You’ve probably read or listened to many of the same stories I have of the people that worked full-time jobs and built their businesses on the side. The first person that comes to mind is Sara Blakely of Spanx fame. But there are many others that have done this. The truth is most people can’t just quit their day job to work on their side hustle. You might be thinking “My soul-sucking job drains every ounce of energy from my body. I can’t imagine how to make that happen!” And believe me when I say, I hear ya! Let’s break this down into some strategies that might help you get started and/or propel you forward.
It All Starts with Boundaries
We all have varying degrees of stress with our full-time jobs. If you are able to do your thing at work and unplug without stress, good for you! But if you are someone who feels like your job is your life and thinks about work when not there, let’s talk. Maybe the first step we should discuss is how to create healthy boundaries. You owe your employer a fair day’s work for the pay they are providing – that’s all you owe them. If you are thinking about work when home, that’s on you. As the ice queen sings “Let it go!”
At one point in my life, a large part of my identity was attached to my career. I didn’t want to let people down and enjoyed excelling in the workplace. . . until I didn’t. I may have been the ideal employee, but these personality traits were not conducive to having a side hustle. Unfortunately, when you give your all to a company, they come to expect that level of commitment.
On the other hand, I was both in awe and completely judgmental of those people that left the office at the same time every day. They actually valued the rest of their life (the audacity!). The thing is, you have to think more like them if you want to successfully implement a side hustle.
Once I started thinking about a side hustle, new and invigorating energy had me up at 4 am and back at it again in the evening. Suddenly I had a purpose and better boundaries. I’ve developed some strategies that have helped (and will hopefully help you) immensely.
1. Get Clear On the Value of Your Side Hustle
I could have said “have a goal” here but it’s really about more than a goal. You want to generate a passion for working on your side hustle. Goals can sometimes come and go so I like to think more in terms of a long-term vision. When I started thinking about side hustles, it was because I was convinced my destiny no longer included a corporate job. My long-term vision was initially to earn extra money. Ultimately, I hoped it would help me have the life I ultimately wanted. That vision turned into replacing my job with my side hustle on a permanent basis. The value of my side hustle became more than I could even monetize. It was worth my very soul and reason for existing on the planet. That’s a lot of value! The more value you place on your side hustle, the more inspired you will be to find ways to bring it to fruition.
2. Evaluate Your Daily Routine and Look for Small Windows of Opportunity
You don’t need to have a dedicated 2-hour window of time to work your side hustle. If you can find 15 minutes each day, that’s a start. Once you get started and get excited about the progress you are making, it’s amazing how you’ll find more time. You might spend your lunch hour making notes or phone calls about your side hustle. Get up 15 minutes earlier. Go to bed 15 minutes later. Skip a television show. Use your daily commute more effectively.
You may need to take a week to document how you are currently spending your time. Prepare to be shocked by how much time you are spending on Social Media. And check out the impact of my 30-day social media fast here. As it turns out, all those little five-minute windows add up in a hurry. There are plenty of apps available to help you to track how much time you are spending on your phone. If you really want to work your side hustle, start by being honest with yourself and what you are willing to give up for it. And just in case you need to refresh yourself on time management, you might check out this article:
I know you’re busy so I’m not going to waste time telling you why you need to manage your time better. Let’s talk about how to get more accomplished and manage your time, because yeah, it’s limited. So, here are my favorite time management tips for work and home. Tip #1: Know Your Priorities Most…
Article: Time Blocking Examples
3. Manage Your Energy
By its very nature, our side hustles tend to energize us. I mean, they are the things we’d rather be doing instead of the grind we currently spend most of our time enduring. Yet, when you are trying to fit your “passion” into all the other demands of life, it can be difficult to remain focused. And that’s why it’s so important to manage your energy. Let me explain.
I’m a morning person and am more focused and productive between 5 am and noon than the entire rest of the day. Instead of giving my peak time to activities that don’t serve me or require my focus (i.e. social media, news, talking on the phone, etc.), I make sure to dedicate some of that time to my side hustle. If your side hustle is something you want to someday be your primary hustle – why not give it the best you’ve got?
Since I’m a morning person and my focus is much greater before noon, I save my workouts for the afternoon. By 1 pm I’m beginning to drag at an exponential rate. Working out, going on a quick bike ride, or taking my dog for a walk is an excellent way to get my energy back up.
When at work, have walking meetings when possible. It’s a great way to manage your time, keep your energy up, and keep meetings short. As an added bonus, people think more clearly when moving. There’s a whole science to that – Google it. Do whatever you need to keep your energy up all day. By keeping your energy up throughout the day, you won’t come home exhausted, plop on the couch and call it a day. Another way to say that is, by keeping your energy up, you’ll have the energy to work on your side hustle.
4. Avoid the After Work Mindless Coma
I personally have so many years of trial and error with this topic, it’s astounding. During times when I had highly stressful jobs, I’d come home from work, eat, and go into some sort of mindless coma for the rest of the evening. It was the worst thing I could possibly do but suffice it to say I get how difficult this can be. I had to get a dog to change this habit. With a dog, I would get home from work and be forced to go out for a walk or to play with him. It was literally the best thing I ever did. If you don’t have a dog, set up a system to prevent yourself from falling into this trap – work out after work, leave your running shoes by the door and change as soon as you get home, take the kids outside, and play for a while. Do whatever you can to get moving and elevate your energy!
5. Eliminate Your Time Sucks
Maybe you don’t realize what your time sucks are. Maybe throughout the day, you find yourself on the phone or in impromptu “meetings” where the majority of the meeting is spent gossiping about co-workers, events of the day, or how tired you are. These are examples of a time suck. When you are wasting time at your day job, you aren’t getting your work done and then you either have to work longer hours or worry about it at home.
Having “shit to do” got me out of a lot of meetings that lasted a lot longer than they should have.
I’ve got friends that call and I know I’ll be on the phone for at least 30 minutes with them talking about nothing that is going to help either of us. And I’ve got other friends (those that have shit to do) that I can spend 10 minutes on the phone with and feel uplifted, inspired, and motivated to get my butt in gear and get busy. Caller ID is a wonderful thing. Guard your time and don’t give it away so readily. You only get so much of it in this lifetime. It’s not selfish to want to use it wisely!
Other common time sucks include social media (yes, again), shopping for things you don’t really need, daydreaming instead of taking action, spending too much time researching and not enough time doing, movies, sitcoms, etc. I’m not saying you should never do these things, I’m saying take an inventory and determine if they are preventing you from getting your shit done, growing your side hustle, and living life to the fullest.
Working a side hustle while having a full-time job isn’t easy. It comes down to how bad you want “it” – whatever “it” is for you. Don’t make excuses. Either you want it or you don’t want it bad enough to make changes in your life to pursue it. Saying “I don’t have time” is a cop-out. Maybe this isn’t the time for you to focus on a side hustle and that’s okay. Just be honest with yourself. And hey, remember, you have everything you need to do whatever it is you want to do in this life. Just do it.