The idea of a side hustle is one that has really taken off in the last couple of years. It’s a way of creating an additional revenue stream alongside an existing job and, more than that, it can allow you to pursue a passion, learn new skills, and reinvigorate your career. (Check out the 8 benefits of starting a side hustle if you still need convincing!) But how on earth can you make time for a side hustle when every hour in your life is already accounted for?
It’s not that people who have a side hustle somehow have more hours in the day than those who ‘only’ do a full-time job – so there must be something else going on! There are choices to be made, sacrifices even, and, no, it’s not going to be an easy ride.
I’m reminded of this quote, that’s attributed to ‘anonymous’ unfortunately – but whoever it was, I think they were spot on:
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“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.”
If you’re in it for the long haul, and you’re willing to put in the work to make it happen, then here’s how to make time for a side hustle in your life:
1. Define ‘success’
Before you sit down to work on any new project, and certainly before you try to make time for a side hustle, you need to get very clear on what it is that you want to achieve and why it’s so important to you.
You don’t need me to tell you this, but the reality is that you already have your hands full with everything that’s going on in your life. You have your full-time job, which is most likely already overflowing beyond the so-called ‘9 to 5’. You have your family, whatever that looks like for you. You have your personal wellbeing and fitness goals to work on, your hobbies… and sometimes you actually need to sleep as well! So, in order to add something to this already-very-full plate, you’re going to need to really, really care about that something.
- What is success for you?
- What is it that you’re striving for?
- What if all your dreams come through and everything works out?
- What are you working towards?
- Why are you committed to making it happen?
Knowing the answers to these questions will ensure that you make time for this side hustle and that you stay motivated even during the times when it inevitably gets tough.
2. Make sure you have a solid foundation
Aside from being motivated, making time for a side hustle will be ten times easier if you have the right foundation in place. If you’re familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, there’s not much point in striving for the ‘self-actualisation’ at the top of the pyramid when you don’t even have food and shelter – and the same goes for trying to make time for bringing ‘freedom, flexibility and fulfilment’ via a side hustle when the rest of your life is not in a good state.
In this case, a solid foundation will include…
- Being in good physical and mental health – as much as a new project can energise you, if you’re already close to burnout then putting pressure on yourself to make time for a side hustle is going to push you over the edge
- Supportive relationships at home – a situation with tensions in your relationship with your partner, or children who barely see you as you’re already working too much, is not going to get better if you add this whole other distraction into the mix
- Finances in order – understanding your financial situation, and making sure that you have no massive debts dragging you down and preventing you from investing in the new project, is critical to grant you the freedom to focus on making the side hustle happen
Fundamentally, you really must prioritise your own health and personal relationships. If you’re not in a good place there, be compassionate with yourself and make the effort to nourish and nurture these areas before trying to make time for a side hustle.
3. Carve out the time in your calendar
If you feel that you have that solid foundation in place, and you do have the energy and focus to work on this new project, then you can start looking at how you’re actually going to find time in your life for this side hustle.
A great first step is to track where you’re spending your time today (I like to use a free tool like Toggl for this) – that way you’ll see exactly how your day and week is set up at the moment and where there are opportunities to carve out that ‘extra’ time that you need. A few concrete tips here:
- Kill the ‘time sucks’ – these are the completely useless tasks that are just a waste of your time. An example for me has been to unsubscribe from all marketing emails: it has taken me about a year, but it’s really been a game changer in terms of decluttering my inbox and cutting out those painful minutes of deleting (or archiving) emails that I know I’ll never read.
- Find and replace – look at time slots in your day where you can replace one activity with something that will move you forwards with your business. For example, if you listen to a Spotify playlist on the treadmill, how about swapping this for a business podcast? If you spend your bus journey to and from work scrolling through your Facebook feed, how about using that commute to connect with people on LinkedIn?
- Schedule it – once you’ve found a slot (whether it’s in the morning before the rest of the house wakes up, or in your lunch break, or in the evening), block it in your calendar. The trick is to treat it as you would any external appointment: only cancel if absolutely necessary. Use your computer’s calendar like iCal, use pen and paper, or Post-its – whatever works for you!
The truth is that no one has extra time just ‘lying around’ – so you’re going to need to make some choices, and you’re also going to need to learn to say ‘no’ to things that aren’t important to you and your goals.
4. Get clear on your goals and priorities
Now that you’ve found the time in your calendar, you’ll need to get more specific as to what it is that you’re going to be doing during this newfound time slot.
If you sit down at your desk at the allocated time without knowing what you’re supposed to be doing, you’re not going to get anywhere. “Create a side hustle”, “build a business”, “generate income”… these are all big monster tasks! How on earth are you supposed to get started with something like that? You need to first set yourself specific goals with deadlines – for example, reaching a certain income target, or having a certain number of clients by a particular date. Once you have those goals, you can work backwards and reverse engineer the process of what you need to do to get there.
And while the end goal may be an income target – e.g. £5,000 per month by July next year – you’ll need smaller milestones to keep you focused and motivated along the way. Maybe month one is a time of exploration, reading, learning and getting inspired; month two is about narrowing down your options; and so on.
5. Get a support system in place
You know when you want to get fit and maybe lose a bit of weight? You can try to do it alone – after all, you basically know what eating healthily looks like, and you can find free exercise classes online, or go to the gym. You’ll start off (often in January) with fabulous intentions of going three or four times a week, but as time passes ‘life happens’ and you end up no closer to your goals than you were when you started.
If, on the other hand, you find a workout buddy and fix a regular date in the diary when you’re going to meet, then you’re already much more likely to stick to your plans, together. If you sign up with a personal trainer, who can give you a tailored programme that perfectly matches your current fitness levels and gives you a step-by-step process that you can follow to reach your goals – well, it’s clear that you’ll be much more likely to show up at the gym, focus on the right things when you’re there and, ultimately, see the results you’re looking for.
Bringing this back to your side hustle, the workout buddy equivalent is some kind of accountability partner – a friend who’s working on their own side hustle would be ideal. You can meet in a coffee shop to work on your ideas, or do a virtual Google hangout / Skype session together to make it even easier to fit in. You can also connect with people in a Facebook group – but try to still get that 1:1 accountability with someone to keep you super focused.
The personal trainer equivalent is to join a programme or work with a business coach who will help you focus on the right things and get those results you’re after, faster and more painlessly than you ever would alone.
So that’s how to make time for a side hustle! No more “I don’t have time…” excuses. Either commit to making the time, using the tips above – or make an intentional choice that you don’t want to do this right now, and re-evaluate in a few months.
If you are trying to make time for a side hustle and you’re not sure where to start – or you want that ‘personal trainer’ effect on your business! – then get in touch to book a free strategy session. We’ll look at what’s missing for you at the moment and how I can help you get focused on the right things that will get you to where you want to be. Book a call >>