“What am I going to do with all this free time!?” said no mom ever.
Between kids enlisting you to find socks, dishes piling up in the sink, calls from bosses and grandma and school, plus other *slightly* important things like a full-time job… it can be hard to find time to do anything.
But if you’re looking to start a side hustle (or keep a fledgling new business alive) you know you need to find some time for it, or else it will never get off the ground.
If you’re reading this article, you’ve probably got a lot going on and finding an extra couple of hours a week doesn’t seem possible right now.
But keep reading—I’m going to give you 3 strategies to find more time in your week so you can spend more time on your side hustle.
- Discover your time habits
- Map out your ideal week
- Make some hard decisions
Let’s get started.
Table of Contents
- Method #1 – Discover your time habits
- Method #2 – Map out your ideal week
- Method #3 – Make some hard decisions
Method #1 – Discover your time habits
I recently picked up The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg and I was shocked by what he wrote.
Here’s a direct quote:
“Most of the choices we make each day may feel like the products of well-considered decision making, but they’re not. They’re habits.”
The book referenced a study by Duke University in 2006. The findings? 40% of the decisions people made in a day were automatically decided by their habits, not by a conscious choice.
Your habits determine how you spend your time
The truth is, the way we spend our time is a product of our habits, built up over time. One day you decided to do something, and over time, that became your routine. It’s not the right way or the wrong way, it’s just the way you’re used to doing things.
- At some point, we decided to plop down in front of the TV after dinner and watch Netflix to unwind, and now that’s what we do every night.
- At some point, we started pulling out our phones to fight boredom, and now we spend an hour a day scrolling.
- At some point, we decided to say yes to everything our boss or family asked of us, and now that’s our default response.
But the truth is, we don’t have to do things the way we’re doing them. We can make a new choice.
Once you understand that most of what you do is a product of habit, you can start taking actions to change it.
For example, you can build habits like:
- Going to bed early and waking up early
- Writing 500 words every day
- Publishing a blog post every week
- Ignoring your phone except for set periods of time
- Reading books in the evening instead of watching TV
These are just examples. You can create any good habit you want to have.
Understand your current habits in order to change them
But the first step in changing your habits is understanding the habits you have right now.
And the best way to do this is to record a typical week in your life using a tool called a Time Audit.
I came across this method in another eye-opening book I read called 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam.
168 hours is the number of hours in a week. And you create a time audit by keeping track of how you spend those 168 hours over a typical week.
You can download a blank worksheet on the book’s website full of 30-minute blocks. Then as you go through your week, you fill out what you were doing during each 30-minute block.
It’s okay if it’s not perfect, but you’ll get the best results if you’re completely honest about what you’re doing. (For example, if you spend an hour on TikTok, it’s best to write that.)
When you’re finished, you can see at a glance how you typically spend your time in a week. Pretty quickly, you’ll notice some blocks of time that you could spend differently. Many people are able to find an extra hour or two each day just by writing this out.
Use the Time Audit to make better decisions
Way back when I did my first time audit, I noticed that I spent most nights between 9 and 11 watching TV with my husband. This was our habit, something I didn’t think about but did automatically every night.
That added up to 10 hours of TV time in a week! I quickly realized that I could watch TV a bit less, go to bed a little earlier, and gain back several hours in my schedule.
If you want to save this article and come back when you finish the time audit, make sure to bookmark it for later.
Now once you’ve finished your Time Audit, here are some things you can do to free up a little more time:
- Make time for restorative activities. Instead of mindlessly scrolling on your phone, you can schedule activities that will refresh you and leave you feeling better, not worse. That way you won’t feel drained at the end of the week and you won’t need to resort to more TV or social media. I like to plan time to read books or spend time with friends.
- Cut some things. It’s okay to cut whole activities out if you decide they don’t push the needle toward things you care about. Now that you can see just how limited your time is, you can say with confidence, “I don’t have time for this anymore.”
- Delegate. What things are you spending time on that someone else could do? Your husband could pitch in, you could pay for a third-party service, or you could ask your kids to help.
- Look for things to group together. You can group similar tasks onto the same day to save time. For example, you could prep meals on a Sunday instead of cooking from scratch 4 times a week. Or you could create content for your business once a week instead of every couple of days.
- Create planning routines. Have routines for looking ahead and planning the week in advance can help you save time throughout the week. I like to meal plan once a week to save time (and money) on buying and making food.
- Adjust your sleep schedule. Waking up earlier or staying up later could get you some alone time. (Of course, make sure you’re getting enough sleep—I’m not advocating cutting out sleep, just shifting the entire schedule forward or backward) Even sleep time and wake time is all about habits. It’s hard to break them, but it can be done.
- Make tasks faster. If you can move a little faster to finish a task more quickly, you will save time in the long run. You could organize the items you need for the task to make it easier to get to them, create a step-by-step process to follow so you don’t waste time thinking about what to do, or just simply move a little faster to get it done more quickly (could double as cardio…).
To be honest, you could stop here and you would probably find a good couple of hours (if not more) to spend on your side hustle during the week.
But I still have 2 more strategies to go!
Method #2 – Map out your ideal week
A group of researchers wanted to know how to help people create better eating habits. So they gathered a group of people who all struggled to eat healthy.
One half of the group got to eat as usual. They were the control.
The other half was given one simple task. They had to write down everything they ate. It took a while, but soon they were writing down every meal in a notebook.
