There is no doubt in my mind that having a side hustle on top of a full-time job makes your life a bit crazy. I can certainly attest to this.
During the day, I am the CTO at Asset Strategies Group Retail Real Estate Consulting company. In the evenings, I’m a co-founder for Wild Tiger Tees, a social enterprise work program for youth experiencing homelessness. In this world of People Helping People inspiring those who are creating a social impact.
In addition, I also coach for Dr. Rao’s creativity and personal mastery program over at The Rao Institute. Throughout the year, I also love to facilitate at least a session with SEA Change, a social entrepreneurship accelerator and help organize events for GiveBackHack, one of my favorite events to bring new people in and show them how they can become social entrepreneurs and launch new ideas.
That is a lot of stuff. And honestly, it is a juggling act that is very difficult to balance. But I have a dream for a huge change in my career from focusing solely on technology development to being in an impact role where I am creating a greater social change through the work that I do.
But in order to succeed in everything that I’m trying to do in my side hustle, I need to be very efficient with my time to make sure that I’m not overwhelmed and freaking out.
Yes. I still get overwhelmed and I freak out. And perhaps this is something I will never master completely, but I have made a significant amount of progress and learned a lot.
So here are some of the ways that I’ve developed some magical efficiency in getting things done.
Know the Hump
With any project, I found that there is a hump where things get really difficult and it’s easy to get discouraged and walk away. It’s a time when ideas and creativity feel blocked when it feels like you’re not making any progress and the quality of the work that you’re doing just isn’t good enough for you even to continue. It can feel very depressing and can be very hard to continue working when you’re in this hump.
If you find yourself in this place, the most important thing is to see it for what it is; a temporary space, where the skills you have do not meet the challenge that you are facing in order to go forward.
So take a breather and engage in activities that will strengthen your skills.
And you’ll find that pretty soon your skills are at the level that you need in order to continue with the challenge that you are facing.
Built-in regular checkpoints, where you can stop and ask yourself, “what’s working, what’s not working, and what do you need to stop doing?”
If something’s not working, how can you close it down? Get rid of it or eliminate the need for it.
If there’s something that you’re doing that isn’t contributing towards taking your mission forward, be ruthless and cut it out.
For me, I have different levels of checkpoints built into my practice.
At one level, Every single morning, I sit down and journal. This started off as the exercise from Julia Cameron’s artist’s way called the Morning Pages, where you free-write three pages in the morning without stopping whatever is on your mind. And over time, this has become a daily check-in for me to just capture where I am at each day, as well as review where I need to be putting my attention that day.
Then on a larger scale, every 100 days, I sit back and review my morning pages to look at what patterns and blocks I’ve been facing as well as to revisit what my goals are and what I want to achieve. Then, during the next a hundred days, but every 25 days or so about once a month, I will sit and kind of review my progress for that 100 days, just to see if I’m on track with the goals and objectives that I’m trying to achieve.
When I work with coaching clients, the very first thing that I will do is lay out a three-month plan of “here’s where I want to be in three months” and then break that down by month “here’s where I need to be every four weeks” in order to get there.
Personally, I have found that a period of about three months or a hundred days is really effective because we can estimate what we can realistically accomplish in a hundred days much better than we can foresee the next five years.
Also with periods like three months, it’s very easy to break it down into one-month chunks to see what you need to accomplish each month in order to stay on track.
And then you can further break down that month in two weeks to see week by week, what you need to do to stay focused for that monitor. The point of this is with your side hustle, make sure that you have regular checkpoints in where you are reflecting on what you’ve accomplished and what your vision is going forward.
What does operationalize mean? It means not doing something manually, identify what you do regularly, what requires thinking, and what doesn’t. If you do something regularly that doesn’t really require thinking, can you develop a procedure around it that you can describe clearly and repeatably? If you can do that, then you can take these tasks and outsource them or automate them.
