Updated: March 21, 2023
A friend once told me that your 8am to 5pm is when you build your career, but your 7pm to 1am is when you should build your dreams.
I find it quite inspiring, and I agree. For I have met a lot of individuals who were able to build a successful business during the hours between their day job and sleep.
Unfortunately, like many life-changing advice — this is easier said than done.
There will be times when you need to work overtime at the office. Or when the traffic in your commute will suck out the life in you that you’ll just want to sleep when you get home.
On other days, your family will need your attention. While on some, your friends will be the ones asking for your presence. And then there’s other stuff like buying groceries or running errands that will eat up your free time.
So how do you find time to do personal projects while working in a full-time job?
Do you need to sacrifice quality time with your family and friends just to side hustle? How did others do it? What’s their secret?
Below are a few of the things that worked for me.
Develop a routine.
Save time and energy by minimizing decisions throughout the day. And the best way to do this is to develop a routine that you just follow.
Make a ritual out of your mornings. The same goes for your time at work, including your daily commute and lunch breaks. Stick to it until it becomes almost automatic.
The reason for this is that our willpower is limited. And every time you use it, there’ll be less of it available later when you need it to do your personal projects.
Every time you think about what to eat for breakfast, what to wear for work, and other menial tasks — your willpower gets a little depleted.
When you get home at night and you’re running low on willpower, it will be much harder to fight the temptation to watch television or chat with a friend, instead of working on your business plan.
Plan your meals ahead of time. Prepare what you’ll wear for work on a weekly basis. Make a routine out of your work tasks, and you’ll have the willpower to do more after you clock out of the office.
Go online or outsource.
I’ve been paying my bills online for as long as I can remember, and you should too. Don’t waste your time lining up at banks and payment centers.
When you need to buy something and it’s available online, go and purchase it. If there’s an app that can help you save time, use it.
As a financial planner, I normally need to talk to clients. But instead of meeting in person, we just talk online and use Google Hangouts or Skype.
Moreover, check which among the things you do all the time can be affordably outsourced. For example, instead of washing my own clothes, I avail myself of the services of a laundry shop.
It may be more costly at first, but by using the extra time to work on a personal project or side business, I can earn income that more than makes up for the expense.
Consume less of the unnecessary.
Time management is more than just about creating a schedule and having the discipline to follow it. It is also about making the conscious decision to consume less of the unnecessary.
Stop watching television. Avoid engaging in gossip. Unplug from mindless scrolling on Facebook and Twitter. These consumption behaviors do nothing but waste your time.
Instead, take upon and focus on a personal project and you’ll find out that it’s easier to cut these time-consuming habits when you do.
Just remember to follow your curiosity and passion, and do something that forces you to create and produce an output.
Doing personal projects is fun, and more often than not — they will lead you to something that can become a business someday.
In fact, a lot of successful entrepreneurs today, especially founders of tech startup companies, were initially just pursuing an interest during their free time before they realized that what they’re doing could become something big.
So, as they say — great things start with small beginnings. And in those hours between 7pm to 1am is when those small beginnings are often born.
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