The old adage is true – you can’t make time. An Oxford study carried out a few years ago showed that over 45 million people in the US have a side hustle, with the biggest percentage being persons between the ages of 19 and 30. So how do all these people manage to go to their regular jobs, hang out with friends, and still find time to make some extra bucks in their side hustles?
Back in college, I had to work harder than my peers to keep with the bills at home and pay for my own school fees,” says George, a 26-year old accountant in Johannesburg. “My parents are not that rich, and with six kids to take care of, it was hard to keep up with the bills. As the eldest of my siblings, I knew I had to do something.”
Whether you’re looking to turn your passion into a side career or just offering freelance services to grow some extra income, chances are you’ve already figured out what you can do for your side hustle. All that remains is how to do it.
Real talk: Procrastination is killing your productivity (a little more on this later). We all want to be successful, and hopefully, make a lot of money while doing it. We have broken down the 10 proven tips that will help you make the most out of your time, increase your productivity, and avoid common mistakes when working on your side hustle.
Use the Internet for its Resourcefulness, not for its Distractions
Did you know that the internet was invented to save time? Quite ironical, right? Today, social media is blowing up with users – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc – and the urge to keep checking your inbox is more compelling than ice tea. And YouTube? One minute you are watching a DIY tutorial on home décor, the next you are laughing at a video of a cat playing chopsticks.
There is only one solution to overcome internet addiction – practicing scheduled digital silence. For starters, you can reserve some time for social media indulgence; it could be 1 hour every day where you catch trending topics online, read messages, check your email, and, of course, double tap on those beautiful photos. Going low-tech for the better part of your days will boost your productivity and with time, your social media addiction (and disturbing YouTube obsession) will fade away to make room for creativity and imagination in your mind.
White Wash Procrastination
Defined as putting off, delaying o deferring an action to a later time, procrastination is the monster in your time closet. Psychology Today estimates that 20% of Americans are chronic procrastinators. You literally watch your days pass by as you continue making excuses and lying to yourself that ‘there is still time’. Yes, there’s still time, but it’s not waiting for you to figure yourself out.
In a TED Talk in 2016, Tim Urban explains how the brain of a procrastinator works. “There is a common type of procrastination that happens in situations that have no deadlines. So if you are a self-starter -something in the arts, something entrepreneurial – there’s no deadline in those things at first because nothing is happening, not until you go out and do the hard work to get some momentum to get things going.”
He goes on to explain, “It’s this type of procrastination that’s much less visible, and much less talked about, than the funnier, short-term, deadline-based kind. It’s usually suffered quietly, and privately, and it can be the source of a huge amount of long-term unhappiness and regrets.”
Psychologists have suggested several techniques to curb procrastination, but the most recommended is the Pomodoro System. Named after a tomato-shaped timer in an Italian Kitchen, the Pomodoro technique not only pushes you to start working on tasks that you would have otherwise postponed but also keeps you actively thinking of the next best idea while still working on your current project. Short breaks in between tasks give you the self-drive to continue working on your projects while still allowing your brain to rest. Fatigue solved.
Divide Big Projects into Smaller Tasks
Big projects that require a lot of time and effort can be overwhelming to most people. In fact, a Geo Poll survey in South Africa showed that people tend to take more time when working on big projects, not because of their size but because the idea of beginning working on the lengthy projects is strongly overwhelming, thus inducing procrastination.
Rather than a head-on approach to a big task, break it down into smaller doable tasks and put them under an ‘Ice Box’ (a To Do List). Then pick and work on each task at a time. This actively increases visibility of your work, helps you keep track of your progress and reduces time spent on repetition errors
Odds are, you are your own boss in your side hustle. This call for self-discipline. Unlike in your regular job, nobody is there to supervise your work, and nobody will fire you if you don’t work hard. Nonetheless, you will need to act like you are at work (even though you are not) if you want to make good money from your side hustle. Think of it as a strict version of “Fake it till you make it”.
Again, dress for work. No really, dress up! I know it sounds dumb to wear formal clothes while you work at home (I’d honestly just stay in my boxers), but a study carried out by Katherine Karl and Joy Peluchette showed that how you dress affects self-perception and the value you put into your job. In their survey report, they write:
“Respondents felt most authoritative, trustworthy, and competent when wearing formal business attire, but friendliest when wearing casual or business casual attire.”
Be Consistent and Keep the Momentum
Ever heard of Jerry Seinfeld’s success story? Not exactly an elite method, but what was most interesting about the way he worked was his consistency. Basically, every New Year, Seinfeld would buy a new tracing calendar, and every day he worked on a new project, he would mark the date with a red marker. The more red marks he had on his calendar, the more inspired he felt to keep working.
The lesson is simple – consistency is key, and the possibilities are endless. Breaking the chain on your working track allows laziness to creep into your schedule and take over. By the time you realize what’s happening, you are too sluggish to get back on track. So pick different tasks for your side hustle, actively work on them, and feed your mind with the satisfaction that comes with completed tasks, and extra money.