I know myself that starting an online business on a side is such a big hustle.
When you have a full-time job where you weekly spend 40+ hours and a family with small kids begging for your attention every free minute it’s almost impossible to find the quality time to get the job done.
Like me, you surely see many experts trying to teach you how to build the online business so you could finally leave your job and work it full-time.
The truth is, the most of them did not have a full-time job. Ever!
Or they just did not have any family commitments when they were starting out. They did not have a well-paying job that’s not easy to replace with the income (if there’s any) from a starting business. Or they just had no option because they were laid out or faced some kind of edgy situation where they just had to go all-in.
Without these family commitments you have it was easy for them to quit their boring jobs and start a new endeavor in an exotic country. Living on a cheap and working all day long on their dream project.
However, it’s absolutely different for you who simply do have many things going on in your everyday life.
Simply, there’s not enough time in your day to start a side business.
You only have lunch breaks and about 1 hour after you put kids to bed each night to work for yourself. Then there are only weekends, the time you’d love to enjoy fully with you family, have fun doing your hobbies and fully recover yourself before the next work week kicks in.
Happy family is my #1 priority
However, you try to get at least something out of the time at your disposal at the expense of your loved ones.
Your time is extremely limited and it’s almost mission impossible to find more of it.
I’ve tried to improve on that front for about two years, unsuccessfully. Even when I was able to carve out some more time the difference was not big enough.
I’ve not only struggled with getting enough free time. But finding the quality time when I was distraction free, able to focus on the essential things for getting my side business off the ground.
The time for calling with people from my potential target audience, writing remarkable content for my blog, reaching out to business owners to land a guest post opportunities, then writing, building relationships, and so on. There were ton of things I wanted to do, but barely got done anything in the whole week.
The worst thing was that even when I finally managed to get more than 10 hours in my week, I still accomplished very little.
I’ve been exhausted after the whole day at work, the family stuff and chores waiting for me at home. The result was that I always ended up doing comfortable and easy tasks which were getting me nowhere near to earning the first money from my own business.
My plans were always big, but most of the time I’ve failed miserably.
The biggest issue was putting things into action.
Even when I had some free time when I should have done something fruitful, I was looking at meaningless things. And not doing something that would have actually mattered.
I was just running away from doing the real work.
Always opting for an easy task like washing the dishes, shopping for food, cleaning my inbox to zero, reading, watching videos from courses, or learning new “quicker” shortcuts for starting my business without ever trying them in real.
However, after investing thousands into the right courses I’ve realized where the issue was.
I’ve learned that the difference is in the mindset and the ability of completing the essential things which grow my business.
Now, I’m regularly creating much more free time for my side hustle. Time when I’m energized and excited to work on the tasks, even on those hard ones which are way outside of my comfort zone.
Working in my favorite coffee shop
When I work, I easily make sure to work on the most important stuff. The tasks that really move my business towards my ambitious goals.
I’m fully focused on taking one action at a time without any distractions. This helps me to accomplish much more in one hour than I was able to do in 2-3 hours of distracted work in the past.
This brings me the sense of accomplishment so I can spend a nice guilt-free afternoon with my kids. Having a lot of fun with them and enjoying beautiful moments by being fully present with them.
And the best thing is that I’m making progress in my side business every single week. So I can celebrate wins regularly which makes me happy, excited and fulfilled. That’s one of the most important things in life.
As Tony Robbins says:
I’m sure you know that there is no other way to starting a successful long-lasting business than putting in the hard work and hustling day in day out.
There are no magic shortcuts and overnight success.
Only with the consistency, it’s inevitable that you are going to achieve your business goals.
But, do you know how to find more free time for your business in your busy days? And not only find it but how to get the most out of that limited time?
If you don’t know it, or you feel like you can still improve, then this guide is right for you.
This post is packed with a simple and actionable advice from some of the best productivity strategists and many successful entrepreneurs.
If you’ll implement even a portion of the action steps laid out below I promise to you that it will create a foundation for taking the massive actions every day. Actions, that will help you start your side business and get it off the ground.
It’ll also make a huge difference in your personal life because you’ll feel happier by the things you’ve accomplished in your day. And this is going to transform your personal and family life as well.
Don’t have time to read the whole guide right now?
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Can’t wait to find more time and get the most out of it to finally get your side business off the ground?
Let’s jump right in…
Here’s the sneak peek of what’s covered in this guide.
This table of contents will help you navigate throughout the post so you won’t miss out on the interesting parts when you’ll be coming back to it later.
Big special thanks to my coach and mentor Primoz Bozic for his productivity and business advice that was the foundation for a pretty big chunk of this guide. Also for his coaching and support during the creation of this massive guide. Primoz is now focusing on helping the starting entrepreneurs like you to create and leverage the ultimate guides like this to skyrocket your business. I absolutely recommend checking out his free checklist for creating ultimate guides.
Part 1: How to find your never-ending motivation to finally get your side business off the ground (in months, not years)
Back in April 2014, I’ve bought Ramit Sethi’s Zero To Launch course.
I wanted to have a specific framework for building an online business.
One day I want to become Ramit Sethi’s Zero To Launch program’s success story
I was excited because I had a business idea already in my mind. So I thought that I’ll “easily” have my own business up and running in eight weeks, as Ramit promises. Though, the truth was absolutely different.
What a naive entrepreneur newbie…
That first idea did not materialize thanks to the course’s actions. Do you see? I said “thanks”, because that saved me a ton of time, money, headaches and I’d say also business suicide.
So I moved on and kept hustling with a new bunch of ideas for about 1.5 years.
There were weeks when I’d be highly motivated to put in tens of hours of my free time in the morning and evening. However, I’d burn out quickly, hit a barrier and stopped working for weeks.
It’s hard to admit, but I’ve always started searching for some “magic easy way” to get my business off the ground.
After losing another few weeks of progress doing nothing in real I’d come back restarting my way through the Zero To Launch course.
Though, I’ve learned my lesson and figured out that the biggest problem was in my head.
Talking to other successful business owners I’ve discovered that there is a massive secret when it comes to keeping the motivation for building your own business.
The secret is in knowing your “WHY”
I’m sure you’ve heard about Simon Sinek’s famous phrase “start with why”.
It’s not only about why people should buy from you, why your product is the best out there. But also about your reasons why are you building your own business.
Why are you doing what you’re doing day in day out? How big difference are you going to make in this world? And so on…
The stronger your reasons are, the faster progress you are going to make.
You’re less likely to get stuck for a longer period of time or give up completely.
When you are clear about your deep reasons it’s much easier to keep going during tough times, to keep overcoming all of those obstacles and putting in the effort even when you don’t feel like doing the hard work by putting more effort in.
I’ll again quote Tony Robbins. This time from his motivational video for making a difference in your life for 2017.
Reasons come first, answers come second.
If you’ve got a compelling vision and strong enough reasons that will push you through tough times you’re gonna do things that other people don’t do.
Vision is compelling, but make sure that reasons are strong enough to follow through. You gotta review it and feel it every day.
Your strong reasons will be a powerful tool in your vault to ensure that you’ll never stop believing in your business. It will kick your butt to do the work outside of your comfort zone.
For example, some of the reasons for growing my own business are:
- Make a difference in the lives of million people by helping them achieve more success and live a rich life with a purpose
- Live the life on my own terms, doing every day what I love doing, so it won’t even feel like working
- Be financially independent
- Be location independent to and able to go on a mini-vacations whenever I want
- Build genuine relationships with other business owners
The full list is much longer and detailed which makes my motivation even bigger.
Here are another examples from my readers who want to work on their side business every morning:
Now, I want you to get clear about your reasons which will get you working on your side business every single day.
This exercise is pretty straightforward and simple.
Fail to do this one thing and you’ll never run a successful business
This is a very strong statement, I know.
However, I stand by it. And I’m sure every successful business owner will admit it too.
It’s called commitment.
Commitment to building a successful long-lasting business.
Do you see my point?
A lot of people do not even think about being committed to something. That’s why they struggle to achieve their dreams. Especially when it comes to building the side business.
I was making the same mistake for months.
I wanted to create my own business and I wanted to have it up and running fast. Seeing those payments coming into my inbox during my sleep. That’s why I invested into the right courses, right?
However, the problem was that I did not commit to hustle every single day.
I was just taking some random actions during my free time but not consistently. I was thinking that I’ll hit the motivation wave and make some magic happen. It never happened.
The truth is, we won’t make anything happen unless we commit to achieving it.
I always wanted to get a raise, but I’ve never put in the required effort in. I was always doing great work. But, I knew I could have done much more, working harder and especially working on the areas that will allow me to make the leap.
However, when I’ve really decided that I need to make a step up, I made it. When my daughter was born I’ve become the only breadwinner. I had to increase my salary in order to maintain the comfort while taking care of another human being in the household.
That’s where I’ve committed to getting promoted. And I did it.
All with the simple but powerful act of committing.
There are many other examples in my life like when I’ve committed to eating healthy, exercising regularly, waking up early, taking cold showers, meditating every day.
I’m sure you’ve made many similar decisions in your life which got accomplished once you truly committed to achieving them.
Deuce Lutui: TBOLITNFL = The Best Offensive Lineman In The National Football League
One story that will always stay in my mind which helped me kickstart my business is the story known as The Deuce Lutui Story. I’ve read about it in the book Time Warrior from Steve Chandler, an author of more than 30 books, a master success coach, and a public speaker.
The story is about the NFL player Deuce Lutui who completely turned his professional career around in one single day by working with as Steve Chandler describes “Jedi master coach” Steve Hardison.
In that one day, Deuce decided to become the best in his craft, committed to it by sending a text “TBOLITNFL” (the best offensive lineman in the NFL) to his coach, and acted like he was already the best ever since.
He had started putting his all every single day on and off the field until he truly became the best. From the pre-season camp where he came in the shape of “the Lindsay Lohan of pro football”, overweight and disgruntled about his contract, he turned everything upside down playing like a superstar.
He committed to himself. This act created a huge internal motivation which nobody could have ever taken away from him. It has literally transformed him. It was his new “I AM”.
Like Steve Chandler says about it:
If I AM something, I don’t have to stick with anything in the future. It’s already in me. Like my heart.
Now, you can do the same thing.
Commit to yourself that you’ll keep hustling every single day. That you’ll show up every single day to make progress towards your dream. That you’ll fail over and over until you succeed.
My commitment to keep hustling with my business following Zero To Launch course (I love colors ;-))
Part 2: Life hacks for “creating” more time for your side business
“Either you run the day or the day runs you” ~ Jim Rohn
Usually, we hardly find more free time in our days for all the thing we would love to do. The trick here is that we need to CREATE more of it.
The more time you create especially for important tasks in your side business, the faster you achieve your goals.
I know you’re thinking that your days are fully packed. That it is almost impossible to find more free time for you side business that you crave for.
You have a full-time job where you spend 8+ hours, your commute takes you 1-2, or maybe even 3 hours every day. After the work, you rush to take your kids out of the nursery and school, feed them, help them with their homework, and do the chores.
You try to spend at least some quality time playing with your kids. However, often you’re not fully present with them because you think more about the stuff you’d like to do for your business.
You feel exhausted after the whole day at work. The only thing you dream of is some quiet time for yourself and your cozy bed. However, you still have the urge to do at least something for your side business.
You wish you’d have much more time in your day. However, the truth is that the day will always have only 24 hours. It’s only up to you how you run your day.
Now, I’ll show you that it’s absolutely possible to create more time for your business.
Hack #1: Take a full control of your morning
There’s a huge potential in your morning time.
My friend Scott Barlow, the founder of Happen To Your Career used to wake up at 4 a.m. to work on his side business while having full-time job and three small kids. He is driven to help people either figure out the job that fits them or create a profitable business on the side.
“I get up at 4am every morning, and that seems way too early to most people, but it works for me.
