How Did You Find The Time? Prioritizing Life Outside the 9 to 5

While doing interviews for After School, I was often asked, “How did you find time to do this? Aren’t you working?” At this point, I usually quote Cam’ron, one of my favorite rappers: “When it’s reppin’ time, I get on extra grind

In reality it wasn’t that hard. I just had to set myself up for success. I could have tried to work hard and get it done, but I made life much easier by having a system. Let me quickly go over about my steps:

  1. I made sure to ask everyone I interviewed with how many hours per week they worked while I was recruiting for my full time position. My goal was to work at a job where a 50 hour week was average. I knew I wanted to work on side projects outside of work, so I would need time outside of my 9 to 5.
  2. I found an apartment as close to possible to work. I know this isn’t a possibility for everyone, but it can be incredibly important. They say that you need a $40k increase in salary to take on an extra hour in commute time.
  3. I started thinking in systems instead of goals. Because of this, I had to make sure I allocated sufficient time to get stuff done. And guess what? The previous two points made this allocation easier. Let’s say that you work a lot and you have an hour commute both ways. A side hustle is still possible. There are 168 hours in a week. Subtract 60 work hours, 8 hours of sleep each day, 2 hours of cooking and eating each day, 2 hours of working out 4 days of the week, and 2 hours of travel on weekdays. You’re left with 20 hours. How will you spend these extra hours? Here’s where planning and discipline comes in.
  4. I minimized my party and socializing time. Most weeks I picked one night to go out, either Friday or Saturday. In addition, I took it easy on the alcohol so I could get up early the next day and get to work.
  5. I picked one morning, either Saturday or Sunday to put a solid block of work in.
  6. The rest of the week I’d work maybe an hour or two a night, clearing roadblocks — enough to make that block of work on the weekend efficient.

As far as time allocation, that was it. I continually made time for myself to work, and I followed through with it. This week-in week-out this kind of dedication was difficult. Sometimes I needed inspiration to keep going. Here’s what I did for motivation:

  • I listened to specific songs on repeat to get me motivated. In a single work session, I’d play the same song over and over again repeatedly to remind me what the goal was.
  • I took breaks to read books, mostly about business and the success tales of other entrepreneurs.
  • I listened to business and education podcasts every day. They served 2 purposes: to give me new ideas, and make me jealous of others’ successes. My favorites are The $100 MBA Show, Exponent, and The Tim Ferriss Show.
  • Finally, I let people know what I was up to. As a result people asked about it all the time. Can’t let them down right?

If you would like to participate/be interviewed for the blog, contact me at nkem.nwankwo@lifeafterschool.co.