The Ultimate Guide to Turning Your Downtime into a Business

Why not spend your spare time lining your own pockets instead of someone else’s, and start your own gig?

Most people have had more than one job at the same time at some point. It sounds exhausting, but it’s a reality for many people - whether they need the extra cash to pay the bills or for something more luxurious.

You might be able to create something that floats along nicely with your after-hours input, or you might discover a new entrepreneurial career path. The fact is, you won’t know unless you try.

That's what we do. Here's how.

Turn Your Spare Time Into Something Productive

People are always going on about not having enough time. The fact is, there will always be something to fill the gaps - and you have more spare time than you think you do.

Let’s do some simple mathematics. A week is made up of 168 hours. If you work for eight hours, five days a week, and you sleep for eight hours seven days a week, that leaves you with 72 hours every week spare.

Now, sure, you’ll have some things that need to be done in that time - going to the gym, time with your family, a bit of relaxation - but 72 hours? That’s HEAPS of time.

There ARE enough hours in the day - you just need to know how to use them.

Of course, it’s going to take discipline, but it doesn’t have to be a drag. If your side project is something that you love, it makes sense that you’ll want to spend some of your time working on it.

Make Space for Yourself

Noisy flatmates, screaming children, and bustling public spaces aren’t exactly conducive to productive work. It’s important to create a space where you can get things done uninterrupted; a space that you associate with this project and nothing or little else, but this can be a challenge for a lot of people.

We’re not saying you can’t build the next game-changing business from your bedroom - we’re just saying there are other options that are better for productivity and focus.

Try Coworking

The obvious answer is to get a spot at a coworking space, where you can physically show up and eliminate outside interruptions. This isn’t always an option for people in the early stages, especially if you aren’t yet bringing in any income from your project. But down the line, as things progress, coworking is the perfect solution for a growing business or project. Some coworking spaces offer lower-cost after hours and weekends access - or day passes for occasional use.

Turn Unused Space into Workspace

Is there somewhere on your property that people hardly ever go? The garage, shed, or spare room? Claim it. Put a desk there, and set up your space. Make it somewhere you enjoy being - pay attention to the light and the objects around you. The nicer you make it for yourself, the more likely you are to actually go there to work.

Claim a Corner

Alright, so if you don’t have an entire space that nobody uses in your dwelling it's time to divide and conquer: claim a corner of it, and invest in noise cancelling headphones. Make your setup something easily transitional as well - if it’s in a common area, get a set of lockable drawers that you can sweep your things into at the end of your session, and easily access when you need them next.

Try a Pub During Off-Peak Hours

If you desperately need to get away from your home in order to get things done, but you can’t invest in renting an office space, try this little hack. Most people will go to a cafe under these circumstances, but cafes are usually busy and noisy during business hours, and closed after business hours.

A pub, during off-peak time, can be the perfect compromise. They usually have Wi-Fi, and if your off-time is during business hours, you’ll easily find a pub that has next to nobody in it, especially between the hours of 1 and 4pm. Similarly, a lot of pubs tend to quieten down after a 5-7.30pm burst, but remain open for a couple of hours.

You don’t have to order alcoholic drinks either - while most pub coffee isn’t the best, it’s still caffeine! But sometimes it might be nice to have a beer or wine while you work. Not too many though...

Set Goals Strategically

We’ve all heard of the five year plan - but that can be an incredibly daunting time frame when you’re just starting something new. For these purposes, start by thinking about what you’d like to achieve at the end of six months. Then, break it down into months - smaller goals that you’d like to achieve at the end of each month. Then - you guessed it - weeks, and then days.

The reason this is useful is that it reverse engineers where you hope to be in six months, and breaks it down into smaller, achievable goals. It also helps massively if there are other people involved to know what needs to be done, and by when. It’s far too easy to let important things slip and stagnate in the early stages because there are too many other things to do.

Case Study: The Launch

In order to launch the business, you’ll need to sort a few things first. In your six month plan, you might note that the website needs to be up within the first twelve weeks. This means there are a few things that need to go on the list:

  • Brand Identity

  • Clear service/product offerings

  • Domain purchase

  • Design

  • Website Copy

  • Email setup

  • Website build and functionality

  • Business cards

  • Marketing Plan

There might be more, or fewer, items on this list. But as you can see, it doesn’t work to wait until week 12, when you want to launch it, so sort all of these things out. So you’ll need to order these components into levels of difficulty and importance, and pop them into your plan to ensure they get done at the right time.

Using Spare Time Effectively

Alright, so you’ve put it in the diary, so to speak, but what are you going to do with it? If you’re going to spend the time setting goals and scheduling time to work on your side project, the best way to gain traction is to ensure the time you are working on it is really productive.

Start by identifying and eliminating your procrastination and distraction triggers. Does social media set you into infinite scroll mode? Do you mindlessly play games on your phone? Do you get a lot of calls and emails that are tempting to respond to? Can’t focus unless the dishes are done and the kitchen is fully sterilized?

The solution is easily said, not easily done: switch it all off. If it means going analogue for awhile, so be it. If you need to get online for research or implementation, clean up your tabs and only have relevant pages up.

Be Flexible

It’s always good to have a plan, but think of your plan more as a blueprint than as something you need to stick with unwaveringly. As you go along, your priorities will inevitably change, you’ll be adding things you hadn’t thought of, and omiting things you don’t need.

There’s no way to know ahead of time what the process is going to look like. So, be flexible. When the plan changes, update the goals in between as well. This way, you can still keep a clear objective in mind for what you hope to achieve, even if the journey to get there changes.

Avoid Exhaustion

The fact is, when you’re working two jobs, you quickly become accustomed to working all the time. The bonus is that you’re never stuck for something to do, but the downside is, that “something” is always work.

If you go too hard too fast, you know what will ultimately happen: nothing. Think about those 72 hours you have spare, and make sure you factor in daily (yes, daily) relaxation time. It also helps to have at least one day per week off everything, or to relegate very simple tasks to that day, in order to give your brain time to rest.

Sometimes, staring out the window can be the most productive way to spend time. This is when ideas happen - when you’re not bogged down with a list of tasks. So if you have trouble switching off, you can tell yourself that relaxation is the key to being more productive in your on-time.

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