I’ve realized that that is when I can get more done, more efficiently than any other time during the day. I’m then able to focus my mind and time when my wife and kids need me.”
If you feel like you’re not a morning person or if your morning is usually very messy there is an opportunity for creating time for your business.
I’m a living example.
I’ve never been a morning person and taking control of my morning has made a huge difference in my days.
I used to wake up at 11 a.m. during the weekends. So going to my full-time job has always been painful for me.
I was hitting the snooze button for more than 1 hour before I could even get out of the bed. Then I’d just walk around still half-sleepy for another half hour or so.
When I started asking successful people like Scott Barlow from the online business community the first thing they recommended was always to start waking up early and to work for yourself first.
Work on your own side business before you go to your day job.
It took me a good few weeks of tweaks, trials, errors, wins, and failures until I was able to wake up early and work for myself first.
Now, I wake up at 5 AM almost every day, do my empowering morning routine to get into the productive mode. (We’ll cover morning routine in detail a bit later).
If you want to get the most out of your mornings like me here are some simple but powerful tips:
- Wake up earlier than you are used to – to be able to do this you need to go to the bed earlier as well. Otherwise, you’d burn yourself out from sleep deprivation. The other important thing is to start small. Set up the timer only 10 minutes earlier for the first time, get used to it for about a week or two. Then you can rewind back another 10 minutes. Rinse and repeat. Remember, do the same with your bedtime so you get a healthy amount of sleep.
- No snoozing allowed – if you’re snoozing it’s like you’re already procrastinating at the start of your day. You’re basically giving up on taking actions towards your goals. The best way how to avoid that is to turn off the snoozing option completely so you won’t even be able to cheat. If you are afraid of falling asleep, set up the second alarm 5 minutes later than the first one. But no other option is allowed.
- Remember your “why” – always have your “why” in mind. It’ll drive you to carve out more time for your business tasks. It’ll make it much easier to get going right from the beginning and do the essential stuff for yourself.
- Do something you love – or something that’s meaningful to you. It’s a great start to the day if you do something you love. You get excited pretty quickly. Then it’s much easier to start working on the hard tasks in your day. For example, read a book, take a shower, do a quick exercise, meditate, etc.
- Prepare everything the night before – you save yourself a ton of time and effort if you prepare all that’s needed the night before. Piling up clothes for the next day, packing your meals into a bag, preparing cups for the morning coffee and tea, packing work bag. Also cleaning up and setting your home desk for morning business work helps tremendously.
- Plan the most important task the day before – this is the make or break factor for getting the most out of the limited time in your morning. If you truly want to accomplish at least one most important task every day, this is crucial. Just write down in the evening ONE task you absolutely must complete early in the next day. Place a post-it on your computer with that one task so it’ll be easy to jump right in!
These are some of the most powerful tips that will create much more time in your morning.
Hack #2: Complete your day job on time
I bet that you do not like spending overtime hours at your job. It cuts out big chunks of your valuable time which you could otherwise spend working for yourself.
It’s very important to get your regular work done well within the working hours.
Even if there’s a ton of bureaucracy or mundane tasks which you don’t like. They still have to get done.
So, how could you become more productive at your job so you can finish every day on time?
1. Plan in the morning what absolutely needs to get done and focus on completing these tasks first
Focus on the tasks that are important for completing work assigned to you for the day. Things that absolutely needs to get done so you leave your boss happy with your daily output and you’ll feel the sense of accomplishment. Then you could easily switch to your side business mode.
Ensure that you won’t get caught off by corporate emails, unimportant tasks, long unnecessary meetings, meaningless discussions with your co-workers, etc.
2. Shorten your lunch break
If it’s possible, try to cut off the lunch time so you can finish at work earlier. Prepare the healthy meal at home so you can eat in the corporate kitchen. You’ll spend only 20-30 minutes instead of going to a restaurant which takes about one hour.
If it’s mandatory for you to spend one hour for your lunch break you could still eat it faster and get at least some small tasks for yourself done. For example writing an outreach email, scheduling a call with a person from your target audience, writing down blog post ideas, etc.
3. Ensure you won’t get disturbed by your colleagues too often and too much
Minimize the communication time as mush as possible. For example, set up regular times throughout your work day and tell people that these are the time windows when they can discuss the work with you. Otherwise, put on the headphones to indicate them that you’re busy. Teach them that your mornings are reserved for the most important work. That you are only willing to discuss the non-urgent work issues only in the afternoon when the important work is completed.
Apply the same to meetings. Unless they are truly important, try to schedule them later in the day. Do not attend unimportant meetings at all.
A great trick is to turn off work email notifications so you will check emails with purpose only at desired times during the day. The less, the better.
To stay undisturbed you can also book a meeting room where you’ll be able to focus on getting the work done fast.
4. Get some help
If you’re not sure how to accomplish some of your tasks, don’t be afraid to ask for help as soon as possible. Don’t spend so much time figuring things on your own if there’s somebody who could help you move the needle quicker.
Hack #3: Cut out distractions
In this modern era, we’re consistently attacked by the information overload.
People have easy access to us via the telephone, the internet, or television.
The bad thing is that we’re so much used to getting inputs from these information sources. This can become a real danger when we don’t know how to deal with everything that’s thrown at us. We end up with hundreds of decisions how to process those inputs over the course of our days.
It’s only down to us how we deal with all of them.
If we end up doing the things that matter to us, or we start checking the information that others want us to be processing.
For example, when you decide to check your social media accounts even only for 5 minutes there is a big chance you find something interesting. You follow the link to read the full article. Then another one and another on…
Suddenly, half an hour passed by without noticing.
Here is a list of common distractions and how you can minimize them:
- Smartphone – Turn off notifications from all applications on your phone. This is the only way to ensure that they won’t disturb you from the work. If you still need to catch up with some stuff regularly, simply schedule times in your calendar to go through them. But do that only when it’s convenient for you. Pro tip: stay in the offline mode by turning off the mobile data, wifi, or simply turn on the airplane mode.
- News – Stop reading and watching them as much as possible. I’m sure that if there’s something really urgent going on around you’ll notice it. You’ll hear about it from your co-workers, family, or even strangers in the coffee shop. Politics, economics and other stuff that is completely out of your control should not bother you. You need to focus fully on your own life and others that you want to help.
- Unimportant conversations – often we’re drawn into meaningless discussions where we can lose so much of our limited time. Whether it’s with our co-workers, friends, or family members. I know that building and maintaining relationships is very important. However, it’s important to cut off the BS as soon as possible and get back to doing the stuff that truly matters.
- Meetings and parties – having fun is also very important for your recovery. But, make sure you’re not spending so much time partying instead of building your business. Always let your “why” to decide if the party is beneficial to you or you could skip that one.
- Requests from others – it’s always nice to help other people. However, what they need is rarely important to you. Spend some limited time helping others but only after you complete your own tasks.
- Other ideas – you can read an interesting article resulting in many great ideas in your head. However, usually, it’s not possible to take them and implement right away. So it’s important to have one specific place where you’ll note them down and process later. You can use for example a note in Evernote app, or simply jot it down into your notebook. Just write the idea there and get back to your work. Come back to the idea later in the day or week to plan the next actions.
You can save hours in your week by cutting out on countless of distractions.
The overall theme here is to look out for the things that distract you. The ones at your day job which might result in overtime hours. Or the ones during the rest of the day that prevent you from spending more time working on your business.
Be ruthless when it comes to your time. Always remember that each day has only 24 hours.
Hack #4: Negotiate more free time with your partner
Great way to creating more time for yourself is to negotiate with your partner to get in some time for yourself.
Find some pockets of time in your week when you could potentially work on your own business. Then just ask for it.
However, never think about yourself only. Your partner needs the down time as well. So, you should always offer something in return.
For example, I take care of my kids one afternoon right after the work so my wife can meet up with friends or go to the gym. And the other afternoon I’m free to go to a coffee shop to keep on writing this guide for you ;-).
Light blue time windows are the one I have for my side business. I keep weekend open based on the family plans.
Always keep looking for ways which can create more free time for you and don’t hesitate to ask for it.
However, always have in mind that your kids need to spend time with you. As well as being together with your partner to keep the happy family.
Pro tip: You can hire a babysitter, or call the grandparents to take care of your kids regularly so you free up time for yourself. I know that you might not be as lucky as I am, that my mother comes to visit kids one afternoon each week. If it’s a possibility for you, make sure you take that advantage with both hands.
Another pro hack from my client when your kids will be old enough: you can take care of the neighbor’s kids often, in exchange for them to take care of yours. Taking care of four kids is OK if they are 5 years old or so, since you need to take care of your own kids anyway. When your neighbor takes care of your kids in exchange, it can give you a good two hours or so on weekends to work on your side business.
Hack #5: Constrain your leisure time
I’m sure I don’t have to teach you how important it is to minimize the time you spend on the passive stuff. On the things that do not influence your life in a positive way.
Watching the TV, playing video games, browsing social media, reading emails, etc.
I just want to emphasize that it’s meaningless.
It definitely does not help you getting closer towards your goals, nor it helps you recover well for the next day. You often might get stressed or pissed off by the stuff which you consume that it can negatively affect your state of mind.
I suggest you limit passive activities to the minimum. If possible, completely remove some of them from your life.
Yeah, building relationships with influencers via social media is a great way to grow your business. This is absolutely OK. However, make sure you won’t get yourself into scrolling down through the complaints, shares, and bullshit that your other friends share, or post.
It’s critical to schedule the time in your day specifically for these type of passive activities.
For example, deciding that you’ll spend 30 minutes/day on social media in two sessions. You will spend 15 minutes in the afternoon, and 15 minutes in the evening. You set the alarm, check what’s new and comment to just interesting posts that’s helpful to other important people.
The second example is to limit your evening time on the TV, video games, or even reading and watching video courses.
You may not agree with me because reading and watching videos from courses helps you get new ideas for your business and improves you as a person. That’s absolutely true.
However, you’re building a real business which requires taking active actions, not being passive in front of your computer.
You won’t build the business by reading a business book, self-development book, email from an influencer, or watching the course’s material unless you implement the takeaways right away.
Restricting your passive time will create more space for working on your side business.
Hack #6: Batch similar tasks together
Think about all of your daily activities which are similar so you can do them together.
You’ll save the effort required from changing the focus from one type of task to a completely different task.
For example, when you are replying to emails do the same with your social media. Specify the time you’re gonna spend in those two activities and do your best to get them done in that time.
Make sure to reply, comment, or share only important stuff so you save even more time.
Another great example is batch cooking. You can save hours by cooking more meals at once.Some people even cook for the whole week on Sunday.
You could also prepare your environment for morning work on your business right after you finish washing the dishes. When you’re in a “cleaning” mode it’s easy to do just a bit more.
Hack #7: Automate, outsource, delegate
Look for ways how you can automate, delegate, or outsource your tasks.
Especially for tasks that repeat over and over again.
I have a great example of the batch file (runnable text file) sitting on my computer. When I run the file (simple double click), it starts every application that I need for my work. It starts a google chrome, skype for business, outlook, windows media player, visual studio (a programming app). Every app I need with one double click.
This way, I don’t even have to think about the programs I need to start every single day. And if I need to add or remove app which needs to get started I simply update the text file.
I’ll be brutally honest with you. Automating and outsourcing are the areas I know I should leverage more. I haven’t found the resources yet to get the full advantage of it yet.
However, it’s in my plans for the near future. Then, I think I’ll write another post about it.
For now, I recommend a great post from Frank Magnotti how you can use automation to simplify your day. So you can create another free time every day.
Some great ways to automate and outsource your life:
- Hire a maid – get your house cleaned for you e.g. once a week, so you don’t even think about doing it
- Hire a virtual assistant – to do some idea research for you, finding images for your posts, putting your blog post on your website, etc.
