There are some of us who love what we do 9-5p; we leave the office, go the gym or pick up the family, eat dinner, and we're good - satisfied, full, busy.
There are others who fire up the computer or tablet after that workout or dinner or the kids have gone to bed.
Some call that the side hustle.
Managing the 9-5p, the family, the priorities of home life AND the side hustle can be a lot; it can leave your brain feeling overwhelmed and exhausted - but also fulfilled that you're building that dream.
If you're just getting started in the side hustle, you most likely do not necessarily need a productivity boost, but perhaps a place to start. Because getting an idea to get off the ground, organizing your tight time between work and home and keeping on top of the 9-5p right now is tough.
You'll need and want to feel firmly rooted in some strategies to make it happen well.
First, find your style.
The side hustle is an adventure.
And you'll likely be hearing advice and encouragement from all types of entrepreneurs or solopreneurs- what worked for them, what didn't work for them.
Get rooted immediately in what works for you and your Productivity Style.
One-size-fits all t-shirts never fit properly. The same applies to one-size-fits-all approaches to personal productivity. Maybe you have tried to use a calendar tool you received in a time-management workshop or those colored post-it notes that a friend recommended. If the results were disappointing, the fault is not yours--it's the fault of tools and techniques that do not match your Productivity Style.
So instead of fighting against your natural thinking, learning, and communicating preferences, work with them. Identify your Productivity Style and then embrace it. Use your understanding to guide the choices you make to manage your attention, invest your time, get work done, tame your inbox, and design your work space in ways that are customized for you--not for someone else.
For example, if you know that you do your best planning with post it notes and white boards, do not let a "successful" entrepreneur tell you that the only way to get things done well as an entrepreneur is to adhere to a strict schedule, to strategically plan with a cool, new to do list app, or to religiously use a calendar if you want to get work done.
Embrace and honor what works best for you. This is actually the beginning of another important side of this professional journey- trusting yourself and your inner voice.
Get real about what you need to STOP doing.
Your responsibilities will only continue to grow from here - both in this venture and in your professional life and in your personal life; you will only keep adding tasks and projects to your to do list.
However, as that list grows, you'll notice something - you're never taking anything off of the list, and THAT is the antithesis of this entire venture. Take a hard, critical look at your projects and tasks and ask yourself if each project is still relevant. Are the tasks directly tied to your goals or your organization's goals? There are probably a few tasks and projects lurking on your list that need to be moved to the stop doing list. No one is going to miss them. Remove the things that are no longer relevant, aligned to your goals and are creating unnecessary stress and anxiety. Create space for the business opportunities, prospects, new business; ideation, creation, and implementation.
When I started my business I attended every networking event, marketing class and business building webinar I could find. However, as the business began to grow, I realized that I many of these events and trainings were no longer relevant, yet I kept attending. I needed to create the space for new classes on business growth and strategy. I had to get real about what I needed to stop doing. Get real NOW.
Do a brain dump once a week.
Mental clutter will be at its strongest level when you've got this much going on.
What's mental clutter?
Mental clutter is that incessant voice in your head reminding you of things to do, emails to respond to and meetings to schedule. Find a good time for you every week to clear the mental clutter with a brain dump.
What's a brain dump: Think about everything you need to do, personally and professionally. Imagine turning your brain upside down and emptying out its contents onto paper, a whiteboard, or into the computer program of your choice. The goal is to get all the to-dos and ideas out of your head and into the physical world. Once your to-dos are in the physical world your mind is free to think about things, not of things - exactly what it was intended for. As your mind begins to quiet you will find yourself able to be a little more present, open, and available for what will come your way.
For example, a friend and colleague started doing a brain dump every Friday afternoon or Sunday. She knows it needs to happen before Monday morning or she's "off" at the beginning of that week. It's gotten to the point where, if she's "off" on a Monday, her significant other will ask her if she has made her list; that's how much it's a part of her life it is now.
Batch like tasks to save yourself time and energy.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi described flow as a mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement and enjoyment in the process of the activity. And he asserted that a hallmark of flow is a feeling of joy while performing a task. To get into flow, batch or group like tasks.
For example, group all of your phone calls together, email correspondence, data analysis, or writing. When you perform the same type of task it is easier for you to concentrate and fully immerse yourself in what you are doing.
Let your T.A.S.K list be your guide.
Similar to a brain dump, a T.A.S.K list will help you organize, strategize, plan, and take appropriate action.
T.A.S.K is an acronym standing for THINK, ACT, SORT and KEEP.
Step one is to think. Think about everything you need to do, personal and professional. Imagine turning your brain upside down, a brain dump, and emptying out its contents. The goal is to get everything out of you head so you prioritize, plan and delegate effectively.
Let's move on to step 2 - Act. Review your brain dump. What do you notice? Have you listed projects rather than actual to-dos. The problem with a project list is that just looking at a list of enormous projects like these is somewhat paralyzing. To avoid this, you need to use the Act step to clearly define next action steps for each item from your brain dump. These are the specific actions you need to perform to complete the project. Each action step must be clear enough that you know what must be done, but not so detailed that it is overwhelming and therefore paralyzing. The goal is to turn each item on the brain dump list into an action item or a sequence of action items. When you look at your to-do list, you do not want to have to think about your next action step. You want to be able to immediately act or execute on a task.
At this point in recreating your to-do list, you have a large, disorganized, probably even chaotic list. It is time to impose some structure. You are ready for step 3--Sort. This is your opportunity to organize and prioritize your action items. In this step you will group them so that, at any given time, you can quickly and efficiently execute on the highest-value task.
Now, the final step is to keep, keep one and only one list. The objective is to have complete and total line of sight of everything that you need to do so you can make accurate decisions on what work to complete next. Keeping multiple lists thwarts this goal; it creates unnecessary chaos, stress, and wasted time. And you don't have time for that now.
You're not just building a business - you're building yourself a whole new, professional life. And that is one great adventure that will need not only strategy and clarity, but also a sense of humor and flexibility. Be prepared for it all.