So you've decided to go full time in your side hustle, but you're not sure how you're going to manage your schedule. Let’s take a look at how a schedule management plan could work in your business.
A schedule management plan is super important when transitioning out of a side hustle to making it your full-time business.
It can be a challenge to set up your schedule, particularly if you're not motivated to get up early or to get all the things done without external accountability. In order to make sure that your transition is smooth and you don't run into issues around missing client deadlines and all those types of things, then follow my process for figuring out what works best for you.
Define Your Hours of Work
The first thing that you need to figure out is how many hours you need to actually be working in a day. The surprising thing when you go full time in your side hustle is that it doesn't mean you actually need to work eight hours a day. That's just the norm for most traditional businesses. Figure out the action steps you actually need to be doing that earns you money, and then everything else will filter from there.
For example, my actual hours of work are 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. That's it. Everything else I do (workwise) outside of that is purely optional.
This took a little while for me to figure out so it might be the same for you. You might not know straight away what hours you need to work.
Start with around the same hours as what you were doing in your full-time role. But maybe now, if you're a morning person, you're going to start super early so that you can finish earlier in the day.
Or maybe you're not a morning person, so you're going to get up later and work later at the end of the day. It's more about figuring out what your ideal hours are, and then we're going to dive into the following process to gain clarity on your ideal schedule.
The First Seven Days of Full-Time Side Hustle
For the first seven days of going full time in your side hustle, monitor how you're going without putting too much pressure on yourself or your schedule management plan.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Are you achieving the goals that you set out at the beginning of the week?
- Are you meeting your deadlines?
- How are your energy levels at the end of each day and at the end of the week?
What is life looking like for you after that first seven days?
If you haven't done this yet, take a minute to go and do that. Monitor how you're feeling at the end of that seven days. Or every day just check in with yourself and ask:
- I achieved my goals / I didn't achieve my goals.
- I felt great / I didn't feel great.
What are your energy levels looking like?
It's important that you know what those are because when you're working for yourself, you actually get to choose what this looks like. You do not need to be doing exactly what you were doing in your full-time job. Take advantage of that and design your ideal day.
Analyze how it’s going, then adjust your work times and schedule to come up with your best schedule management plan. Keep track of what you're doing and how you're feeling throughout that first week, and then check out some different options, listed below.
You Can Have More Than One Schedule
I quickly realized in the early days of going full-time that a couple of different schedules worked best for me. It all depended on what I had going on.
I also want to let you know that these schedule examples I'm about to share with you are a part of my new workbook called Cultivate Your Hustle, which is going live very soon. The workbook launches on June 16, 2019. It’s something that you, my readers, have asked me to create to help you in your side hustle venture.
The Cultivate Your Hustle workbook is all about helping you get through the first bits of starting your side hustle all the way through to growing it, with a whole bunch of exercises for you to work through to gain clarity and get organized on the steps that move you forward. One of those exercises is about figuring out your ideal schedule, which I'm going to share with you now.
Get Refreshed Schedule
The first one is the Get Refreshed schedule.
If you're someone who needs eight hours sleep, this is probably the best schedule for you.
To start, you want to work backward. When do you want to wake up in the morning? Work out eight hours of sleep–or however much you need–and then you know what time you need to go to bed.
This particular sample schedule focuses on a slightly later bedtime and not a super early wake-up time.
This looks like 10:00 p.m. to go to sleep, 6:00 a.m. to get up.
Then from 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 a.m. is your morning routine. This is where you're going to meditate, get breakfast, shower, do some exercise. Whatever it is you want your morning routine to look like, you've got an hour to do it.
Then from 7:00 a.m. until 10:00 a.m., you have a three-hour focused work block. This is now where you move into doing your work, and it's where you would do your number one and/or number two priorities.
Don’t forget to schedule in breaks
You may choose to have a 15-minute break in the middle of that three-hour block, that's entirely up to you.
At 10:00 a.m. until 10:30 a.m., you get a 30-minute break. This is where you want to shake off and stretch your legs, grab a coffee, do all those types of things and disengage from your computer. You definitely do not want to be doing anything else or shifting priorities. Keep your phone face down. This is a moment to unplug.
From 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., you're back into a three-hour focused action block. What does that look like in your business? You're doing whatever else you need to be doing that doesn't maybe require as much brain power.
From 1:30 p.m. until 2:30 p.m. is lunch. You're getting an hour to just relax and switch gears completely. Watch something on Netflix, go for a walk, something to just completely step away from your work.