With outsourcing, there are a number of places where you can find virtual assistance or additional help to assist you in the tasks that you need to do. With technology, there are tools that will often automate things that you’ve done manually for a long time. Over the years with the podcast, since I have very limited time, I have found ways to get help on the social media that we do on finishing blog articles, assistance, finding really great guests for the podcast, and making our content really shine.
I found this allows me to focus on where I add the most value, which is typically the stuff that I enjoy doing the most. And I am super grateful for everyone that I work with because overall together we are providing information to help uplift others. But I have noticed when I am less clear on my vision and what I am trying to achieve, then it’s very difficult to work with other people.
If it’s not clear what the outcome is that I’m looking for, how can I describe it to somebody? Or support them in the work that they’re doing. If I don’t have a very clear idea of how to do it successfully.
When you can identify things that you do regularly and you understand them inside and out, these are great places to start with finding other ways to get those tasks done. Sometimes other people can do them much more efficiently than you and save everybody time, money, and effort.
The other way that you can operationalize is through automation, and by this, I mean, finding the right technology or tool to get the task done.
Take podcasting, for example.
I use a platform called Zencastr to record my podcasts that give me two wave files in Dropbox, which come right to my computer. From there, I can clean up the audio in isotope RX eight, which yes, that’s a bit of an overkill, but it works.
And then I can throw it into Descript, which is a tool for creating automatic transcriptions, where I can edit the transcription and it edits the audio for me. Descript has some great tools for cleaning up the conversation and makes my podcasting journey significantly more efficient.
Now here’s one other way that I’ve operationalized the podcast:
During the pandemic, I had no way to go out and take photos of people. And I found I needed to make space for myself every night to relax. And the way I personally do that is by sketching. So I started making time each day to make digital watercolor sketches on my iPad.
And around the end of the year, I realized I could use these for art on the podcast. Now, part of my relaxation in the evening is drawing art that I’m going to be using for the blogs and the podcast episodes that go up on People Helping People. It’s really fun. I’ve always felt like I’m not a good artist and having a way to use my art through this project that I’m very passionate about is fun and fulfilling in its own way.
But at the end of the day, it’s a really cool way to fix an issue I had about not being able to get enough photos and pictures from the outside world.
Documentation and Tracking
In the previous blog, I spoke about keeping a log and even finding an accountability partner, because being able to track your progress of what you’re doing is going to give you information that keeps you on track.
But let’s dig a little deeper into this.
When you document how you do things, you keep a record of it that can evolve over time.
Also, the act of writing down how you do something helps you think about it in a different way. And you’ll notice when you were learning and adapting and growing as part of your natural process.
Tracking what you do is going to give you a visual way to look back at the progress that you’re making as well as see where you’re stuck and where you need improvement. You can’t fix something that you don’t see. And so being able to shed light on the different parts of your business that you’re building will give you more information about what you need to change in order to be successful going forward.
The other great benefit of documentation and tracking is that when you are ready to outsource something, you’ll have a very good idea of how long it takes you to do something and get something done. They’ll make it much easier for you to communicate expectations to somebody else as well as to help them mentor and grow if they need help or if you have a more efficient way of doing something that you can communicate.
So we covered a lot in this blog. We looked at when you’re starting a side hustle and you face hump a difficult period in the path, how to get through that; we looked at setting up regular checkpoints so that you are reviewing where you’ve been and where you want to go; we looked at how you can operationalize and identify the things that you do regularly and look for ways that you can outsource or automate those to save yourself time.
And then finally we talked about documentation and tracking in order to have a record of the progress you’re making so that you have visibility on your process and how long it takes you to do what you need to do. None of this is rocket science, but it is about taking time to reflect on how you’re doing things in your side hustle so that you can be more efficient and use your time more effectively.
You can stop and take a look at any CEO, founder, entrepreneur, world leader, or person who changed the course of history. The one thing that you all have in common is that you all have 168 hours in a week. Each has the same amount of time to get things done. How people use that time varies greatly. And so the more you can use your time efficiently, the more you can accomplish in your life.
And the more you can realize really great change.