“Real” Wednesdays: Overwhelmed, Under-producing

Have too much time but doing too little with it?

I feel like the more time I have to work on my side projects, the less I do and the less I want to do them. And I’m doing my best not to let the getting-home-from-work-and-being-tired thing be my excuse for failing to accomplish small tasks. I mean, we’re all tired after we get home from work. And we all have other things we need to get done, errands to run or just life tasks to handle. Like taxes. I know. I told all of you to do your taxes on January 27th and I still haven’t done mine. In my defense, I attempted to submit them twice and… yeah, just one of the seasons for me. I digress…anyways.

I was trying to commit to using as much of the four or five hours I had from getting home from work to when I went to sleep my own projects, but it wasn’t helping. I wasn’t doing much with the time. I would find myself putting off tasks, waiting till the last minute to get something done and sometimes having to finish it in the morning before heading off to work. No bueno!

I was overwhelmed with so much time to work with that I was under-producing. Completing one task, maybe two. Something had to change because at this rate, I was almost getting nothing done. So, change I figured out what would work best for me.

I’ve actually told a client how to better manage their time, not because I’m this all-knowing creature and I’ve mastered time management…ha!!! NEVER. But she wanted guidance on how to fit time in writing her book after work so she met deadlines and kept on a schedule. Thinking back to my conversation with her, I took my own advice. I scheduled blocks of time. Instead of forcing myself to use 35 hours a week (almost like a whole ‘nother job), I reduced the time I spent focusing on my side projects and goals to increase the amount of work I got done.

I know, it sounds ass-backwards, but work with me here. If you had only 30 minutes to get something done, wouldn’t you be more laser focused than if you had 8 hours to complete it? Or one week? It seems like the more time we have the more time we kill. I don’t know about you, but my time is too valuable to be wasted not knocking things off my list.

So this is what I restructured my time to reflect:

Only two hours a night during my work week and four hours each day on the my weekend days. Weekend hours don’t need to be consecutively completely in one four-block. I can break up the time block to reflect when I have to focus or get things done.

Simple. Easy. Not complicated. Most importantly, easy! Time management should be just that.

What do you do to stay on track and make sure you’re maximizing your time and efforts.

Working 5 to 9: Ebbs and Flows

Just as it would be with any established business, your side hustle will experience ebbs and flows. Periods in which you find yourself really really busy. And periods where you have to go rustle up some work. And if you want a consistent second stream of income, you’ll find yourself — as they would say — “working in the business and working on the business”.

When you’re having those days in which you have a string a side hustles and deadlines to meet, those are your flow days. And not Aunt Flow. Those are good days. Days in which you are simply working on the work. And when you have days you have to find clients to do some work, those are your ebb days. Days you are working on the busines. Which is why time management needs to be our friend.

Time management needs to be our friend all the time, but particularly when things are slow. Or, if you prefer them slow, at the very least, start getting things in order to prepare for when you have a rush of clients asking for work.

And just because I said flows are good days, doesn’t make ebbs bad days. Those are just days to get situated, caught up or back on track. Those days can work in our favor too. We just have to know how to use them to our advantage when we get them.

Working 5 to 9: Communicating

Finding time to connect with prospect clients is challenging. They have their schedule, you’re still working at your job and have your own schedule which doesn’t allow much in the way of effective communicating, but it does offer some openings. And my rule of thumb is:

Use the time you have as best as you can.

I get a 30 minute lunch break and two 10 minute breaks. Not much in the greater scheme of things, but I make it work. And I’m honest with my clients about it too when it doesn’t work.

The vast majority of my lunch breaks I spend on the phone making calls or sending emails. I don’t eat on my lunch break. I eat at my desk. I work for me on my lunch break. ‘Cause honestly, I don’t consider it a break if I’m still at the office.

On that 30 minute lunch break I’m given, I’m making plans to meet, I’m following up on texts or emails. Or I’m updating my calendar, sending out invites to remind people when and where we’re meeting.

I may not have a private lavish office to call my clients from but I find time to connect throughout the day so they know I’m on top of the project or I received their message.

For the things that require more then a 10 or 30 minute breaks, I ask them speak with me after 4:30pm. If I’m not home by then, I’m at least in route where I can talk more candidly than at my job. And my clients know I have full time job. They think it’s admirable that I would ventured out with a side hustle. “How entrepreneurial,” they say. They’re not wrong. That’s the goal here. But they understand something I haven’t spoken to them directly.

I’m willing to give up my time to do what it takes now to get to where I want to be later.

Side hustlin’ isn’t for the faint of heart although anyone can really do it. Just keep those lines of communication open and help your clients better work with you.