The hardest thing about building a side business is time management, especially as your business grows. This has been something that I’ve perpetually struggled with, especially as my business has grown over time.
Unless you’re going to launch into your business full time (which I don’t advise), you’re going to start your business on the side.
As such, I want to touch base on a few key time management tools and schedules for helping you balance a side business while working full time. Plus, I hope you’ll see that you can work full time and run a business. It is possible – let me show you some tools of the trade.
The first thing you need to figure out when it comes to side business time management is your schedule. For this, I partnered with my friend Michelle over at Making Sense of Cents. She is doing an amazing job building a great side income while still working full time. I wanted to include her in this because she works a “standard” nine to five job, where as I work a variable schedule job. Plus, she has a similar online empire being built, so it provides a great frame of reference.
Here’s Michelle’s schedule, which is for a “standard” nine to five setup:
- 6:15am – Wake Up and Get Ready
- 6:45am – Check and Reply to Emails, Moderate Comments, Read Blogs (all while eating breakfast)
- 7:45am – Leave for Work
- Noon (During My Lunch Break) – Check and Reply to Emails, Moderate Comments, Read Blogs
- 6:00pm – Get Home From Work and work on my business for a few hours (varies each night, sometimes a night off)
** Saturday is spent all day working on business.
Compare that to my schedule. I work a variable schedule, that includes nights and weekends, but I do some of the same tactics on a “normal” day:
- 6:45am – Wake Up and Get Ready
- 7:15am – Check Sites, Reply to Emails, Schedule Social Media
- 7:30am – Leave for Work
- All Day – Check Email on my Phone (I don’t get a set lunch break)
- 5:30pm – Get Home From Work and Spend Time with Wife (at least a few hours, if not more for dinner)
- 8:00pm – Work on my Business, Writing, Scheduling Posts
- 11:00pm – Bed Time
* In contrast to Michelle, I spend all day on my day off working on my business (which is typically Thursdays)
** When I work nights, I spend the morning before work (9am-1pm) working on my business
If you look at both of our schedules, you’ll see that we both are able to put in 3 or more hours each workday into our businesses. Then, we are also able to put in full days as needed each week. That gives us over 20 hours per week on our respective businesses.
You can see that we are both night people as well. You could easily reverse this schedule and wake up earlier to work on your site if you found yourself to be more of a morning person. Or, you could stay up later. Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income stays up notoriously late working on his business.
Finally, don’t be afraid to leverage vacation for your business. I’ve taken vacations to coordinate around project launches or as breaks from my day job to focus on my side job. For example, before launching this site, I took a vacation. I actually wrote Can You Escape Your Job to Become a Freelancer while looking at this view from my hotel room patio:
Key Tools to Support a Side Business
Part of being able to work on a side business while working full time is having some key tools that make it easier. Here’s my toolbox of tools that make my life easier, with some input from Michelle.
Gmail – The first thing you need to do is get a gmail account, or preferably a Google Apps account. This is an exchange account for your business, and allows you to operate anywhere and have all your emails in sync no matter where you check your emails. For me, I have my desktop computer, my iPhone, and my iPad Mini. I can’t access outside internet on work computers (and wouldn’t do it anyway for privacy reasons), but no matter what device I’m using, I can access my emails.
Note Taking – I’m a huge fan of Evernote. I have a notebook for each of my websites and ideas, and another for my nine to five job. Along with my email, my Evernote syncs across all my devices and so if I get an idea at work, I can jot it down and then open it up on my home computer when I get back. Michelle prefers an old fashioned notepad and writes down ideas with a pen. She has amassed a notebook with over 50 ideas, and keeps it as a running list. Whether you go digital or not, having some place to put down your ideas is key.
Anywhere Access – No matter what your business is, you need to be able to access your business from anywhere. On my phone (which is my primary remote access tool), I have everything in one place – social media accounts and bookmarks to my relevant websites. This makes it easy for me to check in as needed. Here’s what my iPhone looks like with a folder for my websites:
Other key tools I use to stay synced everywhere is Dropbox, Google Docs, Google Calendar, and Reminders. I also am a huge fan of cloud based accounting software, which I use Wave (which is also free).
Work Life Balance
The truth is there is no such thing as work life balance. If you’re passionate about what you’re building, it becomes your life. You give time to what you care about and what your priorities are. If you’re an entrepreneur in your blood, it is impossible to turn it off. If you cherish your family time, you’ll always make time for it.
Keep perspective, and build a schedule that suits your needs. It is possible.
What does your schedule look like? Early riser or late nighter? Do you have any great tools that make you more productive?