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Too Busy to Side Hustle? These 5 Tips Will Show You How to Make it Happen

  April 28

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Busy Stressed Woman CartoonPlease welcome my friend Nell from the TheMillionDollarDiva. Nell is my Australian buddy who I e-mail late at night because she’s awake haha. She’s a really hard worker and has some great tips on side hustling. You can follow her on twitter as well.

So, you want to make some extra money from a side business? You’ve thought up a business model (freelance writing! website design!) and have a website (pretty!) and you even know how much to charge ($$). But you’re stuck. Stalled. There’s just one problem.

You’re so darn busy you don’t know how you are going to fit it in.

You Can Build a Side Business Without Losing Sleep (or Your Sanity)

You see all those other bloggers and side hustlers earning $3k, $5k, even $10k+ plus extra in side income a month and you assume they must be some kind of organization-ninjas or Vampires. Deep down inside you think it’s impossible for us mere mortals with jobs, kids, a social life, that re-run marathon of Buffy on TV to even think about trying to fit in a side hustle around all that.

But those successful side hustlers are just like you and me. With one tiny difference. They’ve figured out that with some smart tactics and a bit of determination that it is possible to build a side business while working a full time job (and, you know, living). In fact, put these tips in place and you’ll probably find that you have more extra time than you actually realised.

‘You can build a side business without losing sleep (or sanity)’ – Click to tweet

How Successful Side Hustlers Grow Their Business (in Limited Time)

1. Know What Your Goal Is

If you want to build a successful side business you need to know what your end goal is. Are you trying to build a successful blog full of engaged, thoughtful readers? Do you want to build your design business so you can do what you love for your own clients? Is your plan to build a passive income stream so you can spend your days traveling? Or maybe you just want a bit of extra money to pay off your mortgage faster?

It doesn’t matter what your goal is, or how ‘big’ or ‘ambitious’ it might be. But it is important to know what you want. Otherwise you will find yourself doing a whole heap of things that don’t fit in with your goal.

For example, whenever you get approached by a possible client, or find a new App or Widget for your blog, or even just a new social media platform you could be on, ask yourself ‘does this help me reach my goal?’. If the answer’s ‘no’, ditch it.

With only limited time to work on your business, you’ve got to make each hour count.

2. Systemize, Regularize, Organize

You’ve got to get regular if you want to make your business work. By that I mean, you need to build systems into your day and week. Yes, that means getting organized but it helps, I promise.

The key here is not to automate your life, but to reduce your decision making on the mundane so that you can focus your energy where it counts.

Think about how much time you spend wondering what to have for dinner each week and shopping for seven different meals. You’re wasting valuable evenings you could be spending on your business. Stop it! Cook three big meals and eat the leftovers.

Is laundry day whenever you run out of clothes? Do it every Saturday while vacuuming the house. Two jobs done in the one go, giving you more time to build your side hustle.

Spending 20 minutes each morning worrying about what to wear when you could be responding to blog comments? Have your outfits sorted for the week on Sunday and stop the stress and time wasting.

Why does this matter? Studies have shown that the more decisions that we have to make during the day, the weaker our resolve becomes. If you spend your day deciding on the mundane – red shirt or blue? chicken or fish? – you have less decision-making power for the serious decisions that require more willpower – such as work on my blog when I get home from work, or collapse in front of the television?

3. Stop Giving Your All at Work

This one is possibly controversial, but if you want to build a successful side business, you need to stop working so hard at your regular job.

Okay, so you don’t want to slack off so much that you lose your job – that totally defeats the purpose of a side hustle. But don’t expend so much energy that you have nothing left at the end of the day. If you are working overtime on that extra project that’s not in your job description, doing the work for your slacker colleague and trying to build a side business, you are going to collapse.

Make sure you know what your job description entails, and do a little bit extra on top of that. But that’s it. Why are you doing your job and your supervisors job on top of that anyway?

4. Know Your ‘Five Minute’ Tasks

The tips so far have all been about finding the time (and energy) to work in big chunks of time on your business. But what about those little bits of wasted time that we all have during the day?

Waiting for your partner to finish getting ready? Stuck in the doctor’s waiting room because she’s running late (again)? Sick of watching the same ads in between your favorite show?

Figure out what tasks related to your business can be completed in fives minutes and work them into your day. You could schedule some Twitter posts, read and comment on a blog, respond to an email, or come up with a blog post idea.

You’ll be surprised how much extra time you can find to work on your business by identifying the little tasks you can squeeze into random parts of your day. And with everyone carrying smartphones these days, you can do just about all those tasks from anywhere.

5. Combine Tasks for Maximum Efficiency

I’m not usually a big fan of multi-tasking because I find that I need to focus on one thing if I want it to be half decent. I can’t write with the television on for example – it takes me twice as long to finish an article and so completely defeats the purpose.

But I do love when I find two things that I can do at once successfully. It’s such a time saver and a great way to move ahead with your business at twice the speed.

For example, I usually ride a scooter to commute so I can’t normally listen to music or the radio (it’s way too dangerous to ride with headphones on). But my walk home is only 40 minutes, so while the weather is nice I’ve decided to leave the scooter at home and walk to work and back everyday. Now you may think that’s crazy – adding an extra hour or so onto my daily commute, versus just riding in.

But at the same time I’m walking I listen to great podcasts on building and growing an online business. Stuff like Smart Passive Income, Entrepreneur on Fire, and Small Business, Big Marketing. I love it because I feel like I’m getting a bit of ‘me time’, I get inspired to start working on my business as soon as I get home, plus I get plenty of exercise in as well.

