If you’re anything like me, you appreciate what it’s like to have a side hustle while working a full-time 9-5 job. It’s hard! It’s the definition of the work week hustle…especially if what you do during your day job is something you don’t really enjoy.
The worst part about running a side hustle during your “off” hours, is that you only get limited time to work on it – so what you do in those limited hours is crucial if you ever want to do it full-time and eventually ditch the 9-5 grind.
Mastering your hustle and grind will help take your side hustle to the next level.
In this article, I’m going to recommend a handful of tiaps for better managing your side hustle and increasing your productivity, that my fellow side hustler and business partner Greg have learned through personal experiences during our 18 months of running a side hustle so far. These tips will help you utilize your hours better and get the maximum amount of work completed within the time you have per day.
First, we have to set the context.
What is a side hustle?
A side hustle is a business that you build while working a full time 9-5 job. It is something you do outside of “normal” business hours and that you normally are building from your home in your spare time.
Ok, let’s get into it.
These are 10 things to realize when building your side hustle and working your 9-5.
1. You must master your time management skills.
A side hustle all boils down to time. Plain and simple.
A day can go by fast, a day can go by slow and a day can go by at a perfectly normal speed if you find the hours in the day to make the most of every minute or second that goes by. It’s easy to kill an hour, but something you will never be able to do is bring back is that hour once you’ve used it all up.
So here’s what I suggest you do: Find hours in your day wasted on doing nothing and replace them with working on your side hustle.
Have a 1 hour allocated lunch break? Work.
Have a 40+ minute train commute to work? Get your laptop out and start working.
Oh, another 40 minute train commute coming home from work? Yes, you know what to do – get to work!
You’d be surprised at the amount of time you let go to waste which could be replaced with working on your side-hustle.
How about you reply to that text from your friend later on and replace that minute and a half with posting a piece of content to your Instagram page.
Got a 10 minute walk from your train station to your work office? Who can you connect with or message within that time?
Here’s a test for you – see if you can close a deal on a sale with a potential client within that 10 minutes while you are walking to work. It may sound ridiculous but these are all ways in which you can maximize the amount of work you are getting done within the time you get given – so use it to your advantage and make every second count.
Who knows… – you could be closing a deal every walk to/from your office!
2. Making sacrifices is uber important if you want your side hustle to work.
If there is one thing I learned from the get-go, it’s that you are going to have to reduce the percentage of time you spend on leisure, and increase the percentage of time you spend on your side hustle.
The reality of the side hustle world is that a very small amount of people are willing to sacrifice a night out with their friends for working on their side grind – and that’s why very few people make it.
When you hear influential entrepreneurs who are 10+ years into their journey and have achieved a great deal of success say ‘you’re going to have to give up box sets of house of cards, miss parties, stay in on the weekends, and make all kinds of sacrifices to get to where you want to be’ – they’re not lying!
The way I’ve always seen it is that, if this dream of turning a side hustle into your everyday business and lifestyle means that much to you – you won’t think twice about removing Netflix or watching reruns from your routine. Sacrifices are easy to make when you enjoy what you’re working on and when you know the outcome will be worth the inconvenience of skipping this week’s episode of The Bachelor.
Since my business partner Greg and I started out, we’ve sacrificed every single weekday evening to work as well as time on the weekends. I even got rid of my physical TV in my bedroom a few weeks ago because it had become a distraction. My bedroom is now 60% office, 40% bedroom. But it’s good! Because now, once I get home from work, have dinner, and catch up with the fam – I can go up to an environment where not only do I feel like I can work, I know I have no distractions holding me back from getting stuff done.
Certainly what I just described is not easy to do and of course we are all at completely different positions in life. Some of us are young, living at home with parents and don’t have many things to worry about or kids to feed and spend time with. However, I have friends within my circle of influence that have dedicated time to their side hustle with all of the above and more on their plate, and they have still managed to make it work.
You’re going to have to make sacrifices, and your partner (if you have one) is going to need to support you. So, to give you an idea of how I’m fitting in time for my side hustle while working a full-time 9-5, this is what my weeks look like:
Monday – Friday
6:00am: Wake up
6:45 – 8:15: Commute to work via bus and train
8:30 – 6pm: Work
6pm – 7:30pm: Commute home from work via bus and train
7:30pm – 8:15: Eat dinner with family & have a catch up
8:30pm – 12:30am: Meet Greg and work on our side hustle
As for the weekends, we do still make time for our girlfriends but around that – we always find the time to work on our business and make sure we at least get in 4-5 hours worth of work each day (Saturday and Sunday).
If you are even more committed you might work all day both days of the weekend – even better! That will give you even more hours to pump out some work. However, we do recommend you at least fit in some time to chill out, exercise and wind down as you can overwork yourself which will burn you out and actually amounts to being counter-productive.
It’s important to find the balance. Greg and I have both had endless nights over the years where the effects of very little sleep have then led onto us to being less effective in the way we think, work and innovate – so it is important to catch up on those things and refuel.
