When you’re managing a side hustle, a day job plus family and social life, it can get a little hectic. There might be times when you’re working away on your side hustle, only to be interrupted by a phone call or a child in need of comforting…
There are always going to be interruptions, whether you’re side hustle is your part-time or full-time gig, it’s all about learning how to stay focused and present in the tasks you’re doing.
Below you’ll find seven tips and strategies to help you stay focused and present on any task from some amazing women who have been able to achieve so much in their own side hustles (although most of them are now in full-time hustle mode!) through implementing these ideas; with one from yours truly too.
7 Strategies for Staying on Top of Your Side Hustle
#1: It’s all about your habits
Melyssa from The Nectar Collective, wrote a great post about developing better habits. I agree with everything she has to say in this post…
In trying to change our habits, we seldom attempt to understand how they actually work.
There is a lot of scientific research that has been completed about habits and developing good and bad ones, but I won’t bore you with it here.
Basically, it boils down to understanding what motivates you and that in order for something to become a habit, you need to determine your cues and stick with it consistently before it becomes second nature.
So if you want to stay focused during a (side hustle) task, you have to be consistent in your approach…
Melyssa breaks it down as follows:
- Pick the routine you want to develop a habit in (pick only one thing at a time)
- Establish a clear reward for achieving your habit. It needs to be something you'll want everyday and something you'll want in the future as well. What will motivate you?
- Set a CUE that establishes a craving, that "I really gotta have it" type craving. This triggers the habit loop into action.
- Override your bad habits by changing the routine and the cue for that habit. If you eat bad food while working, when you next notice yourself about to do this, get up and go for a walk instead.
Read the full details from the original blog post here.
Do you know how many hours a day you’re spending at your day job? What about your side hustle? Family? If you don’t know, how can you effectively plan when you should be working on your side hustle or chilling with the kids?
Monique at Keep Chasing the Stars gets this. To help her coaching clients and readers stay the course and achieve their dreams, she developed a plan that ensures you can achieve your side hustle goals while still maintaining a 9-5 job, while still being able to put food on the table!
Here’s some of her insights:
- Figure out how much time you've actually got free after the day job. Then work out how that gets split up between your side hustle, family and any other commitments.
- Get clear on what your objectives are — are you doing client work, writing a blog post, what?
- Don't multitask, it will kill your productivity. Focus on one task at a time and move on to the next, only when you're finished.
You can read the full post break-down here.
#3: Create a plan
It goes without saying — if you don’t have a plan of how you’re going to achieve everything, you’ll manage to fail instead.
Regina from By Regina, has written a great blog post about how to create a blogging business plan. And while you might not be maintaining a blog, this will still help you in your side hustle, because if you don’t have some sort of plan in place, how will you know when it’s time to quit your day job, expand your business and outsource your boring tasks to a VA?
Follow Regina’s advice here:
- Understand who your ideal reader (or customer) is. What do they want, what are they looking for? How much do they earn, what problems are they facing? Get clear on this and you'll have no problem finding your ideal reader or client.
- What are your blog or side hustle goals? What are you looking to achieve by starting a blog or side hustle? Write them down!
- How will you monetize your blog or side hustle? What services and products will you provide?
- How will you measure if you're successful?
This is just the bare bones of what Regina covers in her article. You can get the full deets here.
#4: Limit (actually eliminate) social media distractions
In a recent post on the SITS girl site, Kristi wrote a great blog post about how to increase productivity and stay focused on your tasks, which is a perfect fit for this post 😉
One of the tips she shared resonated a lot with me: limit your social media when you’re trying to work.
Case in point… right now, as I’m writing this, I’ve been distracted…
Ah Lise, what are you doing? [oops, I was checking Instagram and Snapchat!]
The key is to ensure that you turn off your notifications or remove your devices where you’ll see social media ‘pop up’… for me, that means I need to put my iPhone face down, close my iPad and close all social media tabs on my computer.
We are connected all the time, if you want to stay laser focused while working on your side hustle, you need to be vigilant and remove any potential distractions (that you can) so you can just get shiz done!