Now walking to work might not work for you, but I’ll bet there’s other mindless things you do during the day where you could tune into a great podcast at the same time – doing chores around the house, taking the dog for a walk, or working out.

Building a side business isn’t easy – that’s why so many people give up before they see success. But the most successful business owners know that you don’t have to be Superman (or woman) to build a side business. You just need to get smart with how you organise yourself.

What tips have you got to combine working on your side business with your busy day? Leave a comment below.

Nell is a freelance writer and blogger for hire. Visit her site The Million Dollar Diva for more great advice on investing, saving money, entrepreneurship and building a life you love. Join the newsletter and get instant access to the ebook ‘5 Ways to Rock Your Finances in Your 20s and 30s’.

Editor’s Note: I absolutely loved the “5 minute” tip. I’ve been freelancing all this time, and I never thought to make a list of things that actually take 5 minutes. I’m always trying to write blog posts while waiting for the doctor, etc. but those things take way longer than 5 minutes and they get dragged out. Having a list of 5 minute tasks might make me feel way more accomplished – thanks Nell!

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So, you want to make some extra money from a side business? You’ve thought up a business model (freelance writing! website design!) and have a website (pretty!) and you even know how much to charge ($$). But you’re stuck. Stalled. There’s just one problem. You’re so darn busy you don’t know how you are going to fit it in.

28 responses to “Too Busy to Side Hustle? These 5 Tips Will Show You How to Make it Happen

  1. I think #3 and #4 are so important. #3 is hard for me, as I do want to give my all, but I do want some energy left to do other things.

  2. This is great. I’m finally realizing how important it is to batch tasks and to have a more regular schedule.. I’ve realized that, if your tasks for your side hustle aren’t scheduled like your “real” job is, it’s easy for them to be delayed. That’s what #2 has been about for me lately.

    1. I’m all about the schedule. I get so much more done if I write down exactly what I need to do AND when I’m going to do it. On my side hustle days, my list is literally 9-10 do X, 10-11 do Y. Nerdy but productive

  3. LOVE the five minute task idea!

    My other tip is to be realistic with yourself. One of my jobs required writing content on YouTube videos. I have zero experience with that so I should have assumed it would take me more time to research. But of course, I accepted the job, and what I thought would be an hour of work ended up taking 4! It killed an entire afternoon!

    1. Oh that’s so important. It’s awesome to try out new jobs, but you want to give yourself plenty of time to figure it out – of course, the better at it you get, the faster you are (and the higher your earning potential)

  4. The best thing I have found is setting aside family time. Sounds counter intuitive, I know, but hear me out: From 5pm when I get home until 7pm, I don’t get on my computer, or phone, or table, or whatever else might be available. I go for a walk with the Big Guy and Baby RB40, do bath time, or just play on the floor. For those 2 hours, I don’t feel guilty about not working. Then, when 7 hits and its baby girl’s bedtime, I get back on the computer knowing that I spent quality time with the fam 🙂

    1. This is a great tip. And totally not counter intuitive – it means you give yourself space to be completely with your family, and then completely with your business. I don’t have a family (yet) but my boyfriend and I schedule ‘date nights’ and usually I won’t even bring along my phone because I want to make sure I’m giving him all my attention.

  5. For me, number one is the most important. If you know your goal and you’re committed, you’ll find / make the time. I know it can be overwhelming but by knowing your main goal, everything sort of prioritizes itself.

  6. I like how you call it like it is with goal #3. I think it’s a hard truth, but a truth. Corporate environments don’t allow for much of a home life, let alone a side hustle. If you want your side business to succeed, you can’t be putting in 60 hours a week with your normal job.

    1. Yep, if your ambition is to climb the corporate ladder then that’s where you should direct all your energy. But if you really want to make a side business work then you’ve got to ease off the pedal at your day job a bit.

  7. I worked a full time management job and ran my own business for 2 years. It was draining, but it all worked out in the end. I love your tips. One I would have to add is to make sure you get enough sleep. I found there were nights that I would only sleep for 3 or 4 hours and I would be drained the next day. I’d rather get more sleep and be effective the next day than get too little and not be able to do anything after work!

    1. Oh yeah, sleeping and eating are so important. It’s kind of a running joke for my boyfriend how terribly monstrous I get when I haven’t eaten or slept properly. And I only realise what a bad mood I was in AFTER he’s fed me, and I’m like, oh sorry I was so mean to you, thanks for bringing me food.

  8. Wow, that is a seriously great post, thank you! I love the way you’ve laid it out so tangibly and given examples for each one. Often posts like this are fun to read but are more thought-provoking than action inspiring. But I feel I can start implementing these 5 points right away and I’m very excited about it. I especially appreciate the examples in #2 – I waste so much time on that stuff!! Thanks again for a great article.

  9. Great post! I’ve been trying for the longest time to get a side hustle going but my full time job has been sucking the life out of me. I decided recently to scale back and not put so many extra hours into a job that is getting me nowhere. Now I’ve got the extra energy to refocus and get a side hustle going.
    Love the 5 Minute tip! I’ll have to give it a go and see how much more efficient I am.

  10. I love side hustles and was ecstatic when one became a full time gig. Having a goal, a focus and a system have been the best things for me when it comes to making more money.

  11. I’ve always been inspired by those who are able to make a full time business out of something that starts as a side hustle. I just started my blog and I love it, but haven’t really thought too hard about monetizing it. Combining tasks is a great tip, I spend about 30 minutes commuting in the morning so I could definitely start to multitask instead of just daydreaming

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