Morning! Today Alexandra talks about side hustles and time management. Let me know if you would like to guest post on MMYW.
Alexandra is the owner of Real Simple Finances, where she writes easy finance tips for real people. She’s a recovering volunteeraholic, who has learned to say “no” to extra activities, thereby maximizing her income potential and still having time to spend with her husband and two dogs. You can follow Alexandra on Twitter: @RSFAlexandra.
The common belief of business seems to be, “If you’re busy, you’re productive. If you’re productive, you’re making money.” Why aren’t you making any money, then?
It is possible to be too busy to make money! As much as this goes against typical “common sense,” consider these scenarios:
- You’re taking on a lot of unpaid “experience only” work. After all, you can’t make money if you don’t have a good resume, right?
- A friend needs help creating her resume. Of course you couldn’t charge her for the resume. What kind of friend would you be?
- Your day job is asking for volunteers for a weekend charity event. You intended to get some writing done, but your boss really cares about this charity. You spend your Saturday cleaning up a beach or feeding the homeless, and then have to spend all day Sunday catching up on things you didn’t do Saturday. Before you know it, it’s Monday, and you didn’t get any writing done.
- You love animals, and realized that fostering dogs is absolutely your calling. You dive head-first into the process, taking on two puppies who aren’t at all housebroken. Cue large expenses and no chance to relax.
Do any of these situations sound like your life? If so, you could really be hurting your income potential.
I have struggled with this problem myself; all too frequently I found myself saying, “When life calms down a little, then I’ll be able to get my freelance business going!” I realized life isn’t going to slow down until I stop making commitments! Essentially, I was making myself too busy to pursue my side business ventures.
I knew I had to slow down. If you feel that you need to slow down as well, try asking yourself some questions to decide which activities to cut:
- Is this bringing me joy?
If you aren’t happy doing something, stop doing it. Of course, this works much better when you’re eliminating non-paying jobs. Be careful if you’re trying to get rid of a job you hate; you need to be strategic to make sure you don’t fall on your face!
- Is this taking away from valuable time with my family/myself/my dogs/my side business?
If you feel as though you’re compromising your values for the sake of a job or volunteer project, you’re going to be miserable. Take some time to evaluate what’s important to you, and decide if this project is worth the time you’re investing. When I’m unable to enjoy a dinner with my husband because I have too many articles due, I know I have taken on too much.
- If you’re considering taking on another unpaid position, ask yourself: “Do I have enough free work going on already?”
It’s hard to pass up good experience, but the key to building a good business is learning when to say no. I have reached the point where I no longer will volunteer free writing, and am asking for compensation for all jobs I apply to. It might feel harsh to say no, but you have to do what’s right for you and your family. Saying “no” is a good thing!
So be brave and eliminate some of the free work you’re doing, or stop taking on new work all together!
I am not suggesting that money should be your only motivator, of course. I have a few unpaid positions myself that currently I don’t intend to get rid of; they are flexible, meaning I can put money-making activities first; they are fun; and they helped me get my start, so I feel a bit sentimental toward them. As long as I stop adding more unpaid work to my schedule, I will be able to fit in paid freelance positions.
Are you guilty of making yourself too busy? How have you opened up your schedule for more productivity?