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Do you have a “side hustle”? Or do you want to start one?

If you do, you probably know what it is like to try to maintain your full-time job while growing a business on the side. Add in trying to have some semblance of a personal life, and it is not easy.

It can be tough to balance it all without feeling overwhelmed, and if you don’t already have a side hustle, it may feel almost impossible to start one because your full-time job is taking up all your time. At the best of times, you may not feel like you are not able to get everything done in the time that you have.

In this article, we’ve got you covered. Many members of the AE team have had or currently have side hustles, and we’re going to share tips to maximize your time and give you four ways to start and grow your side hustle.

What do you mean by “side hustle”?

The definition of side hustle varies, but for this article, we mean when you have income or another project aside from your regular job.

Here are some examples of side hustles we’ve seen:

  • Online selling such as an Etsy Shop, an e-commerce Store, or an Amazon Seller
  • Services such as freelance writing, graphic design, photography, online tutoring, being a brand or product ambassador, or affiliate marketing
  • Transportation services like Uber, Lyft, or food delivery
  • Airbnb hosting or owning or managing rental properties
  • Creative things like mattress reviews, selling an astrology calendar, renting baby gear to tourists, being a bridesmaid-for-hire, or worm composting

There is an almost unlimited number of ways you can earn extra income as a side hustle. People’s creativity is amazing.

My Side Hustle Story

I have had several side hustles over the years. One of them even (in a roundabout-years-long way) led to me being here at Asian Efficiency.

Years ago, I worked in middle management at a large financial software company here in Vancouver.

It was a fairly high-stress job, and to add to that, I had a toddler and a baby at home, and we had just moved into a new home.

My job was interesting, and I loved my team, but as my young family was moving, I realized I had a ton of paper that I didn’t need. That led me down the rabbit-hole of going paperless.

It didn’t help that my desk looked like this at the time:

My old desk

(Somehow, I lost the legs to my desk during the move. To this day, I have no idea how that happened!)

While researching how to go paperless, I realized that there were many others out there looking to do the same thing, and a side hustle was born.

I left home early every day, holed up at a Starbucks or nice hotel lobby downtown, and worked until just before my “real” job started.

For example, here’s a sketch I made of the first site idea:


I used a task manager to make sure I was on-track and moving forward. Here are some of the tasks:

Remember The Milk

Flash-forward many years and this business connected me with Asian Efficiency, and here I am. Throughout the rest of this article, I’ll share some tips and lessons that the team and I have learned through our side hustle processes.

So whether you are someone who wants to start a side hustle, someone who has a side hustle and is struggling, or someone who is doing well with their business but wants to go from strength-to-strength, these tips are for you.

4 Tips to maximize your time, energy, and attention when you have a full-time job and a side hustle

1. Learn to schedule and manage your time

Scheduling and time management is difficult enough when you are trying to balance your job and personal life.

Add in a side-business, and things can fall off the rails very quickly.

There are three things you need to do to give your side hustle a fighting chance:

  1. Set aside time that’s strictly dedicated to your side hustle
  2. Use your calendar strategically and proactively
  3. Repurpose dead or unproductive time

Look at your calendar for the next few weeks:

  • What times are taken up by your job? (That one should be easy)
  • What times are taken up by family commitments? (Make sure you put family time on the calendar, even if you don’t have any “official” scheduled activities)
  • Where are the gaps that you can work on your side hustle?

Look at what you do when you’re not at work. What can you eliminate? TV, activities, mindless web surfing, social media, etc.

Try to find areas where you can clear space, eliminate distractions, and repurpose dead or unproductive time. You may be surprised by how many there are.

We have an article about using your calendar for different areas of your life, and we have a podcast called 3 Simple Steps to Help You Master Your Calendar. We can’t overstate the importance of mastering your calendar.

For me, I knew it would not be responsible or possible to work on my side hustle during work hours, so that took out 8 am – 5 pm. As I said, I had a young family that I wanted to spend time with, so that eliminated the times after work and dinner.

Here’s what worked for me: I left the house at around 6 am to go downtown and work on my side hustle. At lunchtime, I would sometimes hole up in an unused office and do side hustle work while I ate. Even 30 extra minutes a day made a big difference.

2. Create a routine that works for you

This tip might sound like it is similar to Tip #1, but there are subtle differences.

If you want to ensure that your productivity levels are at their peak, then you need to implement a few key routines (or as we like to call them, rituals) into your day.

Once you know when you can work on your side hustle, you will want to set up the systems and routines that will make that happen.

By doing this, working on your side hustle becomes an automatic part of your day and week. Don’t leave it up to chance to work on your business — make it routine!

