Whether your side hustle is really on the side or your daily work is a collection of hustle and gig work, these tips can help you stay focused and successful no matter how hectic your week is.
Many of the tricks that will help you with juggling side hustles are similar to the tricks that help with a regular 9-5 kind of job, but managing multiple workplaces, responsibilities, and time demands requires an extra level of focus and discipline. Here’s how you can make it all work.
Develop Your Time Management Skills
One of the most important steps you can take to help you with all of your gigs is to hone your time management skills. Even when you work from home with no set schedule, you should make yourself a schedule:
- Have a specific start time and end time for your workday.
- Dedicate the time needed to each of your side hustles.
- Schedule breaks, and only take them when scheduled.
- Use an app to block access to social media, if you need to.
- Stay focused by limiting distractions.
We’ll expand on some of these tips in a moment, but the most important thing is to create a workable schedule. This schedule should include everything you’re doing from the moment you’re “on the clock” to the moment you’re off.
An example of a workday schedule with multiple hustles:
8 AM: Check work emails, respond to emails, check business-related social media accounts.
9 AM: Start working on your most important hustle (this could be the one you do the most work for, the one that pays you the most, or the one with work due the soonest). Continue onto the next side hustle, if you’re done with this gig before break time.
10 AM: Take a break. Step away from work for 15 minutes. Get some fresh air.
12 PM: Take a lunch break. Schedule a break length that works for you, but stick with it. If you give yourself an hour, only take an hour.
1 PM: Start on the next side hustle that needs attention.
4 PM: Put work to the side and get on with your life. Have dinner. Spend some time with friends or family. Don’t let work creep into your off time—it’s essential to have a work-life balance.
Sticking to a schedule is the best defense against both not getting enough done (because you’re unfocused and don’t have clear objectives) and working too long (missing out on personal and family time in the process).
Prioritize Your Hustles
So what does prioritizing look like? There are all sorts of ways you can prioritize your side hustles; it’s up to you exactly how to do this.
Some people begin with the gig that offers them the most work or the steadiest work, and end the day with the gig that provides the least amount of work. However, which gig is most “important” may vary day-to-day, depending on the amount of current work and when your deadlines are.
It may be wise to make a list of all your hustles and all your clients. Include what you do for each one to help you prioritize.
Those that offer you work a couple of days a week or a couple of days a month, with specific days in mind, will be listed with the info on when you work on those. The gigs that have daily work will be listed with how much time you need each day to get the job done. Deal with occasional gigs when work comes in.
Finally, the critical component of prioritizing is that whatever your priorities are, they end up on the aforementioned schedule. It’s one thing to say “This project is the most important,” it’s another thing to say “I’m putting it on my schedule for 9 AM” and demonstrating that it really is important.
Hone Your List Writing Skills
Speaking of lists: listing the gigs you have, the work you need to do, and your deadlines will all help you juggle multiple side hustles. This list will give you an instant visual of what you have going on and how much work you may need to plan for.
Write down a list of deadlines, in order of when they are due, every time you have new work come in. If projects don’t have deadlines, list them in the order of importance.
In addition to listing deadlines and incoming work, make yourself routine checklists. Different jobs have different requirements, and even different work within a given job probably has various tasks that go with it. A useful checklist that outlines what you need to do for each kind of project (like, say, editing a photograph or copy editing an article) ensures you won’t forget anything important and your work will be consistent.
Those job assignments that don’t have deadlines need them. Working without deadlines may lead to extra procrastination (“I don’t have a due date for this, so I don’t need to work on it yet”). Soon, weeks have gone by, the work isn’t done, and now your client has moved on to a new person to do that job for them.
How much time do you need to complete the job? How many other assignments do you currently have due? Use the answers to help you calculate a doable deadline, and then stick to it.
Breaks are essential when it comes to workday success. If you overwork your mind and your body, you’ll start losing focus on your work. You may even start making mistakes.
Instead of risking turning in inferior work, take a 15-minute break every couple of hours. Even if you just step away from the phone or the computer, that may be enough to help you. Consider some quiet time outdoors or a nice brisk walk—these actions will help get your blood pumping and your mind working.
Facebook and other social media sites aren’t the only things that may distract you from your side hustles.
If you work from home, it’s wise to set up a home office space where you can focus on work. If you have kids or pets, you need to make sure that your office is in a place where you can shut the door, while someone else takes care of the kids and pets.
Unless you need your phone for work, put the ringer and notifications on silent so you can focus. Hang a “No Soliciting” sign on your front door to avoid distractions from neighbors and deliveries during your work hours.
If you work outside the home, you may deal with other distractions. Those distractions will depend on where you’re working. If you work in an office, other workers can become a source of distractions. If you work in a public space, like a coffee shop, it may be beneficial to bring some headphones and music (or just some noise-canceling headphones if music is distracting for you).
Don’t Take on More Gigs than You Can Handle
Lastly, when it comes to juggling multiple side hustles, you need to know your limits. Some of you may be able to work five different side hustles with ease, and experience success which all of them. Or, you may only be able to do two or three.
If you take on more work than you can handle, don’t be afraid to resign from a gig or two. Give ample notice, and you’ll leave with a good reference or a chance of coming back if something doesn’t work out with another side hustle. It’s always better to bow out gracefully than to take on work you may not be able to complete.