How To Make Time For A Side Hustle When It Starts Blowing Up
There are so many reasons to start a side hustle, whether it's to make more money, try something new, or finally dig into a project you're truly passionate about. But even though it can feel good to branch out, doing so often means dealing with more stress and a busier schedule — especially if your new venture gets bigger than expected.
If you find yourself with a flourishing business, which you're managing on top of your day job, then extra stress will be par for the course. But that's why you'll want to focus on maintaining a work-life balance so you can do both — and do it well — while still having a life outside of work.
"It is also important to remember that having healthy, realistic expectations is a part of preventing burnout," board-certified psychiatrist Dr. Nicole Washington, tells Bustle. If you want to keep your side hustle going at its current rate, you don't want to drive yourself into the ground, get sick, or lose your sense of creativity. And having work-life balance can help with that.
Whether you're going to keep this as a side hustle, or turn it into a full-time gig, try to keep the following tips in mind, all in the name of staying balanced, feeling good, and having more success.
1Check In With Yourself Regularly
Long nights and a busy schedule can easily lead to burnout, if you aren't careful. So as your side hustle grows, take time to check in with yourself and see how you're feeling mentally and emotionally.
"It is important to keep a daily track of how you are feeling [...] to make sure you are not becoming overwhelmed with your side hustle," therapist Marline Francois-Madden, LCSW, tells Bustle.
If you find that you're tired, stressed, rundown, or uninspired, that's your cue to do things differently — starting with finding ways to strike a better balance.
2Schedule Time For Self-Care
One way to ensure you get the downtime you need, is to literally schedule it into your calendar just like you would for meetings, phone calls, and other work-related tasks.
"All things important go on our calendars," Dr. Washington says. "We have to put ourselves on that calendar as well. Whether that is a spa day, lunch away from the office, or a phone call to [a] friend, put it on your schedule. If you don't, you will get busy and it won't happen."
3Make Your Health A Priority
When you're overloaded with new projects and pressing deadlines, it can be tempting to put your health on the back-burner. And yet, stressful times should be the time to make your health a priority.
"A few tips for staying balanced [include] making sure [you're] getting at least seven to nine hours of sleep, eating three healthy meals a day, exercising, and drinking water daily," Francois-Madden says.
If you find that you keep putting yourself at the bottom of your list, it might be motivating to remember that your business requires you to be healthy — or else it won't continue to grow.
4Let Your Boss Know What's Up
If you have a cool and understanding boss, you may want to let them know about your side gig and how much it means to you. "While it may seem scary at first, a majority of bosses are supportive of passion projects, so long as they don't interfere with you completing your work responsibilities," career coach Kyle Elliott, MPA, CHES, tells Bustle.
By letting them know, you may even get a few perks, such as support and advice. Basically, the more people who are aware of your project, the better.
5Set "Office Hours"
It may be tempting to work day and night — and into the weekend. And yes, sometimes that may be necessary to do, as you get your business off the ground. But on average, you should be giving yourself the same perks you have when working for someone else.
For example, "you may find it helpful to set office hours for your side hustle," Elliott says. "Stick to your schedule and 'clock in' and 'clock out' [...] just like you would a regular job."
6Stop Every 20 Minutes
Another tip to steal from your day job is the all-important lunch break, which you should be taking even if you're working from home — along with frequent breaks every 20 to 30 minutes.
"It's tempting to work all day and not spend time on things non-work related, but it's important to note that your productivity will fall once you start getting tired," Jason Patel, former career ambassador and founder of Transizion, tells Bustle.
It may seem excessive, but these breaks will actually make you more productive. "When you take your break, get away from the computer screen or work-related tasks," Patel says. "Give your brain a chance to loosen up and gain energy for the next window of work." You'll come back feeling fresh, and even more inspired.
7Find A Relaxing Hobby
Once you find a hobby that you enjoy, do it and do it often. Even when you feel like you don't have the time.
"The importance of a hobby is to deprogram your mind from all the stresses and burden of work, to give yourself a peaceful zone to think, and take a step away from the technology that usually occupies your time," Patel says.
It's all about stepping away for a while, and focusing on yourself. That is, unless, your hobby has turned into your side hustle. In that case, dabble in new hobbies until you find a new one that feels like a good fit — and has nothing to do with work.