- Hire an editor, copywriter – especially when you’re not a native speaker like me, it could save you hours overcoming your inner writing perfectionist
- Use applications like Zapier, IFTTT that will do a specific action when the trigger occurs in another app, e.g. when you get an email that somebody subscribed to your email list the app will automatically create a task in your Evernote’s to-do list to welcome new subscriber
Hack #8: Negotiate working from home at your job
This hack might be tricky for most of the people.
If you are in a position you could negotiate working from home then do it.
I’ve done it at my previous job where I worked from home twice per week. I also have this option at my current job as well. That was one of the requirements when I was switching jobs.
A huge benefit is that I save at least two hours by preparing myself for working in the office and commuting.
When I work from home I don’t have to pack my meals, prepare clothes, pack the bag, and commute 45 minutes twice every day. I don’t have to hurry in the morning getting ready to leave as soon as possible to avoid the traffic jams and find a good parking place.
The biggest benefit is that when I work on my side business in the morning I don’t have to stop before the task is complete to leave for work. I can just finish the task even if it takes longer. Then I’ll simply start and finish working for my day job a bit later.
The main thing is to complete the most important task for me first. Then I can fully focus on my full-time job because I’m happy that I’ve done something meaningful for myself first.
Note: One important caution. Always make sure that you get your daily work done as best as you can to make your boss happy. That’s the way to keep the advantage of working from home.
Part 3: A simple way to ensure that you are working on the right things at the right time
I bet you’ve heard about the importance of setting up goals not only for your business but for the life overall.
It’s far easier to achieve things in your life if you set up the right goals.
However, we often set goals which are unrealistic so at some point we unconsciously stop working hard towards them. We feel like it requires so much effort and we don’t know how we can get there.
Or the true opposite. We set up small “achievable” goals. We think it’ll be easy to crush them, so we take our time. We keep taking small action some first days, then we start slacking a bit, procrastinate until the goal down not make a sense anymore, or we keep the desire to achieve that.
Maybe we find some new shiny object we want to pursue and our goals change completely.
The problem for many of is that we set up random goals without any appropriate planning.
We decide to pursue something in the moment we feel great about the desired outcome.
However, setting up right goals require much more effort. And achieving them require a big commitment.
So how do you know the goal is right for you?
Tim Ferriss talks about setting the exciting goals.
He does not like achievable goals because these makes you comfortable and can derail the big progress of your business. You want to set up goals that will drive you forward in the right direction.
The other important thing I’ve learned from my mentor Primoz Bozic is to focus on ONE big goal at a time.
Focusing on just one big goal ensures that you know every day what you should be focusing on. You also won’t become overwhelmed by the many things you want to do in the day. The state when you want to do too much but you end up doing nothing.
What are some great goals for you when you’re starting your online business on the side?
It depends on what you’ve already done.
- Come up with profitable business ideas and decide which ONE you’re going to pursue
- Validate your chosen business idea by talking to your potential customers and getting the “yes”s that they would pay you for solving their problem.
- Set up a good enough website with an email list
- Create first few pieces of content – write blog posts, or record videos
- Do a guest posting to get my first subscribers
Now, these are not great goals because they are not very specific.
The second step is to make them specific.
You’ve probably heard about the SMART goals, which stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, timely.
We’re not going to use the exact framework of SMART goals. However, we will slightly change only one piece of it. We will upgrade the achievable to exciting. We’ll just simply set the higher expectations as Tim Ferriss suggests. So achieving that goal will subconsciously make us work harder and later enjoy the accomplishments much more.
- Specific – to be clear about the outcome
- Measurable – to be able to measure the progress towards achieving that goal. So any time down the road we can see how much we’ve already accomplished and how much it still takes to the finish line
- Exciting – to set a goal that is a bit more stretched. It’s still important that you think it’s achievable, but deep inside you need to feel that you have to work hard to achieve it. And that once you achieve that goals it’ll make a big difference in your business and life.
- Timely – to put a deadline so you won’t spend months instead of weeks
- Relevant – be sure that the goal corresponds with your current stage of business. That it is the right thing you should be aiming for.
As an example, take the situation that you’ve just picked a business idea and you want to validate it before you start working on it.
“I’m going to validate my online business idea by talking to 20 people from my target audience in the next 2 weeks. And I want to get 10 “yes” responses from them.”
This goal is absolutely relevant to you because you want to be sure that people would be willing to pay for your advice before you put hundreds of bucks and hours into the idea that will not work.
It’s stretched because doing the 20 interviews in two weeks is pretty hard if you have a full-time job. However, it’s exciting for you because you’ll likely find people who’ll say you YES I want that. It can also help you position your idea based on the chat because you’ll learn much more about their real problems.
It is specific and measurable because you know down the road how many calls you’ve already had. How many are planned, and how many you still need to schedule. Also how many “yes”s you already have. And you also know how much time you have until your specific deadline. So you’re less likely to relax in your comfort zone and instead put in the hard work to meet your goal.
Remember, it’s the real profitable business you want to build, not a hobby. It’s supposed to be hard because otherwise, anybody would have its own successful business. However, the outcome of your huge effort is the life you dream of.
Other examples of good goals are:
- Set up my new WordPress website together with an email list in Mailchimp by the end of this week (specific date). I’ll buy the domain, set up the site from technical point of view, create three main pages (landing, about, blog), write opt-in copy and ask for a feedback 5 people from my target audience to polish it.
- Create a free 3-day email course as my new opt-in offer (carrot, bribe) by the end of this week.
- Within one month get 3 guest post opportunities accepted, then write and pitch written guest posts.
The more specific, measurable, and exciting goals are the more likely you are going to achieve them.
Pro tip #1: The best tip about goal settings I learned from Todd Herman is to set the GOOD, BETTER, BEST goals. Especially, if you’re hesitant to set the stretched goal which you think is hard to achieve.
When you’re setting your goal, think about the outcome. Set the outcome you think is achievable as your good goal.
For example, I want to get my first 10 subscribers this week. The better goal will be when you stretch it a bit, e.g. to getting 25 subscribers. And the best goal could be getting 100 subscribers in a week,
See? Now, you have a goal of getting your first 10/25/100 in one week.
Achieving your good goal seems doable. However, it would be terrific if you can get to 25, 100, or even beyond.
You’ll start working on the goal confident that you can make the good goal pretty easily. The better and best goals will drive you to achieve more than just to achievable goal.
Pro tip #2: Reviewing your goals regularly, the best every single day will help you keep the momentum to achieve them.
One amazing way how to do it is by creating a vision board. You’ll put there not only your business goals, but all of the goals and things you want to achieve in the current year.
My vision board – a collection of written goals, pictures, and quotes
It’s simply creating some kind of small board where you put pictures and notes about the important things you want to accomplish, get, or even who you want to become. There goes quotes from your mentors, successful people which motivates you, or reminds you of something powerful. Affirmations, habits, routines you want to create, or maintain.
Once the board is ready, put it on a visible place where you can see it daily. This way you’ll stay motivated about the things you want to achieve in your life. It also ensures you’re reminded of essential stuff you want to focus on primarily so you stay on the right track.
The make or break factor for achieving your goals
Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe. ~Abraham Lincoln
Setting the right goals does not bring the success itself. You need to ensure you’re working on the things that move you toward those goals.
To be able to do that it’s important to do a proper planning. To create a specific plan how you plan to achieve that goal and define the plan as a project(s).
Using the approach of breaking the goal into small manageable tasks, or collection of tasks is vital. You’ll not be destined to come up every day with tasks that might get you to a goal. You’ll already have a clear road map in your head. So it’ll be easier to deliver on it.
Don’t see this as a hard task. You don’t have to create a perfect plan where you break things into everyday’s tasks. The most important thing is to have at least some kind of good enough plan you can execute upon.
For example, when you want to achieve the goal of getting your first 10 subscribers, your plan might be to write a blog post and then promote it.
You can break that plan into two separate projects.
The first project will be writing an epic blog post for your website. The tasks would be: coming up with an idea, writing the post, getting feedback, polishing the post, publishing the post on your website.
The second project will be sharing the post on your social media, sending it via email to your friends that might be interested and promoting the post through influencers in your field by asking them for sharing your post with their audience if it’s a good fit for them.
The more detailed plan the easier it is to execute.
My client’s weekly review and plan. This spreadsheet worked for him very well.
However, don’t let the planning to hold you back from execution. Still the single most important thing it to take actions. Projects will just help you take deliberate actions towards succeeding with your goal.
Pro tip: Set the deadlines for each project. If you’ve set the deadline for your one goal you’re halfway there. Now simply decide how long will take each project.
Remember this: any project will expand with the time available to complete it
… without producing better results. ~ C. Northcote Parkinson
If you don’t set any deadline, it’s more likely that it’ll take way much more time. As Parkinson noted, you can spend weeks working on the project which could be done within a few days because you haven’t put a timeline on it, or put a big time-frame for its completion.
The less time you allotted to a task, the less likely you are spending hours by making it perfect or adding meaningless things which do not make the desired end result better.
Part 4: Overcome the s**t that’s holding you back from building a successful business
Now, you are pretty clear about the stuff you should be working on.
The only important thing is to take those specific actions.
To put yourself out there in the world. However, it’s not that easy, right?. I’m sure you already know it.
I’ve never thought that building a business is that much about the psychology.
When I realized that, I had to change my approach.
It’s pretty much all about your mental ability. About the decisions, you make every day, about your focus on the essentials, about being able to do the right stuff at the right time.
As Michael Jordan famously said,
I have failed over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed. ~ Michael Jordan
I’ve never been prepared for a failure. I’ve got stuck every time I hit any kind of a roadblock.
I wanted to make everything perfect, so I procrastinated because I was not satisfied with any of my outputs. I was afraid of what my family, friends or even strangers out on the internet will think about me when I’ll post the next blog post.
All of these negative thoughts were limiting my accomplishments. They were holding me back from a bigger success.
The truth is, I haven’t figured this out until I was 31.
Nobody taught me. I hate all the people around me for not telling me that. However, they couldn’t. Because they don’t know that themselves yet.
I’ve realized that only by talking to like-minded ambitious friends from the course’s communities I’ve surrounded myself with.
But once I’ve figured out my hidden barriers it was the time to learn my lesson and start acting with the new mentality.
I took this advice from Ryan Levesque to my heart:
Everything good that’s happened in my life, every success that I’ve had, was because I took the first step before I was ready.
Screw it, just do it ~ Ryan Levesque
Sure, it’s still hard to act the way out of my comfort zone.
However, I know that I’m not alone. All entrepreneurs, creators, artists have their own fears, doubts. And they will always have. No matter stage they’re at.
The most important thing is to act no matter what. To push through the discomfort and just do it.
World’s renowned performance coach Todd Herman have a great phrase for taking the right actions that grow your business:
Put yourself out on the field of play. ~ Todd Herman
The successful entrepreneurship is all about taking actions that lead towards sales. Because business is about sales.
Doing the stuff which brings new customers is the thing you should be focusing on.
It is the difference between writing a blog post every week for your first 50 subscribers versus writing an epic guest post for the website with thousands of readers.
Or searching through the Facebook groups looking for new potential coaching clients versus talking to some of the people you already know and offering your coaching service in real.
You should be doing anything that grows your business, at all cost.
No more hiding behind your computer.
A year from now you’ll wish you had started today. ~ Karen Lamb
Yesterday was the best day to start putting yourself out in the world.
The second best time to do it is TODAY!
The biggest issue with your potential
Our potential is often halted by our own minds. By all the doubts, fears, obstacles we perceive. By constraints which we create for ourselves or others created for us.
For example, as my father was telling me that I will never be rich unless I win a lottery, start stealing money, or just somehow come into a fortune.
Or when somebody’s teacher told him that he’s the lost case, that he’ll never succeed in life.
They didn’t know they might be robbing us of the great future we could have had, had they give us a different advice which would strengthen our belief, potential, and growth.
