Hi, welcome to another Q&A post, every Friday I answer one of your questions in a dedicated post! For the question of this week, we will discuss something I believe is a common situation for many of you out there. Last week I received the following question from David from the Netherlands:
“I am really enthusiastic about starting an online business but I need job to pay the bills. My job requires over 40 hours a week and I feel I don’t have enough time and energy to put towards my project. How do I balance this and how do I make sure I stay on track with working towards my passion? “
– David, the Netherlands
David, thanks for your question and this is indeed a very interesting debate, one that I too am familiar with. When I was still working in Guangzhou, China, I was making long weeks and I would often feel drained and worn out by the time I got home. At that time, I was working on several projects that I was very passionate about but I often felt I lacked time and energy to fully commit, I too felt that I needed more time to grow my online business.
In this post, I will highlight several things that have worked for and that have helped me to commit to the project that I truly cared about. Early this year I was laid off eventually and I have more time on hand to dedicate to my projects, I however still make use of these tips and tools to stay on track.
1. Priorities, Priorities and Priorities
We all know it, but yet it is sometimes so difficult. We all have only 24 hours in a day, so how is it that some people seem to accomplish more in these hours than others, the answer often (always) boils down to setting priorities. I like to watch a new episode of Game of Thrones as much as the next guy, but is that more important than focusing on your business?
We all have a choice and when I have decided to make something work I push myself to set my priorities straight. This is not always easy and sometimes it is much harder than other days, but a consistent pattern and being focused on your goal is what ultimately is going to determine your success. Sometimes that means you have to put in longer hours, say no to your friends and family, that is not easy I know it.
2. Make the most out of your day!
Once I started to approach the days different I knew I was up to something with unlimited potential. As mentioned before, my working life in China made me worn out, ultimately pushing us to leave China. Often I would come home with virtually no energy left and despite how much I hated it, I was not able to do much work.
For me, a game changer was when started to wake up earlier and I started to utilize my mornings. I never considered myself a morning person, but I knew that the evenings were no option for me in terms of seriously setting my mind to it. Ultimately when I created the habit of waking up two hours earlier, I created the time for my projects when my mind and body was still fresh.
This is not to say that you should become a morning person, this, of course, depends on your personal situation. I felt I could not derive any value from pushing myself to work more at night, but that might be different for you. If we look honestly at our day, there is always room to work on our projects. It could be the mornings before everybody wakes up, or the evenings after everybody goes to bed, there is always time if you are willing to make it.
3. Create a schedule and stick to it
This point ties in closely with making your online business a priority and is all about setting timelines for yourself and committing to these. If I would not set deadlines for myself I would often find myself procrastinating and/or telling myself that I could also finish it later. Once we start to give in to not meeting our (informal) deadlines, it is much easier to not meet future deadlines.
The key is to plan ahead and make commitments towards yourself and your business when you want to finish something. For example, I have committed to publish a Q&A post to Tropical U.P on a weekly basis, I do not allow myself to break that promise unless something unforeseen and very urgent happens.
Personally I create events in my calendar when I want to finish something or work on something important. I use Sunrise to create events for all my commitments and to automatically push notifications to my desktop, iPad and mobile phone. I make a planning of everything I want to do one month ahead and I review all my coming activities on a weekly basis. This allows me to create structure in everything I do but allows me to make changes that I deem necessary.
4. Focus on what is key to the success of your business
For many solopreneurs, this is a very important aspect of scheduling your and priorities. We often fail to work on what matters most and in turn ‘procrastinate’ with things that matter less.
Say you are looking to start a service business where your help your clients with the financial side of their business. Now it could be tempting (and frankly quite exciting) to dive in and create the perfect WordPress website without spending a dime. But this is not a source of income or where you create value to your clients. Sure a good looking website could help your business, but it is making or breaking your success.
Find out what it is what is important to drive your business and focus on that, do that first, worry about the rest later.
5. Be strict but not too strict
Your success is determined by the work and dedication that you put in it. Take your commitments serious and don’t let yourself slip or allow yourself to miss deadlines. But importantly don’t push yourself too much. Sometimes we just need to take a rest, spend some time with the family or do watch that new episode of Game of Thrones.
We also need time to ventilate and to interact with the people around us, often this gives you more energy and it helps you to tackle something you are working on easier. Work hard, but don’t forget to play hard.
So what works best for you and what do you struggle with? I am looking forward to your comments below and if you have a comment to have featured for next week feel free to reach out to me below or using the contact form! Thanks and stay awesome!