As an entrepreneur, your time is at a premium, especially when you’re working on a side hustle along with your job. Productivity — making the most of every moment you devote to your venture — is essential if you wish to reach your professional goals in a timely fashion.
Here are eight productivity tips for helping you attain an excellent side hustle.
1. Batching Your Tasks
Batching your tasks is one of the best ways to ensure you make the most of the time you spend on your side hustle. Rather than doing random work tasks whenever you happen to think of them, organize your schedule so that you do similar chores in the same chunk of time.
Many of us rely on multitasking, where we try to do more than one thing at a time. Or we attempt task-switching, where we switch from one thing to another in rapid succession. For example, we might answer a couple of emails, then call an interview source, then send invoices for the week.
Research shows 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 endeavor, start batching your work tasks. For example, it’s more efficient to do 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 time management and organization. You don’t have to keep handling tasks the old-fashioned way — there are plenty of wonderful apps and programs designed to save you time so you can focus more 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 business mileage and other business expenses takes the guesswork out of a tedious task.
Many of these apps and programs cost a very minimal amount compared to the benefit you’ll gain from using them. 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 get a hold on your time and increase productivity.
Use a simple time-tracking tool like Toggl, RescueTime, Harvest, or Timely to help you manage your time better. Many tools allow you to track time spent on client work and assist you with billing and related questions.
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.
Log your time 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
We function more efficiently when we have designated boundaries for time and space.
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.
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, you’ll focus and use that time wisely.
5. Create a Dedicated Office Space
Boundaries also apply when it comes to space. If you don’t have an office outside the home, it’s crucial to create a designated workspace at home.
Your workspace needn’t 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 focus.
6. Limit Side Hustle Time
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 take the full amount of time allotted to complete tasks.
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 right. By limiting the time you spend on side hustle activities, you could find you get more accomplished in less time.
7. Back Up and Sync Devices
Despite setting boundaries to protect your time, on occasion, your side hustle interrupts other activities. For instance, 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 or memory 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.
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. And some people can (maybe) handle everything on their own.
But 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, more than recouping the money they spend.
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 jobs to others.
Watch Your Side Hustle Grow
By implementing a few simple productivity tips, you’ll see your side hustle grow into the successful venture you want it to be.
About the Author: Jennie Greene has been an entrepreneur for 10 years, writing and editing for numerous publications. She has used many of these tips over the years.