When people ask how I made room and time for a side business, I’m not always sure how to answer. I want to respond, “I sat down and did the work.”
Simple as that. There are no fancy tricks or complicated tips that made it any easier. It was hard, and it was work. A lot of hard work.
That’s what it feels like sometimes, that it really is that simple and there’s nothing else to it. And in some ways that truly is the big secret to any success. People who do big things do the work.
But there is more to it than that. Because “doing the work” involves planning, time management, prioritizing, learning efficient systems and processes — and for me, many, many times it involved someone to lend a helping hand.
If you’re wondering how to make time for your side business, use these tips to help get you started:
- Cut off the TV. If you want to make time in your life limit yourself to a Netflix subscription or an antenna (if you can pick up channels where you live). Get rid of your cable package and you’ll save yourself hours of time plus plenty of money each month.
- Put time limits on tasks. Work takes up however much time you allow it. Set yourself 15, 30, or 60 minutes to accomplish a task — and then get it done. Don’t multitask. Schedule a time for everything and stick to it.
- Hack your productivity. Try techniques to increase your efficiency and productivity to get more done in less time. Try crossing off your most-dreaded to-do list item as soon as you sit down to work on your side business (in other words, swallow the frog). Or make a list of 3 things to do each day; things that if you get them done the day will be a “win” no matter what else happened. Or try something that I’ve been using lately: the Pomodoro technique. (As fanatic as people are about this I feel a bit like I’ve joined a cult by using it myself.)
- Prioritize and write it down. We all have limits, so the reality is that we won’t get to every single task every single day. But you can prioritize what must be done and what’s truly important to you. Then write it down; stick it on your calendar; put it in a planner; schedule everything out. My Passion Planner helps me with this. (And to be honest with you, I have two planners. A small blank one that I use to scribble all over and make sure I write down all tasks, and the Passion Planner which is how I schedule and prioritize all the scribbles.) You can download and print pages from the Passion Planner for free if you want to give it a try.
- Replace unproductive, unfulfilling activities with meaningful work. Before I started developing a side hustle — and then a side business — whenever I would get bored I’d seek out something to occupy me. Instead of doing something constructive, creating something, or learning something new, I would do something completely meaningless just to fill up my time. I would go shopping and spend too much money. I would hang out with toxic people (who were probably just as bored and unproductive as I was) and gossip. I would get sucked into Pinterest or blogs for hours. This didn’t make me happy and at the end of each day I’d go to bed frustrated that I didn’t make anything useful that day. If you can identify with this at all, replace those activities with a few hours of making. Write. Draw. Play an instrument. Develop a business plan. Outline a course you could teach.
- Reach out for help. Don’t be too afraid or proud to ask someone to help you when you need it. This might be outsourcing parts of your business to someone else who could do a better job than you could. Or it could be accepting a meal your spouse cooked for dinner because you were working away. I’ve done both and am extremely grateful for all the help I’ve received (and continue to receive). I could not manage a side business without the many helping hands that have supported me.
We tend to put importance on a sense of “busyness,” on displaying our flurry of activity to prove something. (I’m not sure of what.) We may think that there’s a correlation in value and an outcome that is more elaborate, more complex, or just more — more to read through, listen to, see.
That’s not the case, though. More is not always better.
Sometimes, you make time for your side business by cutting the fluff and getting down to the point.
You take advice on managing your day to squeeze just a few more minutes out of every hour. And then you do the work.