time to schedule all your activities on a calendar so you can track your time and hold yourself accountable. Blocking off time in your day will also create consistency and eliminate distractions while you work on your side hustle.
- Plan your day the night before: even if you take 5-15 minutes to consider the top three things you want to accomplish in your side gig for the next day, it can be a great help.
- Set time constraints: instead of saying, “I’m going to work Sunday afternoon on my side gig, set a specific timeframe, like 3-5pm and put it on your calendar.
- Pomodoro technique: developed in the late 1980s by Francesco Cirillo, the Pomodoro Technique is centered on the idea that work should be broken down and completed in intervals separated by short breaks. You work for 25 minutes, then take a five-minute break. The philosophy behind this is that frequent breaks can improve mental agility as well as make you more productive.
- Start Single-Tasking: in these crazy, fast-paced, technology-filled lives that we lead it can be tempting to watch TV, read your emails on your phone and cook dinner all at the same time. However, when it comes to your side gig, productivity experts recommend single-tasking. In fact a Stanford research study showed that we’re slowed down by irrelevant information when we multi-task. Doing just one thing at a time helps you remember more, get more done in less time, bring more attention to your work, and work smarter, instead of just harder.
Just a few extra hours each week to go after what you’re really passionate about can make a big difference. Create consistency in your weekly calendar so you can block off the same days and times each week. Consider this, if you can find even 5 hours a week to work on your side business, that’s 260 hours a year! The biggest key to success is, YOU HAVE TO REALLY WANT IT!
I’ll leave you with one final quote: Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.”
Just take that first step!