With a recession here, creating extra streams of income may be more important than ever. If you’re working from home and trying to juggle the added responsibility of having kids and/or a partner home too, finding time may feel nearly impossible.
But being busy can be an advantage, says Chris Guillebeau, author of The Money Tree: A Story About Finding the Fortune in Your Own Backyard. “Having an excess of time is not a benefit,” he says. “In those situations, people tend to flail about.”
The first step to finding the time is to accept the new reality and change your mindset, says Ramit Sethi, author of I Will Teach You to Be Rich.
“In a crisis, our natural tendency is to freeze, but in most cases that won’t serve us now,” says Sethi. “The best thing to do is accept that things are going to get worse in the near term and no one is coming to rescue you. When you also accept that you can create your own future, you’ll be more likely to make time to do it.”
Whether you want to start a business or pick up temporary gig work, here are some ideas for carving out time.
It doesn’t need to take a lot of time to start a side hustle. Most creative projects, such as starting a website or creating and selling items on Etsy, can be done in 20 to 30 minutes a day, says Guillebeau.
“Narrow your focus,” he says. “To be successful, you need to start with one product, one service, and one platform. Start there.”
The important step is to make it a pattern you build from, says Sethi. “Doing one thing for as little as 15 minutes a day helps to build momentum. The key is to keep working on it every day.”
To gain traction in a small amount of time, you’ve got to do focused work, and you’ll need to create a plan for the time you have to spend. Guillebeau recommends making a list of essential things that must be done to launch or run your side hustle. For example, it may include “write a sales page for your micro-consulting business,” “list five items for sale on Poshmark,” or “take an online course to learn a new skill.”
“Know what you’re going to do during the time you have,” he says. “If you spend 20 to 30 minutes over time doing the right things you can make progress. And if you have more time, that’s great too.”
Make the most of that time by reducing your distractions. Close tabs on your computer and use an app to time tasks, suggests Guillebeau. “I use an app called Be Focused,” he says. “It uses a Pomodoro technique that sets intervals. Do one thing during that interval. If I’m prepping a podcast, for example, I do nothing but that.”
Reclaim pockets of time
If you have kids, it can be hard to focus on a side hustle if you have to care for them during the day. It helps to look for periods of time that you can reclaim for your side hustle.
“The most inspirational set of stories are from my students who have started businesses while they’re full-time parents and while they’re working full-time jobs,” says Sethi, whose course Earnable helps a would-be entrepreneur launch a side hustle or business. “They tell me that it is difficult at first, but they expect that. They carve out time by waking up early in the morning, or they dedicate highly focused time in the evening.”
Another way to create extra time is to batch tasks that take time throughout the week. For example, prep all of your meals on Sunday so cooking doesn’t take a chunk out of your day, suggests Sethi. Or outsource tasks, if possible, such as ordering groceries online and having them delivered.
Do what you love
The best way to find time is to choose a side hustle that is something you love to do, says Sethi.
“When you ask successful entrepreneurs how they find extra time they often look at you like you’re confused,” he says. “It’s like asking, ‘How do you find time to play with son or daughter? How do you find time to play with dog?’ You do because you love it. When you do what you love, you carve out the time. And then when you start winning, it’s even easier to find the time.”
Your passion could be getting control of your future. “Now more than ever people are asking what do they want to do with their lives,” says Guillebeau. “We’re in the midst of disruption. I would never say this crisis is good in any way, but disruption forces us to ask questions, and one of those is: Where does my security come from? A lot of us thought our security was from a corporation or our government, and more and more are realizing that’s not true. That’s disappointing, but disruption provides an opportunity to regroup and realize you have to do something for yourself.”
Sethi says this is an amazing time to start a side hustle. “What else are you going to do?” he asks. “Use this time to invest in yourself instead of bingeing on Netflix.”