With a plan, a few extra hours a week, and a decent amount of effort, it’s possible to start a small side business, or monetize your hobby. What’s difficult is managing your time once you start adding multiple projects into the mix.

Balance your career with side projects

Turn Off the TV

According to the American Time Use Survey (2011) the #1 leisure activity of those 15 and older is watching TV. On average, Americans watch 2.8 hours of TV per day. That’s almost three hours. Most people come home from their regular jobs, maybe eat something, and then plop down in fornt of the TV for the evening.

Even if you don’t watch TV for that long each day, stop and think about how you are spending your time. Do you spend a lot of time on Facebook? One of my problems is that for the longest time novels were my TV. I love a good fantasy/sci-fi adventure. But I’d spend three or four hours a day reading these books that did little beyond entertain me.

Keep a time diary for a week or two, and be scrupulous about recording how you spend your time. When I did this, I was shocked. There’s nothing wrong with taking an hour or so to yourself to unwind each day, but I was spending three hours at a time entertaining myself. No wonder I was always falling behind!

Realize where your time-sucks are and remedy the problem. Instead of watching TV for almost three hours when you get home from work, cut the TV time to one hour — and spend the other 1.8 hours working on your side project or hobby.

Prioritize

There are times when, no matter how hard you try, there just isn’t time to get everything done in one day. At times like these, you need to prioritize. First of all, figure out where your work fits into the priorities. If you need your job in order to pay the bills and stay afloat financially, that’s your first priority. So make sure you are right with your work before you tackle something else.

Next, prioritize the tasks related to side project or hobby. Figure out what needs to be done first, so that you can build on it the next day. Sometimes, you have to let your side project or hobby slide for a little bit. Look for ways to break tasks down into bite-sized bits, order them so that you continue to make progress.

Eventually, if your side project takes off, you can re-evaluate your priorities and maybe even move work lower on your list.

Take Care of Yourself

It’s important to take care of yourself during this time. You need adequate sleep to do well at your job, as well as to create a successful side project. You also need to take care of your body, and build your relationships. It’s not always easy, but sometimes you just need to stop, say no, and relax for half an hour, or spend an evening out with your significant other. This will help you re-charge, and get you ready to tackle the next day.

What are some of your ideas for balancing work with your other projects?