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5 steps to having a personal life while running a side business (Sidegig Ep. 1.6)

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When we first reached out to the Millo community for questions to discuss on our Sidegig podcast, one of the most commonly asked questions was:

“If I’m working at a 9-5 job and I want to build a business AND have a life, how do I balance them all in the right way?”

Preston, the man behind Millo has a family with 3 children who he makes his priority. He manages everything by having a daily schedule and creating blocks of time for certain tasks. You can hear more about how Preston works in our interview with him in Episode 5.

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Ian, in comparison, doesn’t have a family and doesn’t work to a set routine in the same way.

Ian started Logo Geek started as a way to learn and improve as a logo designer. Since logos are short-term projects, he could take on an assignment knowing the project would be wrapped up within a few weeks. After this time he had the choice to work on another project, or to take some time off.

So, how do you balance a side gig, a job, and a life?

In this episode of Sidegig, we’ll show you 5 simple steps for balancing a full-time job, a personal life, and a side hustle.

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You can listen to the full episode below. We’ve also included some quick-to-read notes as well. We hope you enjoy episode 6 of Sidegig.

Work on the small steps

When at your day job everything you do contributes to someone else’s dream and can feel unimportant and trivial.

When you work on your own business, every little thing you do adds up and never goes away.

Small steps make a difference.

You can do a lot in 30 minutes a day.

Rather than waste time watching TV, why not spend that time growing something for your future?

Connect your business to a greater purpose, rather than just as a way to make money. This purpose will motivate you, and keep you going through the hardest of times.

Create a routine

Building a side business is not always an easy task and requires dedication.

When working on his training course, Ryan would wake up at 4:30 am a few days a week, which was always a struggle.

But, waking up this early meant he was able to make substantial progress on his business.

Early mornings is a time that nobody cares about – not family, friends, or your boss. So, large chunks of undisturbed time are gained when you can focus on growing your business.

Waking up during the early hours like this is not glamorous or fun, but if you’re pushing, you have to do late nights or early mornings to achieve success. At first it was a struggle, but once Ryan got used to it, it became easy.

It became a routine.

Ian took advantage of creating a routine when growing his community through Twitter. Each morning, before doing anything else, he worked on his Twitter.

Even short 5 minute sessions can make a huge difference when done every day.

Ryan works to set time blocks using Google calendar to structure his day so he stays committed. Here’s a screenshot showing an example of Ryan’s morning schedule.

Ryan - Google Calendar Example

Sacrifice and commit

Discipline is essential. If you want to succeed you have to do the things that will allow you to. That means sacrifice and commitment.

For Ryan, working on his business before he went to his day job gave him the best creative time. He sometimes works during lunch breaks, but in the evenings he’s too burnt out to work.

There’s no rule that says your best creative time should go to your employer – you deserve that time to grow your business.

It’s inevitable that as your Side gig becomes successful it will grow and require more time. Consider the long-term plans, bringing in support where needed.

Also consider taking the leap to part-time, or going full time with your side gig.

Communicate with friends and family. Make sure they are aware, and they will support you.

Be busy doing the right things

Everyone is busy, but you need to be busy doing the right things. Checking emails, for example, can be a distraction. You need to be disciplined.

An accountability partner is a good way to keep on track.

Sending an accountability partner a weekly email thread with your goals will help, and when you fail you can talk about the challenges you faced and learn what caused you to fail.

You’ll get better at timelines and get to know what’s sucking away productivity.

Know what’s a priority.

Make people aware of what you plan to do as well. For example, Ian is working on a book. By telling people what he’s doing, it’s made him accountable when other people ask when the book is coming out.

Set priorities

Reality check – if you don’t set a deadline, and tell people the deadline, you’ll never hit your goals. Telling people about your deadlines and goals provides social accountability.

When working on projects, Ian has from time to time over booked his schedule, meaning deadlines were almost missed, and no time was available.

He now deliberately adds slack into his schedule, as he’s learned what he can realistically achieve in the time available.

If you do miss deadlines, don’t get mad at yourself. You just need to be realistic. Know why you didn’t achieve the deadlines, and learn from that.

Be realistic in your expectations

Be realistic in your expectations.

When working on the side of a day job, it’s a fact that your business will not grow as fast as you want it to. Do what you can in the time available, and make sure to focus on what matters to you.

Not all areas of your time can be 100% at any given time. You need to adjust your time based on what’s important at that moment in your life.

Don’t let building your business get in the way of the reason you’re building a your business. Pay attention to your priorities as your grow your business.

Ready to start a side-gig? Listen the full episode here:

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About Ian Paget

Ian is a graphic designer from Manchester, UK. He runs Logo Geek, designing logos and brand identities for start-ups and SMEs. He also runs a popular social media group of the same name where he shares and creates valuable logo design resources.

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