Side Hustling as a Parent

A quick trip to Twitter will reveal thousands of bloggers who are making tons of money, and spending hours each day on their site(s). Many of them are even fortunate enough to be blogging full-time. I thoroughly respect these individuals, as I aspire to do the same – but the reality is, their struggle isn’t the same as those still holding down a full-time job. Those of us who still have to hold down a full-time job, take care of our kids, and find time for our side hustles – have to manage our time better. I certainly aspire to be in the position someday where my biggest problem is which article I’ll write, and when/where/how I’ll share it. Until then..I have to make time for this stuff. I think a lot of you do too.

This is what Hustling as a Parent really looks like sometimes.

If it was as simple as time management, this article would be about ways you can manage your time more effectively. I’d go on and say things like “You should use Buffer to schedule your social media posts,” or “Write in the evenings and use your lunch breaks to post to Twitter.”

That’s all good advice, but hustling while working and being a parent is more complicated than just managing your time. When you’ve worked an 8+ hour day, fought through 2 hours of traffic, got a couple of hours (at best) of precious time with your kids, and finally get an opportunity to work on your side hustle – whatever it is – finding the motivation and getting your mind right, is much easier said than done.  In fact, the more I’ve gotten involved in my various side hustles, I’ve come to really believe that a success side hustle involves far more than time management, and motivation. It’s a game that requires the ability to switch your side hustle version of you on and off quickly, on-demand. I write 90% of my articles between 10pm-2am, many days of the week. I end up sacrificing sleep on those nights, and spending the next day operating at my day job on 2 hours less of sleep than I’m used to. Thankfully, in my case, I can do that, and I don’t see any impact to my day job (which I actually like). Not everyone is so lucky.

We all casually call these ventures “side hustles” in a light-hearted manner, but the reality is, we’re entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, and to some degree, even wantrepreneurs. But Side Hustlers sounds way cooler. When you look at yourself as a business owner, the game changes. You have to take it much more seriously. I love what I do here at SHD, but I treat it like a business so that I get stuff done.

My Tips for Parents Who Side Hustle

While I’m specifically targeting parents, this is also fully applicable to those who hold down full-time jobs and work on their endeavors in the evening and on weekends. I’ve been side hustling in several forms for years, and I’ve definitely learned some of these things the hard way – I sincerely hope they help someone out there out too.

Time Block

Everyone is busy, but be honest with yourself. You likely have a lot of wasted time if you’re anything like me. I would whine about how busy I was to everyone: coworkers, family, friends, and my wife (don’t tell her that I said that). But I looked closer, and what I found shocked me.

3 hours of NetFlix in the evening. 30 minutes of useless iOS game. 30 minutes of Xbox One. 

While I firmly believe you have to make room for these things that keep you sane and give your brain a break, I don’t think you need 3+ hours of mind-numbing nothingness per day.  My recommendation? Make a list of very specific tasks you need to do – such as: write one article. Allocate a block of time to that task, and do it. Once you do it, go back to the fun stuff. If you repeat this, you’ll be able to zero in, focus, and get work done, but also reward yourself by letting loose a little. There’s something to be said for an artificial time constraint: when you think you have only 30 minutes to do something, you’ll find that you don’t get distracted as easy, and work harder.

Have Fun

While working in the evening isn’t fun, you should be doing something you want to do. If you don’t enjoy your side hustle, I encourage you to quit it and find a better one. Life is too short to work yourself to the bone for something you don’t love. Also, if you’re having fun, you’ll work harder, but it won’t quite feel like work. I probably spend a solid 20 hours a week on this blog alone (between writing, graphics, promotion, etc) – and I have yet to feel like I’m really “working.” Why? Because I love what I do.

Pick a Hustle That Aligns With Your Lifestyle

I believe sacrifice is necessary for success. I think you have to give up certain things (even if it’s NetFlix, or an hour of sleep) to be successful, generally speaking. What you don’t want to do, however, is pick a hustle that is so demanding that you’re handicapped and can never truly be successful. For example, if I woke up tomorrow and said that my new hustle is to lease empty seats on private jets to wealthy clientele around the World, I’ve probably got an almost zero chance of success, because I simply can’t go court wealthy folks globally while still maintaining my current job (and family life). The point is – honestly evaluate whether or not your hustle is doable. If it is, create a plan, and stick to it.

Think Small.

I already wrote about The Benefits of Thinking Small, but I’ll summarize it here. Don’t boil the ocean. You don’t need the next amazing, world-changing idea – you need a moderately successful idea. If your side hustle brings you an extra $2,000/mo, you probably wouldn’t quit your day job, but you’d have an extra $24k/year – which is nothing to sneer at. This mentality can also be leveraged with respect to the day to day tasks of your side hustles. For example, don’t think “I have to write my book in a month,” – think, “I have to write 1,000 words today.” You’ll get a lot more done.

Action Creates Habit.

The amount of articles out there on the topic of building almost any business imaginable is staggering. If you want to start making money through Google AdSense, through Affiliate programs, by selling an ebook, or just about any other possible side hustle – there’s an article on how to do it. Unfortunately, I feel that the main difficulty in these hustles is not what you do, but how. Although this point ties in with the above points, it’s very valid. You see, most people believe that they’ll decide to make change, and change will happen.

I’ll start my hustle next week.

I’ll do it for 2 hours every day.

Any maybe you do. Maybe you do it for a month. Great for you! For the vast majority of people, however, it won’t last. How come? Because you must change your actions first, to change your mind. Not the other  way around. I realize it sounds like I’m splitting hairs here, but the subtle difference is important. To boil it down to a really simple idea: stop thinking, start doing.

I talked for years about how I wanted to learn a second language. I had great ideas of how I’d study it, and at some point I even bought children’s books in Spanish and French (Je Suis Petite, Moi? is one..) – thinking I’d sit down, learn to read them, and eventually master the languages. I didn’t. This went on for years until I did one thing.

I stopped thinking and just learned the language. 

Am I fluent in French? No. But I was able to get around Paris speaking almost 100% French with the locals, so I consider that a massive success. I repeated this same approach with several things in my life, and the results have been nothing short of amazing. I had a quasi-addiction to Coca-Cola for my entire life. I couldn’t go a day without drinking it, or else I got debilitating headaches. I tried caffeine pills, quit cold turkey – nothing worked. That is, until one day, I just drank less than the day before. I tapered off, and after a week, I was barely having any. As of this writing, I haven’t touched a Coke in 5 months. When I wanted to learn Italian, I repeated my French process: just start doing it. I began absorbing everything I could. And it’s worked so far.

Believe me, if I can find the willpower to work toward my goals on a regular basis, anyone can.