8Find Your Most Productive Time
Many folks who run a side hustle find that the morning is the best time to do extra work. So if you aren't doing it already, it may be time to give the whole "morning person" thing a try.
"During the work week, get up an hour earlier and spend this extra time on your side hustle," Judge Graham, entrepreneur, business author, and executive leadership expert, tells Bustle. This will leave you plenty of time after work for other aspects of life.
Or, you might find that late night works better. "Figure out what your focus zone is so you can work without getting distracted," Lauren Berger, founder of CareerQueen and author of Get It Together: Ditch the Chaos, Do the Work, and Design your Success, tells Bustle. "It’s usually late at night or in the morning."
9Schedule More Time Than You Need
If you're often scrambling to get things done at the last minute, it's a sign you're trying to cram too much into the day. And that will definitely start to take a toll on your wellbeing.
So, whenever possible, "allow adequate space for each item on your to-do list," Jess Garay, a soul couch and business mentor, tells Bustle. "Oftentimes things take far longer than we expect and creating more margins can reduce stress and anxiety levels."
By spacing projects out sufficiently, and sticking to a schedule going forward, you'll find that it's way easier to handle your new workload.
10Maintain Your Friendships & Connections
If your side job is taking off at light speed, it might be tough to find time for family, friends, or your partner. But it's important to do what you can to stay connected.
"One of the most difficult parts of juggling a job and passion project is the isolation that can result," women's success coach Kristin Brabant, tells Bustle. "It's a natural by-product of your dwindling free time! But to make sure you thrive during this intense period (instead of succumbing to depression, isolation and overwhelm), you need to maintain positive, life-giving connections."
Even if you feel busy, find time to call a friend, watch a movie with your partner, or have lunch with your mom — whatever it is that will get you away from your desk and connecting with people you care about.
"When spending time with loved ones, unplug from the regular job and the side hustle long enough to enjoy it," Dr. Washington says. "No emails. No phone calls." Let it all go for the time being, and only check it when you clock back into your "office hours."
This will make it possible to connect with the people in your life without having half your brain thinking about your side hustle, which is pretty much the definition of having a work-life balance.
12Plan Your Day The Night Before
In order to stay on top of everything, get into the habit of planning your day the night before so you'll wake up knowing exactly what you need to do.
"Planning your top priorities in advance dramatically increases your productivity by helping you stay focused on the most important tasks in a day," Brabant says.
This will also help you feel more in control. "Practicing daily habits for success ensures your physical energy, mental health, and personal and professional growth are in your hands and don't become victims of ever-changing circumstances," she says.
13Ask For Help
Perhaps one of the hardest things to do — and yet most important — is asking for help when you truly need it.
"A lot of us take great pride in our work and our ability to get things done," therapist Jor-El Caraballo, co-creator of Viva Wellness, tells Bustle. "But [...] it’s OK to redistribute work sometimes and ask for support from those around you. Chances are [they] will be glad to help you out, especially if they know they can rely on you when times get a little tough for them, too."
14Keep Your Family In The Loop
Keep your family in the loop, or your friends, or your partner — whoever it is you think would benefit from knowing that your schedule will now be a lot busier.
"Lack of communication can lead to stress and resentment and your boundaries being infringed upon," therapist Shrein Bahrami, MFT, tells Bustle.
But if you let everyone know what's up, they'll be more likely to understand when you're absent, when you need time to yourself, or when you really just need a little support.
15Celebrate Your Successes
Perhaps one of the most important things you can do is reward yourself along the way by celebrating your successes. "Celebration is one of the highest levels of energy there is," Brabant says. So don't let these moments pass by unnoticed.
And while you're at it, remember that it's OK if you mess up, too. "My tip is to reframe 'failures,' screw-ups, and detours as progress in the right direction," she says. "Messing up is how we learn and improve and become successful, not a hindrance of success."
By taking good care of yourself, creating time for other areas of your life, sticking to a schedule, and remaining positive in the face of stress and failure, you will feel like you have a healthier work-life balance. It won't always be easy, smooth, or stress-free. But it's all about figuring out what feels right, as your side hustle continues to grow.