How to plan your time when running a side hustle

Working on your side hustle while managing a full-time job and busy home life can feel overwhelming. 

Creating a weekly plan provides structure, but it’s difficult to know what to dedicate time to. This article provides practical strategies to help you plan your week around your side hustle.

The power of working in a different environment

Working in your own home can be counterproductive. After a day at your full-time job, it’s tempting to go back home and procrastinate. Consider working in a new environment to avoid a dip in productivity.

It was just important to get out of the house,” said Emma Durkin, who launched luxury travel company Where The Wild Is as a side hustle. 

When you’re in the house, you might put a load of washing on, make a cup of tea and watch Homes Under the Hammer. Before you know it, it’s the end of the day and you haven’t done anything!”

  • Cafés are perfect for an inexpensive, buzzing workspace. Although they can get noisy and tend to shut early, they’re a cheap option if you want to work out of the house
  • A co-working space is great for meeting other entrepreneurs. Hot desking is useful if you’re looking for a flexible, professional working environment
  • Libraries are free, quiet and normally have desks you can use

Know what you want from your business

What’s your “why”? What inspired you to start your side hustle?

It could be a problem you’ve experienced as a consumer or seen in your industry. Perhaps you wanted to improve people’s lives or reduce the amount of plastic in the world.

Having a clear view of what you’re trying to achieve will help you:

  1. Maintain enthusiasm
  2. Plan your time effectively
  3. Explain what you do

Write down your “why” and return to it regularly. When you’re working by yourself, it’s easy to get distracted by the latest trends or opportunities. Positioning your “why” at the heart of your business will keep you on track.

Set manageable short-term goals

There’s nothing wrong with being ambitious about what you want to achieve, but it’s important to choose one goal to concentrate on. A single goal will keep you focused and motivated.

Break down your long-term goal into smaller monthly goals. This will give your daily to-do list direction and ensure no time or effort is wasted.

For example, your long-term goal might be to sell your product to 1,000 customers. To start working towards that, your first monthly goal could be to make 50 sales. 

Tasks on your daily to-do list could include:

  • Plan a social media campaign to channel followers to your website
  • Look at ways you can capture visitor email addresses
  • Improve the product descriptions on your website
  • Make sure each website page is optimised for your chosen keywords

Divide your work into blocks

Make sure that your daily routine is realistic. Trying to spend every free second of your day on your business can become overwhelming and lead to burnout. Instead, dedicate a few hours each day to your startup.

Giving yourself a set time frame to complete your tasks ensures that you’re working smarter and avoiding procrastination. 

Dr Will Breakey, co-founder of natural condiments company Dr Will’s, uses his daily commute to work on his to-do list.

“I’m working as a plastic surgical trainee in the North East, so most of my time is tied up at the hospital. My Dr Will’s work is generally done as phone calls on my commute. It means I can get at least an hour a day if need be,” he explained.

Consider doing the most difficult task on your to-do list first. You’re going to be the most motivated and getting it out of the way will ease stress later on.

Connor Miller built Ski Deal Comparison in the evenings and admits it can be hard to ignore exciting tasks and opportunities.

“Identify what distracts you. In a startup, there’s lots of stuff popping up that’s really exciting, like social media. It’s great for promotion but you could be working on a deliverable. It’s balancing nice distractions vs deliverables,” he said.

We found working in blocks really worked well. Have small goals to hit. Turn your devices off and get a large chunk done.”

Have a supportive network

Starting a side hustle will eat up a lot of your free time. It’s essential to have a network of friends and family to help you feel supported.

A network will provide the comfort and confidence you need to continue, even if you’ve had a tough day. You need to know that you have someone to vent to or run creative ideas past. 

For My Icon Story founder Laura Lane, the network has been invaluable. 

“Having the right support network matters. I’ve found an amazing group now, and friends and family support is great.”


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