There are also many people on the other side, who’s been told they are natural talents. That they’ll be highly successful in life. Then they stopped working hard. They thought the success will come to them easily.
I’m not saying you are one of those people.
I just want to remind you that every person has its own things that hold him back in some situation.
All those doubts, fears, obstacles, constraints can hinder your progress towards your goals.
Actually, these negative things influence your actions, accomplishments, and the quality of your outputs.
It’s the difference between you earning $1k versus 10k per month.
The difference between working on your business on the side or sitting in your comfy chair in front of the TV. Or whether you coach your clients to make huge breakthroughs in their life or scroll down through the social media feeds.
If you think you don’t have any kind of weaknesses then you can skip this chapter.
But, if you want to improve (and I’m sure you want because you’re reading this guide) it’s important to battle those negative things in your mind once for all.
The key to success is for you to make a habit throughout your life of doing the things you fear. ~ Vincent Van Gogh
Fears that might be holding you back
First, let’s cover what are the common fears and barriers that might be holding you back from getting to the next level with your businesses.
There might be more of them, however below are the most common.
Fear of failure
As Thomas A. Edison famously said,
I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. ~ Thomas A. Edison
We fear to do so many things in life because we fear that we fail at it. I’ve been struggling with it a lot because I haven’t been taught that failing actually means learning.
The only way to being great at something is by getting experience.
In reality, you are not failing at things. You just see that it’s not working well yet. You either need to put in more effort or change something to make it work out for you.
Fear of success
Procrastination is the fear of success. People procrastinate because they are afraid of the success that they know will result if they move ahead now. Because success is heavy, carries a responsibility with it, it is much easier to procrastinate and live on the ‘someday I’ll’ philosophy. ~ Denis Waitley
A lot of people does not think seriously about this fear or say that they don’t fear to become successful.
However, there might be subconscious fears in our heads telling us to slow down.
What if you’ll land 10 new clients this month. Will you be able to handle that? You’d love to have that problem. But, isn’t this what’s holding you back from getting them?
Or once you’ll make a huge progress and scale your business further. You’ll need to hire people for the first time. You’ll need to trust them, be responsible for their lives, handle the paperwork, create a company culture.
People will start talking about you, inviting you to podcast interviews, the press is gonna write about you. Isn’t this something which scares you?
Even though it might happen only some years from now. You might have these negative self-talks in your head from time to time.
You should definitely not let these “future” fears to hold you back now, at the stage you’re in at this moment.
Fear of rejection
Rejection doesn’t mean you aren’t good enough; it means the other person failed to notice what you have to offer. ~ Mark Amend
How many people fear to say what they stand for because they don’t want to look stupid?
They’d start doing something great, but then step back.
When we’re young we do not care too much what other people think of us. Like my son ;-).
For example, during the call with your new subscriber. You see that he’d be your ideal client. You think about offering your coaching services. You’re up giving him a ton of value. However, you won’t offer him anything because you fear the rejection. Even though you know that he’d be interested at least to hear your offer.
You might also fear of saying something stupid in the public, or something that might be rejected by other people.
Fear of not being good enough
Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. ~ David M. Burns
I’ve always thought that I’m a perfectionist.
There are millions of the same people. It always takes so much time to accomplish something. We tinker with small details which do not make sense in the bigger context.
However, we still think like the outcome is not good enough.
Those people will not like anything we produce.
For example, when I was editing my writing, I played with the “perfect” wording of each sentence. Rewriting one sentence for about five times.
However, getting the post ready for publishing it as soon as possible to add value to my readers should be the aim.
Spending that much time on small details cost me months of progress in the past.
I was afraid that my writing is not good enough, that I have to make it perfect.
I could have been much further with my side business if I took imperfect actions. Getting great things done but good enough.
Just finish the stuff, publish, test, refine, improve and move onto another thing.
We’re losing hours on not so important stuff which could have been otherwise spent on the growth of our businesses.
If you’re especially struggling with fears about guest blogging here are two amazing articles from my friends. Sana Choudary shares a system for dominating your fears of blogging outreach. And Alp Turan gives you an incredible in-depth system for guest blogging.
Fear of missing out
We often fear missing out on opportunities.
That’s why we put ourselves into situations when we say “yes” to some things we hardly handle. In the end, these take much more effort so we cannot do things we were supposed to be doing in the first place.
For example, when there is a launch of a new online course from our favorite influencer, of course, we want to buy it. Even if we know a ton about the topic, or we‘re focusing on a completely different area of business at the moment.
When we say yes to the course, we end up focusing on following it instead of giving full attention to the projects we set for ourselves. We’ll spend our limited time and precious energy on the stuff that in reality is not that much important at the moment. Often, this decision breaks our momentum with the current project and halt our progress.
We are also used to say that we don’t have time to work on our side business, exercise, build relationships, spend quality time with our kids. Why? Because we fear that something might slip through our fingers.
The worst thing is when we say yes to the meaningless things. Later, we regret taking this opportunity. Because saying “yes” to something means saying “no” to something else.
This “something“ might be the difference between getting your business off the ground versus just dreaming about it.
That’s why this quote from Warren Buffett is very powerful, eye-opening, and life-changing:
The difference between successful people and very successful people is that successful says Yes to everything and the very successful say “NO” to almost everything. ~ Warren Buffett
We’re now going to figure out barriers sitting in your head so we can demolish them to help you make a faster and bigger progress with your side business.
Step #1: Discover your hidden fears
Have you already figured out some of the fears holding you back from the above list?
Fears can play a huge role in our lives.
Even the most successful entrepreneurs with tens of years in the business have their own fears they need to conquer.
The deal is, how efficiently we can overcome these fears or use them to our own advantage.
I hope you’ve already demolished many of your fears in the past. Or that they have never seen the light of your days.
However, some of them could still live well in your mind holding you back from building a successful online business you dream about.
As soon as you crush them, the faster will be your road to earning the first money with your own business.
It can feel like a big deal. However, once you’ll face the truth you can get absolute control of them. And there’ll be only one ending – a huge relief.
Even if you may cry like a baby at some point. I promise you that you’ll stand strong and achieve things you thought were impossible for you.
Step #2: Deal with your barriers
Listing all of your fears, struggles and barriers is the first step to overcoming them.
The second part of the solution is to deal with all of them now.
First, acknowledge them.
They are in your mind and that’s absolutely OK. Everybody has his own. You’re definitely not alone. Once you accept them, you can take full control.
Use some of these phrases or something similar:
- Hmmm, interesting that I feel this
- I’ve never thought this might be an issue, but it seems like this is really holding me back
- Ok, what can I do to overcome this
- Why is this even bothering me, it’s really a stupid thing
- Oh, that’s the issue my parents were always talking about, but is this really something I should be bothering about?
I’ve learned that it’s not possible to stop those fears arising completely.
Some of your fears will arise from time to time in your head. You cannot predict when it happens, or all the things that trigger it so you can fully prepare for it in advance.
The best way to dealing with your barriers is to reframe them.
Create a new meaning for all of them. Tell yourself that it’s just a short-term thought and plan how you can turn it into your advantage.
You can do it in some of this way:
- I’m not great at it yet, but I’ll work hard to get more experience to become great
- I’ll just try to do this even if it might not work well for me
- It’s just a test, not a failure
- I’ll put myself out, there will always be haters, but if I help just one person it was worth the effort
- Even if I’m introverted and shy I can do it as other people does, it’s just about me adding value to people’s lives
- What if I’ll just do the opposite of this?
For example, if you fear the Impostor Syndrome that you’re not an expert who could give advice to other people.
First acknowledge this thought with something like: “Ok, I’m not an expert yet. Every expert had to start at first. No one became an expert out of nothing”.
Secondly, reframe it: “I’ve already overcome some of the tough challenges which other people might have in the future. I have a solution that can help people overcome them faster even though I’m not an expert in that field. If I get more experience by helping people and achieving success with them I can easily become an expert in that field. I just need to put in the work.”
You’re just creating a new positive meaning to your fear which is going to help you overcoming it at the moment it comes to your mind.
Part 5: How to take more actions faster
In the previous section, we’ve demolished all of the fears that were holding you back or planned how to overcome them when they arise.
Now is a great time to talk about the systems you can use to taking more actions faster in your business.
The biggest mistake I was doing, and a lot of starting entrepreneurs do too, was not putting myself out in the world. As high-performance coach Todd Herman says, on the “field of play”.
I was not taking so many actions for building my business regularly.
When I completed something small, I’d get satisfied and turned my head to learning more stuff which I could apply to my own business.
So, instead of continuing to do the hard work which would bring me more results I spent my valuable time on passive tasks.
Simply, I was not doing the real work. I was just hiding behind the books, articles, videos from courses, etc. I did anything instead of the work I knew I should be doing.
For example, I knew that the best way to validating and niching down my business idea is by talking to real people from my target audience. Discovering their biggest pains, fears, and dreams. However, it’s been very hard for me.
I said to myself that I’m a shy introvert. That I don’t know how to ask people great questions. That I can’t have great conversations with them because I’m not a native speaker.
I knew I should be doing 1 on 1 calls with people from my target audience. That would easily help me validate my idea in two weeks.
Instead, I was doing an online research through forums, reading blog post’s comments, Amazon reviews, etc. All the things which brought some small insights, but never helped me understand my audience.
What was the result of it?
It took me more than one year to narrow down my business idea and figure out the target audience I want to help.
Take imperfect actions
Imperfect action beats perfect inaction every time. ~ Harry S. Truman
From my own experience, a lot of starting entrepreneurs (including me) want to do a lot of things at once and make it perfect.
We want to create a beautiful website, write an epic content to stand out from the crowd, and create the first product as fast as possible to start earning that passive income we dream about.
Even if we do not have the skills and experience yet.
Often, we get stuck because we’re unable to overcome even a smaller obstacles to finish the first thing and only then move onto the next.
We try to do stuff that does not make sense in the bigger context of building an online business.
We try to make everything perfect instead of “good enough”.
For example, we are trying to write a perfect post for Reddit to see if the business idea will get any traction. Instead of getting something simple ready in a few days. We often end up tweaking that one post for weeks being unsure if that will work out.
When I started working with my coaching client Kats, he had two business ideas. He was undecided which one to pursue.
One idea was about the technical expertise lens design he is great at with a ton of work experience. The other one was more about his passion and what he thought would be very helpful to his target audience.
He’s already spent tens of hours validating these ideas by talking to people and taking notes.
Yet, he was stuck because he was afraid to choose the idea that might not work out in the end.
Because he was still keen on both ideas we’ve decided that we’ll give a try to both of them. However, we’ve decided to validate only one at a time.
He’s started with the first technical idea. He has a lot of expertise in lens design field so it was very easy for him to talk and write about the topic.
He ended up writing a short “good enough” post within a week.
With a full-time job and two young kids, he was able to create at least one hour of free time for his side business each day to get it done. He’s focused just on that one task so it was easy to complete it.
He’s published the post on Reddit forum in a technical subreddit for lens designers.
Immediately, he saw an engagement with the people from his target audience. He ended up exchanging private messages with a bunch of people. Also got some of them on a private call to validate the topic and discover their pains and dreams.
After a few days of talking to people, they started asking Kats when his new website is ready so they can learn from him.
After writing few good enough posts, Kats easily found people interested in his business idea
In the end, it took him only three weeks to validate his business idea. And to find people interested what he can offer to them.
Those people he makes a good connection with even offered their help in the future. So when he’s now unsure about some of the things he’s working on he has the right people to ask for a feedback.
Even though he still wanted to try validating the second idea, we’ve decided to continue the momentum with the current one. To leave the second idea for the future. Which might be highly relevant to the same target audience later.
It’s an amazing progress for a busy parent working hard for 9 hours every day. While still enjoying his family in the afternoon.
By deciding which one “good enough” idea Kats is going to pursue and by taking simple imperfect actions every day he was able to start his online business within a few weeks.