You can catch Kristi’s full article here.
This is probably one of my fav tips. If you don’t have a designated work space at home for your side hustle, it can be difficult to treat it like the business it needs to be for you to be successful.
Thankfully, I have a dedicated office at home now, but when I first got started, I didn’t. I struggled to get ‘in the zone’ after getting home from work and cracking open my laptop… until I cleared an area at the kitchen table for my little work space. From that moment forward, I was able to quickly get into the flow of my side hustle and things just went a lot easier.
In a recent article on Twelve Skip, Pauline wrote about the methods she uses to stay focused and productive while working from home. One of her tips included designating a work space… she’s my kinda gal!
Her other tips included:
- Avoid dealing with personal stuff during your 'work' hours, aka your side hustle hours. Do that stuff in your day job hours, hehe
- Limit the times that you check your emails... gone are the days where people expect an immediate response. Batch your email viewing instead.
- Don't let technology take over your life. Restrict the amount of access a client/customer has to you via online means... so keep Skype closed if you don't want to be called and let clients know when the best time to contact you is.
That last point is a goodie. If you don’t let your clients know your ‘office hours’ then you could find yourself receiving urgent emails from them in the middle of the night… particularly if they’re on the other side of the world. Communication is key, which is why you should provide an onboarding email to each new client that lets them know this type of information upfront.
You can read Pauline’s full article on her blog here.
#6: Change the way you write lists
Typically, I’ll write a list of the things I need to get done today on my notepad, with all standing items and business-related stuff hanging out in my Todoist app.
And normally, that written list is numbered or bulleted, with the most important at the top, down to the least at the bottom… Did you know that if you vary the format of your lists, they become far more valuable, depending on what the list is for?
In a recent article on Levo, I read an article that was about surprising productivity hacks, and I have to say that this very first one did surprise me!
The author mentioned a book by Ben Schott called Schott’s Original Miscellany, which is all about lists. In it, he talks about how you could try writing out lists in a different way that provides more meaning and value.
For example, if you’re sitting down to organise a party, you’ll likely have a list of guests. Rather than write them all down like you normally would, Schott suggests putting them into a Venn diagram so you can see how the guests might interact. A great way to ensure you have an amazing party, right?!
So for the purposes of this article, instead of writing your to-do list from top to bottom Schott suggests starting in the middle of the page and writing your tasks in spatial relation to one another, so that you create clouds of related tasks… and for the visual person in me, I love this concept! Kind of like a mini-mindmap session…
You can read the full article here.
#7: Schedule your shiz
This last tip is from moi. I can’t reiterate this point enough — if you don’t use a schedule, if you don’t write down deadlines, how on earth are you going to stay on top of everything you need to get done?
I know, it might seem a little OTT, but if you’re not scheduling all of your stuff into one central place, at some point, the balls you’ve got juggling are going to fall to the ground…
When I started out, I thought I’d be able to keep on top of everything. I believed that because I had kept the client emails in my inbox, that I’d remember when stuff was due and when.
Well, let me tell you that that quickly unraveled. I was missing client deadlines and double-booking myself left, right and centre.
It wasn’t until I stopped, sat down and created a Google calendar that incorporated all my day job stuff, my side hustle stuff and my personal stuff all in the one place.
I created several Google calendars and gave them different colours so I could easily see where conflicts were going to arise and where I could move stuff around.
Since this time, I’ve moved into a combination of Freedcamp, Todoist and using the Sunrise App. But that’s not important, what’s important is that you know when your side hustle stuff is due, and that it doesn’t clash with any of your other commitments…
And that’s it. Now you have no excuse to stay focused and get your side hustle work done. Any one of these tips and strategies will help you towards achieving a successful side hustle.
Let me know if you use any of them and what changes they make to your side hustle business in the comments section below.
Still haven’t started your side hustle yet? Join in on the Side Hustle 7-Day Challenge — a free email course on how to discover your very own profitable side hustle skill/idea!