5 Uncommon Time-Saving Tips to Start a Side Business

You have a lot more time than you think to start a side business.

That’s true even if you are working a demanding full-time job, going to grad school, working a second part-time job and have a family to take care of.

I know because I’ve been in every single one of those buckets – at the same time. Yet I still managed to run a blog and sell an ebook on it.

The crazy thing is that I’m still pushing myself further, and I launched my second blog (the one you’re reading right now) a couple of months ago.

If I can find the time to start a few side business projects, then I bet you could as well.

Here are a few uncommon tips that will help you out.


1) Don’t go for an “Offline” Side Business

Pursuing an offline side business is a huge mistake that most full-time employees typically do.

Starting a business, whether online or offline, takes a tremendous amount of hard work and effort. However, an offline business will suck up a lot more of your time than an online one because the former will typically require your physical presence.

For example, if you start a restaurant on the side, then you’ll waste a significant amount of valuable time commuting back and forth to the location, and physically meeting up with suppliers – time which you might not have. Whereas if you develop an iPhone app or start a blog, then you have the flexibility of working on those online ideas anywhere and anytime, including your lunch break at work.


2) Exercise More Often

It might sound counterintuitive that you would have extra time for a side business by spending more time on exercising, but studies have shown over and over that working out actually increases your productivity.

In addition to the obvious benefits of becoming healthier and losing weight, you’ll feel much more rejuvenated and focused. Every time I get into an exercise routine, I swear I become more effective at juggling multiple initiatives.

Even billionaires concur: when Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson was asked by Tim Ferriss how to become more productive, his answer was “Work out.”


 3) Stop Watching Negative News

Negative news is really bad for you in two ways. First, it literally drains the energy out of you by stressing you out. And second, it wastes a lot of your time because you end up craving more of it.

In Today We Are Rich, Tim Sanders explains how most news is actually designed to be that way:

Longtime broadcast journalist Ted Koppel wrote that to be effective, a news feature must be a “ladle dropper,” meaning that it requires Mom to drop her ladle in the soup when she hears the headline and run to the TV to pay attention to the gory details. That’s why positive stories don’t usually drive ratings.

Avoiding negative news will not only keep you in an upbeat spirit, but you’ll also free up your time to focus on your business ideas.


 4) Batch your Life Tasks

The concept of batching doesn’t just apply to reading emails or scheduling meetings. You can batch several other areas of your life as well.

My wife and I used to do grocery shopping two or three times a week. That was a waste of time. We now plan all meals ahead of time and shop only once a week (and on a weekday to avoid the weekend rush).

I also used to attend two grad school courses on different evenings of the week. I then switched to taking back-to-back classes on Mondays to avoid the redundant commute.

Those two adjustments freed up two extra evenings for me to work on my other side businesses.


5) Write Ideas Everywhere

My middle school teacher used to say “the brain does not remember what the hand does not write.”

When balancing multiple tasks in your life, you’re going to have a ton of ideas thrown at you at 150 miles an hour. A lot of those ideas are going to be useless, but some of them are going to be gems. If you don’t write all of them down, you’re going to waste time recreating and rethinking them again.

It doesn’t matter where you write those ideas down – on your iPhone, your notepad, or your hand – just get them out of your head and onto something. Case in point, I wrote 3 out of the 5 tips in this article on my phone while I was waiting for a friend in a restaurant.

If you’re still doubtful about not having enough time to start a business on the side, I’ll leave you with some words of wisdom from the not-so-subtle Gary Vaynerchuk:

Everybody has time; stop watching F****** Lost!

Click play below to watch him say it  at the 14:45 min mark

Do you have any time saving tips for starting a business on the side? Share them in the comments below!


The Winner of a Free Copy of “Made to Stick”

In my last post, I ran a small contest to give out a free Kindle version of the “Made to Stick” book (valued at $13.99).

Thanks to all of you who submitted their comments, including Wizard Prang, Emad Ibrahim, Nick Kizirnis, and Gary Gray.

I read every comment once, and then tried to remember what I read a couple of days later. They were all great, but the one that stuck the most was from Emad Ibrahim about his Windows 8 productivity application, Taskorami.

