So you’ve finally decided to take the plunge and start a side hustle. Congratulations! Of course, now comes the hard part—figuring out how you’re going to have time to do it all.
Whether it’s a passion project, something you’re hoping to grow and make a full-time career, or even furthering your education, devoting more hours to another endeavour outside of your 9-5 job and normal life can be daunting. Luckily, there are ways to help balance the different parts of your life so you can keep your sanity and your day job.
Decide on clear goals.
It’s important to know from the onset what it is you’re trying to achieve. Is your side hustle just a way to make additional income for a while or are you hoping to eventually make it your main source of income? Are you hoping to grow a specific amount or hit a certain dollar amount? Are you taking courses to improve your CV or are you wanting to shift careers entirely?
Understanding what exactly you’re going after helps you prioritise the amount of time and energy you want to invest in your side hustle and help keep you from burning out. It can also give you the psychological boost you will undoubtedly need in times when what you want to do conflicts with what you need to do.
Planning is key.
Now that you’ve settled on your goals, planning is going to be your best friend. Online planning tools, like Asana or Trello, or even a big calendar, will help you block out any big projects or deadlines that you have at work, so you can plan your side hustle time around them. And don’t forget to block out any other previous commitments, like time away with family!
On a day-to-day level, map out what times you’ll devote to your side hustle and what times need to be focused on work, and then schedule them into your diary. As you become more experienced, you’ll start working out what times you’re most productive and when you need to switch off.
Outsource what you can.
You might think that you’re not making enough money to outsource things, but time is money. If you find yourself devoting a significant amount of time to menial tasks, outsourcing or automating might be the answer.
A virtual assistant can help you respond to customer enquiries or manage social media channels. A transcription service might be the answer if you’re someone who likes to talk through ideas but never seems to have the time to get them down on paper. Investing in someone to handle invoices and finances can free you up to spend time on tasks you’re more interested in.
Recognise that there may be intense periods.
No matter how much planning you do, there will be times when you’re flat out. Your full-time job might have an extra-demanding period and your side hustle gets sidelined, or you unexpectedly get several side assignments at the same time.
It’s important to recognise that these things happen to help you be realistic about what you can achieve during this time—often, something’s got to give, whether that means turning down an offer or working late nights. It doesn’t mean “hustle and grind” forever, but sometimes, you may have to for a little while.
Join networking groups to meet similar-minded people.
You might be thinking, “Great, something else to add to my schedule.” But connecting with others in a similar situation and industry can be really helpful. You can swap stories, ask for advice, and bounce ideas off each other. Whatever you’re experiencing, it’s likely that they have, too. Meetup.com or local co-working spaces are good places to start searching.
Use your paid leave wisely.
While you’re building your side hustle, it may make more sense to skip the holidays away and use annual leave days to tackle bigger projects. Remember those busy times we discussed earlier? Stash those paid leave days for those hectic times to ease the burden.
Don’t forget to rest.
When you’re stretching yourself across a full-time job and your own side projects, it might be hard to switch off. That hour watching a Netflix series can be plagued with guilt because you “should” be working. But burnout is real and if you have no downtime, you’re a lot likelier to burnout—both at your full-time job and on your passion project.
Give yourself permission to have time in your day that’s not work-related. It’ll leave you feeling refreshed and ready to tackle your projects a lot more than wearing yourself thin.
Know when it’s time to fully commit (or not).
Maybe your side business is doing better than you expected and you’re loving it, or you’re finding that working on your hustle is slowly creeping into your day job. This is the time when it’s important to take a step back and think about what your next goals are. If you’re wanting to commit to your side hustle more, now might be the time to move to part-time hours at your work or give your notice completely. Maybe you move to job that has a bit more flexibility, like a casual role, to devote more time to your business.
On the flip side, if your side hustle is no longer bringing you joy, seems more like a hassle than it’s worth, or you’ve just lost interest in it, there’s no harm in calling it quits and refocusing on your day job. Enjoy what you’ve learned and get ready for your next adventure.