How Much Time For Side Work?

how-much-time-side-workI’m off to the Financial Bloggers conference today (I’m writing this on the bus – the Megabus, actually!), and I’m trying to get at least a few hours of productive time in today while I travel to Chicago. That got me thinking: how much time do I actually spending working on projects outside of my job?

Today, my question for you is: how many hours a week do YOU spend on work, not counting a job? This could be anything from freelancing, writing, blogging, consulting, or other side work, etc. If you don’t have a job, simply include all the work you do in a normal week. If you don’t know, challenge yourself to track it next week.

I don’t usually know the exact number of hours, but I’m going to guess it’s about 12 hours a week, depending on how much I can fit it on weekends. I’m going to track this myself for the next week or two and see if I’m spending the amount of time on it that I think I am.

The second part of my question: how much time do you wish you were spending on this work?

Even with a job that I’m at for 40 hours a week, 12 extra hours a week doesn’t sound like a lot. There’s roughly 6 hours a weekday when I’m neither working nor sleeping.  On the weekends, there’s about 32 free hours total. That adds up to a whopping 62 hours of non-working, non-sleeping time each week. It’s extremely unrealistic to assume I’m going to get work done and be productive for all that time (hey, I have to eat, enjoy a beer, and watch football sometime!) Plus, it’s easy to get distracted and find other things to occupy my time.

Here’s what I think I can realistically do in a typical week:

9 hours of work on weeknights (Monday-Thursday)
6 hours total on the weekend (assuming I’m not traveling)

Total = 15 hours.

I can do more if I need to meet a deadline or just have something that I’m really motivated and excited to work on, but I want to avoid burnout by trying to squeeze in too much. Plus, I can get a lot accomplished in 15 hours if I really do solid, productive work. The actual quantity of time doesn’t mean a thing if you’re just goofing off when you’re supposed to be doing work. But I think the number of hours that you’re attempting to be productive is a good starting point for how effective you’re actually being.

Next week, I’m going to shoot for 15 hours of solid side-work and do my best to track it with my accountability journal. If I can earn roughly $25 per hour (which is what the minimum I think my time is worth) during these 15 hours, that would be an extra $375 a week that I can bank for meeting my $10k savings goal. I haven’t hit this mark yet, but I think the potential is definitely there if I work at it.

Again, here are my questions for you:

1) How many hours of work (or anything described as a business) do you do a week, not counting a job or other employment?

2) Are you satisfied with this amount? Or do you wish you could fit in more or get away with less?

Have a great weekend, and see some of you at FINCON!

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photo by: Dee Adams


  1. Have fun Jeffrey!  I was surprised to hear a mention of FINCON in NPR today!  

  2. Pretty cool post here. I can definitely see that you are dedicated and that you love what you do. I do internet marketing full time actually. Decided to skip college and do what I’m passionate about. Best decision ever! I spend at least 6-8 hrs a day working. I work everyday even on weekends, holidays or whatever reason there is to not work. lol

    I am very happy with my time and how much I put into my online business. I can definitely see the results getting better each day. Thanks for such a great post!

    Keep it up!



  3. I don’t think that there’s a one size fits all answer here. For some the side hobby can be so consuming that it takes up even more spare time. There’s also those that are fortunate enough to work on their side income while at work. Just add my thoughts.

    It was cool to meet you this weekend!

  4. Well, I’m retired, so it’s a sticky question.  I find I put in about 4 hours a day on blogging, commenting, etc.  It’s more like a hobby to me and I’d rather do it than clean the house!

  5. Hey Jeff, it was great meeting you in person at FINCON. Despite all the breaks and other opportunities there didn’t ever seem to be the right time to work on projects…probably wasn’t the right place anyway. We can do all that online!

    I’m currently spending a solid 7 hours a day on side projects…and no more productive than when I was doing about half that. I need to create productivity systems!

    • Wow, seven hours! I’m still a fan of the Pomodoro Technique, although I don’t always use it (I’m not sure why that is?) Have you tried it? I also try to lock myself away as best as possible, but my small apartment doesn’t always lend itself to that too well.

  6. It’s an interesting question that I’ve never really thought about before.. I basically just work on the blogs and other sites when i have free time – I don’t have a lot of other hobbies to be quite honest.  But now that I think about it I probably spend 3-4 hours a night during the week, and no real time on the weekends except maybe jumping in to approve comments or make sure my sites are up.    I think for a part time second income the time I have put in has returned some pretty good dividends, and I’m sure I’ll continue as I have for some time.   Hopefully sometime in the next couple of years I’ll be able to build the income to a point where it is 2x my day job income and I can go full time!

    By the way, it was a pleasure to meet you at the conference, and thanks for stopping by my Twitter table!

    • Thanks for the answer, Peter. You’re definitely giving me something to shoot for in terms of your success! And I’m glad to hear you’re able to maintain your site without putting too much though or stress into time management. I hope you’re able to build it to full-time, too. That’s an awesome thought!

      Thanks for the Twitter tips! I’m putting them into use already!

  7. Aside from my regular 40 hour/week job, I spend about 25-30 hours/week on freelance writing and blogging. I have a set schedule that I work off of every week, and find that I still have time to do all of the things that I love to do. 🙂 

    My goal in the future is to figure out how to work smarter, not harder – because I don’t think I can squeeze in anymore time out of the week as it is!

    • That’s impressive, Krystal! I know when we met on Friday at FINCON, you said you’d been working. Now I see why! That proves that I can do better, too, if I work at it and make my goals a priority.

      By the way, I really enjoyed your post “When does a freelancing career take over?” from a few weeks ago. It definitely gave me a great perspective on transitioning to freelancing.

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