He has started getting small wins every week which keeps his momentum going.
By the way, Kats’s website Pencil Of Rays is now up and running.
So if you happen to know any lens designer or person who wants to become one I encourage you to pass the URL of his website to that person. I’m sure he can help him achieve more success in the lens design field.
Find your productive environment
Think for a minute about the environment where you do your best work.
For me, it’s my kitchen in the morning when my family is still in bed. I can sit there quietly with my favorite cup of coffee. I can write, plan, send outreach emails for potential guest post opportunities, etc.
However, when the sink is full of dishes, kitchen cupboard and desk is packed with clutter it’s not possible for me to be productive. I like the work environment clean and organized. I just do not feel well when the place is messy.
My other favorite place is a coffee shop. The one I like the most is just 5 min. by car from my home. It’s cozy, people there are always quiet, staff is very pleasant. I just feel great there. So it’s very easy to enjoy the time there and get the important business stuff done.
I love these kind of environments amazing for a deep creative work. If you happen to visit Bratislava in Slovakia make sure you grab a coffee or hot chocolate at Penny Coffea
Finding your favorite environments for productive business work is very important.
Once you identify them just get yourself to work there as often as possible. Try to find more of the similar places or replicate them if that’s an option.
Also, try to improve your own environment when possible.
For example, I ask my wife to clean the kitchen in the evening. Or I simply do it myself if I see that my wife has still a lot of her own stuff to do. It does not matter who does it. I just need to ensure that the environment is clean so I can put my laptop, notebook, pen and headphones on the desk to get them ready for the next morning.
It could be different for you. Maybe you like a nature, or live in by a countryside. You might like working in the park, on the beach, in your backyard, or a cottage.
Just figure out what’s the environment where you feel good to do the most important work for on your business. Then you can go there more often which will help you accomplish your goals faster.
Ask for help and support
Every successful business owner knows the power of relationships.
Your motivation is high when you’re just starting out. However, when you start hitting obstacles it’s hard to keep moving forward. That’s when you need support from other people who’ll help you get over them.
Your friends will give you advice and ideas how to go through them quickly so you won’t get stuck for weeks. They’ll also support you in the tough times and celebrate the wins with you.
Not asking for help was a big mistake I’ve been making.
Even though I knew that I’ve been stuck at one place. I’ve tried to get over it myself.
Deep inside I’ve been telling myself that I do not want to bother others with the minor issue or question I’m facing. I was trying to get over it myself. Trying to search for the right answer for weeks.
When I finally felt completely stuck I’ve reached out to a friend of mine or asked in the community.
The magic happened immediately.
I got a lot of great responses, help, and encouragement. They’ve always pointed me in the right direction so it was easy to figure out the action steps I need to take to overcome the issue.
People were always happy to help. And I kept moving forward.
Pro tip: Make new connections regularly to create more friends. Always ask for help. Just ask for advice whenever you feel stuck. Do not let your ego to stand in the way of your progress. Then take the advice and implement it.
Meeting my hero, coach, and mentor Primoz Bozic in Slovenia to build relationship with him and I also got valuable business advice along the way
Part 6: How to find energy for your side business after your work hours
One of the biggest issues in the life of a starting entrepreneur who can’t afford to quit his well-paying job is the life balance.
Your day job together with commuting takes about ten hours. You have to get some quality sleep to be able to function properly. And there is your family which consumes pretty much the rest of your day. Leaving very little space for your business.
Time management does not simply make a huge difference for you.
Even though I’ve already shown you how to create more time for yourself it’s almost impossible to have enough time for the tasks you want to accomplish.
Therefore the important thing is to get the most out of the time you have at your disposal.
But, how’s that possible?
You can get the most out of your day by managing your energy.
Energy, not time, is the fundamental currency of high performance. ~ Jim Loehr
Why is energy so important?
I know how your afternoon looks like when you come home tired after the busy day at work. It’s even hard to just play with your kids. Not to mention the work you’d want to get done for your business.
You reach out for another cup of coffee to catch up with your family. But it’s hard to stay fully present with them.
The only thing you can think of is taking a break. A one hour nap in a quiet place would do wonders for your energy. But, you simply can’t afford that.
There are so many things you’d love to do in your days.
However, your energy is always depleted after the work so you can’t get yourself to do the most meaningful things in your life.
If you are often exhausted in the afternoon it’s the sign that you need to improve your energy levels.
The good thing is that most of the ways for improving your energy are pleasant.
Once you’ll learn how to manage your energy it will boost your performance over the course of your days and improve your health.
Here are the best ways that will increase your energy levels forever.
Note: I’m sure you know that you need to take good care of your health, state of your mind and body. Therefore I won’t write any meat for you but go straight to the actionable advice you can implement in your life immediately.
Prioritize your sleep
Sleep is there to recover your whole body, also for your mind to take a deep rest. Quality sleep will enhance your performance.
Do you know the secret behind Lebron James’s success? He sleeps 14 hours during the day.
Yes, fourteen hours.
I know that it’s impossible for you to fit in that much sleep into your schedule.
However, the takeaway that you can take from Lebron is this.
When you want to perform at your best you should recover beforehand as much as possible. I dare to say that quality sleep is the single best form of recovery.
Sleep is the best way to recover
The advice about the ideal length of sleep varies from source to source. It depends on us as the individual human beings as well.
Therefore, it’s hard to tell you exactly how long should you sleep.
For example, I need to have 7 hours of sleep to feel good the next day. Always, when I get less than 6.5 hours I’m barely productive. I’m also unable to enjoy my day fully. I’m falling asleep even while playing with my kids.
However, when I get 8-9 hours of sleep I feel much more energized. I can easily focus on what’s important and get that done. I can enjoy the time with my kids while being fully present with them. Also getting something done for my business in the evening is doable.
Take my sister as a completely different example. She has always been OK with only 6 hours. My parents told me that she did not sleep so much even when she was a small kid. She used to woke up in the middle of the night and wanted to play for 2 hours, or woke up at 4 a.m. and the night was over.
At the university of architecture, she used to work on her projects for a week with 3-4 hours of sleep per day. She was able to do that without any problem. This could have never happened to me.
I’m sure you’ve already figured out the importance of a quality sleep.
What you might not have done yet is to prioritize it.
I highly recommend taking care of your sleep. Get as much as you need to feel energized. You’ll be much more productive in your days able to accomplish better results at your work, get more done for your business and better enjoy your life.
Drink more water
This is a powerful habit a lot of people do not pay much attention to.
Drinking pure water hydrates your body which gives you energy. It’s important to stay hydrated all day long.
If you are not used to drinking water during your day or tend to forget about it there is a simple hack. Simply pick a full 1.5 – 2l bottle of water in the morning and put it on your work desk. You need to drink at least this full bottle during the work hours. When you’re leaving your job and the bottle is not empty just drink it fully.
I also like drinking tea during the day. One 0.5l in the morning and at least one when I come home from work. This adds another 1l in my day.
Try to drink tea without any sugar added because it’s not healthy for your body. If you don’t like it then use honey. It’s better than processed sugar.
Also, do not drink so many sodas containing sugar.
Just pure water, mineral water or tea is the best for your energy and health.
You know that regular workout not only increases your overall health but your energy levels as well.
Make sure you have at least one exercise in your week. Better, if you have 2-3 regular sessions. Even small 5-minute exercise each day is very beneficial.
You can do for example 10-minute yoga, 100 pushups, take a walk with your spouse, or go cycling with your kids.
The best way is to create a routine.
I’ve struggled with getting regular exercise in my week. With a full time job, and stuff around kids I was not able to fit it into my days. I’ve tried exercising in the morning which worked well. However, then I did not have the necessary time to work on my side business.
I’ve been trying to fit the 30-minute workouts in the afternoon doing them at home with my kids around. And I managed to get 1-2 in my weeks, though I wanted to have it regularly and more.
The only way to do that for me was to hire a coach to train with him in the gym. Finally, I have my regular gym time twice a week. I have also one football match each Monday.
This makes it a great exercise routine. I still want to fit in some regular yoga workout to become more flexible.
Figure out what works best for you. Fit regular workouts into your week to improve your energy reservoirs. It’ll bring you more energy you can spend on the quality work in your business.
We all know that eating healthy is a foundation for our health and performance.
Yet most of us do use the lack of time as an excuse to pick a quick unhealthy meal instead of preparing his own healthy one. Even taking some extra minutes to walk to a fresh store, or bio restaurant with great meals often prevents us from making the right choices.
Unless you make it a priority.
I’ve decided that my shape, outlook and health is a very big priority when I was 27 and started losing my shape after quitting the dancing. I got sick often, my belly looked awful, and my energy levels dropped massively. I had to do something with it.
At first, I started only to exercise regularly. However, hand by hand with it goes the healthy eating. Soon, after I started feeling a lot better with regular workouts my personal trainer offered me a lot of advice how to eat well.
I thought it would be hard at the beginning. But, I took it one meal at a time. I just picked which healthy foods I like and started eating those more often. At the same time, I was removing the unhealthy recipes completely from my diet.
I’m regularly getting more information about different diets – paleo, vegetarianism, raw diet. I’m regularly tweaking the routine to test if there’s something a better fit for me.
I’ll leave the decision over the healthy diet for you because we’re all different. You need to figure out what works best for you if you haven’t done yet.
The important thing is to prioritize healthy eating which will not only increase your health but your energy as well. We want to increase energy in our days to be able to work more in our business on the side.
Keep improving your health and energy at any cost because that’s what allows you to achieve great success and enjoy the rich life you desire.
Use recovery rituals to avoid burnout
The work at your day job, and especially work on your side business takes a lot of your energy. Not to mention your kids requiring your care, or begging for your full attention.
I know it’s quite a lot of effort.
You need to take care of yourself by having a good amount of a recovery time.
The thing I mean is not slacking the whole evening in front of the TV, or getting to a party with your friends when all the beers will make you feel poor for the next couple of days.
You should take deliberate breaks during your days and over the course of the week that recovers your energy.
The purpose of recovery breaks is to do some activity that you love. Something which quickly recharges you and gives you the fresh breath of air into your packed day.
This will help you become more focused to finish tasks at your job faster. So you can go home early to spend a nice time with your kids while having enough energy left to get a small win in your business as well.
Right recovery also helps you push through the project in your business when you’re putting extra hours to finally finish it off. It helps you stay on the track to completing it within the deadline you set for your goal while not burning yourself out.
Because burnout is what often happens.
We often get inspired, motivated by the guest post we’re gonna write so we push hard. We work on it before the work, after the work, in the evening without the proper recovery.
However, we can do so only for a couple of days. It still takes the time to complete the project and we start feeling tired. Our motivation drops to the point that it’s hard to find the energy to put in those extra hours. We then tend to procrastinate, or in the worst case park the project for “some day”.
To avoid burning yourself out it’s important to do two things: regular short breaks throughout the day and longer recovery rituals.
Short recovery rituals
These shorter breaks are supposed to give you an immediate energy boost.
It’s like when you’re driving a car to a vacation distanced 1,000 miles away. It’s impossible to drive that distance on one stint. You need to take some breaks to let your mind and body refresh. You usually take a snack, drink some water, breath a fresh air, do some stretching, close your eyes for a moment, etc.
You should take those mini breaks during every day.
It can be something that takes only 5 minutes. Like talking to your co-worker by the water-cooler about non-work related stuff, or reading a chapter from a book.
Or it can take even up to 30 minutes. Meditating, taking a walk outside after the lunch or taking a nap.
The thing is to pause for a moment. To do something absolutely different from the work you’re actually doing. And, taking these breaks regularly throughout the day at least every 1.5 – 2 hours.
It not only re-energizes your body but also recovers your mind which improves your focus.
Often you find a solution to a problem when you step out from the work you’re performing.
