As side hustles become more popular, one of the biggest challenges for people is how to squeeze them into their schedules. Nearly 3 in 10, or over 29%, of new hustlers say the biggest hurdle to starting out is finding the time, according to an October 2021 DollarSprout survey of 500 U.S. adults. And 34% of respondents say flexibility is the most important element of choosing one.
If you're considering starting a side hustle but aren't sure how to make room for it in your schedule, there are multiple tactics you can take. "Everybody has five minutes every day" to dedicate to their side gig, says Jen Glantz, founder of Bridesmaid for Hire and the Odd Jobs Newsletter, who brings in six figures from her multiple income streams.
Here's how Glantz and other experts suggest making time for your hustle.
Even before diving into your hustle, "track your time for an entire week" to see how you're spending it, says Glantz.
Be as precise as you can. Say you wake up every day and scroll through Instagram or Twitter for 20 minutes while you're still in bed ― include that in your log so you know where every minute of your day is going. This will help you see when you have windows in the day to squeeze in your hustle, and it'll help you see if there are any activities you want to cut down or eliminate.
"It's taking inventory on your personal life and seeing what you can cut back on and how you can find space," she says.
"It's very intimidating to say, 'I'm going to start a side hustle and I'm going to make time for it,' but not have any idea what you have to do," says Glantz. Many hustles could include background work such as learning new tech, planning for how you'll get paid, and buying new equipment.
Simply diving in without knowing what you need to do could make it hard to find time for your hustle. "So it's very important to break down your first 100 steps" before you even begin, says Glantz.
Each step could be minor. "One of those things might be open the computer and download a business plan," says Glantz as an example. "Part two might be read the business plan." The point is to know what you have to do so you can find time to accomplish those tasks.
Video by Stephen Parkhurst
Once you know both what your open windows are and what tasks you want to do in those minutes, start scheduling side hustle time for yourself. "Plan out your day the night before" or plan out your week a week in advance, says Latasha Peterson, founder of the Arts and Budgets blog. If you know your open windows are your commute to and from work, "you might set it up where you will say, 'OK, I'll work on my side hustle during my commute on the train back home for an hour,'" says Peterson.
You could "create meeting invites for yourself in Gmail," says side hustle expert Daniella Flores, so the blocks of time you want to dedicate to your hustle are in your phone with reminders.
When Peterson was starting her blog, "I set up a schedule with my husband," she says. He would "stay with the kids for like two hours while I worked on the hustle."
Peterson offers one more piece of big picture advice: "Write out your goals for your side hustle. Like, what do you want to accomplish?" she says. "Because when you write it down, it becomes real."
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