As a full-time student at the University of Missouri, I often refer to my freelance writing as my side hustle. It helps me make a little extra money, lets me use and develop my writing skills even when my classes don’t offer the opportunity, and it’s incredibly rewarding. (You feel me, my fellow side hustlers?)
Sometimes, though, it’s hard to find a minute to devote to my freelancing work in between 18 hours of classes, a paid on-campus job, and an unpaid on-campus gig—which is why I’ve worked so hard these past few months to find ways to make more time. By no means am I a time management pro, but throughout this crazy semester, I’ve learned a thing or two about making time for what’s important to me. Here, five ways that have helped me find time for my side hustle (and that I hope will help you find time for yours, too):
1. Make a schedule and stick to it.
If there’s anything that I’ve learned while trying to balance freelancing with everything else that I do as a student, it’s that I get some serious work done when I wake up bright and early. There’s just something about being up before the regular day’s programming begins that really brings out my inner #GirlBoss—the world is (mostly) quiet, after all, and the distractions are fewer and farther between. Knowing that, I make a point of scheduling in some time (even if it’s just 20 minutes) for my freelance work on one or two mornings every week. If the early a.m. just isn’t your thing, though, have no fear: I’ve heard late nights serve the same purpose for some of my night owl friends. For some extra inspiration, read up on what successful people do on Monday mornings and right before bed. Investing in a cute planner or finding an app that fits your work style will also help keep you on track.
2. Learn to say “no.”
Step one: Make a list of your priorities for the day, week, month, year—whatever you can manage. Step two: Learn to say “no” to things that don’t align with those priorities. My side hustle is incredibly rewarding for me and often falls at the top of my priority list, so some days, I might turn down a mid-day coffee date with a friend or let someone else take the reins on a bigger project at one of my on-campus jobs so I can get more writing done. This is never easy to do, so if you have trouble with saying “no” like I do, check out these awesome tips to avoid overscheduling.
[Related: The Art of Saying No]
3. Share tips and tricks with your fellow side hustlers.
The best part about attending a journalism school (the Missouri School of Journalism) is hearing about all the amazing things my peers have done and are doing for their careers outside of class. There are bloggers and interns and freelance writers, and they never fail to blow me away with how much work they get done while still being full-time students. Of course, being surrounded by people with side gigs similar to mine provides for an awesome exchange of advice on all sorts of things—including advice on how to find time for a side hustle in an already-busy schedule. Chances are you know a side hustler or two in your workplace that you could chat with, as well. But if you don’t have a built-in community of fellow side hustlers? Try connecting with some right here on Levo. Because we all know that having peer mentors (aka friendtors) is a ton of fun.
4. Unplug for a while.
Think about how much time you spend on social media in any given day. Now, think about how much more you could work on your side hustle if you even just cut that amount of time in half. Impressive, right? I’m the first to admit that sifting through Instagram can take up far too much of my time, but I’m starting to understand the power of unplugging for even just a little while every day. Try pulling out a good ol’ fashioned pen and paper or bringing up a distraction-free document on your laptop (no extra browser tabs allowed). Bonus points if you have a power playlist you can listen to while you work.
5. Eliminate your most common excuses.
“But I did so much today. I totally deserve a break.” “I don’t have time today.” “I can always just do this tomorrow.” No matter how much I love my side hustle, I fall into the trap of using excuses like these ones all the time—and I know I’m not the only one. While these excuses are, at times, valid, using them every day is a surefire way to end up, you know, never working on your side gig. So, next time you start to make an excuse, write it down or make a mental note. The better you get at recognizing the bad habits that kill your productivity, the better you’ll get at stopping them in their tracks.
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