You Get 1,440 Minutes Each Day—Stop Wasting Them on To-Do Lists

UPDATED: February 1, 2024
PUBLISHED: June 4, 2019

Time management and self-motivation are two crucial elements to a successful side hustle. When you’re juggling multiple projects or clients along with a traditional job, you might find yourself scrambling to hit deadlines, which can make the quality of your work suffer, not to mention your physical and emotional well-being.

We’ll save the laundry list of productivity hacks that you can find with a quick internet search. The bigger picture is re-evaluating how you want to spend your time. You have 1,440 minutes per day. Do you really want to spend that time crossing off never-ending menial tasks on a to-do list?

In The Art of Non-Conformity, Chris Guillebeau says that rather than creating a to-do list, which typically adds to our feelings of overwhelm, make a to-don’t list. Force yourself to analyze which of your daily tasks are ones you perform out of habit or a sense of busyness rather than a meaningful contribution to your goals.

Remember, productivity should never come at the cost of your well-being. In a 2016 study of musicians in the UK, participants reported persistent feelings of relentless pressure to stay afloat, financially and in alignment with their professional goals, but also feelings of guilt and anxiety when choosing to take time off work. These feelings can produce a type of activity that makes us feel busy without actually accomplishing meaningful tasks. Maybe you’re dreaming of a future course while neglecting to edit the one that was promised to your clients a week ago.

Routine self-check-ins are vital for the side hustler. Revisit your initial motivation for your supplemental work. Start with these questions:

1. Did you plan on growing your side hustle past a certain point?

Side hustles are called that for a reason. It shouldn’t be your main focus, unless you want it to be. If you are a full-time parent who sells some handmade goods on the side, don’t feel the need to scale your business, build a fancy website or spend hours marketing yourself online. Well-meaning friends can often cause more harm with compliments about the potential of your business. Politely but firmly tell these well-intentioned friends that you’re happy with the current state of your side hustle.

2. Are you OK with where your side hustle is now?

To be able to acknowledge those pushy friends honestly, you need to really assess your side hustle situation. Maybe you really do want to scale your business, but it’s not the right time. At this stage, you can then put a long-term plan in place that allows you to effectively manage it at its current size, and then have all of your steps in place to scale it down the road when the timing is right.

3. Would you be OK if your side hustle ended tomorrow?

Have you ever felt guilty about wanting to end your side hustle? Your situation, your mindset, your availability can all change overnight. What made you excited about launching your side hustle may no longer be true. If that’s the case, don’t feel badly about taking a break or even closing shop permanently. The point of a side hustle is not to create another burdensome task you have to worry about; it should be something that brings you joy, falls in line with your natural talents, and, as a bonus, rakes in a little additional income.

4. What would you do if you weren’t working on your side hustle?

Consider this example: Marty is a successful lawyer with her own practice. On the side, she also runs a part-time digital marketing agency geared toward lawyers. She enjoys her career and her side hustle, but both are pretty draining and she feels as though her life is completely engulfed by law. When she does have free time, Marty spends hours practicing hand lettering, watching calligraphy videos, and sending handmade cards to her friends and family.

See where we’re going? Your side hustle should be enjoyable. Even if your current side hustle (or career) is successful, a side hustle centered on your passions and interests can bring balance to your life and allow you to explore different interests without the risk of harming your career or current income.

Related: The Side Hustler’s Handbook

Photo by Cathryn Lavery on Unsplash