Lise Cartwright is the Founder of Hustle & Groove and a creative business strategist.
Have you considered what productivity hacks you can employ in your side hustle to work more efficiently?
When you first start your side hustle, you’re probably focusing on just one thing — meeting deadlines for your clients or providing services and products to your customers.
You’re not really worrying about the next day, or how you’re going to fit in that dinner date tomorrow night or how you’re going to meet a deadline that clashes with your day job.
And not thinking about this stuff early on can be fatal:
- to your relationships
- for your new side hustle
- to your day job
There is a definite art to balancing your side hustle with your day job, social life and family commitments. You’ve also gotta increase your productivity during the hours you have set aside for your side hustle. Make the most of that time and get shit done using productivity hacks.
I bet you’re not though, am I right?
If you’re handling your shiz, go and check out some other articles on the site, you don’t need to read any further…
But if you’re not and you’re worried about how you’re going to get things done in the time you’ve got, then read on my friend. I’ve got some productivity hacks for you that are gonna save yo’ bacon!
Productivity Hacks for Time-Poor Entrepreneurs
This is my new favourite way to handle ongoing tasks. Basically, batching is all about grabbing the recurring tasks that you have (or similar tasks) and batching them together in a focused amount of time, so that you get them all out of the way in one go.
Here’s what my batching schedule looked like a few years ago as an example:
- Mondays: Blog Posts
- Tuesdays: Client Work
- Wednesdays: Promotion
- Thursdays: Guest Blog Posts/Social Media Scheduling
- Fridays: Newsletters
Of course, these don’t take up the whole day, aside from Monday, where blog posts do take up the whole day. So I can schedule in other things around these batches to make sure I’m hitting all my goals and targets for that day.
In terms of how this could fit in with your own schedule while you’re balancing your side hustle with your day job, take the ongoing tasks that you’ve currently got and batch them throughout the week.
When I first started my side hustle as a freelance writer, I could have used batching in the following ways:
- Specific client work, such as blog posts, social media images etc. I had multiple clients that I was doing blog posts and social media for, so I could have taken all the blog posts and written them at the same time and any social media images, created at the same time, rather than splitting these tasks out over the week
- Invoicing could have been done on one day, rather than at the end of each project
- Commenting on blog posts in my niche
- Social media scheduling
You get the drift.
To implement this for yourself, start by writing down all the tasks that you’ve got to do each week. If you’ve got recurring tasks, then you should definitely look to batch them.
If you’ve got similar client work, batching as a productivity hack will help you get these tasks done faster. It’s a lot easier to work on one thing at a time and get in a state of flow, than to switch between tasks and lose your momentum.
I know this probably seems obvious, but it’s surprising how little we schedule our lives outside of our day jobs. When you start a side hustle, it can be a little hard to get into the groove of doing this.
Scheduling was something I struggled with when I first started my own side hustle, too. I was super organised in my day job. But outside of work, I typically just went with the flow. I didn’t have to worrying about balancing much because I was single.
When I started my side hustle, within a month I’d started dating someone seriously (he’s now my hubby!) and I really struggled with finding the balance between meeting client deadlines, spending time with my boyfriend and meeting social commitments… not too mention my day job.
I started out with a simple Google calendar and created a bunch of specific calendars that were colour-coded so that I could keep track of it all. This worked really well. At any given time, I could just show my side hustle calendar, or my social calendar, or I could see them all at the same time, so I could avoid clashes.
I used this system for the first 12 months of my side hustle. Then I upgraded to a combination of Freedcamp, Todoist and the Sunshine Calendar. The video below shows you how I use these too.
I also took this a step further and started using the Self Journal to keep track of my time and to make sure I was focusing on the right things and not just being busy for the sake of being busy.
Scheduling is all about figuring out what works for you. The point is that you have to do something, otherwise everything will fall apart.
As long as you know what you’re meant to be doing and when and with whom, then you’re all set.
So add scheduling to your list of productivity hacks to employ in your side hustle.
When you first start your side hustle, it’s quite likely that you won’t have any idea how long each task is going to take you, particularly if your side hustle skill or business is something relatively new to you.
It’s important to get a fairly good estimate of how long a task is going to take. You need to properly plan out your side hustle hours. It will also help you make the most of your time and implement items one and two above.
For me, I found that using the Focus@Will app on my iPhone and iPad was the easiest way to get an idea of how long a task would take me. This app allows you to set a timer for any length of time.
