This is a go-to guide for all the moms who are thinking of starting a side business while employed!
I know what you are thinking, how do you find time to work on something else besides your day job when you have so much going on in your life and you are already feeling overwhelmed?
Your day job takes more than 9 to 5 pm because you have to take into account the time it takes you to get ready in the morning and your commuting time (that sometimes can take at least an hour door to door). Not to mention the days when you get urgent projects to complete by the end of the day, so you start even earlier or stay later at the office and come back home so exhausted that you don’t want anyone to speak with you.
When you add all of the above to your other job as a mom (that takes over every single minute of what’s left), I understand why you wonder how you can pull it off without completely losing it.
It takes a lot of planning, but it is achievable! I guess it all comes down to how much you really want it.
For me, the thought of staying at my day job until I am 70 years old scares the hell out of me! What it actually means is that for the rest of my life, I will be under constant stress, not being able to do the things I really want to do or spend enough time with my family and I will never have more than 20-something leave days a year!
So, for me, this is much worse than having to invest whatever time I have now in growing my side hustle. If you are ready to start taking action and build your first side hustle, check out side hustle ideas for working moms.
The ideas below are all the things that are working for me and helped me tremendously to achieve a lot more in my life and create a lot more time for the things that matter to me. I hope you will find them useful for you too. In this guide, I will give you all my tips and tricks for starting a side business while employed so you can free up time to make real progress with your side hustle.
Starting a Side Business While Employed – 12 Ways to Find More Time
Start by Tracking Your Time!
If you are constantly struggling with finding the time to start a side business while employed, you must start by tracking everything you do on a daily basis so you can have a clear picture of what you spend your time on and how long it really takes.
Most of us think that we already know where our time goes, and so there is no real benefit in trying to track all of that. I used to think that too and this is why I’ve refused to “waste my time” doing that until I decided to try. Then I really saw, in my own eyes, where I spend most of my time and where are my ‘opportunities’ that I can use to work on my business.
Decide that you are going to track everything you do for a week (yes, Monday to Sunday). Take a notebook and write down everything you do from the minute you wake up and until you go to sleep with the exact hours and how long it took you.
Don’t criticize yourself when you are doing that. Be honest and remember that this is your opportunity to create more time for the things that matter to you and that for you to be successful in doing that, you must know for sure how long it takes you to do all the things that you are doing on a regular basis.
If you got off track while trying to track everything – just start again the next day until you have completed a whole week. It’s very important to track all your weekdays because they are not the same.
Once you’ve finished, look at your week and see which of your tasks takes too much of your time and work out how you can reduce that time or completely stop doing some of these things so you can have an extra few hours a week to work on your side hustle.
For example, picking up and dropping off your son at soccer twice or even 3 times a week can easily take about 3 hours a week in total. Check to see if you can make a plan with the other parents to set up a carpool so you can do this only once a week and save precious time.
Reduce Cooking Time
If you completed tracking the whole week, you might find that you spend between 1 and 2 hours a day! In the kitchen, cooking dinner and lunch for you and the whole family. With proper planning, you can reduce this time by at least half.
This plan can include meal prep over the weekend and freezing lunches (check out my post ‘How to Start Meal Prepping“), do batch cooking by preparing large quantities every time you cook and consider replacing one dinner a week with take-out food (for my family this would be Mexican food every Wednesday night and sometimes Pizza on Saturday night).
Give Up on Something!
The most important thing to do before you start thinking about starting a side business while employed, is to look at your tracking journal and think, what is the activity that you can give up on?
It could be watching another episode of your favorite series at night or watching the news in bed before you fall asleep or scrolling endlessly through Facebook and Instagram, or spending too much time at the supermarket wandering around the aisles.
One of the things that really impressed me when I heard Sophia Lee’s story (the blogger who became a millionaire just from writing on her blog) is how dedicated she was to working on her blog when she was a university student, working also as a nanny. While her friends were going out, she stayed home to work on her blog! You can read all about Sophia Lee’s story and her income report in the post about Perfecting Blogging By Sophia Lee.
This is one of my favourites! Let’s say that you are chatting with your friend on the phone and you haven’t seen her for a long time (this most definitely will take more than 15 minutes…, so why not go for a walk at the same time?)
You have a doctor’s appointment that you have to go to and drive for 20-30 minutes and even have some waiting time in the waiting room – why not listen to one of the lessons inside that new training you’ve just enrolled in?
Find the 2 activities that you can combine together and get used to finding creative solutions to make the most of your time.
Find the Most Productive Time in Your Day
What is the time of day that you are the most productive? Are you an early bird or a night owl? Whatever time of the day it is, you know you can focus and complete things much more quickly – this is the time that you’ll work on your side hustle.
It could be at 5:30 am and before you go to work or from 8 – 10 pm after the kids are already in bed. Over the weekend, this can also be in the early evening after everyone is tired from the family activity or early in the morning when everyone is still sleeping in – there is no one right answer, the right answer is what works best for you and when is the time that you are the most productive and not too tired.
Divide the Time You’ll Work on Your Side Hustle Into 2 Chunks
The first one is learning, and the second one is implementing. It’s good to remind yourself and be aware of the fact that as much as it’s fun and exciting to learn new skills (especially skills of something that you are passionate about), the results will only come from you going out there and implementing the stuff you learn.
Commute time is your new learning time!
This will save you hours and will most definitely help you get more done in a day.
If you take the train or drive to work, you will want to use this time to learn and develop the skills you need by listening to audiobooks (check out Crushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence-and How You Can, Too, by Gary Vaynerchuk audiobook which I’ve already listened to twice in 4 months), podcasts or the training you’ve signed up for.
