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Balancing Your 9 to 5 With a Promising Side Hustle

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The following is a contribution from Harry at Your PF Pro. If you’re interested in contributing to Frugal Rules, please see our guidelines and contact us.

The quickest way to build wealth is to earn more, and many people are turning to side hustles and even their own side businesses in order to make more money. A side hustle is a great way to diversify your income and free up more money to put towards savings and investments. It can also be a huge drain on your time and energy though, especially if it’s something that’s truly on the side and has to be done around your obligations as someone else’s employee at your full-time job.

If your side hustle is promising and could turn into a fully-fledged business, how do you balance your work on the side with a 9 to 5 office job? It is possible to do, but you’ll need some excellent time management skills, a killer work ethic, and even a willingness to figure out a bit of a nontraditional schedule.

Building Your Time Management Skills

The best way to balance a side hustle with a full-time job is to simply improve how efficiently you’re using the time available to you. Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day, but have you ever noticed how some people seem to do so much more than others? They don’t have superpowers and they can’t just create more time – they just have the ability to manage their time really well.

Here are a few ideas you can implement to improve your time management outside your day job’s working hours to get the most from the time you have to work on your side hustle:

  • Create (and use) to-do lists. Prioritize the work you must complete, and use the list to help you stay focused so you don’t forget what needs to get done

  • Cut the waste. If you’re spending hours watching TV, playing games, or mindlessly surfing the internet, stop! That stuff eats up your time like nothing else. Even if you just pop into Facebook for 5 minutes, if you do that 10 times a day you’ve wasted nearly an hour (and that doesn’t even account for the visits where you actually spend way more than 5 minutes)

  • Use a schedule and write down everything. This will help keep you organized, focused, and on top of all your tasks, appointments, and meetings

  • Eliminate distractions

When you track your time, schedule your tasks, learn to narrow your focus, and cut distractions, you’ll find you actually have more time than you thought you did. Use this time to work on your side hustle and manage your extra work.

Work Smarter and Harder to Balance Your Side Hustle

Once you’ve optimized how you’re spending your waking hours, you’ll start to work smarter. You’ll quit blowing time on useless activities that don’t carry you closer to your goal of bettering your side hustle, and you’ll have more time to dedicate to your business.

Now, it’s time to work a little harder. Can you start your day earlier and get some work done before you head into your office job? Can you stay up later after the kids have gone to bed to complete a project or assignment? Can you make some calls on your lunch break?

If you want your side gigs to develop into something more, you’ll have to be willing to work some really long days. It comes with the territory and is necessary for the amount of time you’re required to balance a full-time 9 to 5 with a promising side hustle.

Don’t Confine Yourself to a Traditional Work Day

The beauty of working for yourself is largely in being able to set your own schedule. You don’t really have this luxury when you’re trying to balance a full-time 9 to 5 with a side hustle, but you can find ways to free up some of your time that is currently eaten up by your day job.

First, consider if working from home/working remotely for your current 9 to 5 is an option. More and more supervisors are realizing that remote work is an arrangement that creates happy – and therefore more productive – employees. If your work can be done from home and if there are some other employees in your company who currently work remotely, consider approaching your boss about having your own remote work arrangement.

If that’s not an option, think about ways you can compromise. Maybe you can work a few days a week from home, or a few hours each day. Any time you can negotiate away from the office is going to be time you can optimize to work on your side hustle.

And let’s be honest: how many “9 to 5” jobs actually require constant work from 9 to 5? Most employees have plenty of downtime in the office, and when you’re trying to balance a side hustle with your job, this equates to flat-out wasted time. Depending on how your workplace operates or how comfortable you are with filling unproductive work hours with productive personal projects, you may be able to get some work done on your side hustle while you’re still at the office.

Have you thought about starting a side hustle? If you haven’t already, what’s holding you back?

Harry Campbell started blogging about personal finance on his main site Your PF Pro a few years ago and enjoyed it so much that he started a second site dedicated to finding the perfect work-life balance at The Four Hour Work Day.  When Harry is not blogging, he works full time as an aerospace engineer and enjoys surfing and playing beach volleyball.

Photo courtesy of: JMR_Photography

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I'm the founder of Frugal Rules, a Dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry. I'm passionate about helping people learn from my mistakes so that they can enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. I'm also a freelance writer, and regularly contribute to U.S. News & World Report, Investopedia, Credit Karma and more. If you're wanting to learn how to monetize your blog, check out my blog coaching services to see how I can help you take your site to the next level.

37 Comments

  • Michelle says:

    Great post! When I was balancing both my day job and my side hustling, I definitely had to work smart. Wasting time just wasn’t an option back then!

    • Yea I like taking on a lot of projects since it forces you to be more efficient with your time.

    • MoneyAhoy.com says:

      Exactly! You have to get good at prioritization and cut out wasteful time to get more efficient. Multi-tasking skills can also be very useful if you’re able to do this without stressing your mind out too much.

  • I need to work smarter. I have a tendency to get distracted and caught up in the support tasks rather than the money making tasks. What I’m trying to do now, is devote time when I have divided attention to networking and commenting, and the times I have undivided attention to content production and pitches.

  • I work from home a lot and I can be easily distracted! The best thing I do is work off of a to-do list. I don’t know where I’d be without them

    • I worked at home for 3 months and found I could only get about 3 hours of work done in the morning and another 3 at night. If I had to work the entire day I had to get out of the house and go to a coffee shop or something.

