5 Tips to Find Time for Your Side Hustle, Lou Longworth for The Key to it All
There are so many reasons for starting a side hustle in addition to your current job. Perhaps you could do with the additional income, or you want to start a business without losing the security of a steady salary until it’s successfully up and running. It could be that you really just need a creative outlet to distract you from the daily grind. Whatever your motive, it’s easier now to start a side hustle up than it’s ever been.
What’s challenging however is finding the time and energy to stick with it and make it a success. Getting a business up and running, marketing it to find customers or clients and keeping the momentum going all involve an investment of your time and spirit. Having started my own greeting card business alongside full time employment a few years ago, and now running it alongside a part time job, here are my top five tips to find time for your side hustle.
1. Do a time audit
Finding out exactly how you currently spend your time will make it a lot easier to figure out where you can make adjustments to fit your side hustle in. We all think we know what we do with our days but doing a time audit for a week can be quite eye opening!
You might find that the five minutes you thought you spent scrolling through Instagram or Facebook turns out to be an hour… Or your commute that should be half an hour is actually taking much longer because you always stop off at the newsagent or supermarket to grab a few things on the way home. It’s not that any of the things you discover are necessarily bad, but they’ll give you a good basis to find out where you could squeeze in some extra time for your new business.
There are several time tracking tools online that make it easy to record how your days are spent, or you can simply use paper and pen to jot down what you’re doing every 15-10 minutes when you’re not doing your day job. I recommend using an alarm of some sort to remind you at the beginning, until you get in the habit.
2. Find Potential Time Blocks
Look at your days (and your time audit) and identify any blocks of time that you could use for your side hustle. You could get up an hour earlier or go to bed an hour later, but bear in mind you’re going to need to do this for the long haul, so don’t exhaust yourself.
Shifting your day an hour or two earlier so that you have time to work on your business in the morning before your job starts (while you’re still fresh), then going to bed earlier instead of watching Netflix, could work. Or you might be able to use your lunch break, or your train commute.
Look for both big and small blocks of time that you can use - even 15 minute slots, used daily, can add up over time. Cutting back on social media and TV are usually a good start for most people. Or you could decide to keep mealtimes simple by batch cooking on the weekends to free up your evenings a bit.
3. Allocate your time blocks
Once you’ve identified time blocks you can use, I’d recommend allocating specific tasks to blocks of time. I find that when I don’t do this I end up wasting time deciding what task to do instead of getting on with something useful.
I find it easier to reserve the bigger blocks of time for tasks that need a lot of concentration (like doing the illustrations for my greeting cards). I then use smaller blocks of time for things like social media or replying to emails.
Depending on your job and family circumstances you may be able to work in the evenings and/or on the weekends, which is helpful if you need bigger chunks of time. Don’t overdo it though - working consistently at a sustainable pace is much better than going all out for a short while then quitting because it’s too much or because you never see your family any more.
“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” - Robert Collier
4. Break projects down into tiny tasks
For larger projects it’s really helpful to break them down into the smallest possible tasks. That way when you only have a small amount of time you can still move forward by ticking one small thing off the list. Over time this can really add up!
“Every day do something that will inch you closer to a better tomorrow.” - Doug Firebaugh
It also really helps to keep you motivated, as you’ll see steady progress being made instead of just feeling overwhelmed and like you’re not getting any of the big things done.
5. Stick to the important stuff
Anyone who’s ever started a business knows that there are millions of things that can be done, but when your time is limited you need to stick to the important stuff and say no to the rest. Think about what’s going to have the most significant and immediate impact on growing your side hustle and prioritise those few things. There will be plenty of time to chase after all those other shiny objects later on, when your side hustle becomes a full time job.
And on this note, keeping yourself healthy and happy is important stuff! Make sure that you get enough sleep, build in recovery periods, enjoy time with friends or family and go out and have fun as well. You need energy and motivation as much as you need time to make a success of your side hustle.
Lou Longworth is an illustrator who sells her own range of greeting cards alongside her part time day job. Her aim is to make people smile or giggle. Whether it’s because of a silly pun, a shared joke or a common interest, Lou believes greeting cards are a terrific way to connect with someone. They help people stay in touch, cheer each other up and celebrate with one another - and all that from a bit of card stock!
If this blog post has inspired you to do some work on your business then check out our free 'Practical exercise to work out your joyful, sustainable business values' download. This will help you focus your business moving forward.