I see you grinding early mornings, on the weekends, and, even, after you’ve kissed your partner goodnight.
I see you because I’ve been you.
Your goal is to have freedom. So you side hustle yourself through your prime years into a comfortable, yet meaningless retirement. I get it. I really do.
But, we both know that balancing your day job, your side gig, and your personal life can be a recipe for a meltdown.
Don’t worry; I’ve got your back.
I’m going to introduce you to the 7 productivity tips I used to help me generate an extra $159K on the side last year while maintaining high work productivity for my 9-5, allowing me to enjoy dinner and whichever binge-worthy series my partner chose each night, and still find time for myself
By the time we’ve finished together, you’ll know how to prioritize tasks, plan your day ahead, and build an entire productivity system that allows you to boost productivity without wasting time, so you can enjoy some of the freedom you’re working so hard for today.
You should know that I waste time too
Before jumping into the productivity hacks, let me go ahead and say that I’m naturally a massive procrastinator. If you’re reading this, you aren’t alone.
I still have to work to stay focused.
I’ve found myself justifying TikTok and Twitter as “research”. Getting immersed in a course as “preparation”. Or just flat out ignoring the mountain of tasks that seem to grow larger with each passing hour. We’ve all had those days where we just can’t muster the energy or motivation to get things done.
But the cost of procrastination is more than just missed deadlines and late nights cramming to catch up. It means your side hustle is actually robbing you from your todays and sabotaging your life for the goal of “eventual freedom”.
You can reclaim control of your time, master focus, and cross your daily tasks off your to do lists. Let’s make sure that your side hustle is working with you to achieve the goals you’ve been dreaming of.
1) Prioritize Tasks Like a Pro: Where Ivy Meets Eisenhower
I remember the first time I read about the Ivy Lee Method.
James Clear (in all his James Clear-ness) did a masterful job of breaking it down in a way that was easily digestible. Ivy Lee’s little gem dates back to the early 1900s and is a method all about simplifying your to-do list to focus on the most critical tasks. Here’s how:
- At the end of each workday, write down the six most important tasks you need to accomplish the next day (split them between your day job and side hustle).
- Rank these tasks in order of importance.
- When you start your day, work on the first task until it’s completed.
- Move on to the next task and repeat.
- If any tasks remain unfinished, add them to the list for the next day.
By focusing on just six tasks, you’ll eliminate decision fatigue and maintain a laser-sharp focus on what really matters.
But, it was when I combined this with The Eisenhower Matrix that I was able to actually improve productivity. I was able to knock important tasks of my to-do list with intense focus then come up for air when it was time to put away my computer.
The Eisenhower Matrix is a 2×2 grid that categorizes tasks into four quadrants:
- Urgent and important (do these tasks first).
- Important, but not urgent (schedule these tasks).
- Urgent, but not important (delegate these tasks).
- Neither urgent nor important (eliminate these tasks).
If it ain’t important it ain’t for you.
I could take the tasks from quadrant 1 (urgent and important) and quadrant 2 (important, but not urgent), and use the Ivy Lee Method to prioritize them. Choosing the top six tasks I need to accomplish the next day and ranking them this way has been instrumental in boosting productivity.
The Ivy Lee Method and the Eisenhower Matrix are powerful tools on their own, but when combined, they create the ultimate productivity powerhouse. It truly is the best of my productivity tips. Use this blended approach to prioritize tasks, increase productivity levels, and ensure the time you’re devoting is being spent on the right things.
2) Time Block: Don’t Just Wing It
Now that you’ve identified what you need to focus on, you’re going to need to figure out how to fit it into your schedule. This is where time blocking comes into effect. This ain’t your grandma’s “to-do list”, hoss. It’s been a game changer for me and will help you take control of your day. Time blocking means scheduling your tasks in fixed blocks of time throughout your day (or sometimes week). It’s all about maximizing efficiency and avoiding the dreaded “what should I do next” syndrome.
Here’s how it works:
- Use the Eisenhower Matrix and Ivy Lee Method (section 1 above) to make a list of all the tasks you need to accomplish and organize your tasks by priority.
- Allocate specific time blocks for each task, considering how long they’ll take to complete.
- Stick to the schedule.
That’s it – suspiciously simple, I know.
Let’s look at a real example. Let’s say on a Thursday I need to review a client presentation and give feedback during a call, then type a 2,000 word article on “productivity tips”. With that, I can see that I have 3 tasks for Thursday:
- Presentation Review – 30 minutes
- Client Call – 1 hour
- Article Writing – 1 hour
I’ll look at the 2 1/2 hours that I know this takes and slot it into my calendar around my work schedule. Then I’ll review my priorities for the next day before putting my computer away.
Time blocking forces you to focus on one task at a time, so you’re not juggling multiple priorities and getting overwhelmed.
3) The Pomodoro Technique: Take a Break
With my time blocking, there are times that I honestly can’t stare at my screen any longer. My brain’s turned into oatmeal and the overwhelming urge to just crawl into a ball on the floor starts to take over.
But the Pomodoro Technique is always there to save the day. This time management hack involves breaking your work into short, focused intervals (called “Pomodoros”) followed by a short break.