3. Accept that you are going to lose friends (or just identify the real ones).
Now let me just prepare you for the friend situation: By reducing the percentage of time spent on leisure and hanging with friends, you are going to lose friends – there is no doubt about it.
The next question to ask yourself is to identify whether they were actually ever friends at all if they are willing to cut you out of the circle and not show you any support for what you’re working on.
Let me give you an example: When we were 18, Greg and I went on holiday with a group of 11 friends. Out of those other 9 people, we have both kept in touch with 2 of them. Out of these 2, 1 has always been supportive of what we’re doing. That 1 person is actually my best friend and although I only catch up with him now every couple of months, he fully appreciates what we’re doing and respects that we’re having to make sacrifices to make it work. Since day 1, he has never changed his ways and has thoroughly supported us throughout the entire journey so far. That’s a real friend. You’ll notice who your real friends are when it gets to tightening your circle.
You may have heard the quote “Vision got bigger, Circle got smaller” – well it’s true. After all, wouldn’t you rather have 2 friends who support your vision and who are going to help you get there than 11 friends that aren’t interested? Food for thought.
Regardless, you’re going to make new friends anyway when you start networking with other entrepreneurs on the same journey as you who have similar aspirations that you can relate to. So, don’t waste time on those who aren’t interested and tighten your circle.
4. Coming up with a calendar to-do works really well.
Back in episode 025 of our podcast, we interviewed Daniel DiPiazza of Rich20Something.
It was our objective to get him to break down some tips & tricks for any our listeners who are running a side hustle to implement and become more productive with their time. He brought a very smart idea to our attention which we’ve used ever since and have seen results in our work as a result of following through with it.
The idea was to create an editorial calendar to map out your content creation for your week into a schedule, and sticking to that schedule. So for example, when writing articles like this – you need to put all of your focus into writing that piece in order to make sure it’s 100% valuable for the reader. So I’ll set aside a Thursday night purely for writing an article and nothing else! This way I am able to stick to the schedule and not get distracted by numerous other tabs or jobs to be done within the 4 hours I have to work on my business, and it would mean I’d actually get one thing completed at a time.
Meanwhile Greg is able to work on another aspect of the business within those 4 hours to ensure we are doing as much as possible and using the whole Co-Founder aspect to our advantage. For example on a Tuesday, Greg might allocate his 4 hours to writing an article, and I’ll focus on creating content for social – so we we are always maximizing our hours and doubling up on content creation. This is a perfect way for you to make sure you aren’t wasting time deciding on what to work on first and also to make sure that you are completing each job one at a time and not leaving each thing open ended, and unfinished. Stay organized and follow the F.O.C.U.S model – it will take you a long way, I promise.
5. Focus on the actual hustle… not the less important tasks.
During the first few months of building our side hustle, it felt like a regular occurrence that we’d finish the evenings with saying “wow, where did that night go?! Is it me or do you feel like you got nothing done tonight?” and sometimes, it does just feel like you haven’t done enough.
In a way, it can be a good sign because it means you are always looking for more and to go the extra mile. However, in other aspects if you do have to question whether you’ve done enough – the likelihood is that you probably haven’t done enough.
When we sat down to overview what we had been spending most of our time on, it would be the littlest things or the least important things that held priority over others. For example – both Greg and I had spent a long time on making the website – not just the content within the website, but even the additional features which seemed cool from a user experience point of view. We’d look at other sites and think: “That’s rubbish! Let’s make ours amazing so people don’t want to leave the website!”.
Now what I will say is that making sure your website is well presented and easily accessible for the mobile user especially – it’s good to think that way. But at the same time, we were investing so much time on making the website look awesome that we were only spending 10% of our time on actually creating content for our potential consumers – which from a digital media brand that’s main purpose is to produce content for its consumers, it wasn’t a good sign.
6. Identify the difference between being productive and just being busy.
Make sure that you are spending the limited hours you get for working on your side-hustle on actually hustling and on things that matter and that are going to get you more customers, consumers, sales, exposure and connections.
These are things that will drive your business to the next level. Focus on them. That’s in fact how I differentiate the two terms “productive” and “busy”.
By being busy you are just giving yourself more work to do and you spend the majority of your time stressing over how much work you have to get through, While not having a chance to breathe.
Being productive, on the other hand, is being able to produce large amounts of results and complete each task and then move on to the next thing. By reaching the end of the week and realizing you’ve completed 3 articles, 5 podcast episodes, a week’s worth of social media content, a handful of meetings, a handful of new connections, and more importantly, a handful of new sales – that’s what “Hustle” is about. Hustle is not about reaching the end of the week and realizing that you’ve got 5 more articles to write, 5 more podcast episodes to record, a week’s worth of social media content to create and no sales because you’ve not had time to focus on the things that matter. It’s important to identify the difference and edge towards being productive, not
7. Patience and playing the long game is key.
I was told the other day, that on average – an entrepreneur works 66 hours per week.
Us side hustlers on the other hand, get far fewer hours to work with. In fact will get roughly half of that (if you’re willing to work weekends!), because we are spending the majority of our days at work in our 9-5 day jobs throughout the week.