I started out setting the timer for 60 minutes and started a task. If I finished the task early, the Focus@Will app would tell me how much time had passed, so I could note down that approx. number.
If the timer finished before I had finished a task, then I’d estimate how much longer I had left to complete it and note that down also.
It was super helpful when estimating how long a project was going to take with a client. It also allowed me to stay completely focused on that task during that time.
You could use the timer that you have on your phone or you could use something like the Pomodoro Method as well, which breaks tasks down into 25 minute blocks with a 5 minute break between each block.
I now use the Focus@Will app all the time. It helps me see how long a task takes and it signals my brain that it’s time to focus.
#4: Morning & Evening Routines
If you want to ensure that your productivity levels are at their peak, then you need to implement a few key routines into your day.
What am I talking about? Having an evening and morning routine as part of your daily schedule.
I only recently starting implementing both of these into my daily schedule. Sure, prior to this, I was a morning person. I kind of attempted a bit of mediation here and there, but I hadn’t formally set up a routine. By not having a routine, I’d fallen into the trap of getting up early and checking my emails first. Yikes!
Once I learned how important a morning routine is to the success of your day, I set about setting this up immediately.
I make sure that I include a mediation segment and time to journal. My Morning Pages are something I really love and I also focus on my most important task first up.
Emails don’t even get cracked open until 8am! I’m up before 5am
Since implementing my morning routine, I’ve noticed that I’m more focused and I’m able to get more done because I’m much more clear on my most important tasks and what needs to be achieve that day.
But I knew I could be doing more. However, I wasn’t up for getting up at 4am… eek, that’s just a little early for me. So I looked for other ways to improve my day and I discovered the relatively new idea of implementing an evening routine.
By ending your day in a specific way, you can set up your morning routine and the next day for an even greater opportunity for success.
But what on earth is an evening routine? I hadn’t heard much about this when I first started my side hustle. So once I’d done a bit of research, I learned that it was about making sure you got a good amount of sleep and that you cleared the path for a fresh start in the morning.
To give you an idea, my evening routine looks like this:
- 9:00pm: 2 hour warning (I set a timer on my phone to remind me) of when I need to be in bed, lights off, head on pillow, eyes closed!
- 9:00pm-9:15pm: Clean up the kitchen and put dirty dishes in dishwasher. The first thing I see in the morning is the kitchen, so rather than leaving it dirty and eating into my morning time, it’s easier and better to get it out of the way at night!
- 9:15pm-9:30pm: Put away any washing and tidy up the lounge. Similar reasoning to the previous task.
- 9:30pm-10:00pm: Write in my journal about the things I’m grateful for and review my tasks for the next day.
- 10:00pm-10:45pm: Read from a fiction book to ready my mind for sleep. Non-fiction books tend to stimulate my mind, so I avoid these at this time of night.
- 10:45pm-11:00pm: Relax and take my melatonin and turn off lights and mediate lightly as I drift off to sleep.
Since I’ve been doing both these productivity hacks, I feel amazing and my productivity and focus has doubled.
One of the things I battled with when I first started my side hustle was my work area. I didn’t have a dedicated office space. Often I would work from the couch, the kitchen table or (really bad!) my bed.
I found it really hard to focus not having a dedicated space to work from and often found myself misplacing items or forgetting to input a note I’d taken.
When you don’t have a dedicated office space at home, the kitchen table is your best bet. Setting up a desk in your bedroom is not ideal, but ok short-term.
Once I had a dedicated workspace, it was a lot easier to keep on top of things. I could leave notes and notebooks in the one spot and easily find them later.
Once I went full-time in my side hustle, I found that working from home could get a little boring and more than a little isolating. So I started spending 2-3 days out of my home. Working from cafes and libraries is something I like. Or I sourced co-working spaces when we were travelling.
I still do this now, particularly when I am in the middle of writing a new book or need to get some blog posts done. I find the ambient noise increases my creativity and the smell of coffee just sets my senses into work mode.
It’s important that you figure out a workspace early on in your side hustle, as it can be extremely detrimental to your side business if you don’t. It can also be demotivating too.
You don’t want to end up working from your bed every night either. It’s not exactly conducive to a good night’s sleep or a healthy relationship!
Productivity hacks are all about finding and tweaking your practices to get the most out of your own productivity levels. These will change as your circumstances change too. Make sure that you review your productivity levels every quarter and consider any hacks you can make to ensure that you’re working at your optimal best.