Here’s the drill:
- Choose a single task you need to complete.
- Set a timer for 25 minutes (or whatever interval works best for you).
- Work on the task until the timer goes off.
- Take a 5-minute break.
After four Pomodoros, treat yourself to a longer break (15-30 minutes). I take each time block and break it into smaller Pomodoros. This technique helps you maintain focus and reduce burnout, which is crucial when you’re juggling multiple responsibilities. Plus, those mini-breaks are perfect for dog videos on TikTok or binging #entrepreneur on Twitter.
4) The Two-Minute Rule: Tackle Small Tasks
Here’s the truth – small tasks can be a time-sucking black hole. Each seemingly small task compounds with each new small task until you’ve amassed a to-do list that you can’t possibly get out from under. But the 2-Minute Rule is here to save you from drowning in a sea of minutiae. The rule is simple: if a task takes less than 2 minutes to complete, do it immediately. That’s right, no more putting off those pesky emails or administrative tasks.
Adopting the 2-Minute Rule will help you clear your plate of the small stuff, so you can focus on more significant tasks that’ll grow your side hustle. Plus, it’ll make you feel like a productivity ninja, tackling tasks left and right.
5) Templates: Your Secret Weapon for Saving Time and Streamlining Processes
Let’s talk about templates – the unsung heroes of the productivity world. Templates are pre-made formats for documents, spreadsheets, and other essential tools that can save you a ton of time, keep you organized, and streamline your processes. They’re like a trusty sidekick, always ready to lend a helping hand in your quest for work-life balance.
More than 90% of my emails are based upon a template and auto-generated text. It saves me hours. And, this is just one of the many areas you can use them:
- Identify Repeatable or Similar Tasks – Are there any processes or tasks that you find yourself doing repeatedly? These could be anything from creating invoices, drafting emails, managing your social media content, or tracking expenses.
- Create or Find Relevant Templates – You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. There are plenty of resources online that offer free templates for various purposes, such as Trello, Asana, Google Docs, and Microsoft Office. If you can’t find one that suits your needs, consider customizing an existing template or creating your own from scratch.
- Customize and Personalize – Once you’ve found or created a template, tweak it to match your specific needs and branding. Make sure it reflects your style, voice, and the unique aspect side hustle. Customization can be as simple as adding your logo, changing the font, or adjusting the layout to fit your preferences.
- Implement and Streamline – Now that your templates are ready to roll, it’s time to put them to work. Start using them for your repeatable tasks and watch as your productivity skyrockets. Not only will templates save you time, but they’ll also help ensure consistency and professionalism across your work.
- Review and Update – Like any good productivity tool, templates should be a living, breathing part of your workflow. Regularly review and update your templates to ensure they remain relevant and effective. As your work evolves, your templates should evolve with them.
6) Delegate and Outsource: You Don’t Have to Do It All
Listen up, superheroes: even Iron Man has Jarvis. You don’t have to do everything on your own. Delegating and outsourcing tasks can be a lifesaver when it comes to maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
Take a step back and assess your strengths and weaknesses. What tasks can you delegate to someone else? What tasks can you outsource to a professional? Embrace the power of teamwork and collaboration, whether it’s enlisting the help of a friend or hiring a freelancer. There’s no shame in admitting you need a little assistance; in fact, it’s a sign of great leadership.
When it comes to delegating, keep these tips in mind:
- Be clear about your expectations and deadlines.
- Communicate regularly to ensure progress and alignment.
- Trust your team and give them space to do their work.
And when outsourcing, do your research to find the right person for the job. Platforms like Fiverr and Upwork are great for finding skilled freelancers who can help take your side hustle to the next level.
Remember, time is money, and delegating and outsourcing can free up precious hours for you to focus on the big picture (or spend quality time with your loved ones).
7) Establish Boundaries: Protect That Precious Time
In the immortal words of Queen Dolly Parton, “Working 9 to 5, what a way to make a living!” But when your side hustle comes into play, those hours can quickly turn into 6a to 9p (or worse). That’s why it’s essential to establish boundaries between work, side hustles, and personal life.
Be intentional about setting aside time for yourself and your loved ones. Create a designated workspace for your side hustle, and once you step out of that area, be fully present in your personal life. Give yourself permission to unplug and recharge; trust me, your body and mind will thank you.
Some ways to establish boundaries include:
- Set specific work hours for your side hustle and stick to them.
- Turn off notifications from work-related apps during personal time.
- Schedule regular “me time” and activities you enjoy.
Remember, maintaining a healthy work-life balance is crucial for long-term success and overall well-being. You got into this side hustle game to improve your life, not burn yourself out.
Wrapping it up
Or the TL;DR if you’re active on Twitter.
- Ivy Lee + Eisenhower Matrix
- Time Block
- The Pomodoro Technique
- The Two-Minute Rule
- Delegate & Outsource
- Establish Boundaries
There you have it: 7 productivity tips to help you master the art of juggling your day job, side hustle, and personal life. You’ll be well on your way to achieving a healthy work-life balance, achieving success, escaping the 9-5, and living your best life.
Now, go forth and conquer! And remember, work smarter, not harder.