We all have a passion (or several) that we long to pursue. We all have dream jobs or ideas of what we would have been “in another life”. But this is your “another” life! Having passion and ambition doesn’t make you unique, what you do about it is what sets you apart.
These are my best methods for pursuing my passions when I had a 9-5 job. It was through these steps that I was able to quit my job in New York City, pack up and travel to Southeast Asia to volunteer full time (read more about how and how you can too here). What really helped me is making sure I made the most of the precious spare time I had when working a 9-5.
When I return back to New York, I’ll be using only these methods for my side hustling. After much trial and error, I can confidently say that these have worked the best for me.
The most important part of reaching your goals around your 9-5 job is finding the balance of thorough planning, yet not spending all your time planning rather than working. Here’s the maximum planning, minimum time-consumption system I use.
Start high level. I’m a big fan of planning goals on quarterly schedule. It’s shorter than an annual goal (New Year’s resolutions), which are too big to keep track of for long periods of time. On the flip side, I find monthly goals to be too short. Their change won’t be permanent. Each quarter, I identify six goals:
Habits= behaviors I hope to keep up after the quarter.
- A personal habit ex: read 30 minutes every day
- A professional habit ex: get my inbox to 0 weekly
- A financial habit ex: pack lunch 3x/week
Goals= one time accomplishments I hope to achieve in 3 months.
- A personal goal ex: complete workout boot camp
- A professional goal ex: beat my personal sales record
- A financial goal ex: save $1,000 this month
I find that six gives is enough to achieve my big goals but not too many that I can’t really focus on them.
Read the details on my quarterly goal system here or get your quarterly goal system guide below.
Monthly + Weekly Check-ins
The entire point of my quarterly goal method is that I don’t have to spend a lot of time during those 3 months planning and checking in and making to-do lists, etc. Those things are time-consuming and inefficient.
There are only a couple things I’ll review monthly and weekly during my quarters to make sure I’m on track. When I do, I just check in. I don’t do monthly planning or monthly grand lists. Here are what my check-ins are:
- My side income (read more) to make sure I’m on track.
- My three quarterly goals. Since I don’t track them daily (like my habits), I want to make sure I’m on a good path.
- My health. Whether I have personal habits and/or goals that are health related, I don’t mess around with my health. Every week I reflect to see what I can do in the upcoming week to make sure I’m healthy.
- My to-dos. I usually make one list on Sundays of my to-dos that week and then distribute them with throughout my daily side hustler planner.
The Side Hustler Planner
This is the heart of my side hustling method.
How many times has this happened to you:
You have tons of motivation and ideas at work about your side hustle, but then after work happens. After you commute home from work, eat dinner, relax, catch up on personal e-mails and communication, …then it’s nearly bed time? Yeah, me too.
Enter my side hustler planner. You might be thinking, “Leah, we’ve already established I don’t have time to do anything, how am I going to find time to plan out my entire day, too?!”. I know, it sounds kind of nuts. But I’m telling you: Nothing has helped me pursue my passions around my 9-5 like this planner.
I deleted the time that is spent at my day job. By planning my day out to the hour, I know that I have time to get the bigger picture things done. If I have a project that’s going to take me 90 minutes, it’s really hard to just squeeze that into a hectic week unless it’s planned. With this planner, I can choose when I need to get things done and plan around that. If it means getting take-out, going to the gym in the morning, and turning off my phone, so be it. At least I know what needs to get done and how to get it done.
Read more about this planner here and get your own below.
Side Hustle Productivity Tips
Get up earlier
Even if you’re not a morning person, you should try to push yourself to get up earlier. You’ll be happy if you can work on your side hustle with a clear head. You’ll also feel more accomplished at work if you’ve already checked things off your to-do list. As we all know, work can get totally nuts. Even if you have the best of intentions of getting a lot done after work, who knows what will come up that’ll exhaust you or take up your time. Be safe, get things done in the morning.
Hate waking up? I use the free app Sleep Cycle which wakes you up depending on where you are in REM cycle, and it truly does make waking up much easier!
Make a workspace
To get work done, you need to treat your work like a second job (which it is). It will only work if you do. Make a workspace for yourself that gets you in. the. zone. That way, whenever you put yourself in that space, your brain knows it’s game time and you focus. For me, this space is at my desk (which is in my room), with my favorite candle lit and my piano Pandora station on. Then, there is no stopping me. This space could be at a coffee shop with your favorite latte in hand, or at your kitchen table with your favorite podcast on. Whatever it is, find it and make it happen.
Do one thing at a time
This is where your side hustle planner will come in, but it’s still worth mentioning. I’m not great a focusing, honestly. I am a guilty multi-tasker. But, if you want to really get big projects done, you need to stay focused. Turn off notifications, listen to this white noise website, do whatever it takes.
If you follow these steps and stick with your plan, you’ll be pursuing your passion like crazy! You may get tired, confused, and sometimes discouraged, but remember that those difficulties only make you stronger and more equipped to handle whatever life throws at you next. Also, remember, you are awesome. You got this.
For access to all of the resources and planners I referenced here, sign up below. You’ll get into my Side Hustler Library, which has so many resources to support you pursue your passion.