Do you work a full-time job for a paycheck while dreaming about your passion project? If you do, I know that sometimes it feels like you are in the rat race. Spinning the wheel all day long, but you look behind, you are not moving much. Having a family to support, mortgage, or student loan on your back gives you less flexibility and fewer options.
If you quit your job and do what your heart wants, to work on your passion project all day long, you will be without a penny in your pocket.
A side hustle is hard. Life will throw a ton of obstacles to the success path. To avoid or minimize barriers, you will need some hacks in your sleeves.
Get up early
Two years ago, I started to get up early to get more time to work on a side project. A lot of people would say that high achievers and successful people get up very early, and that is one of the secrets for success. I tried this on my skin, and I can say getting up early just works, end. It takes time to form a habit and to adjust your body and mind to the change. I would say that you need at least two months to form a habit.
First few weeks I was very tired in the evenings, after a few months it was much more comfortable and I was less and less tired. After a few weeks, energy replaces the sleepiness and feeling that you can do anything. That energy leads to productivity and getting the real job done.
How to form the habit and avoid getting up (again)?
Build a chain. When you start it will be hard, you will be sleepy, and your body and mind will try to sabotage you. Humans don’t like changes. What you have to do is to build a chain, day after day. If you fail to do it one day, don’t give up, it is essential to get back to the track as soon as possible.
Exercise. I am starting my day with training. In my case, that is half-hour body workout, but in your case, it can be running, rope jumping, or anything else. That wakes me up, pumps blood into my muscles, and gives me the energy to start a day.
Start with small – I didn’t start with 30 minutes workout. I started small, and I suggest you do the same. When you expect that some habits will be harder to catch on you, start with the little. Do that thing just one minute, but do it every single day. Once you form a habit increasing time for exercise will be the natural part. That is something I borrowed from the Japanese technique called “Kaizen.”
Shower. After a quick shower, I make myself a coffee. Then I grab a kindle and read a book. After exercising for the body, the next one is an exercise for the brain.
Consistency is the key.
After one month of getting up early, you can see the benefits. You will have more energy and be able to get more done. Inject this habit into your daily routine. Even if you fail to get up one day, do not worry, try tomorrow, and day after day, you will make it. Just keep pushing.
Get up early every single day, and after a substantial period, you will see the improvements in your thoughts, body, and soul.
Use Pomodoro technique
We all procrastinate, more or less. When procrastination starts to affects my productivity and my plans, I use the Pomodoro technique to get me on the right track. I use it for years, and it helps me to achieve more in less amount of time. I do not use it always, just in times of productivity privation.
In short, the idea is to work in 25-minute boxes we call “Pomodoro” with maximum productivity on the specific task. After that, you get 5 minutes of free time. In your free time, you should not think about your work. You should rest your brain and stretch your legs. After four productive time boxes, you get 15 minutes break. So when you work, you work hard, and when you rest, you are genuinely relaxed.
I tried many tools, but in the end, I found pomofocus.io, which I can use in the browser and track my tasks at the same time. Each Pomodoro can connect with a specific job, so you can track how much time you spent on every assignment.
Write bullet journal
It is one of the habits that had a massive impact on my productivity in general. I heard a lot of times that there is no better way to stick with your plan than to write it down on paper. I decided to give it a shot.
The bullet journal is a powerful productivity tool. It makes journaling searchable and all your goals measurable. With regular journaling, you wrote things down, and often you never get back to read.
The bullet journaling will organize your journal in a way you can review your plans and goals on a year, monthly, weekly, and daily. Every Sunday, you plan your next week’s goals and tasks and study what did you achieve last week and which jobs you have to move to the following week. At the end of every month, you plan your next month’s big goals and review achieved in the month behind you. Reviewing and analyzing your work is what will guide you to the right course. If you miss a target, slow down, or get off course, you will notice that in the review process and push back yourself on the track.
Besides the calendar view, you can create separate pages dedicated to one big goal you want to track over time. For example, you can track your training, junk food abstaining, or anything that matters for you.
Maybe I should say it on the start, but every bullet journal starts with an index page with locations to the essential pages in the journal. Also, on this page, bullet categories are defined. The bullet categorizes every entry in journal into tasks, events, or notes.
What I like about bullet journal is you can modify and adapt it for your needs. I suggest you read more about bullet journaling, and if you found it useful, there is a book to learn more about journaling.
In the turbulent world, with so many distractions and opportunities, discipline can be your most powerful tool. Without training and focus, you can make yourself so occupated and busy and so “important,” but just from the outside viewers. You will become an “I do not have time” person who is always late, and you will break the timelines over and over. A person with a lot of promises but few fulfilments. I am sure you do not want to be that kind of person.
