I listened to Sara Tasker and Jen Carrington talking about building a business alongside a day job in their podcast ‘Letters from a Hopeful Creative’ today and could relate to a lot of what they discussed.
Managing time when you’re trying to blog/start a business alongside another job is bloody difficult. In the podcast they made a point about there being a lot of content and ‘how-to’ articles out there about building a business, but they’re almost always aimed at those who are working on it full time.
So those of us with limited time might read this advice and feel inferior – because we expect to be able to do the same, but just can’t.
I know I’ve been guilty of comparing myself to other online business owners and feeling a bit gutted that I’m not where they are, without even taking into account the fact that they work on their businesses full time.
For the first year and a bit of Blue Jay of Happiness I was working five days a week at my day job, squeezing blog work in at evenings and weekends. And it was tough. It’s not just about writing blogs. It’s showing up on social media, growing an audience, taking photos, responding to comments and emails… Oh and try to have some sort of social life and self-care routine.
After adding another element on top of this (training to be a life coach) I, perhaps unsurprisingly, found my mental health suffering and started struggling with anxiety. After CBT, I learnt to manage my time better and earlier this year (when it was financially feasible) I reduced my days at my day-job to four.
I did this in part to make space for my blog and coaching work, but mainly to make space for self-care. My health was suffering and something had to give.
I now feel in a food place when it comes to time management, though I know when I get busy with coaching clients, I’ll have to reassess again. So I thought today I’d share some of the things that help me when it comes to managing time with a side-hustle, in case it’s helpful for you too.
Identify your tasks
Looking at your schedule, identify what you would like to accomplish week to week for your side-hustle. For me, it’s writing two blog posts, scheduling them on social media, posting to Instagram about four to five times and general/ad-hoc work on the coaching business. You may find it helpful to look monthly too or even quarterly.
Include any bigger tasks too, such as newsletter writing or course launches. You’ll need to factor these in somewhere too.
(If this is already got you running for this hills, take a look at Kayte’s brilliant post on where to focus on your business)
Break them up
This is so important – break those tasks up! I find the idea of writing a blog, formatting it, sourcing images for it, uploading it, scheduling it and then scheduling all the social media for it too much of a big task to do in one go. It would eat up an entire evening, and I want to wind-down at some point before going to bed.
Remember, you’re working on limited time, so look at your week and see what you can realistically get done in the time you have and take into account the fact that you’re going to be tired from your day job.
I split blog creation over two evenings. One evening (like right now) I’ll write the content, upload it and schedule. The next evening I’ll schedule all the social media for it.
Schedule time for self-care
If you don’t want to burn out and fall into an exhausted puddle on the floor – schedule in self-care! Look at your week, think about what you need to feel physically and mentally well, and plan it in. As excited and passionate as I am about my side-hustle, I make sure Wednesday evenings and Sundays are completely free.
Wednesday evenings off give me time to practice yoga, have a bath and relax. Sundays off give me space to spend time with loved ones, read and prepare for the week ahead.
If your side-hustle workload doesn’t allow for self-care time… take something from your workload out. Reduce the number of blogs you write, step away from social media for a day – take the pressure off.
Remind yourself that if you’re not flourishing, your business won’t be flourishing. You have to take care of yourself if you want to keep moving forwards.
Setting boundaries like the ones mentioned above is a helpful habit to get into. Create sacred times for yourself and/or for time with loved ones.
I could quite easily plough on with blog work on my lunch breaks at work, but I’ve set a boundary not to. I might scroll through social media quickly, but often I’ll use this time to read or chat to my colleagues.
Of course, it may be that you need to outline your boundaries about work to those around you – telling your partner for example when you plan to work in the evenings and scheduling non-working evenings together now and then.
Pull back in your day job (if that feels right for you)
I found it really interesting to hear Sara and Jen talking about pulling back energy-wise in your day job. When anxiety hit me hard last year, I was giving my day-job 100%. I was trying to give everything 100% and it just wasn’t working.
So, when I reduced my days this year I also stepped back from my role as a manager.
While my team was small and wonderfully easy to manage, taking away that element allowed me to pull back some energy and reduced my stress levels. In the podcast Sara and Jen say 80% is still doing a damn good job, and I agree. If anything – I’ve become more productive since simplifying my role.
Consider how this would feel to you. Can you reduce your responsibility at your day job? Can you pull back a little energy-wise?
Listen to your body
Even with all of the above in place, there are times when something comes along to mess with your perfectly formed plans. Maybe you get ill or there’s a particularly busy period at work. Maybe something happens in your personal life that simply swamps you. Whatever it is – listen to what your body is telling you.
Do you need some time off your side-hustle? Do you need to book in some holiday time from your day job? Don’t become a slave to your schedule, take note of what you need and embrace flux.
One final thing Jen said in the podcast episode that had me cheering was this: “If you’re building a business while also doing anything else – you’re a hero.” And she’s quite right.
It’s so easy for us to feel like we’re not making headway and beat ourselves up about all the things we haven’t done yet – but in reality what we’re doing is pretty damn incredible.
When that sense of comparison or frustration flares up, take a moment to remind yourself how much you’re already achieving. Come back to why you’re doing it. Remember the big picture. And breathe. You’re a freakin’ hero.
P.S. If you need help fitting self-care into your routine, take a look at my self-care strategy session offer and consider if this could be helpful for you. If you think it would be, fill out this form and we can set it up.
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