Your best friend is working on her book proposal. Your brother plays shows at the local coffee shop every weekend. And your co-worker teaches yoga on Sunday mornings.
Starting to feel like it’s finally time you jumpstarted your side hustle?
It makes sense why everyone around us seems to be putting in more time after-hours to pursue their passions: Only 28.9 percent of millenials are engaged at work, according to a 2014 Gallup poll. Gallup’s employee engagement data revealed that millennials are particularly less likely than other generations to say they “have the opportunity to do what they do best” at work. This report suggests that millennials may not be working in jobs that allow them to use their talents and strengths, thus leaving 70 percent of the workforce disengaged.
Therefore they seek engagement in their freelance projects and hobbies.
But turning those interests that stimulate us into goals we can act on is easier said than done—especially after wasting away behind a desk all day leaves you exhausted and devoid of inspiration.
If you’ve been putting your side project on the back burner, it might be time for a little dose of tough love:
“If you needed to be at the lottery office by 3 p.m. to receive the $500 million check, would you be there? If the plane was leaving at 9 a.m. for the flight to Tahiti, would you be there on time?” said Jeff Altman, career coach at The Big Game Hunter. “To me there was no difference. We all make a choice about what’s really important to us. Working on a startup or side hustle should be an ultimate importance to you. If you are too tired to work on it, it probably doesn’t mean enough to you.”
With that in mind, here is your five-step plan for optimizing your time, making the most of your five to nine goals.
- Scrub your calendar. You do have time. You just need to locate it. Which is most easily done by finding where it’s being wasted in your schedule, in order to better maximize the time you do have. “The first step to freeing up time is figuring out where you’re currently allocating your time,” said said Derrick Kwa, owner of PassionBlueprint, a life coaching program for helping office workers pursue their passions. “Start with writing out a time diary: think back over the past three days, and write out everything you’ve spent time on, and how much. Make it as detailed as possible. Then go back, look through your list, and find places you can make some time. Are there tasks you can combine, outsource, or stop doing?”
- Draw energy from your passion. Working a nine to five that isn’t mentally stimulating can be mentally draining, which leaves you feeling exhausted at the end of the workday—with little energy to put into side projects. But while it may seem counter-intuitive, putting work into what you are passionate about may have the reverse effect, re-energizing you. “When you start learning about what you need to launch your business, and start educating and empowering yourself, you might start to feel much more energy,” said Carlota Zimmerman, career coach, branding expert, and entrepreneur. “You feel more alive, since suddenly you’re back in the driver’s seat of your life. Sure, you’re still frustrated at work, but suddenly you’re remembering all the things about yourself that you like, you’re feeling more optimistic, and at the end of the work day, the idea of another one to two (or four) hours of work on your passion may seem more like a privilege than a curse.”
- Set deadlines for yourself. Sometimes we all need a hard deadline to light a fire under our ass. Why would you pass up happy hour or the calls from your oh-so-tempting bed sit after a particularly tiring day at work if you can just write your blog post next week sometime? So identify what it is you want to accomplish and set specific deadlines for getting there. “Decide that by the end of the next six months—set a date on the calendar—you will have achieved three distinct, realistic goals,” said Zimmerman.
- Make an inquiry list and complete one action per day. In order to get started accomplishing those three distinct tasks, identify what it is you need to know. “Working backwards from those goals, write out a list of what you think you’ll need to know to bring those goals to life,”said Zimmerman. You may need to take a course (or do some YouTube bingewatching to learn a new skill), set up informational meetings with a few people who can offer up advice, or look into the buying the URL to the blog you’ve been meaning to start. “Make the decision to complete at least one action every single day to make progress, no matter how exhausted you are, no matter what’s binge-worthy on Netflix, you will do just one positive action towards achieving those goals,” said Zimmerman. “Set your stop watch for 35 minutes and work. One positive action every single day over six months adds up.”
- Exercise your stamina muscle. Just like physical stamina that allows us to run a marathon, the mental endurance that allows us to focus our energy on a task is something that is built up over time. “It’s going to take effort and, like exercise at the gym, you’ll need to build stamina,” said Altman. “But just like being in basic training in the military when you think you’re too tired to run that extra mile, you learn that you could run an extra five miles if you had to.” It’s mental. So, push yourself. Utilizing a time management technique like the Pomodoro Method can help keep you on track if you find it hard to stay focused on the task at hand.