For example, when I’m coding something new at my day job and I know that it should work but there is still something missing for it to work properly. I can sit there for hours trying to find the solution.
Often, I cannot figure it out until I take a tea break. When I go out of the desk and talk about the problem with a co-worker. I often find the right solution while talking about it, or the colleague will give me hint that I can try.
Just by taking a short break and stepping out your mind can easily start thinking out of the box to solve almost anything.
Examples of great mini-breaks:
- Taking a walk
- Doing a short exercise or stretching
- Deep breathing
- Drinking a water, tea or coffee
- Eating a healthy snack – nuts, fruit, veggies
- Having a non-work related chat with a partner, family member, friend, or a co-worker
These rituals help you stay in the game of business while enjoying your life.
Longer recovery prevents you from burning yourself out while you try to build your side business while working full-time and taking care of your family.
You have a dream of having a successful online business so one day you can leave your day job to work whenever you want from wherever you wish. But, you also know that it’s not going to happen overnight.
You can try pushing yourself for a week, or a fortnight. But, it’s not sustainable to keep working every day and night even if you’d love to move forward fast.
Longer recovery rituals are helping you stay happy, energized and motivated. To keep the momentum going while enjoying the life continuously.
It’s important to know which works best for your mental and physical recovery.
Brainstorm the things you love doing.
Your hobbies, events you love attending, relaxing you enjoy the most, nice moments you have had in the past, amazing trips and vacations you’ve experienced, etc.
Vacations are important for mental recovery and enjoying nice time with family
Anything you love doing which recharges you.
- reading a book for every evening
- exercising, stretching, yoga
- taking a walk with your family in the afternoon
- playing a favorite sport
- playing a board game with your friends on a Friday night
- weekend spa retreat.
- throwing a barbecue party with your best friends
- go for a day-long biking trip
You want to figure out what recover you best and do more of it regularly.
For me, one of the best ways of mental and physical recovery is playing football. So I play a match every week.
My other favorite forms of recovery are listening to music, talking to a like-minded friend, playing the guitar, having fun outdoors with my kids, or building a crazy Lego blocks around the train to completely fill out our living room.
I love going to a weekend cottage retreat or a mini vacation where I do nothing, or sometimes even fly like during this winter’s ski vacation.
When you get to fly after your first snowboarding ride on vacation
Even though I always plan to do at least something for my side business because that’s the time I’m off from work. I always end up enjoying moments with my family.
Doing nothing productive at all. And that’s absolutely OK.
Take care of yourself regularly by doing the stuff which recovers you well. It will help you show up fresh over the next couple of days so you will accomplish more in less time.
Fit regular recovery into your schedule to keep your energy level high so you can easily perform at your best. That will bring you much better results with higher quality even in less time.
Part 7: It’s absolutely possible to accomplish more even in 5-10 hours/week
What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important. ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower
I’m absolutely confident that if you apply even some of the action steps from this ultimate guide you’re going to create much more time and energy for your side business every single week.
In these later chapters, I’ll give you some advanced techniques that have truly changed the way I work at my job and for myself on my side business.
These techniques allow me to spend much more time with my family while being fully engaged with them. As well as to enjoy my life better by creating time for the things that matter most to me.
The best thing on all of this is that I’m improving every day which sets me up for a success over the long term.
Ensure that you’re working on essential tasks
The make or break factor of your success in business is working on the right tasks regularly.
I hope you already know what your ONE current goal is. The one thing you are going to pursue by working on the projects you’ve also defined already. If not, I suggest to you to go back to Part 3 of this guide and do the action steps to define your #1 goal and projects to achieving this goal.
Alright, my friend. Now I assume that you know what your number one priority is.
Why focusing on the only thing so important?
Blogger, writer, and learning-hacker Scott H. Young recommends working on concrete projects sequentially. Projects that demand focus and exclude other possibilities which can feel limiting, but also liberating.
He talks that by focusing fully on one project you actually get things done. And once it’s accomplished you move onto the next one.
I agree with Scott.
Focusing on a specific project allows you to work more on those tasks that will help you achieve the results you want.
You become laser focused on that one most important thing at the moment.
This means that you won’t get easily distracted by the other shiny objects which are popping up every day but in reality are not important.
And you probably know how easy is to get yourself into pursuing new things which could “maybe” bring better and faster results. However, these are getting your focus out of the most important stuff that you know you should be doing.
Simply put, you have to start saying “NO” to all unimportant things.
I’ve talked about it already. Do you remember that quote from Warren Buffett? It’s worth repeating.
The difference between successful people and very successful people is that successful says Yes to everything and the very successful say “NO” to almost everything. ~ Warren Buffett
Saying NO to meaningless things will always keep your full attention on your primary goal.
I bet you think. Ok, Matej. I see. But, that it’s not an easy task.
I know it myself.
It will always be hard to reject new opportunities. To stop doing easier, more enjoyable stuff.
But, you’ll get better at it. You’ll build the “NO” muscle over time.
There will always be distractions like your family, friends, other people begging for your attention, time, and effort. However, you must stay focused on your own things. That’s your priority. The one thing that’s supposed to bring you results right now in your own business.
What’s the good way to say no?
A good way of dealing with distractions is by telling people what you’re working on. Tell them what you want to achieve. Tell them that it’ll take some time when you’ll be less available to them. Tell them that it’s truly important for you right now.
If they truly love you they will support you. If not, they probably don’t care too much about you and you should stay away from them.
However, make sure you’ll not sacrifice relationships with your close family!
How to decide what’s important and what not
I was really blown away when I first heard about Dwight Eisenhower’s productivity tactic referred to as “The Priority Matrix” because I’ve always struggled with prioritizing my tasks.
I’d always jump to the things that were urgent or easy instead of working on the most important tasks. I was avoiding the hard stuff, leaving it to the latest possible time to complete.
I’ve always made sure to accomplish every task within the deadline. However, I’ve lost so much of my precious time procrastinating. Usually, doing the stuff others wanted me to do instead of working for myself first.
That’s where the Eisenhower’s system comes very handy. It’s the framework he used to run the US president’s office very efficiently.
Image credits to James Clear
The priority matrix helps you prioritize and organize tasks efficiently. Which helps you take the right actions at the right time.
It’s based on dividing all of the actions in your day into four categories:
- Urgent and important – tasks that need to get done immediately
- Important, but not urgent – tasks you have to schedule to focus primarily on them
- Urgent, but not important – tasks you should delegate, or outsource to somebody else
- Neither urgent nor important – distracting tasks that you have to eliminate
Let’s dive deeper into each category.
Urgent and important
These are the most important tasks that have a deadline in the coming days. Activities you absolutely have to do immediately because it may cause a failure or damage.
However, be very careful about this category.
You need to ensure that these activities are urgent and important for your progress. Not for somebody else.
For example, if your project waits for your work to be accomplished the task is right within this category. Or when there is something urgent happening with somebody from your close family. This surely becomes a top priority for you.
But, it might be that your friend calls you to help him with his new product idea because you’re an expert in that field, or when your mom wants some help with organizing a family gathering.
These are not urgent fires for you, nor important tasks. It might be urgent and important for the other person but not for you.
You have to be ruthless when deciding what tasks are in this category especially because your time is very limited.
Important, but not urgent
This is the most important category for you.
It covers the activities you know you should be doing. Tasks that will grow your side business, improve your energy, build your skills.
Most of them are way outside of your comfort zone and maybe that’s why you avoid diving into them.
However, they absolutely have to get scheduled into your calendar. You have to create more time for doing them in real to progress towards your goals.
Tasks in this category are for example:
- validating your business idea by talking to your target audience
- doing the bloggers outreach to land guest posting opportunities
- having sales calls with potential 1on1 coaching clients
- validating and beta testing your product idea
Other tasks that fit into this category are the ones that might become both important and urgent at some point in the future. Therefore you want to work on them before they become a fire for you.
A good example is exercising and healthy eating.
Because if you won’t focus on these two things your health might decline in the future. This could mean that you won’t have enough energy and physical ability to do all the things you want in your life.
And I’m sure that you’re very wise so you want to live a healthy rich life. That’s why also the activities improving your health should absolutely have a big priority for you.
Urgent, but not important
These are the tasks you often think that needs to get done as soon as possible but they are not important in terms of the progress in your business and life.
These activities could be delegated, postponed, or even scrapped.
Maybe your partner could do it instead of you, or you could hire somebody else to get it done. If that’s not important for you at the moment, you can park it into “someday” folder.
For example, replying to some of the emails from your friends and readers, or comments on your posts on social media accounts, scheduling calls, planning trips, etc.
If you can’t afford to hire a virtual assistant, or maid to do these low-value activities for you and thus creating more time for you simply make sure that these “urgent” activities have very small priority.
Work on these only after the important work is done in the day. Plan them for the later hours when you usually don’t have much energy left to do the essential stuff for your business.
Neither urgent nor important
There come all the tasks that are stopping you from making any real progress.
Mainly distractions and passive things like reading blog posts, posting statuses and scrolling through the social media, reading news, watching TV. Even reading books is meaningless if you don’t apply the advice.
These are the things for your leisure time, so make sure you’re scheduling it in this manner.
Also, make sure you don’t spend so much time on them because they could bite pretty big chunks of your limited time. Remember? We’ve covered this already in Part 2.
So what do you say about the priority matrix? Seems pretty simple, right?
Always take the time to prioritize the activities in your day. Think twice about which category your activities fit into. And then take ruthless decisions which one you are going to do and which don’t.
Get more done in less time by doing truly focused work
A lot of people took his advice, started applying his strategy and it’s making a huge difference in their careers and businesses.
I’m no different. That’s why I love talking about the deep work.
The main idea behind the deep work is working regularly on your “one” thing while being absolutely focused.
Show up every day to get experience and produce results so you can improve over the time of execution.
How’s the deep work different from a normal work?
Shallow work is what we’re normally used to do in our digital world. Where are too many tasks and distractions in your day? You try to do your best, however you constantly jump from one activity to another. You’re in an environment where it’s hard to be truly productive.
The great thing about the deep work is that you pay your full focus to one activity.
You’re doing the most important work, getting the experience, putting it out in the world, and seeking feedback to improve continuously.
So, what’s the right deep work activity for you?
When you’re starting a blogging online business it’s for sure writing. It’s a core skill you need to develop unless you focus only on video content. Even for a video content, it’s important to write a compelling table of content and a draft of things what you’re going to talk about in it.
Writing skill is the foundation for producing epic content for your readers.
As my friend Charles Bordet says: “To become a better writer, you need to write A LOT and consistently” to grow your online business. Especially if you can’t hire somebody to do it for you or at least do the editing for you.
Regular emails to your subscribers, blog post, guest posts, ultimate guides, sales pages, table of content for your online product, outreach letters to influencers in your field, etc.
If you think you’re proficient at writing or writing is not relevant in your business just pick another core skill for your current stage of business.
Maybe you plan to add a video content into your portfolio in the near future. For example, you might want to study some things about the video content creation from my friend Jessica Eturralde. It’ll require some time to study it and then a lot more time applying what you’ve learned.
The thing I’m pointing out is to pick one main thing you need to focus on and then work on improving yourself at it.
Schedule a regular time for strengthening a core skill during a deeply focused working sessions.
Don’t forget to seek feedback for your results.
When your area of focus is writing it should be pretty simple. You’ll just publish your next piece of content and your readers will tell you if they like it or not in the comments below the post.
It’s also helpful if you ask for a feedback some peers, and some people who are a few steps ahead of you. They’ll help you direct your focus on the areas you should improve based on their experience.
Based on all of the work you’ve put in and the feedback you’ve received you’ll be able to focus on the right improvements.
Why you must stop multitasking
To be able to work with a laser-like focus on your “one” thing you simply need to stop doing too many things at once.
Do I mean that you should stop multitasking?
You need to stop working on many things at the same time.
Even though a lot of people think multitasking as a productive skill. Those people even write it into their resume.
