You’re finally working on the project you’ve been meaning to bring to life for years. You’re finally letting out your creativity with a fun side hustle. You’re bringing home a little extra cash… but not quite yet enough to need an office space.
Having a home-based business is challenging – it can be hard to carve out time to work on your project, especially if you have a full-time job to be at during the day. Even those of us who have been doing it for years still struggle sometimes. So here are a few tips to make it work!
1. Plan out your vision.
As a wise man (Antoine de St-Exupéry) once said: “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” It’s crucial to know what you are doing before you are doing it; otherwise, you will work haphazardly, lose track of your progress and eventually get discouraged. Think of what you want to accomplish. A good way to do it is to think in questions: What? When? How?
2. Plan out your day-to-day.
You can think of planning as having 2 levels: your overarching vision, and then your daily tasks. Both are equally important. Once you’ve set out your vision, break it down. Break it down as much as you can. “Make an e-store” becomes “Buy a domain” “research e-commerce platforms,” “Choose products,” “Schedule photoshoot,” etc. Turn every goal into a group of tasks that you can accomplish in one day or less. Then set deadlines and schedule out what you are going to accomplish on which day.
There are a lot of good task management platforms you can use – Trello or Asana, for example, can really help you keep track of your work
3. Focus on the process.
You know the feeling: there’s something on your to-do list that you haven’t gotten to yet. The more you think about it, the more it grows in your mind. It looms over you: “balance checkbooks.” How do you even get there?
It’s said that the left side of your brain focuses on perception and feeling, while the right side focuses on understanding and rationalizing. It’s great to be goal-oriented, but every now and then, try to leave some breathing room to the perception side of things. Don’t focus on balancing the checkbooks: focus on sitting at your desk and opening up your spreadsheet. Check in on yourself: how are you feeling? Excited? Focused? Tense? Are you enjoying working with this spreadsheet? Are you more comfortable with spreadsheets than you were 6 months ago? Try to separate the check mark on your to-do list from the 3 hours you spent working at your desk. You’ll gain a new appreciation for yourself, for your progress and for your business.
4. Get a routine.
I can hear your groans from here. Yes, we’re all busy New Yorkers and it’s rare for one day to look exactly like the next, but hear me out though. I used to work whenever I had time to, and what ended up happening was that I felt unfocused, unmotivated and all over the place. Routines are important. There must be one thing that you do every day, right? Like for example brushing your teeth in the morning (I hope) or taking a shower. Then take 10 minutes after your shower every day to sit down and work on your business in some way. For some of us *side-eyeing myself* routines are harder than for others, but remember this: the most important thing is not for you to get a lot accomplished, it’s for you to think about your business every day. The days when you have more time, you can spend more time – but never let that be an excuse for skipping the next day.
5. Make time for self-care.
Self-care looks different for everyone, but basically it’s this: do something that makes you feel good about yourself – I like to add “and doesn’t hurt your wallet.” Taking care of yourself is different than treating yourself. Buying a beautiful $100 pair of shoes can feel good at the moment, but if it makes you stress out the rest of the month wondering how you’re going to make ends meet, it’s not self-care. Take a long shower, listen to some music, call up a loved one, or use that gym membership that you got on January 2nd and used twice since.
Another thing to add is that self-care doesn’t have to be a little parenthesis in your day – it can be integrated in it. While you are working on your taxes, you can listen to your favorite music and sing along (sorry neighbors), make some tea or stretch. If you are feeling settled and sane, you will have a more positive outlook on your work and accomplish more!
6. Remember why you’re doing this.
Let’s go back to goal 1: you have a vision. Write out all the reasons that you set out to start your project, as sincerely and as expressively as possible. “I want to learn about entrepreneurship.” “I want to prove to myself that I can finish.” “I want to bring something useful to the world.” “I want to make enough money to buy Beyoncé tickets and not eat ramen the following 3 months.” We all have our reasons! If you have a friend you can trust, tell them all these reasons so that you can be accountable. Then whenever you are feeling unsure of yourself, go back to these reasons and feel all the dreamy energy of your well-rested self infuse you!