You likely think about how you should be working on your side hustle at all hours of the day and night. But if you’re like most people I’ve encountered as a time management coach, that thinking doesn’t necessarily translate into action. It’s easy to go days or even weeks without significant progress. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
By restructuring your days, you can put in more time on a more consistent basis. As an added bonus, these techniques can help you feel like you’re working far less because you aren’t always guiltily thinking, “I should be working on my side hustle now.”
Here are three possible strategies for redesigning your schedule to have more time for your work outside of your day job.
Reserve prime-time work blocks
“Prime time” may always mean one thing when you’re talking about TV, but when it comes to individuals, everyone is different. According to Daniel H. Pink’s book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, we fall into one of three categories: a morning “lark,” a night “owl,” or an in-between “third bird.” Depending on where you fall, it will make sense to position time for your side hustle differently.
For example, if you’re a lark, you can set aside the first hour or two of your day to work on your own projects. This means that you’ll either have to get up earlier or shift your start time at your day job a bit later.
If you’re a third bird, you can use a similar strategy of getting personal tasks knocked out before diving into your other work. Or you could also be productive by finishing your day job a bit early, say at 4:30 p.m. or 5 p.m., and then working on your side hustle for an hour or two before wrapping up for the day.
As a night owl, you’ll accomplish the most by doing the opposite of a lark. Work in the evening, then give yourself permission to sleep in and go to your main job later. For example, you may find that you can get a tremendous amount done from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Or later.
However, make sure that you give yourself some sort of bedtime so that you don’t end up working so late that you’re absolutely exhausted the next day. And whenever you decide to work, give yourself at least a few nights off a week. It’s better to consistently work three nights a week than it is to tell yourself that you need to work every night and then burn out and not make any progress.
Work a shortened week
Another potential strategy is to modify your overall work schedule. For example, if your day job allows, you could work four 10-hour days or four 9-hour days, with a fifth day as a half day.
If you choose to use this strategy, you’ll find the most success if you treat your extra half-day or day as if it was a normal workday. The only difference is that you’re focusing on your side hustle. For example, get up at the typical time you would on any other workday and don’t do errands or chores during that time. Really devote the totality of the extra time you’ve gained through your modified schedule toward whatever you want to move forward on with your personal project.
Structure your weekends
Finally, you can set aside time on the weekends. If you decide to use this strategy, I highly recommend that you choose very specific times for when you’re “on the clock” and when you’re “off the clock.”
This protects you from telling yourself all weekend that you “should” work on your side hustle but not actually starting. It also gives you freedom to relax and enjoy other parts of your life guilt-free.
For example, you may decide that you want to spend from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday mornings on your side hustle. During those times, you won’t book anything else and may even want to go to a coffee shop or library to put you in a focused mode. After the time is up, you’re completely free to do whatever else you would like to do such as going on a run, taking your kids to the park, or sorting our your closet. (Hey, definitions of fun vary, right?)
The exact strategy you use to redesign your schedule is up to you. But by reserving prime time, shortening your week, or structuring your weekends, you can give yourself more time to really make progress.