Practice energy management
To be productive, match your tasks with your energy, says Jessica Lawlor, the CEO of Gutsy Community, a communications firm, and former side hustler. Lawlor knew she did her best creative work early, so she prioritized her day based on when her body and mind worked best. She woke up 5 a.m. to finish blogging and writing for her side hustle before leaving for her full-time job. Once there, she still aimed to complete any creativity-intensive work in the morning hours, knowing that her energy would wane in the afternoon. Rote tasks that required less brainpower were saved for the afternoon, such as email and expense reports.
Seek out new tools for focus
Find out how you spend your time, says Nick Loper, the founder of Side Hustle Nation,a coaching service for entrepreneurs. He suggests downloading apps such as Toggl or Everhour, or even just creating a simple Excel spreadsheet. Tracking your time can help gamify tasks and keep you alert. "Knowing you're 'on the clock,'" says Loper, "tends to speed up your efforts and keep you focused." Loper's other tip for focus? Brainwave music. Startups such as Focus@will or Brain.fm. design original compositions with brain function in mind. While Loper doesn't use these everyday, he says when he does he definitely feels more focused and productive.
Make time for growth
Of course, if you're consumed with running your business, you're not growing it, something Chris Guillebeau, the founder of The Art of Non-Conformity, a platform for unconventional people doing remarkable things, realized first-hand while living on a hospital ship in West Africa and working as a hospital aide. Since Guillebeau squeezed his side-hustle into mornings and evenings, he set aside 25 minutes every morning to complete one task that would grow his business. This ensured that emails and other tedious chores wouldn't overwhelm his limited schedule.
Rethink the week
For some side hustlers, productivity means getting real about what you can work on when. Luisa Zhou tried to set aside an hour a day after work but found herself too exhausted to do more than watch TV or scroll through her Facebook newsfeed. After some trial and error, Zhou realized she'd need to break up her to-dos. She saved mentally intensive activities for the weekend, where she had the energy and focus for planning and creating content for the week ahead. The weekdays were reserved for manual tasks she could complete while in "autopilot" mode, such as sharing content and responding to questions.
Schedule 'side hustle only' time
Spending every spare minute on a side hustle is tempting for a side hustler. And if you're building an app to help with focus - like ShaoKan Pi did - it might even be irresistible. But while Pi and team spent every evening, lunch, and 10-minute break on Forest, an app that helps cure cell phone addiction, they found their energy fading. So, instead of using spare time - something Pi realized was unstable and irregular - the team slated regular, fixed times they could depend on. These time blocks were carefully scheduled, reserved only for the side hustle, and considered sacred.
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