Productivity for side hustles: How to get stuff done when there aren’t enough hours in the day

Running a side hustle can be exciting and liberating, but it’s not without its challenges – one of the biggest being how to use your time as effectively as possible. 

Most people run a side hustle alone or with a single co-founder, which means your attention is often split between lots of different jobs. It can be hard to know how to prioritise tasks, while still making sure you have a good balance between work and your personal life (yes, you do still get to have one!).

We’ve pulled together some tips to help you get organised and stay on track. Bookmark this one for the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, and share your own productivity tips with us on Twitter or LinkedIn.

The six Ps of productivity for side hustle owners

Purpose is everything

First things first. Even if you feel like you live and breathe your side hustle, it’s still important to remind yourself of your mission and business objectives. It’s easy to get so caught up in daily tasks that you forget to take a step back to think about how your work links to the bigger picture.

Make sure you have your mission and goals written down somewhere. Before you embark on a new project for your side hustle, think about how it relates back to those goals. This should help to keep you focused and ensure you don’t get distracted by shiny new ideas – though it’s always good to stick them on a list for later.

It’s wise to put a regular note in your calendar where you spend an hour working “on” your side hustle (planning, goal setting and strategic thinking) rather than “in” it (completing day-to-day tasks). 

You can use this hour to check you’re allocating time and resources to what matters, and review how you’re doing in relation to each business goal. Ruthless reviewing and refining should be a cornerstone of your planning.

Creating a business plan can help to clearly set out your mission for your side hustle. Download our free guide on creating a business plan for side hustles.

Prioritise your tasks

Once you’ve reviewed your main objectives, you can work out the importance of the tasks you need to complete to achieve them.

What needs to be done urgently? Remember to think about the knock-on effect on other areas of your business – if an incomplete task is becoming a bottleneck, move it towards the top of your priority list. For example, if you sell products online but haven’t researched courier or postage solutions, it’s important to do that first before you spend time on sales and marketing.

Be realistic about what is achievable in the time you have each day too. It’s common to run a side hustle around childcare or a full-time job, where things can crop up unexpectedly. Choose two to three tasks that are critical, then move other tasks to a longer term list or planner. Which brings us to…

Plan work in batches

When you’ve got a lot on your plate, the worst thing you can do is try to jump between lots of different tasks at once. 

A more efficient use of your time is to look at which tasks you can do in a batch, so you can get into the right headspace to complete them to a high standard. For example, if you need to write content for your blog and social media accounts, try to block out time to work through them in the same sitting.

If you’ve got the flexibility to do so, aim to schedule certain tasks around your energy levels as well. Put intensive tasks at a time of day when you know you’re most effective, and save admin for the end of the day when you’re tired.

If you’re a procrastinator or have trouble focusing, use the Pomodoro Technique for helping you take breaks between tasks.

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People in the right places

No side hustle owner can do everything. Relinquishing control of your side hustle can be difficult at first, but it’s better to have support in place than spread yourself too thin.

Finding the best person for a particular job will free up more time for you to focus on the business and grow it into a full-time enterprise, if that’s your ambition. 

It could be bringing in a part-time team member to manage sales and partnerships, or calling in a contractor for a few hours a month to help with marketing. Delegation will make your life so much easier in the long run. 

If your budget won’t yet stretch to another team member, you could try a virtual assistant, or use an AI solution such as Grammarly or ChatGPT to kick off the structure of a proposal or email, which you can then refine. 

Processes and tools

Once your side hustle becomes more advanced, you need to put processes in place to ensure things run smoothly. 

If you’re working with other team members, decide on one key place to communicate. It should be something accessible like Slack or a team WhatsApp – you don’t want messages to be missed.

When assigning tasks and updating progress, tools such as Asana, Trello and Todoist are easy to use and flexible. As well as assigning people to tasks, make sure deadlines are included.

It’s also vital to set yourself up with accounting software like Sage Accounting, if you haven’t already done so. Managing finances manually is a huge time drain when running a side hustle, and there’s a real risk of mistakes if you’re working on your side hustle late at night when you’re tired.

With accounting software, you should be able to import transactions, view your accounts in real time, and easily send and manage invoices so you get paid faster.

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Promote a work-life balance

This can be an especially hard one when you’re up against it, balancing your side hustle with other commitments. 

It’s tempting to fill up evenings and weekends with work, but this approach isn’t sustainable in the long term. You need rest and time away from the business if you want to bring your A-game to your side hustle and give it the best shot at success. 

Decide on some set working hours and try to stick to them. If it isn’t possible to work at the same time each day, set a number of hours you’ll work and set an alarm when that time is up. If you’re deep into something and want to continue, that’s fine – but give yourself a break the following day.

Set boundaries where possible too. Do you really need those alerts on your phone for every sale? Review your notification settings, even if it just means switching off the sounds or push notifications for some apps. 

More resources to help you grow your side hustle

Part of the excitement of a side hustle is in the rapid growth of an idea, but it’s important to put the right processes in place and find sustainable ways to work.

Sage’s side hustle toolkit covers everything you need to start and grow your side hustle, including:

  • Tips on how to find customers, manage finances and juggle responsibilities
  • Invaluable advice from successful side hustlers
  • Useful templates to help you create a business plan and a cash flow forecast.

Download your free toolkit here.

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Author
Holly Sawyer
Holly is the Marketing Manager at Inkwell, the company behind The Pitch.

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