Side Hustler’s Series Part 4 of 4: 6 Ways to Carve Out Time to Grind & Execute Outside Your Day Job
A Proven System for Knocking Shit Out Each Day
Hands down, the #1 thing creatives like you tell me you struggle with the most is: Finding time to grind on your side hustle.
I’m hella qualified to talk on this topic because I’ve gotten pretty damn good at:
- carving out pockets of time in my day
- to knock out my top priorities
- that align with my main goal/vision.
In five years, I’ve been able to build Perspective-Collective, freelance, and handle a weekly podcast all outside of my full-time job. Not to mention, I’m a husband and father to the dopest little dude this side of the Mississippi.
This shit isn’t easy, and I’m not trying to brag. I’m just trying to convince you that if I can do it, anyone can.
If finding time to grind is one of your biggest pain points, I feel the following system can improve your productivity immediately.
Note: I also have this available as a guide in the Side Hustler’s War Chest. In case you missed that, you can download it here.
#1. Take One Bite at a Time
It’s easy to feel like you’re not doing enough when you see someone else crushing it. Often, our ambition is larger than our reality, and we feel we have to eat the full pizza in one bite.
While it’s great you want to start a weekly podcast, vlog, and newsletter all at once, biting off more than you can chew can set yourself up for failure if you:
- Attempt to do all of this outside a day job
- Have family responsibilities
- Don’t have a defined process built into your routine
I started posting consistent drawings on Instagram in the spring of 2014. I then took on weekly blogging in June 2015, then added a newsletter in October 2015. I began the weekly podcast in August 2016. In between, I’d sprinkle in some freelancing, public speaking, teaching workshops, and selling products.
There’s no way in hell I’d still be trucking along had I attempted to do all of this right from the jump.
I suggest taking things slow and steady, as we’re looking to accomplish long-term consistency.
Start with one bite at a time by setting ambitious (yet realistic) expectations and taking action.
Once you lock down your process, take a bigger bite by slowly baking the next thing into your routine.
#2. Plan Your Attack
I’m discovering the most successful people I look up to don’t roll out of bed and shit productivity—they schedule their success.
When I stopped winging it and planned my daily attack, it made decision-making so much easier.
Here’s how I plan my attack:
1. Make a weekly task list on Sunday
- You can list these by hand or with digital apps like Wunderlist, Notion, or Evernote
- Update your list accordingly as things pop up during the week
- Carryover the remaining tasks from the previous week
2. Prioritize them with my Creative Grind (ABC) System*
- List up to 7 tasks per each letter (7 days in a week = 1 task a day)
- A1-A7: High Priority Tasks to Attack that move the needle forward
- B1-B7: Medium Priority Tasks that are cooking on the Back Burner
- C1-C7 Low Priority Tasks that would be Cool to get done or should be delegated
- D: Insignificant Tasks should be Destroyed
*Those in my coaching program get to be the first guinea pigs for a basic and more advanced version of my Creative Grind System.
3. Plan your following day’s tasks
Here’s a quick glimpse of how I list my next day’s attack:
- Each night, I plan out the next day’s blocks of time I have to grind (morning, lunch, breaks, evenings)
- I’ll create fields for tasks A1-A3, B1, and C1
- I’ll then pluck from the top weekly tasks list and plug them into the designated fields
When you knock out your A1 task, cross it off your daily attack and weekly list. Then proceed to A2 and A3.
Sometimes, you may only have a small window of time so knocking out the B1 task makes sense.
Only knock out the C task if you get through all A and B tasks for that day.
The goal is to knock out and cross off AT LEAST one A task a day.
Crossing that A task off your list becomes a productivity habit-forming addiction!
Depending on your schedule and goals, tweak this and find what works for you!
#3. Eat the Worm
I’m a night owl by default, but waking up early and eating the worm has been the catalyst for the growth of my side hustle.
There are three reasons why mornings are my jam:
- It creates more time to grind
- It prioritizes my dream first
- I put a large dent in my A1 task before going to the day job
For me, productivity lies in doing the most important task first—the one that will scale my business. These big tasks typically require the most willpower.
Oddly enough, the most important tasks that move my business forward and require the most willpower have nothing to do with drawing—they have everything to do with writing.
Writing is the backbone to my side hustle. I write practically every day with the podcast, the coaching program, workshops, speeches, Instagram captions, product details, landing pages, email campaigns, etc.
Working a day job and opening myself up to the world’s distractions takes a massive toll on my willpower. There’s no way I have the focus or desire to do my best writing after I clock out from work or after I put my son to bed.
Getting up early and eating the worm sucked in the beginning and still sucks today.
I had to adjust by using the hack of getting up 10-20 minutes earlier each week.
