A side hustle is a smart way to build a path to financial freedom. Yet, the reality of juggling a full-time job and gig work is tough. Meetings, deadlines, household chores, and spending time with people you care about, can make finding time to engage in extra work a challenge. But there are some practical strategies to balance a side hustle with your full-time job. 

It’s never easy. But, it’s doable. And the professional and economic rewards can be great.

Prioritize Passions

Many get this wrong. They hear about a “profitable” hustle, and play around with it for a while. And then they hop on to the next “profitable” gig before quitting that one as well. Why do they do that? Because they’re chasing profits, not their passion. 

No matter what you choose as a side hustle, there will be competition, challenges and moments when you ask yourself “why am I doing this?” You need to be clear about that answer to stick with it.

To be sure, you may be side hustling to clear some economic hurdle — like paying off a loan. But if you’re hoping to build a bridge to self-employment or an early retirement, you need to find something you can tolerate for the long haul.

The best way to do that is find something that matches your interests, skills and resources. Not sure what to do? Check out the SideHusl Quiz. 

Break it into bite-sized tasks

To balance a side hustle with a full time job, you need to be a master at time management. And the key to that is placing your tasks into four categories — must-do now; must-do later; not important; and can be done by someone else. 

Make a list for the “must-do” tasks. The best idea is to have two columns — one for things that are urgent; and one for things that don’t have an immediate deadline. Put an estimated time line next to each task. In other words, write a blog post: 4 hours. Invoice client: 15 minutes. Create video for social media: 30 minutes. Or, if your side hustle is all about an economic goal, your “task” might be to earn $125 a week: 5-6 hours.

On a separate sheet of paper — or separate electronic file — also write down all the things that people want you to do, but are not important to you or your goals and the things that you can delegate. We’ll get to delegating later. For now, writing these down is just a strategy for mentally setting them aside so their off your personal to-do list.

Set reasonable goals

How much time do you have to devote to a side hustle each day, week or month? Is that time manageable or random? In other words, do you have an hour each night or does your time free up in unpredictable patterns, based on what’s going on with other members of your household?

Set a reasonable goal for yourself that allows you to move a bit forward each day with your side hustle, without upending your family or day job.

Just got an hour after work? Maybe you can flip on a food delivery app, such as DoorDash, Uber Eats or GrubHub when you leave the office. That allows you to earn a few bucks on the way home. Or, if you are doing a remote side hustle — writing, marketing, web design, etc. — turn off the work computer and fire up your own during that hour.

Setting a regular schedule helps ensure that you stay consistent and on track.

But if your time is not easily scheduled, set a longer-term goal — say 5 hours a week or 10 hours a month. And simply vow not to forget to focus on your side hustle when you have the free time.

In any event, when you find yourself with time to hustle, go back to your list of tasks and pick off one or two that you have time to complete that day. If you can’t complete the task in one sitting, no worries. It’s at least started. Give yourself credit for moving forward.

Take Advantage of Remote Work

If your employer allows you to work from home, a great way to balance a side hustle with a full time job is to simply use the time that you’d normally spend commuting for your side hustle. This allows you to stay in the same office-day sync, but earn extra money at the same time.

Working at home also can be ideal for some homemaking side gigs — like cooking and doing laundry. These gigs stand out for remote workers because they don’t require attendance, but not constant tending.

If you’re doing laundry through Hampr or Poplin, for instance, the bulk of the work involves popping a load of laundry into your washer; waiting until it’s clean and then popping it into a dryer. Theoretically, this could take two hours. But, it only requires about 15 minutes of your rapt attention.

Likewise, you could make low-maintenance meals for delivery through Shef. These can be the sort of mouthwatering, slow-cooked dinners, like brisket and barbecued ribs, that require hours in the oven but only minutes of prep time. It’s good to be around in case something goes wrong. But you don’t need to pay too much attention until the meal needs finishing touches.

Incorporate the Family, if You Can 

Starting a hustle doesn’t mean spending less time with your loved ones. You can actually bring them in and let them take some weight off your shoulders.

For instance, if you’re selling digital graphics and art on websites like Redbubble and Society6, you can have your kids, spouse or siblings research and help come up with ideas. They may even help you with the design process. 

Or, if you’re selling stuff on eBay or Etsy, you can ask your partner, friends, and literally anyone in your circle to advise you about the type of things you should sell and how you can market them.

Importantly, too, if you enlist your minor children in your side gig, you can pay them and deduct their pay from your taxable income. (Independent contractors have a ton of write-offs that are not available to employees.) Better yet, enlisting your family can get everyone invested in your business and more likely to pitch in to save you time at home.

Learn to Delegate

Remember that list of things that need doing, but don’t necessary need to be done by you? Pull that out and start thinking about how you can delegate these tasks. Are your kids old enough to help your side hustle by, perhaps, helping to create and post on your social media accounts?

Can you employ AI or other free electronic tools, such as Calendy, to automate your scheduling and regular tasks, like invoicing?

If your side hustle is profitable enough, you may also consider hiring other freelancers to help you with these easy-to-delegate tasks. Sites like Fiverr offer low-cost freelancers to do everything from website updates to research.

Make Time for Yourself

Finally, remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint. And when you’re ambitious enough to want to balance a side hustle with a full-time job, it’s not an easy path.

So, be kind to yourself. Feeling overwhelmed? When it comes to your side hustle, you are your own boss. Give yourself a day off when you need it.

And, don’t hesitate to regularly skim 10% to 20% of your side hustle income to treat yourself and your family to something for all the hard work. Rewarding yourself and giving yourself a little grace can make it easier to continue. So take a break. Pat yourself on the back. You deserve it.

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