We get it: setting up and running a side hustle can take up all of your spare time, and then some. But it doesn’t have to, especially if you follow our tips for being super-efficient with what little time you have. These are all actionable steps you can take right now to eke out a little extra time in your day—whether you’re looking to invest it back into your business or to spend it on you know, yourself!

1. Take simple techie shortcuts

Still scrolling manually in your browser? That’s a waste of time, says David Pogue in his TED talk. Instead, use the spacebar to scroll down the page. Need to go back up? Shift + spacebar do the trick. How about filling forms in online? The tab key takes you from box to box in a blink.

It may not sound like much, but all those little clicks and scrolls add up to a major time suck. And considering how much time you spend on the computer, shouldn’t you exploit all the time-savers you can? That’s why we’re fans of simple techie shortcuts like these: they take almost zero effort but can add up to minutes, hours, and days saved in the long run.

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2. Focus on one thing at a time—really!

Remember when the ability to multitask was a badge of honor? People would brag about it on resumes like it was some kind of superpower. Not so much anymore: experts pretty much agree that multitasking, or what we think of as multi-tasking, is actually just an illusion. In other words: when you’re “multitasking” you’re probably whirring around from one thing to the next but not actually getting much done. It feels productive because it keeps you busy. But you’re not actually getting anything meaningful done.

“Every time you think you’re multitasking, that’s a short way of saying you’re doing many things poorly,” says Dan Harris, author of 10% Happier.

Instead of multi-tasking, aim for something much simpler: monotasking. Some research suggests that it can help you finish things 50% faster. And that makes sense. Multitasking demands that you constantly switch focus from one thing to another, which leads to way more mistakes and more time spent fixing them: as researchers discovered, even interruptions that last a couple seconds are enough to double your odds of making an error.

3. Use the Pareto principle to set your priorities

You’ve got a ton to do, so how do you squeeze it all in? Simple. You find the 20% of things you do that get you 80% of your results. Then you de-prioritize everything else. That’s the Pareto principle in action.

The Pareto principle boils down to this: 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts. That tends to hold true for everything from land distribution to agricultural yields to sales. So why not apply it to your already-full plate and see which bits you can afford to scrape off?

For example, where does your new business come from? If you discover that 80% of your leads come from the 20% of your efforts on social media, it may be time to pour more energy into Instagram and a little less into everything else. Or if 80% of your new clients come from referrals, maybe it’s time to lavish some extra attention on the 20% of existing clients who are spreading the love!

4. Ban interruptions

Here’s a quick and easy way to get 23 minutes back: get rid of just one interruption! Amazing but true: researchers have found that it takes a full 23 minutes, on average, to get back to a task after you’ve been interrupted.

Unfortunately, working your side hustle often means “fitting it in” between dinner and bath-time, with plenty of little interruptions to derail you along the way. That’s just part of the deal. But before you blame everyone else for getting into your headspace, consider this: most of the time, you’re actually the one interrupting yourself! Whether it’s stopping a task to check your phone or switching from one browser tab to another, researchers have discovered that we interrupt ourselves almost constantly.

Pay attention the next time you’re working: how many times do you get up to grab a drink, click over to your newsfeed, or get distracted by email? If you could eliminate just one moment of interruption from your day, you’d effectively be putting 23 minutes back into it! Not a bad return.

5. Build up your immunity to procrastination

Procrastination is one of those slippery things that sucks away your time without you even noticing it. Really—how much time did you just spend browsing Facebook? Couldn’t have been more than two minutes…right? And creating just the right playlist to get you in the mood to get some things done…that was probably just five minutes, right? (Or so you tell yourself).

To combat procrastination, work on building up your “immunity” to it. The best way we know to do this is to make action a habit by diving right into a task when it’s in front of you. We love the Pomodoro Technique for this: simply grab a timer, set it to 25 minutes, and start working!

It sounds easy because it is: anyone can do just about anything for 25 minutes, and your brain will have a hard time objecting to such a tiny block of work. But the beauty of the Pomodoro Technique is that once you get started, you gain momentum—which makes it hard to stop, even after the timer rings!

6. Delegate the details—to us

When you’re powering through those early side hustlin’ days, you don’t need to get lost in minutiae like keeping track of payment details or chasing down invoices. How many hours have you already lost doing that? Instead, set up PaySimple to keep that part of your business, well, simple.

 We’ll help you showcase your services and products, easily accept payments, and stay on top of customer info. Check out our 14-day free trial to see just how much of your life you can get back when PaySimple’s got your back.

Irena Ashcraft

Irena Ashcraft

Irena Ashcraft is a freelance writer who helps brands connect with their biggest fans in ways that are fresh, relatable, and fun. She loves people, tech, education, and the creative hustle.

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