From 2:30 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. is another three-hour focused action block. This is where you're going to do all the things admin related that don't require a lot of brain power or anything that’s fun, like creating images, those types of things.
Then 5:30 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. is your downtime. It's dinner, catching up with your family, planning a little bit before you go to bed, and restarting the next workday exactly the same way.
So that is the Refresh Schedule. This is all about making sure that you get lots of breaks throughout the day and three focused action blocks.
You still get plenty of work done, but now it just looks a little different, and you're breaking it up by making sure that you have plenty of time to refresh, something that is often lacking when you work for someone else.
The Refresh Schedule is perfect for a freelancer.
This personally was the schedule management plan I used when I started off my freelancing business and when I transitioned into full time. This was the schedule that worked the best for me.
You can modify this, obviously. You can modify the start and finish times, but everything else should stay the same. So if you wanted to go to bed at 9:00 p.m. and get up at 5:00 a.m. you could do that and adjust the rest of your times accordingly.
If you wanted to go to bed at 11:00 p.m. and get up at 8:00 a.m., you could totally do that too. It's just about figuring out which schedule management plan works best for you, so give it a try.
The Night Owl Schedule
The next schedule is all about being a night owl. I call it the Night Owl Schedule. Obviously, it's for people who prefer to work at night or go to bed later.
Be aware that this is not going to work so well if you deal with clients face-to-face, like if you're coaching or consulting. This might not be the ideal schedule for your clients to work around.
However, I'll tell you how you might be able to utilize it even if you're not a normal night owl.
If this is a schedule you're considering, I'm going to assume that you don't need as much sleep, so let’s say seven to seven-and-a-half hours, which means that you're going to bed at 6:00 a.m. and waking up at 1:30 p.m. That's seven-and-a-half hours sleep. If it's just you at home or maybe you've got a partner that goes off to work, this might be a good fit. Obviously not a great schedule if you’ve got kids.
So 6:00 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. is your sleep time.
Then 1:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. is going to be your ‘morning' routine. You're going to have something to eat, you're going to stretch, you might choose to meditate, whatever it is to get yourself into work mode.
Then 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. is a 4-hour focused action block. This is where you're going to be working on your one to two priorities.
You're obviously going to need to have a five-minute break at the end of each hour within that 4-hour action block. You're not going to get a 30-minute break in amongst all of that. You are going to take five minutes at the end of each hour to make sure that you're at least going to the toilet and grabbing something to eat.
Then from 6:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m., you're taking an hour to catch up with your friends, to have something to eat. Whatever that looks like, that's when you're doing it.
Then from 7:00 p.m. until 11:00 p.m. is another 4-hour action block. Same deal, five-minute breaks on the hour.
From 11:00 p.m. until 11:30 p.m., you're getting a 30-minute break. You may choose to eat dinner here. It's whatever makes the most sense to you. I would recommend stretching and doing all those things during this time, making sure you unplug from your work.
Then from 11:30 p.m. until 3:30 a.m. is another 4-hour action block. Again, five-minute breaks on the hour.
From 3:30 a.m. until 6:00 a.m. is free time. You might choose to go to bed now, it's up to you. But generally, if you've been working right up until that point, you'll need some downtime before hitting the hay. So watch a movie, take a break. Maybe this will only be an hour, this is really up to you.
The Night Owl schedule is the best management plan if you're a night person. However, you could utilize this once or twice a week in amongst the Get Refreshed schedule too. These schedules are not set in stone. You can absolutely change them. It's whatever works for you. So figure out your ideal schedule.
Adjust Your Schedule Management Plan to Fit Your Needs
I have done the Night Owl once or twice. It's definitely not a good fit for me. I am not a night person. But in the times when I was trying to get something finished, I would do a modified Get Refreshed schedule.
It might look like this: maybe finish my afternoon early or not take the last three-hour action block and have a good five hours off, and then pick up the night schedule around the 7:00-8:00 p.m. timeframe so that I could then work through until about 3:30 a.m. and then crash until 1:30 p.m., reset, and then start a Get Refreshed schedule.
Your ideal schedule management plan is going to depend on the way that you like to work. The key to success is identifying what works for you 80% of the time and sticking to it, but knowing that you can switch things up and modify depending on your work and project focus.
This is about working out what works best for you. Pick a schedule. Try them out, see what works for you, and then you can really schedule and manage what that looks like for you going forward.
If you do try these out, drop a comment below. I'd love to hear how these work for you.