15 Ways To Stay Focused On Your Company While Pursuing A Side Project

Side projects can be excellent ways to express creativity, as well as potential money makers. How can leaders work on personal goals or side projects without losing track of what’s going on in their company?

Business owner working on a side hustle

These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at yec.co.

1. Give Yourself Permission

It’s tough to make serious progress on any side project while keeping tabs on your company. In order to successfully balance the two, you need to give yourself permission to actually focus on your side projects and overcome the guilt or compulsion to check on your business. This can require you to delegate some duties to other team members or devote your leisure time to your personal goals. – Bryce Welker, The Big 4 Accounting Firms

2. Hire Someone to Take Over Certain Tasks

If you really want to stay on top of your business while catering to your side projects, it might be best to hire someone to take over when you can’t. You can’t be omnipresent, so it’s important to set realistic expectations when you dedicate more time to other projects. Bring someone to the team who’s organized, efficient and communicates effectively about business proceedings. – Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms

3. Use Your Weekends

The work week can be busy and sometimes it’s hard to come home from work and get started on your side project right away. So, take advantage of the weekends. For instance, you can carve out a few hours on Saturday and Sunday to work on your project. This will give you enough time to relax and recharge but also allow you to work on your personal goals without interrupting your main business – David Henzel, LTVPlus

4. Set Small Goals

If you want to work on a side project without losing track of what’s going on in your company, set small goals for your side project. Instead of setting big goals, which may require a lot of time, money and effort to achieve, set smaller goals that will allow you to work on your side project more casually. You’ll still make progress with your side project but it won’t interfere with your business. – Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster

5. Get Comfortable With Tiny Improvements

Prepare yourself for it to take a long time to see a significant improvement in your personal goals. When you’re working full time on your business or in an office, you won’t be able to put in much time or energy. And that’s OK! The important thing is to work at your side project consistently. It may take a while, but you’ll reach your goal steadily. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

Painting as a side project

6. Spend One Hour a Day on Your Side Project

I’ve found that the best way to work on your side projects without neglecting your business is to only spend an hour starting out. An hour a day will still give you at least seven hours a week to commit to your project, while giving you time to track important events within your company. – Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights

7. Create a Timeline

If you have a project in mind, create a timeline so you can break down how much of your time you’ll have to put towards your task daily. You can use this timeline to assess your current progress, and plan for “slow” days within your company. As a result, you’ll have a nice balance between your side project and primary business. – John Turner, SeedProd LLC

8. Keep an Eye on OKRs From a High Level

Usually the hard part with a hobby is finding time to schedule it. One key way to avoid losing track of what’s happening in the company while working on a side project is thinking through a set of objectives and key results that you need to keep an eye on from a high level. That should drive a certain amount of engagement with the company so as to avoid losing track of what’s happening there. – Ryan D Matzner, Fueled

9. Add Side Project Tasks to Your Daily To-Do List

Build your project and your work on personal goals into your schedule or daily to-do list. Maybe you use down or idle time to work on them, or possibly at the beginning or end of each day when things usually aren’t as hectic. When you write something down and schedule it, you’re that much more likely to get it done. Plus, you still leave ample time for what matters most — your business. – Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance

10. Block Out Time on Your Calendar

Just as you schedule time for work and projects, you should have time set aside on your calendar for creativity. This can include side projects or hobbies! Making time for this will actually increase your productivity in your company because it will re-energize you and help you come back to work more focused. – Diego Orjuela, Cables & Sensors

Great team starts from great leader

11. Build a Great Team

Leaders can pursue personal goals or side projects without adverse effects if they hire other leaders capable of driving a significant share of their companies’ day-to-day operations. If you hire good people and empower them, your organization will not be dependent on you, and you will have more bandwidth to push on other endeavors. – Adam Mendler, The Veloz Group

12. Follow the 80/20 Rule

We know that 80% of returns come from just 20% of effort, and that’s where we need to continue to focus. However, the other 80% of our time can be used to dabble in many different arenas, so that we can find our next frontier. While individual efforts may fail, you’ll find that the overall net makes up that positive 20% return. Finding this balance is important to sustained growth. – Yaniv Masjedi, Nextiva

13. Learn to Compartmentalize

Side projects can be both professionally inspiring and personally motivating. However, it is important for leaders to understand (and accept) that side projects are just that: “side” projects. They can avoid conflicting values and associated challenges, cognitions and stress with intentional compartmentalization. Manage expectations by setting realistic goals and carefully prioritizing schedules. – Mahesh Chaddah, Reservations.com

14. Figure Out Your Priorities

Personal goals and side projects help to keep us balanced and mentally healthy, but there are only so many hours in the day. Take the time to understand what your priorities are and what you hope to achieve. Side projects, hobbies and personal goals should be in the mix, but you should set realistic expectations about how much time you can devote to them. – Corey Northcutt, Northcutt Enterprise SEO

15. Know Your Limits

Manage your time well and know when it’s time to stop the side project and focus on the company again. It is good to have some hobbies, side projects and other things to do once in a while, but always have a limit or else you’ll lose focus on what you should prioritize. – Daisy Jing, Banish