Time Management Tips for Side Hustlers

 

Look to your left, look to your right - it’s 2019, and chances are, one of you is a side hustler. 

CNBC reported nearly 1 in 3 Americans had a side hustle in 2018, and the number is increasing in 2019. With this new reality, time management skills are rapidly becoming more like survival skills, especially if you want time left over to focus on health, happiness, and mental wellness.

I am a design and construction professional by day and a graphic illustrator by night. I started Patricia FK Design & Illustration (PFK for short) 3 years ago to focus on my passion for watercolor painting and design. PFK now has hundreds of unique products in retail stores around Atlanta and online, and we have provided consultation on numerous weddings and high-end events. Success did not come overnight, and I learn something new every day. I certainly have not perfected the art of time management, but I do have some tips worth passing on to my fellow side hustlers.  

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1. Value your time

All the side hustlers out there working 70+ hour weeks, skipping social commitments, missing family events, and losing time with our partners - I know how you feel.  I’ve been there. One morning after a big fight with my partner (over my lack of time management), I sat in my studio and contemplated, thinking “I worked hard to build this business. While I want more time with family, friends, and for myself, I am NOT ready to give it up”.  

I adopted a new philosophy after that epiphany - I can make more money, but I can’t get back the time passed. Then I committed to evaluating myself, my lifestyle, and my business as they relate to time. I found ways to streamline processes and choose my commitments wisely. Simply put, I became more intentional with my time

Now, I avoid traffic by taking the train, which gives time to address emails, read, and sketch ideas. I plan ahead to complete projects and learn to say no to some requests. I make a realistic work schedule (more on that later). My work has improved, because I take the time to find inspiration. I have the energy to maintain my creative spirit and bring my ideas to life with enthusiasm. 

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2. Edit your business

I had one part-time employee, product lines in retail stores, and a steady flow of commercial and wedding clients about two years into my start-up. I burned the midnight oil completing projects every weeknight and played catch-up with literally everything else every weekend. I felt like I was drowning.

It made sense, then, for me to overhaul my process, policies, and services. I scrapped exceedingly time-consuming products. I outsourced some production to save time. I began to source materials from local businesses to reduce shipping time and expense. I switched to label stamping (from stickers) which is quicker, more economical, and less wasteful. I stopped working on weddings and commercial projects simultaneously. I increased wait times for large projects which gives more time flexibility and reduces stress.  Incremental change to be more efficient, careful, and sustainable can amount to majorly positive long-run outcomes.

A sustainable business evolves with time, technology, and consumer needs. Editing my business allows it to grow through a process of almost-constant reevaluation. Scrap the processes and policies holding you back and maximize on the ones contributing to your success.

3. Tidy your space

After discovering Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, I felt an unrelenting need to ‘Kondo’ my workspace. I trashed, recycled, or donated items not needed and neatly reorganized everything else. I even Kondo-ed my computer. I find that well organized and clutter-free (digital and physical) workspaces improve concentration and efficiency which directly relates to time management. Even Benjamin Franklin said, “For every minute spent in organizing, an hour is earned”.

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4. Make a plan

Make a realistic schedule on a monthly and weekly basis, and a to-do list on a daily basis. Don’t forget plans you’ve made with friends, family, and yourself. If you don’t complete everything on your list - that’s OK. Add them to the next day’s list and prioritize.

5. Be accountable

Easier said than done, I know, but stick to your schedule and to-do lists to stay on track. Setting alarms and reminders help me keep important tasks top-of-mind. Be sure to check the boxes as you knock out tasks. There is NO better feeling than checking boxes on a to-do list - it fuels me!

6. Ask for help

Repeat after me – It’s OK to ask for help. There will be times when you need it. The good news is that people want to help.  Ask your family and close friends. They typically want to be helpful and enjoy contributing to your success.

If there is one thing you take away from these tips, I hope it is to value your time. It is a limited resource - so use it wisely. Sort out your priorities, make a plan, then stay accountable. You will soon be on your way to conquering your time (and not the other way around). Best of luck!

-Patricia Kusumadjaja

Follow along with PFK: @_patriciafk

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