Part 1: 5 Tips for Finding the Time to Work on Your Side Hustle
Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. - Steve Jobs
Somehow I vividly remember being asked in front of the class what I wanted to be when I “grew up”. My answer: to be a writer or a chef. I was six years old at the time.
Ever since I was able to read, I devoured books. When I was a child I devoured Roald Dahl books (The Witches was my absolute favorite) and later the Goosebumps series, followed by Harry Potter.
Reading these books only further fueled my desire to write, however when I became older I thought it wouldn’t be the most “financially responsible” choice to fully focus on writing. I studied Business Administration and started a company.
However, I always wrote. Either by journaling or attempts at writing a novel. Until over a year ago I decided to set aside my fear of publishing my scribbles and TAKE ACTION.
I started publishing short stories and later I started sharing what I learned on my way to becoming a better writer. It started out as a hobby, to see how people would respond. Over the year, the responses were encouraging enough to take writing even more seriously.
I studied other writers, developed a podcast, increased my number of posts, interacted with other writers, approached blogs, looked into ways to monetize my writing, set goals, developed a strategy, tested out pieces of writing, etc. etc.
Over the next weeks, I will share a series of about 10 posts to explain how I’m side hustling my writing “career” and to share the lessons learned and mistakes I made. I hope you can successfully apply them to your side hustle. Whether it’s with writing or something else!
Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle. – Abraham Lincoln.
My dream is to be able to live off my writing fulltime. So what’s now a side hustle would hopefully transform into something permanent. It’s like Tom Kuegler and Anthony Moore are teaching us writers with their posts and courses. There are more and especially new ways to earn money as a writer. (More on my experience in a later post).
If you start something on the side, in addition to your main job, you have to read the book Side Hustle by Chris Guillebeau. It’s a wonderful combination of creative and inventive ideas, mixed with an MBA in business and of course, hustle. I think it’s a good starting point with actionable advice and a step-by-step process to start a side hustle. Note: it’s not aimed at writers. So just pick only what you need from it.
Time as a framework
To work on a side hustle, you have to make time for it. Since time is an expense you can only expend once, you’ll have to choose carefully what you spend your time on. You’ll have to make sacrifices.
Things I sacrificed to make more time for writing:
- Keeping up will every TV-series out there: I love stories, but TV shows are the most time-consuming thing ever. And with Netflix and its automatic play system a huge threat to my valuable time.
- Same goes for movies, I’m a huge film fanatic, but in order to create myself, I need to ignore some creations of others.
- Spend (a little) less time in the pub.
- Combine hanging out with different friends. At least once a week I meet up with my group of friends in a pub or someone hosts dinner (usually me), that way I see everyone at once instead of scheduling meals with every friend separately.
- Skip commuting and work from home (saves me 2 hours every day).
- Spend less time on social media and email. This one is hard. I like to check tweets and comments on my posts… oops. I’m finally able to mostly ignore Facebook. I scroll through Instagram when I’m bored or waiting. Still, I could half my social media time.
So, how do I divide my time then? I still have a demanding job, an active social life, etc. Here’s how.
The first thing I do when I wake up is write. I wrote a whole article about this earlier.
Even before I take a shower or have breakfast I write. It’s the best way to start the day. You’re doing something creative and you’ve accomplished an important task on your to-do list already.
Now I’m using the first hour of my day to write on a novel I’m working on. I’ve taken on Stephen King's advice from his book On Writing (a must-read!) and produce about 1,000 words each day! And in line with the advice of Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird, I don’t worry about perfection, not even about grammar or making sense. I just get words on the page and write a Shitty First Draft! I’ll polish it later.
Usually, I set aside about 2-3 evenings each week to work on my writing. Not only to actually write (evenings are for writing short fiction), but also to jot down ideas for stories, articles or plot points in my novel.
I’ll tend to Medium and respond to people’s responses to my posts, or read (and sometimes respond) to other writer’s posts. I’ll sometimes Photoshop new Instagram posts and schedule them. I send out some emails to blogs or writers I admire to see if someone would like to repost one of my stories or articles.
I keep an eye on my statistics, see what works, and what not.
Sometimes evenings are for editing too, whenever one of my monthly short stories is due.
Funny thing is: IT DOESN’T FEEL LIKE WORK. I love doing it and spend my “free” time on it. Even after a day of regular work.
3. In between work
Being your own boss has its perks! You can allocate your time the way you want, as long as you get the job done. I used to have an office and employees. Now that we merged with another company I have a more specific role and I don’t need to be in a physical office every day. Sometimes I have, but it’s only for a couple of days a month and sometimes abroad too. So for me, a perfect mix of interaction with others and being on my own and focus.
So, sometimes, I make some time to write a Medium post, just to change the “subject”. I’m reading 1-5 Medium posts throughout the day and interact with the writers whose pieces I really like.
And when I’m already in my marketing vibe, I might as well add some social media planning, blog approaches etc. for my writing.
But, of course, I’m aware that I’m lucky to be in a situation like this, and not everyone can do it. Except when you’re freelancing maybe.
On weekends I still try to stick to my 1,000 words in the morning. Although when I had a good night out my hangover usually messes enough with my head in order for me not to type one word. And that’s OK. I don’t have to work on my writing every day. I want to, but I need breaks too. But even if I have a really eventful weekend, I always squeeze in some writing, because I just feel like it. Same with reading. I read and write almost every day.
So, during the weekend I’m writing Medium posts, work on my short stories, record (and edit) my podcast.
At the end of the week, I’m looking at 10-20 hours of work done for my writing side hustle. Still, not one minute of those feels like “work”.
5. Schedule, schedule, schedule
I love planning, so much so that I even plan to plan (I know it’s out of control). So naturally, I have notes full of goals, dreams, and steps of action to get where I want. To reach more people, to be able to live of off writing one day, to publish novels. I don’t care if I need to take 1,000 steps or 10,000, I just enjoy the journey.
Write down your goals. Make a plan for how to reach them over time (I like to make a vague 5-year plan, followed by a 3-year plan and then a detailed 1-year plan).
Map out your months. What do you want to achieve? How much writing would you like to get done? What’s realistic. Schedule it in your calendar.
Schedule your week and plan your days. Write. Market. Repeat.
“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.” – Leo Tolstoy