People who are always busy and do not have time are not successful. They just suck at time management, and they suck a lot. To avoid that trap, you just have to learn one word. That magic word is “No.”
You have to say “NO” to the news and social media content overconsumption. Put yourself on a media diet. It applies to social networks too. Stop following persons who make you anxious. Stop consuming junk news that poisoning your brain. Once I removed all news applications from my phone, I felt much better. I replaced them with Medium and startup podcasts. I picked things that make me grow instead of things that make me miserable. Then I can focus more on the things that matter, something that I can affect to, and things that can change and improve my life.
Say “NO” to your less important Goals
Every year people make a new year resolutions list. Things we want to accomplish and achieve. But did you ever think that some goals in that list blocking you from achieving big and important goals?
Write a list of the ten most important goals you want to achieve. What are the most important goals you want to reach? Pick one to three goals that are the most important for you. Ideally, they won’t be in the same category. One will be a business goal, one will be your personal growth, and one will be family or spiritually related.
Now you have to say No to all other goals from your list. They seem essential, and it might be hard to say No to them, but that is what you have to do because they are pretty dressed obstacles. Once you say NO to all other goals from the list, you can focus on one big goal.
People love to think that they are great at multitasking, but the reality is quite the opposite. We are bad at multitasking, and that is why we have to keep our minds focused on one goal at a time.
Once you reach that one big goal, you can revise your list and start to work another one crucial goal.
To read more about this subject, I recommend you to read the “Focus” and “The One Thing.”
Hire Freelancers and Virtual Assistant
It is the advice you will get from a lot of books about entrepreneurship. I think I read this first time in a “4-hour workweek”, and later I stumble on the same advice in different books. It’s no coincidence that every entrepreneur wants to give you this same advice. Delegating jobs is a skill you will have to learn if you’re going to build a sustainable business from your side hustle. If you started a side hustle with an idea to change lives, you have an entrepreneurial spirit in yourself. Michael Gerber, in his book “The E-Myth Revisited,” said you have to be three people in one: The Entrepreneur, the Manager, and the Technician.
“Without The Manager, there could be no business, no society. Without The Entrepreneur, there would be no innovation.”
At the beginning of your path, you need somebody to do the repeatable job and to cover areas that can drain the energy you need for your big goals.
I hired a freelancer to be in charge of social network publishing. Before I hired one I created a strategy with a detailed description of the job position. After reading the job description person should know how to successfully make the job done. To make a good job description I recommend you start by doing that job by yourself, to find procedures that fit well with your project.
Where to find a Virtual Assistant?
You can hire a company or a sole freelancer. The company costs more, but they can provide you a more extensive range of skillsets. On the other hand, freelancers cost less, but one person has a limited number of skills. What will you choose depends on your needs. I pick the freelancer, and when I need different skills, I can hire another person specialized in a required area.
My personal experience with freelance job sites:
Find a quality freelancer is not an easy job. I have some recommendations for you to make that search easier for you and to find better team members.
- Create a detailed job offer. Write a job offer as you would describe it to a small kid.
- Describe what you offer, and describe everything that you need and expect.
- Aks them for portfolio; you want to see the previous work to see they can provide you the quality you expect.
- Put some hidden words into the description, and aks them to write that word before they apply for a job. You do not want to hire someone who does not read a job description. And believe me, 95% of people do not understand.
- Create a technical questionnaire for all applicants to check they are qualified for the job.
- Ask them about their biggest obstacles in similar jobs. Ask them to describe how they solved that situation. If they said they did not have any challenges, they just don’t have experience.
- The best way is to ask them both types of questions on the live video call.
In my experience, I found that freelance.com is a site with a lot of spammers and bots that post on every job offer. For that reason, I do not use it anymore.
On the other hand, on Upwork, I get a few applications per job offer. I think that reason fewer applications are Upwork rigid application process. It is harder to get into Upwork as a freelancer now comparing with a few years back.
For me, guru.com and post job offer on Facebook groups give me the best results so far.
The conclusion is that you need to test all platforms to found out which one works best for you. Invest time in the job description and creating questions for applicants, that is the only way to find a person that can fit in your team.
I know that work always gets fruits on the table. Sure there were days when I lost motivation, but I look at the schedule and just keep rolling the pedals. After the rain, the sun shows up under the clouds, and motivation comes back.
How one behaves when the obstacle shows up is the critical moment that defines him as a winner or loser. When the barrier looks too scary and too hard, that is the moment you need to be the strongest. Just push consistently, and when you beat that obstacle, your competition will be behind you. Most of them will give up.
At that moment you will realize that obstacles are your friends, they help you to beat the competition. The higher you climb, the less competition you will have.
I use these five productivity hacks, and they keep me on the right track. They help me to get more jobs done, and to keep up even on bad days. You can borrow some of them, and shape them to fit your needs.