How to Treat Your Side Hustle Like Your Full-Time Gig

Change the Way You Look at Your Day

Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not. — Oprah Winfrey

Sometimes it’s easy to fall into the trap of doing things that trick us into feeling productive. Watching a YouTube video on productivity, writing down your plan for the day, grabbing a coffee before you start work.

Those are all fine things but when you are 4 hours into the day and you have zilch to show for it something needs to change.

When working on your side hustle you have limited time. You have a 9–5 which takes up, well, 9 am-5 pm. So you have a small amount of time in the morning, a bigger window of time in the evening and a very healthy amount of time at the weekends.

Totalled up you’ll have more time outside of work to work on your side hustle than you do inside of work — it might not feel like you do, but you do.

  • 1 hour before work (7 am — 8 am) — 5 x 1 = 5 hours
  • 4 hours after work (6 pm — 10 pm) — 5 x 4 = 20 hours
  • 8 hours per Saturday and Sunday (9 am — 5 pm) = 16

Total: 41 hours

So you have a lot of time to work with, even if you had half that time it’s enough time over the year to make some serious impact.

Your Current Day — What Does It Look Like?

How much TV are you watching between 6 pm and 10 pm? It’s not a judgement it’s a question. If the answer is a lot, then you have an opportunity to maximise time spent on your side hustle. If your answer is a lot but you love watching TV then you have a decision to make, do you want to sacrifice your TV time to work on your dream?

Again this could be misconstrued as a judgement, it’s not. Life is all about decisions, decisions on how to spend your time, decisions on what makes you happy.

If you’re already super happy with your life, well there’s no advice that is worth reading. However, if you find yourself wildly unhappy with the amount of time you dedicate to your side hustle, well something needs to change.

Take stock of where you spend time and ask yourself if there’s room form time to be spent on your side hustle.

Small Tweaks That Will Improve Your Output

30 minutes less TV could be 30 minutes researching an article, branding a logo, ringing prospective clients. 30 minutes isn’t a huge amount of time, you perhaps won’t really miss that extra episode or that ending of a film.

If you can learn to make small changes over time, you’ll soon realise the impact of them. Once you make a small tweak and see the benefits you’ll start looking for small refinements in your day that makes a huge difference.

If you think of your day as an opportunity to get as much done as you want to. Now in any given day, you might have to say, 4–5 hours of actual work to do. Unfortunately, we are great at stringing things out for much longer than they need to be. What that does mean though is there is a lot of opportunity for improvement. So start with cutting out 30 minutes of TV, once you’ve mastered that, look for other refinements.

Small tweaks over a large period of time have monumental results.

Prioritise Your Key Activities

“Simplicity boils down to two steps: Identify the essential. Eliminate the rest.”
Leo Babauta

You can easily fall victim to writing a to-do list as long as your arm. Try to stop yourself. Before you start writing down every single thing you can think of, get in the mindset of essentialism. What are the essential things you need to do today? Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What would I be disappointed if I didn’t achieve today?
  • Which things are time-bound (i.e. what deadlines do I have)?

When you are starting a side hustle it’s easy to not prioritise because ultimately if you don’t do the things you said you were going to, it doesn’t affect anybody but you. If you don’t write that article, send that email, create that advertisement, well who’s going to tell you off? Nobody.

Try to get out of that mindset by asking yourself what is important you complete, forget who’s watching thing about what you want to achieve.

Rid Yourself of Unnecessary Distraction — Create Boundaries

All things will be produced in superior quantity and quality, and with greater ease, when each man works at a single occupation, in accordance with his natural gifts, and at the right moment, without meddling with anything else. — Plato

The odds aren’t stacked in your favour motivationally for a side hustle. You’ll be tried from a combination of work and life when you come to work on your part-time gig. That already puts you at a disadvantage. Added to that, other stuff will start to get in the way.

When you turn on your computer to write or to work on your side business, you could easily fall into browsing online and finding a new t-shirt or buying a new book. You need to learn to time-box things. If it helps tell other people so they can hold you to account.

“I’m going to be writing at 2 pm till 6 pm on Saturday.”

Make it clear. Hopefully, this way when you turn on your computer you are not strayed by unnecessary activities that are not working towards your side hustle goals. Another technique is to limit other activities that waste your time. If you find yourself spending an inordinate amount of time browsing Amazon tell yourself you are on a spending ban between your working hours. Even better, try a spending ban on any ‘extra’ items for 90 days. That way you’ll save money and not be tempted.

Creating rules can set boundaries for you to deliver on what you say you will.

Measured Over Period of Time

“[only] what gets measured, gets managed.” Peter Drucker

Start to monitor your output through measurements. If that’s a business, measure the number of customers you are getting onto your website, how many views you are getting, what the click-through rate is. Measure the hours you are putting in or better the effort you are putting in.

If that’s writing measure the number of articles that get curated, the number of clients you land.

It’s easy to measure output, you could easily think that measuring the number of words on a page is important but more important is the quality of your work. You might get quality through quantity but pure hours sat behind a laptop is not a measure of productive.

Start to measure what you want to improve. Be careful not to measure the number of hours put in, focus on the quality of what you are creating.

A Lesson In Motivation

“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” Stephen King

If you are waiting for motivation to hit you, you might be waiting a long time. Motivation is like an unreliable friend. Sometimes it shows up on time, when asked and is a joy to experience. Other times you sit there waiting to find out it’s not coming round today, it’s going out with someone else.

Don’t wait for motivation — create it.

You can create motivation in a few ways, the best way I find is by doing something of low effort and high reward. Something that visually changes when you’ve completed it. Washing the dishes, putting some washing on, hoovering. Something that you can put a little bit of time into (between 5–10 minutes) and you can feel like it’s something ticked off your list.

Once you get the ball rolling it will continue down the hill.

When it comes to your side hustle it’s easy to put in half the work. You’ve had a long day, you’re tired, you’ve got a million and one things to do, and it feels like sitting down to work on your passion is the last thing you should be doing.

Learn to create rules around your side hustle, get motivation from small improvements and find your time leaks and work to improve them. There is ample time in the week to do your day job, life stuff and have more than enough time to start a side hustle. You just need to treat it with the level of importance you give your 9–5.

Written by

BSc Biomedical Science, studying MSc Behavioural Science. Essays exploring a happy self.

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