Congrats Emad – you’ll be receiving an email from me shortly with a link to download a free copy of the book.


  1. I love the write everything down shortcut – I do this as much as possible. I get teased for carrying a little notebook with me all the time but if I don’t every idea is completely lost!

    • Hassan Osman says:

      Hey Christina – Exactly! I scribble my notes everywhere as well (even though I prefer to hand write my ideas out on a notebook, I find that my phone is still the most convenient because it’s always with me).

  2. Emad Ibrahim says:

    Thanks for the free ebook…

  3. Work out … I really need to do that, since I hear it and read it every day. Writing it down is absolutely true, and too easy to forget … every once in a while i come up with a good song idea and if i don’t write it down or record even a crappy voice memo then that thing is gone …!

    • Hassan Osman says:

      Hey Nick – don’t feel too bad about not working out. I get lazy about that aspect every now and then myself :) (though I always notice an amazing difference in productivity whenever I work out). I can imagine that song ideas would be quite hard to remember if you skip out on catching them on paper when they hit you!

  4. Hey Hassan

    First congratulations to Emad on winning a copy of “Made To Stick”.

    Great points Hassan, Interestingly we are doing an off line model BUT the plan is to take it online in 2013. I composed a brief blog post about the project using the “Made To Stick” Model called “Artisans On Main Made To Stick” here is a link. http://hiddenislandparadise.blogspot.ca/2012/11/artisans-on-main-is-made-to-stick.html

    Exercise is great for keeping the mind and body in great shape. (I walk almost every day) A positive attitude is key. (I stopped watching the news over six months ago) I do love to batch things as well as simplify down to the basics to save time. (grocery store trips included) I write it down but then to find it. LOL (I keep a physical notebook at this point – Evernote and I have not become friends yet)

    The only point that I could add at the moment is always use the KISS method. (keep it simple, stupid – not my words) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KISS_principle

    • Hassan Osman says:

      Thanks Gary!

      I just checked out the “Artisans on Main” Facebook page and “liked” it :) (will definitely come in handy when I visit PEI in the future).

      I recently downloaded Evernote (haven’t had the time to learn its features yet), but for now, I just use the simple Notes application on my phone to jot down any ideas that I think of.

  5. Thanks for the article, Hassan.

    It’s interesting to tell you that few months back, my wife and I too agreed to shopping only once in weekday evening. That works pretty well and saves a lot of time.

    One other thing I do is listen to Podcast/AudioBooks while I workout in the GYM.

    • Hassan Osman says:

      Thanks Aslam! Funny you mention that, I also listen to podcasts while working out and waiting in long lines :)

  6. Hassan thanks for sharing these excellent points.
    I recently added a filter to my gmail account to delete ALL Facebook notifications. I didn’t need a redundant system, since there is already one on Facebook. Big relief for me to not have to delete those manually.

    • Hassan Osman says:

      Thanks Michael – yup, definitely not worth getting those notifications twice. You can also control what notifications you receive through Facebook (as opposed to filtering them on the Gmail end).

  7. Brilliant quote from Gary V. – so true.

    I think batching is really overlooked. It’s amazing how much time it takes to “get going” on any task – no matter how small. Nothing ever takes “just 1 minute.”

    And an addendum to #1 is that you can always test and validate your side project before diving in head first. Even building an online business can be a waste if you don’t know if people are interested in even the slightest.

    • Hassan Osman says:

      Thanks Nate! Totally agree with testing & validating before starting your ideas – particularly with online businesses where it’s a lot easier (and much faster).

      In fact, that’s how I launched this blog (PartTimeWebpreneur.com), where I tested it out first before publishing a single post. I’ll be writing a detailed post about how I did that in the future, so stay tuned!

  8. I have to agree with your number one. I tried to start a insurance business got all the licenses and everything setup. Started selling the insurance and man it was time consuming by the time I finished my day job then went to sell insurance I was burning the candle at both ends and half asleep most of time. I did though find a part time job I was able to start while I was still at the day job. Check out http://teamworkcounts.com it is the simplest as the conversation around the product comes up easily.

    • Hassan Osman says:

      Thanks Chris! Yes, starting an offline business can definitely burn you out really fast (I’ve been there before myself :) )