What has to be valued the most is truly the opposite.
Forget about multitasking. The deep laser-focused work is the best way to get more work done with high quality.
Let’s explain it shortly on the example of working on just two tasks simultaneously.
You work on TASK_A when suddenly a reminder to work on TASK_B arises.
You switch attention to TASK_B and start working on it to complete at least part of it. SO you can say that you worked on this one as well.
However, then it takes so much time and effort to come back to the TASK_A.
Firstly, you need to forget about the TASK_B. Secondly, you need to figure out in which state you left the TASK_A and what is still missing to get it completed.
Let’s be honest. Often, none of them gets completed. Or they both lacks quality.
And this example talks only about doing two tasks at once. Think about the situation when you add the third task or even more.
You might think that it’s easy and quick switching between contexts. Maybe it is for some tasks you’re used to doing regularly.
However, we’re talking about the hard work for your side business. The creative work like writing and the other important activities which are far from being simple.
It’s not even easy to work on them while being fully focused. How hard it is when you try to work on them while you’re distracted by tens of other things.
That’s why you should stop multitasking. Instead, focus on just one task at a moment.
A simple tactic to boost your focus
But how can I truly focus on one thing at a time?
That was my question to which I’ve found the answer in this great article from productivity expert Chris Winfield. The productivity tactic called “The Pomodoro Technique”.
Honestly, reading this post has been a life-changing moment for me.
Once I’ve started using the Pomodoro technique I immediately saw a huge boost in my productivity. Especially while working on the hard tasks.
Every time I follow the technique I’m able to produce much better results at my job and my side business even in less time.
If you don’t use the Pomodoro technique yet you better want to start now.
Its purpose is to work laser-focused on completing one task within 25 minutes.
So how does the Pomodoro technique work?
Let’s take it directly from the official website of its author Francesco Cirillo where you can also find a great explanatory video.
This is how you use the Pomodoro technique:
- Choose one task – a task you want to get done
- Set the timer for 25 minutes – it’s just 25 minutes, you can do it even if it feels hard
- Work on the task – just do it while being absolutely focused, no distractions allowed
- Make a checkmark – make a note into your journal or whatever you use to celebrate that you’ve done it and have a reference for your accomplishments
- Take a short break – a short (5 min) break to recover your energy. Use any of the short recovery rituals from the Part 6. E.g. meditate, drink water, take a walk, read a book.
- Rinse and repeat – do it over and over again. But, every four Pomodoros take a longer (15-30 min) break to absorb all the work and recharge yourself for another work ahead.
By using the Pomodoro technique you ensure to get the task done as soon as possible. You’ll produce more quality results because you do not get distracted. And it also helps to ensure that you’re working on the right thing at the right time because you simply have to choose the right task to work on.
However, it’s not as easy as it might sound if you’re just starting out using this technique. It’s especially true if you’re not used to devoting highly focused effort to your work regularly.
The great news is that you can learn to do it the right way. It will take a bit of a time getting used to working truly focused. But, if you’ll practice it regularly your ability to focus deeply will improve over time.
Applying full laser-like focus is like exercising. You need to build your muscle.
Just apply the Pomodoro technique when you work on your side business, or on an important task at your day job. Give it a try. Do at least one Pomodoro every single day this week. I’m sure that it will help you complete your work faster.
But what if your task usually does not take 25 minutes? Is the Pomodoro right for me?
That’s a very good and important question.
For example, Mike Vardy from productivityist.com is not a fan of this technique. He says that “setting up time constraints as such can actually hinder flow because of the knowledge that the timer is going to ring right when you’re in the state of flow”.
Honestly, I’m still torn here.
I take it the way that that the point of using this technique is to work truly focused on one given task for the specified amount of time.
So if you think that a different amount of time will be better for you then just try it. You can adjust what fits you best as I do myself.
What I like to do is setting 10 or 15 minutes for hard tasks which feel hard to start doing. Setting the timer for that small amount of time seems absolutely doable. When the timer rings and the task is unfinished I simply keep working on it if I’m in the flow.
On the other side, when I’m comfortable doing the given task for a longer period of time I’ll just set the timer for 60-90 minutes. I do this often at work when I have a bigger programming task and I know I can easily focus on doing that.
I’m using longer periods for writing as well. For example, when I come to a coffee shop after my day job. I know that I have one hour before I need to go home. So I just set the timer for 60 minutes and that’s it.
I encourage you to give the Pomodoro technique a try. Test if it works for you. If yes, great.
Hint: When your task is too big you should always break it into smaller tasks. This way you can bite one small task after another using the Pomodoro technique. Breaking the big task into smaller chunks also helps you getting a better outlook on what needs to get done. You get a better estimate of the work ahead so you can easily fit it into your schedule.
There are many tools you can use for your focused sessions.
From simple online timers, timers within to-do apps, or focused music apps.
If you don’t listen to music or you still want to listen to your favorite songs just use any of the online Pomodoro timers. You can also use the recommended kitchen timer or timer app on your smartphone.
Again. Try something and if it helps you become more productive just continue using it until you find something better.
I promise you that you’ll complete a lot during this deep work session.
However, it can still happen that you won’t get as much done as you’d like. For example, if you hit the writer’s block, some roadblock, or get distracted. Then no worries. It’ll get better over time.
Take a break today and try the next deep work session tomorrow.
Just keep doing more of those focused sessions to build the muscle. Get used to working laser-focused on the most important tasks.
Part 8: How to boost your daily productivity and get a small win in your business every single day
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. ~ Will Durant
No tactic in the world will ever beat the consistency.
If you want to achieve success with your business over the long term you need to show up almost every single day. Keep working hard even during the toughest of times when others give up.
Take at least one tiny action each day to start getting small wins. That will build a momentum which will keep you on the right course towards your goals.
I can absolutely validate this.
Every time I took a break because I got stuck on an obstacle it took me a lot of effort to overcome it. To get the right motivation to get going again.
When you get into the groove of completing at least something small each day it keeps you committed. You’re on the right track which you see on the results. Those little numbers of poker chips keep adding into your stack until it’s big enough that nothing can stop you.
No matter how much you fail during the process. Every failed execution brings you new experience from which you’ll leverage in the future.
But how do you get to the point of working every single day on your side business within your tight schedule?
Consistency comes by creating the powerful habits and routines.
These will ensure that you will produce outcomes in your business regularly. And if you’re consistent enough with building the right habits you’ll end up doing things almost on “autopilot”.
With the right routines you’re achieving small wins every single day which means that the progress over the course of the week, month and year is massive, comparing to inconsistent bursts of work.
This is a huge difference between successful businesses true entrepreneurs are growing versus a “hobby” businesses of wantrepreneurs who are just trying.
I’ve been trying for more than two years.
Just waiting for big bursts of motivation. I’d make some small progress, but soon I’d hit the roadblock, put the foot off the gas, and got stuck for weeks.
Do you see?
WEEKS and sometimes even months.
Looking at the progress of other students from online communities, their wins which they’ve been getting every week by putting in consistent work was unimaginable for me. I felt like I’ll never be able to do that. With the demanding full-time job and two small kids at home.
I’ve always used both my job and my family as an excuse.
What was the truth?
I was afraid of doing the hard work consistently. Putting myself out there in the world day in day out. Because it’s been way out of my comfort zone.
Sure, sitting in front of the computer, watching yet another video from an online course, or reading yet another blog post about the business was easier.
I had to figure out how to get myself to work consistently on the things that are way outside of my comfort zone.
For example, writing a guest post for a bigger website, having a sales conversation with a potential coaching client, validating the first product idea talking by to people from the target audience.
Those are the important things that help us get our businesses off the ground. Those are the things that push us out of our comfort zone.
It is hard to take actions on them at first. But, we can simply get used to doing them with consistent action.
We need to create powerful routines that help us get the most out of our limited time for our own businesses.
Let’s dive right into the key routines I’ve implemented in my life based on advice from productivity experts, peak performance coaches and successful business owners like Todd Herman, Cal Newport, Chris Winfield, Tim Ferriss, Tony Robbins, and many others.
Routine #1: Create a morning routine to start the day productively
I’ve already mentioned that early morning is a great time for working on your side business.
That’s the time of the day when you’re most energized after a good night’s rest. When your willpower reservoir is full, and you’re excited about the day ahead.
You’re not fed up with the requests from other people. With the bad stuff that already happened and disrupts on your emotions.
You can just focus on yourself, on what’s important to you.
For example, my friend Tree Franklyn works on her side business every morning from 2:30 a.m. before going to work. This way she gets the important stuff done to make an impact in the world while running a happy family life.
When I started waking up early I found it very difficult to start working immediately.
My mornings looked like a complete mess. Every single day was different and I could not get going. I was slow, I did not know what needs to get prepared, or what I want to be doing.
The truth was that I did not have any system.
That’s where another amazing advice from my mentor Chris Winfield came very handy. He wrote an amazing ultimate guide about creating the morning routine which sets you up for a productive and successful day.
I fell in love with that idea of a “success-based” morning and immediately started building my own morning routine.
Right now my morning consists of these steps:
- wake up without snoozing
- yoga (optional)
- cold shower
- prepare my favorite coffee and tea for my wife and kids
- cook a healthy breakfast (I eat it at work)
- write one “morning page”
- work on the most important task (MIT) for my side business (I do at least one Pomodoro session)
However, I don’t want to overwhelm you at the beginning.
To be brutally honest with you, it took me more than a year to tweak the routine to where I am today. And I still regularly tweak it by changing or adding new habits based on the present circumstances.
The important note here is that it was not possible to build those habits all at once. I’ve built it one by one. For example, to start taking a cold shower I decided to do a 30-day challenge which helped me built the habit.
On the other side, creating the habits of preparing coffee, tea and breakfast were pretty easy.
It always depends on what kind of habit you want to build and how far from it is your comfort zone.
Later, I’ve started meditating using the Headspace app after watching great Ted talk about the benefits of meditation from the app’s founder Andy Puddicombe.
Both has been great. However, it took a lot of the free time from my morning. So, I’ve decided to leave the workout for the later stages of the day and focus my most productive time towards my side business.
Yeah, there’s been many tests, wins, and failures as well over time of creation my morning routine.
Things that did not work out well, like reading or jogging.
I still fail regularly.
Like when I’ve lost my meditation streak at 426 days in a row. I’ve been sad for a while. But it’s absolutely OK. Nobody is perfect. I know that if I miss a day doing my morning routine but get back the other day it’s completely fine.
The most important thing is to create the morning routine which works right for you. The routine that helps you get going from the start of the day. Then do your best to follow it every day. And improve it over time.
Routine #2: Eat your frog every morning
Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day. ~Mark Twain
Eating the “business frog” is an essential part of my morning routine. It’s also crucial to my progress with a side business.
That’s the time when I’m working on my most important tasks (MITs).
I encourage you to do the same.
Completing the most important task for yourself early the day makes your day a big success right away. Once you eat your frog you’ve already won your day. Everything you accomplish later is just a bonus.
Each day when I accomplish something meaningful for myself in the morning I feel very happy for the rest of the day.
I enjoy the work at my day job more, have an amazing time with my family in the afternoon, and does not stress in the evening about the business stuff. I’m satisfied that I’ve done my job so I’m no longer putting the pressure on myself during the rest of the day that I have to accomplish at least something.
What’s the best task for your morning?
I advise to doing the creative tasks first which require a lot of focus and energy.
For example, crafting a copy for your landing page, writing a guest post, setting up the email sequence.
However, if you do not have a quiet morning it might not work out well for you.
Like it’s not possible for my client because even though he wakes up 5 a.m. his family is already up as well.
He can carve out 30 minutes for himself but he often gets distracted by his kids. Therefore, I advised him to do the tasks which do not require a lot of laser-like focus like reaching out to people, scheduling calls, setting up his website, etc.
Then later in the day, he has his creative time during his lunch break.
