Starting a side hustle comes with a lot of challenges.
Figuring out what a good side hustle will be.
Managing all the tasks and projects that come with a side-hustle on your own.
Understanding how to plan for and file taxes as a freelancer.
And, of course, managing your time to be as productive as possible.
If you’re looking to level up your side hustle by becoming more productive and getting more done in less time, we’re here to help.
These 8 productivity tips for freelancers will help you improve your productivity so you can earn extra money on the side.
1. Batching your tasks
Batching your tasks is one of the biggest productivity hacks for freelancers (or any employee!). Rather than doing random work projects whenever you happen to think of them, organize your schedule so that you do similar tasks in the same chunk of time.
Many of us rely on multitasking, thinking we can be more productive when we’re doing multiple things at the same time. However, many experts say that for most people, “multi-tasking” turns into “task-switching,” where you actually end up just switching from one thing to another in rapid succession.
For example, you might answer a couple of emails, then call an interview source, then send invoices for the week, all while keeping an eye on your inbox and LinkedIn notifications.
Research shows that task-switching is detrimental to our focus and efficiency. According to an APA study, “even brief mental blocks created by shifting between tasks can cost as much as 40% of someone's productive time.” To be more productive in your side hustle, start batching your work tasks.
For example, it's more efficient to do all of your invoicing on a set day once or twice a month. If you need to conduct research, it's good to stick with that for a significant amount of time, not try to fit it into 10-minute segments between other tasks.
2. Use time-saving apps and programs
Running a small business or side hustle requires lots of time management and organization. There are plenty of wonderful apps and programs designed to save you time so you can focus on the most crucial aspects of your business.
For instance, using programs to streamline your bookkeeping can save you lots of time and stress. Using Everlance to track your work miles and expenses takes the guesswork out of a tedious task—saving you time and getting you money. Productivity apps like ToDoist, Trello, Evernote, 1Password and others can all help you save time and free up valuable mental space to work on more important tasks.
Many of these apps and programs are free or charge a small fee. You might be surprised to discover how much mental bandwidth you can free up by taking some of the more annoying business tasks off your hands.
3. Try time tracking
The basic premise of time tracking is that we tend to “manage what we monitor,” as author Gretchen Rubin says. Time is a lot like money: it can slip through our fingers if we ignore it, leaving us confused about where it went. But just as a household budget helps you get a handle on your finances, time tracking enables you to gain an understanding of your time and increase productivity.
Use a simple time-tracking tool like Toggl, RescueTime, Harvest, or Timely to help you increase productivity, manage your time better, and track time spent on client work. Some of these tools offer features to help you with client billing and other related tasks as well.
You might also discover a simple pen-and-paper time tracker works for you. Often we overestimate how much time we spend working and underestimate how much time we spend on leisure activities.
If you’re tracking your time by hand, measure your activities in 15- or 30-minute increments. Keeping a time audit or detailed log of how you spend every moment of your time for a week or more is a great way to learn about yourself. Time logs can open your eyes to how much time you spend on various tasks and even find pockets of time you didn't realize you had.
4. Set a side hustle work schedule
A well-known, but little-followed productivity hack? Creating boundaries for time and space that you’ll work on your side hustle.
You'll be more productive with your side hustle if you set up specific times during which you'll work on it. These times must be kept sacred, barring an emergency. If you say you'll work on your side hustle every Tuesday and Thursday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., make that a commitment and stick to it.
Time boundaries and schedules help your loved ones as well. If you just fill in random time pockets with side hustle work throughout the day, your family may not realize when you're working and when you're available to engage with them. By setting up “office hours” that you devote to work, your loved ones can respect your schedule.
5. Create a dedicated office space
Similarly, boundaries also apply when it comes to spaces. If you don't have an office outside the home, it's crucial to create a designated workspace at home.
Your workspace doesn’t need to be an expensively furnished office, it just needs to be an area of your home that you use exclusively for your side business. Working at the kitchen table won't lead to the most productive deep work time.
Even if you're only spending an hour a day on your side hustle, you'll be more productive if you choose to do that work in a place where you can reduce distractions and really focus.
6. Limit the amount of time you dedicate to your side hustle
This may seem counterintuitive, but you may be more productive by limiting the amount of time you spend on your side hustle.
Perhaps you've heard of Parkinson's law: “Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” In other words, humans tend to fill whatever time we have available.
If you have unlimited time to accomplish something, you might procrastinate. But if you only have an hour to accomplish something important, you'll focus and use that time wisely.
While it's not a strict law of nature, it does point to a common characteristic many of us share: if we have all day to work on a project, we'll take all day. But if we have a two-hour deadline, we usually rise to the occasion and get the work done in two hours.
Don't use this concept to set unreasonable deadlines. But if you're prone to procrastination, set goals for when specific tasks will be completed, and don't give yourself more time than you'll realistically need to do the task well. By limiting the time you spend on your side hustle projects, you may find you get more accomplished in less time.
7. Backup and sync your devices
Despite setting boundaries to protect your time, on occasion, your side hustle may interrupt other activities.
For instance, say you have a lightbulb moment while out on a hike and you need some way of recording that brilliant thought. By keeping all of your tech devices in sync with each other, you can move seamlessly from different apps for note-taking, scheduling, and more.
Be ready for inspiration to strike at any time. This ensures you won't lose important ideas or information if you happen to be away from your specific workspace or location.
Of course, backing up your devices, documents and apps is just as important. Nobody wants to work for months on important projects only to lose it all when your laptop crashes.
8. Outsource non-core tasks
It's not easy to let go of any part of your side hustle. After all, you've built it from the ground up.
But remember the meaning of a side hustle—it’s not your full-time job. A side hustle is often much more successful when you outsource certain tasks to someone who can do it more efficiently. You'll have to shell out some money for this, but many entrepreneurs find they can accomplish more of their core business by outsourcing, and in turn growing their business to easily recoup any outsourcing costs.
You can outsource things like email management, bookkeeping, graphic design, social media management, IT, and transcription to freelance contractors. They'll get the job done, saving you time you can then reinvest in your business's main areas of focus. As your side hustle and income grow, decide whether the time is right to outsource some tasks to others.
So, are you ready to start being more productive with your work?
Download the Everlance app today and start saving time by automatically tracking mileage and expenses to save on tax deductions at the end of the year.
Did you know the average Everlance user saves over $6,500 on taxes each year?
Well, now you do.