All of a sudden, the note-taking group started to eat better. They made healthier choices and started to lose weight.
The secret to their success was that some of the group had gone beyond just tracking their meals. They had started to plan out meals ahead of time, which helped them make better choices.
So if you want to spend your time in the best way possible, you can make it easier for yourself by creating a plan.
With this method, you’ll plan out an Ideal Week with time plotted out for everything you need and want to do.
Simply print out another time audit sheet and this time, fill it in the way you want to.
Here are my tips for creating an ideal week plan:
- Start with the non-negotiables. Fill in sleep, school, work hours, commute time, meals, and all the things that have a set time that cannot be moved. That way you won’t run out of time for them.
- Add things by priority. I like to make a list of my priorities in order, and then add time for those priorities from top to bottom. My priorities are 1) my personal health and well-being, 2) my husband, 3) my kids, 4) financial well-being, 5) ministry, 6) my business and so on… So I will add my own personal time first, then date night, then family time, and then I’ll find time for earning money, volunteering, and working on my business. Saturday is family day for us, and Sunday is free for church, rest, and spending time with people.
- Make vague blocks instead of concrete tasks. I like making blocks for different focus areas, like business tasks, writing, cleaning, or family time, instead of scheduling in specific tasks. That way I know when to do different tasks, but I still have a lot of flexibility.
- Don’t be afraid to leave empty spots. After adding in your priorities, you can use the open space for whatever you want. Or you can leave them blank, because over-scheduling can lead to overwhelm.
Having the right expectations for your week
Now, of course, life will never go to plan, and as a mom of 2 toddler boys (1 and 3), I can attest to this.
Having an ideal schedule for your week is not about having a perfect life. Trying for perfection will just stress you out.
Instead, it’s just a guideline that you can look to for inspiration in using your time just a little bit more wisely. And as an effect, you’ll likely get more done.
Now you’ve got a plan for how to use your time more effectively. And in an ideal world, that would be enough. We could swim along and live according to our beautiful plans, and nothing and no one would ever interfere with that.
But of course, life isn’t like that. And in life, we sometimes have to make hard decisions in order to really achieve the goals we want to achieve in life.
Which brings us to Method #3.
Method #3 – Make some hard decisions
Quick question. Have you ever found yourself saying one of these phrases before?
- “There’s not enough time in the day.”
- “I don’t have a choice about how I spend my time because of my kids / work / husband…”
- “I’m doing everything I can—there’s nothing more I can do.”
I totally relate to these statements. I have felt them and said them myself countless times.
But I read a book once (and now I can’t remember which book it was!) that shook me up and made me look at my life in a new way.
The author made a bold claim: “In every situation, you have a choice.”
(I rolled my eyes when I read this.)
But I kept reading. He said, “Unless someone is holding you at gunpoint and forcing you to do things all day, you are 100% operating by your own choice.”
“You may say that you have to work because you have to feed your kids. But no one is forcing you to do that.”
“You could quit. You could let your kids starve.”
“But you won’t, because you don’t want your kids to starve. (Of course, no one would want that.)”
“But recognize that you are making that choice.”
This hit me really hard. I suddenly realized that I couldn’t make any excuses about the success of my own business.
If I didn’t have time for my business, it was solely on me. I wasn’t making enough time. I wasn’t setting boundaries and protecting my time.
I believed that my kids were making it impossible for me to get work done, or other people kept asking me to do stuff which took up all my time, but in reality, I wasn’t valuing my own time enough to say no.
I realized that no one else was going to help me achieve my goals in life. No one was going to make sure I had enough time. No one else was going to take responsibility for my choices and make sure I would succeed.
People might put pressure on me to do things for them. People might ask me for help. People might come to me with emergencies and expect me to fix it for them.
But I realized—I don’t have to do everything for everyone. I always have a choice.
And I needed to make some hard choices.
Over time, I started to learn how to say no. I learned how to be okay when other people expressed disappointment that I didn’t help them. I decided to put my kids in daycare to recoup some time to get work done (and let them have more social experiences with kids and teachers).
Now I still do things for other people (of course!). But I’m making a conscious choice. And when I choose something, I am committed. But if I say no, I say it with a clear conscience, because I know my priorities.
And I’ve been training myself to stop saying, “I have to…” because there is nothing I have to do. Instead, I remind myself, “I’m choosing to…”
This has been my journey. You don’t have to do this.
But if you’re looking at a packed calendar, with no room to fit in an extra hour for your business, yet you know that running a business is on your heart and something you want to pursue with your life, then it might be time to consider if it’s time to make some hard decisions, too.
- Is there anything you’re spending time on that’s someone else’s priority but not your own?
- Is there something you know you don’t want to do but you said yes anyway?
- What hard decisions might you need to make?
Bottom line: It’s okay to say no to “good” things to make room for the best—the best use of your time, resources, and energy for your top priorities (yourself, your family, and the things you know you were born to do).
You’ve got the reins. Don’t give them away.
It’s so hard to find any extra time as a mom with so much going on. But to help you out, I’ve given you 3 strategies for finding a little more time to work on your side hustle.
I hope you’ve found a couple of things you can try to carve out a little more time for yourself and make your big goals a reality!
What did you think of this article? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
*This article has some affiliate links which give me a little kickback if you purchase the books I’ve mentioned at no cost to you. You can search for books I mention instead of clicking links if you’d like to avoid using an affiliate link.