I am a strong believer that everyone should have a side hustle. Making extra money on top of my day job has been life changing for me!
Whether you want to contribute more to your family budget, pay off debt, make extra cash to invest or even build up to leaving your job altogether, everyone is capable of earning extra money .
When I tell people about my side hustles, the main reaction I get is that people think they don’t have time.
I get it, it is challenging. I’ve had to make lots of sacrifices to build up my own online businesses.
But you can make time for your side hustle. Yes, even if you have a full time job, and even if you have kids. There are ways to squeeze out an extra hour or two each day, and tricks to use that time more effectively.
Here are my top three productivity hacks for entrepreneurs and side hustlers:
1. Identify wasted time
Chances are, you already have a lot more time than you think. You might not be using the time you have efficiently.
The first step in finding more time is working out where you’re wasting time currently.
I recommend spending a week or two tracking your time. First of all, install apps like RescueTime on your computer or Moment on your phone to log the time you spend online.
If you spend a lot of time online you will probably find one or two massive time sucks such as social media or browsing news sites.
You’re probably already aware that you spend too much time on these things. But you might be shocked at just how much the time adds up.
You can track offline activities too!
Make a simple calendar or spreadsheet dividing each day into 15 minute segments. As you go through the day, make a note of the main activity you did each segment.
This might sound like a hassle, but it truly can be surprising to see your day written down like that.
Some people find that tracking has the added benefit of forcing them into better habits even before they sit down to evaluate. Sometimes we’re too embarrassed even to admit our poor time management habits to ourselves!
Once you’ve tracked your time for a week or so, look it over to identify two areas:
- Wasted time that you should cut out – spending too long on Twitter, YouTube or whatever your personal vice is. If you need help with this, install a browser extension like StayFocusd for Chrome to limit your access to certain websites.
- Dead time that you could use for another task. This could be commuting, or waiting in the car while your kids are at an activity. Are there any small tasks you could do on your phone during this time?
Ask yourself, what’s the one most important thing to do today? Which one task do you need to get done in order to call your day a success?
I am the queen of to do lists (especially since I discovered bullet journaling) and I often have upwards of 15-20 items on my to do list each day.
If I don’t prioritize, I get freaked out and hop around from task to task while sometimes overlooking the most important jobs.
Now, I force myself to choose just one top item from my list each morning and put a star next to it.
My most important task might be publishing a new blog post, completing the application for a new affiliate network, or even something relatively minor like responding to an email I’ve been putting off.
If I can tick that one item off my list, I know I’ve achieved what I need to.
After ticking off my main goal, I usually feel a big sense of relief and achievement, which powers me through the next few items on my list.
Of course, I usually do much more than one task each day. But at least this method means I keep my business moving forward – even on days when I feel overwhelmed and really can only handle one thing.
The point is not to only do one thing each day. The point is to identify the tasks that will make the most difference to your business, and avoid procrastinating on minor jobs.
You might also want to look into the 80/20 rule, and identify the 20% of tasks that actually have the biggest impact on your income.
The pomodoro technique
The pomodoro technique is the most incredible productivity hack. If you only take one thing away from this post, I want it to be this!
The pomodoro method involves working uninterrupted for 25 minutes. And I do mean uninterrupted.
No checking your phone, no wandering off to get a drink or use the toilet. It’s only 25 minutes, right? You can do it! Just 25 minutes, with a timer, of nothing but focus on the task in hand.
When your timer goes off after 25 minutes, set another timer for 5 minutes and allow yourself a short break.
If you have the time, the aim is to do four sessions of 25+5 minutes, followed by a longer 30 minute break. It’s good practice to jot down how many sessions you’ve taken and what you’ve achieved in each one.
The method is named after the Italian word for tomato, because the creator used an old-fashioned tomato-shaped kitchen timer to measure his sessions. You can use an online pomodoro timer here, or just use your phone.
It might sound simple, but it’s amazing how effective this is.
I think a lot of us who work online struggle with distractions like email, social media and research. But 25 minutes can really be a long time when you commit to ignoring the distractions.
For people who struggle to focus (me!), this technique feels like conjuring up extra time out of thin air. It might sound ridiculous, but I feel like there are literally more hours in the day when I work in pomodoros.
The pomodoro technique pairs really well with the prioritization technique above. Pick ONE thing to do today, give yourself 25 minutes, and get it done!
You’ll be amazed at how much more you get done with this laser focus.
There are so many different productivity tips out there for you to try, but these are three that work for me! Do you have any others to share?
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