Side hustle advice from 11 entrepreneurs who’ve been there

Whether the pandemic afforded you more time to focus on a longtime passion, or helped you discover a new interest that sparked a business idea, having a side project seems more popular than ever. Time management remains key, though, to ensure you’re maximizing the hours you put into your side hustle in order to grow the business, while not compromising your performance at your full-time job or feeling like you work 24/7.

Entrepreneurs who have done it offer their tips on how they manage their time and stay motivated.

Stick to a schedule

“Set time aside for your side hustle the way you would any other important appointment,” business and life coach and Let It Be Easy podcast host Susie Moore says. “Don’t prioritize your schedule, schedule your priorities.”

Don’t waste time trying to perfect your business

“It’s easy to be like, ‘We’ll do it when we get this figured out,’ but sometimes the stars don’t align that way,” says Danielle Tullo La Testa, who cofounded custom merch company Partier and creative social media marketing agency DLT Creative while working full-time as a magazine editor. “We can convince ourselves of 1,000,000 reasons to slow down but, just do it and you’ll figure it out. It’s okay to feel like a fish out of water.”

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When to make the jump to your side hustle full time

Use vacation days to focus on your passion project

Jessica Goodman used PTO from her full-time job at Cosmopolitan to write her first book.I would take vacation days and not go on vacation, I would just write,” Goodman, who published her third novel, The Counselors, in May, says. “I would book an Airbnb upstate [in New York] or one time I went to Maine. Instead of vacationing, I worked on edits of my book. Those vacations kept me motivated.”

Outsource when possible

Melissa Bell, who founded Topical Tattoo while working full-time in advertising and marketing, recommends entrepreneurs “automate everything that you can,” from social posts to “having a generic ad running so you can get new traffic and leads without having to organically reach out to people.” For tasks that can’t be automated, Bell likes outsourcing overseas so “you can have someone working while you’re sleeping.”

Keep a separate space for your side-hustle

Amanda Batula would stay late at the office to focus on Loverboythe beverage brand she helped launch with her husband and Summer House co-star Kyle Cooke while working full-time as a designer at L’Occitane en Provence. “There were nights that I would stay until 8:00, 8:30 because I was working on Loverboy and I was able to focus. When I got home, it was hard for me to switch back on,” Batuala says. “One thing that works for me was recreating my work space from my office at home.”

Work in batches

Siffat Haider co-founded supplement company Arrae while running her Icing & Glitter blog and The Dream Bigger Podcast. To do both, shedan on batching content, such as setting aside one day to shoot photos and videos for multiple posts or conduct numerous interviews. “I batch most of my interviews on Tuesdays, and I usually batch my weeks,” Haider explains. “I like to have meetings on Tuesdays as well, and Mondays I like to keep light on meetings. If I’m filling my Mondays with meetings, I tend to start my week very reactive versus proactive.”

Make a list of priorities

Side Hustle Nation founder Nick Loper believes writing down his top three priorities for the next day helps him be “really intentional” with his time. So when he has a spare moment, “I know exactly what to do and in what order,” Loper says. “If you can consistently be proactive about knocking out the stuff that is going to move the needle forward, you’ll be in really good shape.”

Set reminders as often as needed

Eric King started easygayoven while working as an editorial assistant at a theater website and swears by digital scheduling. “The Apple Reminders app and Calendar app are my bread and butter,” he says. “I would forget everything without constant pings.”

Match your energy level to the day

“On days when I’m feeling creative or high energy, I’m creating content for social media or working on designing new projects. On lower energy days, I do more admin tasks,” says Hudson Houndstooth founder Nicole Wilson, who launched the sustainable pet accessories brand while designing sleepwear for a large department store full time. “Not doing the same thing everyday keeps things interesting.”

Strategically use small pockets of time throughout the day

New Mindset, Who Dis?Kenny’s Case, who began his podcast at the same time he led a sales team at an advertising technology company, says he would work on it “whatever I get a chance.” “On one occasion, we had to go on a trip to a client in the Midwest and I remember being in the car with my co-workers, and everyone was like, ‘Hey, why are you so quiet?’ I was writing out my scripts for the episode. Then when we landed, I had to go and record it,” Kenny recalls. “It’s finding those moments in an Uber, the airport.”

Be realistic about your schedule

Feeling burnt out after starting sticker and print company Cranky Cranium in July 2020 while working as a virtual assistant, Jess Watchman took a six-month break. Watchman brought her digital shop out of vacation mode last month and adjusted her schedule to ensure Cranky Cranium still feels like a rewarding opportunity to create art. “I committed to myself that I’m only going to dedicate one day a week to Cranky Cranium,” she says. “I need flexibility in my creative endeavors.”

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