  • Grayson Bell says:

    I work both a job and a side hustle. It takes a lot of commitment and time management skills, but my main job is about creating efficiency, so I understand that somewhat.

  • I think because I’m already a freelancer, my day is all over the place…but I do like to keep it somewhat structured, meaning no matter what is going on during the day, I like do be done with everything by around 7pm…maybe 8pm at the latest. That being said, I can be very bad about distractions. I’m guilty of letting myself surf other sites when I should be focusing on work.

    • I’m really bad with distractions. Perfect example: I was planning on doing my taxes tomorrow morning but my friend just called me and asked me to play some beach volleyball. Which one do you think I picked haha!?

  • Facebook is a huge time guzzler. I took it off my phone and just go in occasionally.

    • Raquel, I couldn’t agree more with you. Matter of fact, I deleted my personal Facebook account because I was too focused on the “nonsense” that my friends posted each day. Now if I want to call them, I call them. If I want to see them, I go see them, as easy as that.

    • Haha yea it is, I think if my day job weren’t so boring I probably would have deleted it by now. I am kind of addicted to snapchat though right now, not gonna lie!

  • Dear Debt says:

    I’m working on this right now, and just wrote two posts: one on the unexpected benefits of side hustling and the other on the downsides of side hustling.

    I do most of these things, but I also can get easily distracted. I need to cut out the Facebook/Twitter veg time, and realize that while I am convincing myself it’s productive, it’s really not. Like Stephanie, I get caught up in support tasks, rather than big picture money making tasks. I need a shift of focus! I have learned to multi-task on lunch breaks, on the bus, etc. I think I will start scheduling and timing all my tasks to determine efficiency.

    • It’s definitely a fine line to walk because you don’t want to be working all the time. Sometimes it’s nice to just chill out and watch some trashy TV isn’t it?

  • Ah, eliminating the distractions. I, like Kenneth the Page, just love television so much! Getting rid of my time waster of TV watching is how I can find more hours in the day!

  • I work a side hustle and have been working a side hustle for two years. I agree with everything you say, though I actually have found most companies not embracing wfh arrangements. I’ve also seen wfh employees be the first to go during layoffs because it’s easier to let someone go who isn’t physically working at the office. Everyone will have to weigh the pros and cons of this and for some (like me) they simply don’t have the option because their company doesn’t embrace or allow it, for the most part.

    To-do lists are lifesavers and really help me manage and prioritize my time. Picking a side hustle that can be done outside of your 9-5 is definitely the first step, and then figuring out how you can fit it into your life is essential.

    • Yea that’s true DC, my fiancee is in med school and I’m really going to push her to work less as she gets older since that’s one of the professions where you can work 4 hours a day and still get paid!

  • Michelle says:

    I am actually figuring this all out now. I manage social media accounts for three businesses (+ 2 of my own sites) and am constantly overwhelmed at the work that goes in to balancing everything!

  • My side hustle is my bugaboo these days. I am stalled out on it, for a variety of reasons. Launching is proving to be something I’m procrastinating on endlessly…the first step really is the hardest.

    Thanks for the tips here. It helps to get perspective from someone in the know.

  • I believe that watching TV when you get off work to be a huge productivity killer. At the end of the day it doesn’t create any satisfaction. By at least reading a book, you will find out that you want to be something more and eventually the idea of a side hustle will come your way.

    I believe that if a person dedicate at least an hour a day in a side hustle they will find that it can become profitable. It’s all about the little things you do each and every day.

    • Completely agree, people wonder how I blog and work a day job and I tell them I still have too much time on my hands haha. The only reason I haven’t gone bored out of my mind is I’ve been planning our wedding/honeymoon since my fiancee is in school. Next year I’ll probably go back to coaching in addition to my main gig and blogging to keep me busy.

  • Yes, time management is so important. I’ve got so many projects going on at once that it’s easy for it to be midnight and I’ll have realized that I have a ton left to do. Glad you’ve found some balance :)

  • Nick Loper says:

    All about the side hustle, baby!

    Excellent point on the time management aspect — the biggest thing is planning out your next actionable step so when you find yourself with some free time, even just 15 minutes, you know exactly what to work on.

    Cheers,
    Nick

    • Yea there are some really good time management/lean resources out there that can help you out. I’ve actually been exposed to a lot of them working in the corporate world and I apply a lot of them to my blogging but not so much my day job haha.

  • Jason B says:

    I am currently working on eliminating distractions. That has been a tough one for me.

  • I really need to stay away from Netflix and my personal social media accounts – way too distracting. I also waste a phenomenal time working on my budget. I need to just make my changes and keep it moving! I’m not entirely sure how to worker smarter yet, but I suppose this will come with time.

  • Mark Ross says:

    Great post! I need to learn time management better and as soon as possible because I still find myself wasting my time playing NBA 2k14 and that’s one of the reasons why I can’t publish posts regularly. I will definitely do those tips. Thanks Harry!

  • These are all great tips. I thought it would be more difficult but sine I so enjoy my side hustle, it doesn’t feel like work. I also outsource some of the things that I don’t want to do, if I will make more money with the time that it frees up than it costs to outsource.

  • Boy, I wish I had a traditional 9-5 job sometimes! Despite having pretty non-traditional hours that spread out over most days of the week, I feel like writing can be done at any point when it’s easy for me. That makes it the perfect side hustle! :)

  • Syed says:

    Making to-do lists has definitely helped me as of late. Before I would find myself just wandering the internet reading sports articles and laughing at memes. But creating a list, and committing to completing it before doing anything else, has been the best decision for me.

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