You can also do some research to help you make a decision on something you are struggling with – let’s say that you need to decide on accounting software for your side business and you have 2 that you heard of but need more information to decide, you can listen to YouTube videos reviewing these 2 while you are on the train.
The best use of your time when you are at home, sitting in front of the computer, would be to implement the new things you’ve learned (as much as possible).
It’s not always possible to dedicate all these time slots to implementation because some learning requires you to look at the screen to understand the material and you also might need to stop the lesson and write notes or try something yourself. However, it’s good to pick up some learning that you can listen to while you are commuting to work so this time is not wasted.
Can You Be Flexible With Your Working Hours?
Are you struggling to make real progress in your side business because you don’t have enough time? Remember that you’ll need to shift your focus and think about how you can fit your side hustle work into your day in the most effective way.
If you can change your day job hours according to your productive time slot (a tiny change that will help you a lot to be more productive).
Let’s say that your most productive time is between 6 am – 7 am. Are you able to start working at the office at 9 am? If so, then you can work 1 hour in the morning, then get dressed and help the kids and still catch the train on time to arrive at the office by 9 am.
However, if your most productive time is late afternoon or in the evening, then you might want to ask your manager if you can start to work at an earlier time. If your children are old enough to go to school by themselves or your partner is able to help with that in the mornings, then you can easily start working at the office at 7:00 or 7:30 so you can be at home early afternoon with your kids and maybe run some errands before you start working on your side hustle in the evening.
Plan Your Weekends Carefully
If you plan to work on your side hustle before anything else on the weekend, you won’t believe how much your success rate in completing tasks will go up and you will do what you said you would do!
As a working mom, it’s very hard to find free time on the weekends as well. Weekends are usually the only time that you have to cook and do some meal prep for the week ahead, clean and organise the house, spend quality time with your kids, maybe invite friends over, and what about time with your partner and did we forget your Pilates / Yoga / Zumba class or your walk?
When you look at it like this, your weekends can be full of stuff to do already if you don’t prioritise and plan ahead. So for me, I prefer to work on my side business first thing on Saturday and Sunday morning. That way, it’s usually a very quiet time (if it’s early enough), and the kids are not up yet.
I have time for myself to think and work. It fills me with a sense of joy to know that by 9 am when the house is starting to be noisy again and everyone needs my attention, I’ve already worked on my most important things and progressed another step in my plan, so I am ready now to make hot chocolate for the kids, go for a picnic or start organising the house…
Before that, I used to plan to work on my business on Saturday and Sunday from 4 pm – 7 pm. I can tell you honestly that I had very little success completing 6 hours of work during these weekends because I was too tired to start working at 4 pm (if we just got back from the park, from a picnic, from the beach, or even just cleaning the house!) and a lot of the time, some activities took much longer than expected so I was rarely on time at my desk by 4 pm.
Find your pockets of time
I guess we don’t really notice how much time is hiding in our calendar until we really track our activities and become aware of the potential of waiting time. As a working mom, there are some activities that you just must do. Like dropping off your kids at a birthday party and then coming to pick them up. If you know that it is a 2-hour party and it will take you about 15-20 minutes to drive back home in each direction, consider bringing your laptop and coffee with you and work in your car.
I used to take my son to guitar lessons every Wednesday, and it was just about a 10-minute drive from our house, so instead of going back and forth, I’ve decided to bring my computer with me, my coffee (and my favourite granola bar) and work for 45 minutes straight! I even chose a nice, peaceful place to park the car so people would not walk past. I did the same with his swimming lessons (until he grew up and now uses public transportation).
Today, every time that I need to go to the office for my day job, I take the train to the city, but I only have free parking at the train station near my house if I get there very early, by 6:45 am. So I started another habit of parking the car by 6:45 am, then buying my favourite large almond cappuccino at the café and heading back to my car for a whole hour to work on my business. Then at 7:45 am, I am on the train and arrive at the office at the same time as everyone else.
You will see that you will get addicted to these time slots because it is your special private time that no one can interrupt and ask you questions or complain that they can’t find their uniform or their second shoe.
The 80/20 rule
Apply the 80/20 rule to get clarity on your most important tasks.
When you run a business, 20% of the things you do will bring 80% of the results, and 80% of your profits will come from 20% of the customers.
When you plan what you are going to complete in 2-3 hours that you have – it’s better to be aware of the 20/80 rule and think, will this task that I want to do will really make progress in building my side hustle, or can I do something else with my time that would be much more beneficial.
That means that you only work on tasks that will really move the needle for your side business and that you spend very little time on things that are not that important to create results in your business (like creating the perfect logo design).
Eat that Ugly Frog First
When you start working, always start with the most complicated task, this is the task that will take a lot of brainpower and that you don’t want to do, start with eating that frog! As Brian Tracy says in his wonderful book Eat That Frog! – “If you have to eat a frog at all, which we all have to do, it doesn’t pay to sit and look at it for too long. In other words, just do it. Get on with it. Make it the first thing that you do.”
What are these frogs? These are the tasks that you really don’t want to do and can’t bring yourself to focus on, but you know you need to do them. This could be writing the content for your new website before you even start looking at website design templates or investing the time in planning your week/ your day before you start working so you can create progress towards your goal instead of wasting your time watching YouTube videos to learn something new).
These are my most productive tips on starting a side business while employed so you can really make progress with your side hustle instead of feeling frustrated that you don’t have enough time to do the things that really matter to you.
At the end of the day, when you combine these 2 strategies – finding new opportunities in your calendar to work on your ideas and using these new time slots in the most productive way, this is the way you build something new and exciting in your life.
Small steps every week will lead to big results in the long run. All you need to do is start.
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