My advice is to work on at least ONE important task every morning for 30 minutes. Or as soon as it’s possible for you.
Even 15 minutes is a lot better than nothing.
Working for yourself every morning what will bring you consistency and help you build the momentum for staying in the game of business over the long-term.
Routine #3: Journal
I always thought that people who write in their diaries are crazy. Really, I did.
But, only until I tried it myself.
I was surprised how powerful journaling is.
I’m currently using the Bullet Journal method in physical notebook
Vardy’s journaling goal is to recap the day by reflecting on how it unfolded. He also picks up the three most important tasks for the next day (he calls them “absolutes”) and writes them on a piece of paper. He then closes up this paper into his laptop as the day is wrapped up.
Next morning he just opens up his laptop where he finds the letter from himself with the most important tasks that need to get done today.
Journaling helps you reflect on your daily actions, feelings, accomplishments so it’s easier to see the areas for your personal improvement. It helps you shape your day and adds accountability.
For me, it’s very similar.
To make it easy for myself I use a specific format. Every evening I write down at least three things that went well that day and at least one thing that could be improved in the future (things that did not go well or I failed at them). Then I also plan 1-3 most important things for the next day. Often only the tasks for my side business.
Writing this down is very powerful because it reflects on my wins in the day. Which helps me celebrate those small achievements in my life which I won’t be celebrating in the bigger context.
Also reflecting on the one thing I could do better, or the failure that I want to learn from in the future helps me to grow.
Last but not least, is the planning of my frogs for the next day. It’s very important to have it planned ahead so in the morning I can just jump to what needs to get done. I do not need to spend time and energy on deciding what I’m gonna do in the thick of it. It’s already been done.
This simple routine takes only 5-10 minutes but it’s very powerful.
I recommend journaling in a physical notebook. And I recently fell in love with The Bullet Journal (thanks Kats for this tip).
I like that the format is very open which you can tweak for your own preference anytime. I simply love it.
However, there are also other great physical planners around. For example:
Routine #4: Evening routine
You can save yourself a ton of time and effort if you prepare everything needed for the day in the evening before.
For example, your clothes, lunch, cup and ingredients for the morning coffee or tea, work backpack, etc. Also other things like cleaning your home desk, putting the laptop and the journal on it.
Evening routine and preparation makes it a lot easier to get going in the morning which brings you more time for your business work.
This preparation will take no more than 10 minutes. And you even can do during the commercial breaks or while waiting for your kids to finish their plates.
I prepare everything I can for the next day as part of my evening routine
As I’ve mentioned while talking about journaling one of the essential things of my evening routine is planning the most important tasks for the next day. It’s the make or break factor for accomplishing something meaningful for myself in the morning.
This helps me to start working straight away at the beginning of the day.
I do not have to think what I should be doing next or procrastinating on the important stuff by picking easier tasks. I just plan the task which absolutely needs to get done the next day.
Then it’s simple to get to working on it.
A pro tip is to write your frogs on a post-it and put it on your laptop or work desk to see it as soon as you get to work. Or as Mike Vardy does it close the paper into your laptop.
Routine #5: Deep work sessions
Deep non-distracted work is crucial to getting more things done in your limited time. Therefore, it’s important for you to routinely incorporate more of them into your weekly schedule.
Simply go through your calendar and find pockets of more than 15 minutes of free time. Preferably 25-minute windows when you can fit your business Pomodoros in. Explore if those time pockets occur regularly. If yes, decide if you can schedule your business work into this timeframe every week.
Then just schedule a recurring event with yourself in the calendar and mark yourself busy.
Repeat this process until you fit in as most of these times as possible.
Let’s take a look at my week as an example.
I aim to fit in at least 30 minutes every work day morning. Then I have regularly two hours every Thursday afternoon after I finish my day job and before the gym time. That’s the regular time for myself I’ve negotiated with my wife.
I also try to fit in one Pomodoro session after my day job. I either continue to work at my desk, or do something in the car, or in the coffee shop during the days when I do not have to hurry home to take care of kids.
Often these timeframes are not the exact deep work session. However, I still use the concept of working fully focused on one thing at a time.
Then there is a weekend when I usually work for two hours in the morning. And if possible I fit in one hour during the kid’s naptime as well.
That’s simply 10+ hours of truly focused work on my business on the side.
Home setup for the deep work session
I always look for more pockets of irregular free time during my week as it unfolds. However, that’s the bare minimum of work I plan to do on my side business.
Nothing is perfect. Definitely, not every week seems like this.
There are for example weekends when we travel out of town with family so I hardly fit in any business work. However, this is the general framework that I’ve created for my current situation which regularly works.
Hint: Never forget to adjust your schedule to match your current needs and situation at home. For example when the schedule around your kids or partner changes you want to be flexible, adaptable, and creative so you create as much productive time for yourself as possible.
Just make sure you have enough time in your week for your business to get it off the ground.
Routine #6: Weekly review
The weekly review was my very first power habit when I got into self-development and online business world.
The purpose of the weekly review is to reflect on the past week and plan the most important tasks for the next week to focus your work towards reaching your current goals.
This process helps you constantly uncover the state you’re at, what progress have you already made, and how far you are from meeting your targets.
Taking time to reflect is not only helpful in making progress with your business but life as well. It helps you think about your values, impact you make on your family, friends, other people, or other valuable things that shape your life.
So, how does the weekly review look like?
It’s basically a set of questions you’re gonna fill every week.
You can use whatever format you want. It does not matter if you use a physical notebook, Evernote, or a google doc. Use whatever is easy for you.
Also, the set of questions could work differently for you.
The most important thing is to do it regularly.
The good thing about it is that it could take a longer time at the beginning, something between 20-30 minutes. However, once you get used to it it’s a simple process which takes up to 15 minutes. Especially when you are clear about your goals, projects, and next actions.
It all depends on the depth you want to go in and the things you want to review in your life. If it’s just a business stuff or the whole life situation.
My current template for a weekly review contains a set of questions from Todd Herman’s amazing course the 90 Day Year. It’s the best course for achieving high-performance not only in business but the whole life. I’ve bought it myself and I highly recommend it.
Below are the questions that I use in my weekly review.
Don’t hesitate to modify the template to your needs.
There’s one thing I want to emphasize.
In the past, I was reviewing a lot of my life goals and all the things I wanted to improve. My day job, family, relationships, self-development, skills, etc. Even though all of this is important it took me too much time to fill out the review. The side-effect was that I’ve often procrastinated on doing it. Sometimes I even skipped doing it completely for a few weeks in a row.
That’s why I focus now only on few big goals.
I know where my focus should be. And every time I want to focus on something new, e.g. improving a skill, creating a new habit, I just make sure to set a goal and add it into my weekly review.
This way I ensure that I make progress towards that goal.
Sometimes, after a few weeks I discover that the goal is not relevant any more. Or that the project I’m working on does not work fit, or does not produce the results I want to have. Then I simply stop working on it saving the most valuable resources – my time and energy.
That’s where the weekly review is very powerful.
Weekly review helps you consistently close the loops on your project’s execution. It allows you to evaluate your progress towards your goals and make necessary corrections quickly.
So you won’t spend months working on a project that does not work.
Routine #7: Accountability
Accountability breeds response-ability. ~Stephen Covey
Accountability is a hidden secret to a high performance.
It’s true that we’re the only ones responsible for our own actions. However, accountability brings us the feeling that someone is helping us achieve our goals.
If you’re just working alone on your side business, at some point you might stop believing in your actions. You might decide to stop working on that guest post because you feel like it’s not good enough. Or you might struggle to find your first coaching clients because of an imposter syndrome showing up.
There are those things we dream about achieving but it’ hard to do it alone.
The solution to achieving your goals is finding an accountability.
Whether it’s your partner, a good friend, an accountability partner, a community of people, or even a personal coach. Anybody who holds you accountable will be the key to achieving your success.
I’ve learned about the form of accountability in an online program’s community. I got paired with my accountability buddy and we speak once a week ever since. Honestly, I can’t see myself achieving so much in my life without him.
We have a call every Monday morning where we go through our weekly reviews.
We talk about our progress over the past week, our successes, failures, key learnings. We discuss what could have gone better, how to correct that and improve in the future.
We also go through our most important actions steps for the next week. Tasks we need to accomplish in order to complete our projects that will bring us closer toward our goals.
I can’t emphasize enough how powerful accountability is.
For example, my accountability buddy wanted to start waking up daily before 6 AM. He asked his wife to keep him accountable with this habit. The stick was to cook a lunch in the morning for their two kids. If she found him sleeping or lying in the bed after 6 AM he will need to do that. You bet that he made sure to wake up on time because he dislikes cooking, especially in the morning.
As I’ve said, you can use whatever accountability would work for you. Again here, I encourage you to test different ways and different people until you find something working well for you.
You can ask your family member, friend, or find a like-minded person in the online community to become your accountability partner. You can even hire a personal coach which is more helpful because his goal is to hold you accountable to achieving your goals. And because you pay for it, you’ll make sure you work hard enough to get the desired results.
The more accountability you have, the bigger results you’ll get. That’s why the most successful people hire personal coaches or advisers for millions of dollars.
There is also a great website Stickk.com which you can use for accountability.
You can easily set a goal that you want to achieve in the specified period of time. It can be a one-time goal or a regular habit you want to create.
For example, you want to set a goal to work on your business every morning for 30 minutes. You then need to decide how much money you want to donate to somebody or an anti-charity of your choice if you fail. The last step is assigning a referee who will be your accountability buddy for that particular goal. And you’re all set.
Then you simply work on your goal and report every week about your progress.
Your referee has to verify your progress based on the mutual agreement you’ve specified at the beginning. For example, you’re gonna send him an email every morning at 6:30 with the description of your achieved morning work.
If you make it, big congratulations.
But once you fail with your assignment the referee will report that in the app and your money goes straight away to the charity you dislike.
However, if you don’t want to use your money as the stick, no problem. Just find someone who’ll hold you accountable and report to him on a regular basis. I suggest one week period or a fortnight at most.
Note: You may find after some time that an accountability you’ve set does not work well for you. That’s absolutely OK. Just make sure you won’t stay in the commitment which is not working. Genuinely close the commitment and find a better one.
These are the key routines which keep me building my online side business even during the tough times I might have at work or with my family.
I know that if I sustain these habits and systems I’ll keep the momentum going because making progress with my side hustle is almost on autopilot.
How will you make the most out of this guide?
That’s it, my friend.
I’m absolutely thrilled that you’ve reached this point.
I’ve put in more than 100 hours into this 25,000 words ultimate guide. My aim was to create an actionable piece of advice that will help you start your business on the side even with the limited time you have in your busy life.
I know that you’re an ambitious person. That’s why you bought a high-end course for building a profitable online business. You are committed to earning a supplementary side income so you can better support your family. And one day you can turn it into a full-time gig working on your own terms.
The only problem is that you have that day job which takes that big portion of your time and energy and small kids you want to spend time with.
So, how do you make sure that you implement the advice and it’s not just another piece of content that you’ve read and never put into action?
To make it a lot easier for you to put the guide into action and get your side business off the ground I have created a free email course that will help you create 5+ QUALITY HOURS for your business every week and how to get the most out of them without sacrificing your family.
Here is what is included in the free eCourse:
- A simple way for finding 5+ quality hours in your week regularly
- How to make the most of that limited time to get more done in less time
- WARNING: You’ll finally get your side business off the ground (while still enjoying a guilt-free afternoons with your kids!)
Click below and enter your email address to get instant access:
Matej helped me make the most out of my limited time. Which helped me pick and validate my business idea, and finally launch my website. ~ Katsumoto I.
I felt like my life was a race with me against time to see what I could get done before 10pm. And most times the clock was winning. Now, I feel like things are starting to happen for my business and the ball is moving…which is a great feeling. ~ Ryan R.