Are you an entrepreneur? Do you constantly feel pressed for time? Thought so. Like a lot of entrepreneurs, you’re probably pursuing your passion project on the side. That passion project is shoved in minute gaps between your day job, chores, a commute, social life… and endless other life admin tasks. Your list of things to do is seemingly endless, mostly because, it is.
You spend most of your day longing to have the space for sparks of inspiration to arise, and eventually launch your business ideas, but your time is instead punctuated with solutions to other hassles instead. Then it’s finally 9pm, you have some quiet time, sans kids, work, partners… But the anticipation for other work that has been building all day and a mind full of deadlines consumes your psychological bandwidth leaving you frazzled, frustrated and with an inability to think straight. So, how can we fill the (little) time dedicated to our side hustle with purpose, play and productivity?
With a time budget. It’s really not as scary as it might sound – all it means is that you should start by thinking about the way you spend your time just as you would your money. Sometimes you just haven’t got enough money left at the end of the month for a special dinner out, but if you’d budgeted for it, you may well have the space. A time budget is that same thing – there are only so many hours in a day, week, month and it’s up to you how you spend them. A time budget help you be more conscious of finding your own balance, especially with the time you have left outside of your full time job.
Here are a few ways you can incorporate a time budget into your life.
Take (literal) note of where your time goes. You know the saying, ‘time flies when you’re having fun’? It also flies when you spend hours mindlessly adding clothes to a cart you’ll never purchase from. Firstly, it’s important that you are aware of where all your spare time actually goes, so write a diary for a standard week. Noticing where you ‘waste’ time is the first step in reversing the problem. Just as reckless shopping leaves us feeling shameful and dissatisfied, so does mindlessly spending our time, unless you consider said activities to be part of your rest time. Dare to disrupt your defaults and stop constantly checking your emails, trying to multitask or be a gourmet chef if it’s not relaxing or bringing value to your life, or your business.
Schedule it. Each morning, work out the hours you are going to spend (your day job and daily chores would be a non-negotiable example), save (time to rest and recharge with a book or a bath), invest (in passion projects and side gigs) and share (with people who inspire and motivate you). Just like creating a money budget, start with your fixed time expenses like sleep and work – those things are non-negotiable. Then schedule your biggest priorities. If you are prioritising your side hustle and want to spend at least 20 hours a week doing that, then actually schedule some time for it. Remind yourself that you are on a time budget and don’t buy into distractions.
Visualise success. Before the week even starts, spend time visualising your business activities in detail. Step through each day so you can prepare your work space, tools and resources in advance. This will prompt you to do simple things like have your camera out and recharged ready to take product pictures on Tuesday, if that’s your plan. Helping yourself to prepare for a budget you may have difficulty keeping means you’ll stay on the straight and narrow.
Make freakouts your friend. Taking the plunge into the world of start-ups takes both an emotional and financial investment. This can be incredibly overwhelming at times. Instead of allowing this stress to drain your time and energy, jot down your freakouts and plan a time to address them each day or week instead of constantly carrying their burden. A solution may have to be found right now, but your angst can wait (until you have a glass of wine in hand, at least).
Don’t beat yourself up if you make mistakes. Some months we go over budget, some months we go under. It’s not an exact science. One night where you’ve scheduled time for website planning may end up in tears if you’ve been stuck in meetings all day at your full-time job. The important thing is to recognise that you can make it up elsewhere: get takeaway on Thursday instead of cooking and cleaning to carve out an extra hour for yourself. It’s not the mistakes you make but how you manage them that will make the difference in the long run.