What you have to remember is that you aren’t going to be able to compete with the amount of work that full-time entrepreneurs produce in a week. You’ll do the best you can do with the little time you have.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned throughout this journey so far, is that patience is key.
You have to respect the fact that you’re not going to be able to grow a business overnight and not enough for you to ditch your job right away – it’s going to take a long time. So you have to be able to keep the momentum going and keep building regardless of how long it’s taking.
Patience is a key element of an entrepreneur’s skill-set and that’s why those who win are those who played the long game and kept their patience throughout the journey. When the timing is right and you’ve been grinding it out, producing content consistently and building the foundation of your business – the rewards will start to show. You’ll soon be able to hit a point where eventually, your business is growing at scale and you are in a much better position to be able to ditch your day job and become a 100% entrepreneur.
Until then, you just have to keep grinding consistently and keep your vision in-tact.
8. Set yourself miniature goals.
Something both both Greg and I have done to keep the momentum flowing day by day, is to set goals. They don’t have to be goals that are out-of-the-park extreme, I’m talking about miniature goals.
Even the smallest of goals still equal progress. You want to progress everyday, so setting yourself goals is a key element for pushing you to keep going and realizing how much work you are producing.
This relates back to earlier on in this article when I mentioned about those nights when we’d question if we did enough. You want to end each week with a feeling of accomplishment from making progress – so every little step is bridging the gap between where you are now, and where you want your business to be.
For example, I might set myself a goal to get 1 article written by the end of the week. So I’ll make sure to set aside a day within my editorial calendar to work toward that goal, so I can tick it off the list on move on to the next. As another example; we may set a goal to hit a certain number of downloads on a podcast episode – then we will work together on ways in which we can assure that target will be hit.
There is no better feeling than exceeding a goal you set for yourself as opposed to just hitting the target. It’s like those last 3 additional reps you add in to your sit ups routine at the gym that were never accounted for – but you push yourself to do them. You feel better for it afterwards and are increasing your chances of muscle growth. This is the same but in business terms. If you exceed your targets, you’re going to have quicker growth. So set miniature goals that will lead to a big goal and work on building those blocks everyday.
9. Identify how you like to work and stick to your own pattern.
There are endless amounts of different hacks you can use to increase your productivity and get more done with your side hustle, but it all depends on you and how you like to work. Everybody works differently – some slower, some faster and everybody has a different way of getting things done.
I like to use a to-do list and tick things off as I go along, whereas Greg doesn’t like to look at a list that has 50 tasks to do because he goes into overwhelm mode at the amount of work we have to do and doesn’t know where to start. Instead, he’ll add notes to his whiteboard that coincide with his editorial calendar and he’ll take it step by step.
So don’t just view how others are doing it and try and carbon copy their working pattern because it might not work for you. Identify the pattern that works for you and feels right and double down on that.
10. Build a team or find a co-founder may be more effective for you and your side hustle.
One of the most helpful things that has enabled us to get a lot done and better manage our side hustle has been to rely heavily on our partnership.
As I mentioned earlier on, by having two founders working together it’s allowed us to split the workload and get more done with the time we have. The way I see it is that if you get yourself a co-founder that you work well with and that holds a complimentary skill-set to you and brings their own value to the business, you can really dominate. Greg and I get 8 hours per day to work on our side hustle. How? Because my 4 hours are spent working on something completely different to what Greg’s working on – so together, our 4 hours combined are producing double the workload as opposed to somebody that is solo-founding a business.
Something I learned from interviewing Daniel Priestley in episode 036 of our podcast, is that the best way to grow a business from the ground up is to build a great team.
If you have 5 people building a startup together, all bringing different skill sets to the table – those 4 hours per night suddenly become 20 hours per night if managed correctly, and can really give you some leverage to experience rapid growth. Now in most cases, having a team working on a project together is going to ensure growth at a quicker speed rate than somebody trying to do it all themselves. I
I’m not saying that working in a team or with a co-founder is for everybody, and that you should all go and find yourself a partner, I’m just saying that it has played a huge role in my journey so far and I’ve found it a lot better having somebody to not only bounce my ideas off of, but to work on a project with and double up on the content we are producing every day, adding more blocks to the empire that we’re building.
Moreso, being an entrepreneur can be quite lonely, so having somebody on the journey with you is going to allow you to build quicker and stay motivated because you have each other to reflect with.
It’s been a key element for us to keep the momentum going at full speed for Stage One Startup and stay motivated every single day to build this side-hustle into a proper business.
Running a side hustle while working a 9-5 is something more and more people are doing nowadays, and everybody is looking for the best ways to scale their respective businesses. At the request of our listeners, we actually have just released a startup lesson episode on our podcast where we break down 8 effective ways to manage your side hustle whilst working a full-time job and we break each point down. If you’ve not yet had enough, and you’d like to find out these 8 tips – You can listen here
Got any tips of your own that could be useful? Drop me an email – I’d love to learn from you too! My email is: firstname.lastname@example.org. #HappyHustling!