Work. Hustle. Sleep. Repeat.
Maybe it's not profound to say this, but making time for a side hustle requires sacrifice. If you're serious about starting something on the side. If you're serious about making something great. You have to be serious enough to sacrifice to get it done.
But, what do you sacrifice when you want to start your side hustle?
Do you sacrifice time with your children? Time with your spouse? Career development? Sleep? If you're serious about adding a side hustle into your life something needs to give. But what?
Start Your Side Hustle With A Clear Vision
First, before you can sacrifice anything, you need to know what you're getting into. You need a metric to measure your success. For this, you will need to have a vision of the outcome. Diving headfirst into something you don't yet fully understand is like getting on a train with no concept of the stops this train will make. You might end up somewhere really cool and interesting or you might end up in a place you don't want to be.
Randomness is not a good tool for development and certainly not a good idea to bet your future side hustle on. Start by writing down your plan. It doesn't have to be detailed, but it should be specific. That is to say - it should have actionable language that can be measured for success or failure. Check out this example:
With this example, you know what you're doing, how long it's going to take, and what the metric for success is. You have a clear vision of your side hustle.
Now, before we talk about finding time for your side hustle, I have to bring up some bad news. You might fail.
You May Still Fail
The amount of sacrifice you make does not guarantee you any success. This is a brutal fact about the side hustle. While a side hustle requires a ton of sacrifice, even if you do it all right, you may still fail.
Failure isn't talked about enough in the creator economy discussion and there's a lot of failures. Success is not easy and not common, but as creative people striving to have our voices heard - we continue to make things.
Failure is part of the process and it's important to understand that. The faster you accept failure and learn from it the more likely you are going to be (in my opinion anyway) to find the right formula for success.
Now that you understand your vision and you understand that failure is not only possible but likely; how do we carve out some time to get started?
Time Sinks Cripple Your Projects
When it comes to carving out time for your side hustle the first place to look is going to be the distractions in your life.
I get it, decompressing after a long day is important and healthy, but shrinking the amount of time you dedicate to distractions is likely going to be the easiest way to get started on your proof-of-concept.
Once you've got something working though it's likely that it'll start requiring more time. What do you do now?
Honestly, at this point, there's no easy answer. My preferred route is to talk to your spouse and close friendships honestly about the project. Show them the prototype if they haven't seen it already and ask for their understanding as you bring it to life. Set clear expectations that go both ways. That is to say, they should both expect and respect that you're asking for time to work on this project and that you work on the project during this time, and outside of this time you are still available and present to them.
Beyond this, you're going to start tapping into areas that I don't recommend going to unless you're really starting to see a lot of success. Sacrificing performance at your day job is never something I'd recommend early on. Your day job is both the fuel for you to invest in the side hustle and your safety net should it fail. However, as your side hustle turns into your main hustle you might find that it's time to step away from that main role.
Sacrificing sleep is something that I've seen recommended over and over again. But there are a couple of problems with this solution. First, how much sleep do you currently get? If you're already pushing the boundary of what's considered healthy you might be heading down a dangerous road.
Second, sleep is important to keep you performing at the top of your game. Less sleep will impact your judgment, mood, relationships with other people, performance at your day job, and even the quality of work you do on your side hustle.
Don't get me wrong - I do believe sacrificing sleep can be a valuable tool for short-term bursts of creativity. A final push to a deadline for example. It's a tool for you to use when you need to pull out all the stops, but it should not be part of the plan - that isn't sustainable.
I hope you find joy in your next project and I hope I have provided you with a useful framework to use as you get started. Thanks for reading!