How do you do this?

First, create a morning ritual and evening ritual that will set your day up for success and make sure you are crystal clear about what you are supposed to be doing that day.

We have a course in The Dojo (our premium productivity community) called How To Set Your Day Up for Success With The Right Habits and Rituals that will take you through this step-by-step.

For my morning routine, it was the same most days:

Downtown Vancouver

  1. Get up early, take the Skytrain to downtown Vancouver
  2. Go for an extra-long walk in the morning around Canada Place to get some exercise and wake up
  3. Go to a downtown Starbucks or hotel lobby by 6:30 am and work on building and running my side hustle. I had a specific playlist I always played at that time too.
  4. At 7:50 am, close the laptop and walk to my office to start my full-time job. At that point, I was mentally switched-over to that job.

A critical part of my evening routine would be to review my task manager for the next day and figure out what I would be working on during my morning side-hustle-a-thon.

When you have a side hustle, you have to make sure that you are maximizing every minute during your “side hustle time”. Since you are squeezing it into the rest of your life, you can’t be sitting around during that time figuring out what you are going to do. You need to hit the ground running.

3. Automate or delegate what you can

As we said in Tip #1, one of the keys to managing your side hustle is to free up as much time as you can and to look for things you can eliminate.

One way to accomplish this is to automate or delegate as much as you possibly can.

The more time you free up by having a tool or person do things, the more you have opened up to work on your business.

There are two broad ways you can do this:

Automate repetitive tasks. Here are 5 Examples of Tasks You Can Automate Today.

Delegate tasks to others. This can be home tasks and work tasks. It can be hard, but we have a podcast where we cover 3 Simple Steps To Delegating Work The Right Way So You Don’t Have to Worry About It. We also have a presentation with our friend Tim Francis called How To Get A Great Assistant. An executive assistant can be a game-changer for freeing up your time.

4. Overcommunicate (and when in doubt, communicate some more)

It is important that your family or circle of friends are informed about your side hustle goals.

When you are at your busiest, it can be tempting to skip the discussions and check-ins that help your partners, family, and friends know that they remain a priority to you.

If you follow the rest of the tips in this article, you are going to have some early mornings, late nights, or weekends where you aren’t as available as you used to be.

You might not be able to join your buddies at the pub to watch Premier League for a while. You may have to miss the next few Sunday night book clubs.

Maybe you have been watching the latest HBO show with your husband, and now all of a sudden, you need to research the most cost-efficient way to ship to Nebraska.

Make sure the people in your life know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Remember that something that is “obviously” important to you will not be so apparent to anyone else. They can’t read your mind, so you need to communicate!

(Side-tip 4a: Chances are, the people in your life won’t “get” what you’re doing. That’s normal. Try to find a community of people who are doing similar things to you. Finding “your people” can be very helpful during the inevitable ups and downs of having a side hustle.)

If appropriate, you may want to communicate with your co-workers and employer as well.

Be careful if your side hustle is related to your job. Make sure to communicate what you are doing and avoid using employer resources such as equipment and time.

With my side hustle, I didn’t do as good of a job as I could have at communicating. While my wife was on-board with me leaving early to work on my side-hustle, I didn’t make it clear how long that process would be. Remember: overcommunicate!

5. Focus On Motivation, Not Willpower

With your full-time job, chances are you have a boss setting your goals, metrics to hit, and you generally know what you “should” be doing every day.

With your side hustle, there’s no one telling you what to do. This is great! This is exactly what you wanted — freedom!

Here’s the problem: when there is no one to tell you what to do, all the motivation has to come from you. If you decide to use your “side hustle time” to play Craps on your iPad, no one is going to stop you or disapprove.

The people who have successful side hustles do not have more willpower than the rest of us — they just have figured out how to master motivation, and then they create the systems and habits to support that motivation.

We talk about this in our podcast 2 Ways to Instantly Create the Motivation You Need to Accomplish Any Goal in depth.

Action Steps

Ready to get your side hustle on track, or want to set yourself up for success? Here’s what to do:

  1. Plan out your next action items, and then look at your calendar. Pick a schedule that works best for you that can allow you to work on your side hustle.
  2. Look at what you can eliminate or automate from your work and home life to free up valuable side hustle time.

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Brooks Duncan

I love taking technical topics and translating them so that they make sense to non-nerds. I'm a Chartered Professional Accountant and have been a software developer and have run software support in very small startups and extremely large public corporations. I strive to be relentlessly helpful in everything that I do. I live in Vancouver, Canada and insert extra u's in many of my words.

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