Whether you’re a stay at home mom, a working mom, a retiree, a college student, or somewhere in between, time is something we all seem to have too little of.  We’re all living minute to minute, just dealing with what’s in front of us.  So how do you make time for your side hustle when you’re already stretched thin?

In a word, priorities.  You’ve probably seen or heard the parable of the pickle jar before – it’s made the rounds of e-mail and social media many times.  If you haven’t, check out the video below from cag caboolture.

Our time is precious.  How we spend it matters.  So if having a side hustle is one of your priorities, let’s talk about how you can make time for it.  I’ll be the first to admit that I’m still new to the idea of a side hustle.  That said, I’ve learned a lot in the few months since I’ve decided to try to generate income outside of my 9-5.

Make a decision.  Is your hustle a hobby or a business?  Are you just having fun or are you pursuing a dream?  If it’s just a hobby, something you’re doing for fun, that’s great!  You probably don’t need to keep reading.  But if you want it to be a business, and you’d like your business to make money, you need to begin this process with the attitude of a business owner.  That attitude shift will have a big impact on how you manage your time.

Be realistic.  I work full time, help my husband with his business, and I’m the kind of mom who likes to spend time with her kid, so the times of day I can write are limited to the very early morning or after Miss O goes to bed.  Because of these constraints, I may not be able to do as much as others.  Look realistically at how much time you have and start small.  If you can only publish 1 blog post a week, or host 2 parties per month, that’s fine.  Doing something well is always better than doing something more.  And by being realistic, you’re much more likely to stick to the schedule you make.

Have a plan.  If you don’t have a way to organize and plan your time, you will waste a lot of it.  You can find planners on AmazonEtsy, or make your own.  Bullet journals are great for this because you can customize them.  I’m also a BIG fan of Trello.  The important thing is to have a plan and follow it.  This will keep you focused, show you your progress, and help you see the big picture of your business.  Tip: You don’t need to plan out every second.  Something as simple as a weekly list and daily dedicated time to work on it is okay.  Don’t waste all your time planning or you’ll never get to the doing.

One thing at a time. Personally, I like to focus on one thing at a time, then move on to the next.  Others like to batch their tasks.  Neither is wrong, as long as you’re giving the task you’re working on your full attention.  Turn off the tv, switch off your phone, and go to a place where you won’t be distracted.  There are lots of cheap or free tools you can use to boost your productivity.  Have you ever read an e-mail from someone who was clearly distracted when they wrote it?  That’s not how you want your business to be presented.  If your side hustle is a priority you will probably have to make sacrifices to make it work.  And that may mean you aren’t always up on the latest episode of the latest show.

Stay ahead of your tasks.  I try to have posts scheduled 2 weeks out.  This way if something comes up – like last week when I had to spend a whole night cleaning up doggy mess – you can handle it without interrupting your blog schedule.  When I’m running a Pampered Chef party I use a social media scheduler to make sure all my posts go out on time.  Staying ahead also means that you can make adjustments on the fly.  I had a follow up to a post written and scheduled to post 2 weeks after the first.  When the original post became popular I simply adjusted my schedule to publish the follow up sooner.  Having tasks ahead of time also means that you can take the time to look at the big picture instead of just rushing from one thing to the next, always in crisis mode..

Accomplish something for your business every day.  Even on my doggie disaster day I checked something off my to-do list.  It wasn’t everything I wanted to do, but it was something.  It’s too easy for a day off to become 2 days, then a week, and before you know it you’re behind and have to rush just to get back on track.  Running a business is a habit, like exercise.  Until it’s part of who you are, you have to work to stick with it.  No excuses.

You don't have to go back in time to be

Having a side hustle is fun – at least it should be – but it’s also work.  If you just wait for a free moment to magically open up in your schedule you’re never going to get to it.  You’re not going to find time.  You have to make time.  You have to decide that your business is worth giving up something else for.  Set realistic goals and make a plan.  Check off 1 item at a time, but do something every day.  No matter what.