This significantly helped me adjust instead of making the switch from 6:30 am to 4:30 am. This is an example of a bite-sized change mentioned in #1.
Grinding before the world wakes up provides the best focus for me, and maybe it could for you.
To get the results you’ve never had, you have do something you’ve never done.
I’ve made hard changes in my routine to chase that productivity-high. It gets easier to adjust when you begin to see the progress.
I realize there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to this, as everyone’s schedules and responsibilities are different.
Start by determining when you have the most willpower in the day. Then carve out time and act on your A1 task.
#4. Play UNO
Playing Uno ties into #2 and is my way of saying “focus on doing one thing each day that will help get you the best results.”
Looking at that massive to-do list can be overwhelming. It’s hard to know where to start, so you become paralyzed from taking action.
This is why we take that weekly task list and prioritize it to create a plan of attack.
Focusing on the one thing you planned the night before (the A1 task) makes the game winnable and easier to manage.
Note: to reiterate #2, when you knocked out the A1 task for the day, you then shift your target to A2.
It’s hard not to feel accomplished and experience progress when you knock the main thing off your list each day. You and momentum become best friends when you optimize your system for maximum badassery.
#5. Eliminate Distractions
It’s so easy for us to get distracted because we’ve become glued to our phones, computers, smartwatches, and TVs. We’re “too connected” and don’t want to miss out on anything and everything.
I’ve had to discipline myself to eliminate distractions.
When it’s grind time, I have to prepare my environment so I can get into the zone.
Kill Social Media Notifications
For me, I kill all notifications on my phone except for texts and calls in case of an emergency.
I personally have a strong belief that you do not need social media notifications on your phone. That shit will distract you from keeping the main thing the main thing.
Use DND Mode
I always have Do Not Disturb Mode set on my phone from 9 PM–6 AM, so nothing distracts me before bed until after I eat the worm and play Uno. I’ll even turn on DND Mode when I need to practice a speech, record the podcast, or get lost in a drawing.
Set App Limits & Notifications
On iOS, you can set App Limits to put time constraint reminders on apps you tend to overuse.
You can also enable notifications to let you know how much screen time you’ve been using to keep yourself in check.
Optimize Your Environment
For me, having a clean desk/office, closing the door, and having one screen on for willpower tasks like writing helps me find my zone.
As much as I love my cats, having them crawl all over me and knocking shit over on my desk while I work is a no-go.
Overall, protect and value the time you’ve carved out for yourself to grind—no one else will do that for you.
#6. Say NO, so You Can Say YES
Your secret weapon for creating more time is a muscle you don’t flex often enough.
You gotta learn how to say NO, NOPE, and NAH, I’M GOOD.
If you constantly use the excuse of “I never have time,” it’s times to switch your language to “I haven’t made it a priority.”
I should know because this excuse was my default for everything. Any margin of time I had got filled up because I was a professional over-committer who didn’t understand the power of saying NO.
Of course, you can’t make something a priority because you said YES to something else when you should’ve said NO!
It’s really simple: saying YES fills your time and saying NO creates more time for what’s most important.
The Hell Yes Filter
Create a filter for yourself—if an opportunity comes your way, and it’s not an instant HELL YES that aligns with your main vision, then it’s an immediate HELL NO.
The Hell No List
Another step to help you frame your Hell-Yes filter is by creating a list of No’s and Hell-No’s. That way, you have set guidelines to stick to when decent opportunities come knocking.
This filter and list will clamp down on letting people and stupid, non-essential tasks steal your time.
Take Yourself Seriously
Everyone has what it takes to execute their side hustle outside their day job.
The problem is that people struggle to grind on their side hustle because they lack a system and some discipline.
Regardless if you’re a night owl or early bird, make notes of these ideas—I know they can help you see results ASAP.
It all boils down to—how badly do you want it? Are you ready to take yourself and your work seriously?
Need Some Extra Help? Check out The Side Hustler’s Coaching Program
If you want that extra level of accountability of someone helping you develop a process that helps you win with your work, sign up for the Side Hustler’s Coaching Program now to join the waitlist for September 16th’s launch week.
Enjoy This Episode?
If you enjoyed and found this episode value, I need your help spreading it! Please, share a screenshot or video of the episode you’re listening to and tag me on Instagram at @prspctv_cllctv and @perspectivepodcast—and let’s connect.
- Download your FREE Side Hustler’s War Chest
- Get your FREE audiobook download from Audible
- Join our Private Global Facebook Community of Creators
- Listener of the Week:
- Podcast Editor: Aine Brennan
- Shownotes Editor: Paige Garland
- Video Editor: Colton Bachar
- Podcast music: Blookah