More and more of us are choosing to hold down a full-time gig while adding a side hustle to our lives. Some do this as an outlet for their creativity or as a way to pocket some extra cash. Many are fortunate enough to find something that helps them do both.
Whatever your motives, you probably already know that there’s a danger of losing focus either on one end of the work scale or the other. Few things will crash your side hustle faster than allowing it to cause any noticeable slump during the workday. The day may come when your side hustle becomes your main gig. However, until that day arrives it’s critical that you not allow it to interfere with your full-time performance.
To successfully keep your two work lives compartmentalized and prosperous, you’ll need to set up several accounts. These should function independently from your primary employer’s IT resources. Listed below are eight recommended apps to help your side hustle flourish.
Eight Apps Designed to Keep You Connected and Focused
1. Skype and Zoom
Do you really need to have accounts on two different video conference platforms? Well, in a word…yes. Part of your side hustle ethic must be to meet people where they are as opposed to insisting that they defer to you. Many business owners made investments in Skype before the Covid-19 pandemic caused Zoom to blow up in popularity.
There are other video conferencing platforms, of course, but these two continue to command the lion’s share of subscribers so it just makes sense to be able to pivot quickly from one to the other. Do yourself a favor and take the time to download the apps and set up accounts for these two on all your devices.
This task management app boasts a high degree of cross-platform synchronization and benefits from the care that has been taken to provide the user with a uniform experience no matter what device they are using. Todoist helps users keep their tasks, schedules, personal information, and projects organized in one place.
Full-time employees with a side hustle will appreciate the app’s ability to keep these two different worlds separate. This is especially helpful when you find yourself drowning in messages coming at you from too many channels, whether multiple email accounts, Slack, and/or texting. The easy-to-understand interface is a huge plus for busy people as well.
The enemy of the full-time employee with a side gig is wasting time. If you find yourself trading endless text messages or emails with clients trying to set up a time to meet, you’ll appreciate the ability to send out one (1) scheduling email that allows the client to pick an available time that works best for them. One painful time-waster is completely eliminated.
Calendar also allows you to combine multiple calendars into a single interface so you don’t accidentally double-book yourself, an all-too-common phenomenon for the go-getter running a side hustle. Calendar also provides feedback on how you spent your time which is helpful for those who bill by the hour. Best of all, starter accounts for one person are free.
Whether your employer currently uses Slack or not, you’ll want to use this app to set up note-taking and communication channels for your side hustle. You may not need Slack if your side gig is a one-person show, but if you are working with other people, especially across other work settings and time zones, Slack is a must.
Your full-time employer may already have a corporate Dropbox account. However, you definitely do not want to take up their server space with files generated by your side hustle. Avoid the temptation to use your employer’s resources to transfer large files from one device to another. Dropbox is well known for its reliability and ease of use.
If you find yourself hurriedly jotting down information on napkins, scraps of paper, and sticky notes, consider adding Simplenote to your side hustle arsenal. As the name suggests, Simplenote does one thing and one thing only, namely allowing you a platform to jot down notes.
The app’s strength lies in its cross-platform, device-agnostic interface. This simplicity means that it loads quickly even in settings where WiFi bandwidth is sketchy. Notes are searchable and easily copied and pasted into “heavier” apps later on. Another bonus is that you can safely compose texts and emails without worrying about accidentally hitting the “Send” button.
7. Toggl Track
If your side hustle requires you to bill by the hour, then the Toggl Track app can help with that. Toggl allows you to break down the time you spend on a client, both paid and unpaid.
As you accurately capture time information, you’ll start to see patterns that allow you to decide which clients are making you money and which are perhaps taking up more nonbillable time than you would prefer. Toggl is intuitive and easy to use, offers a generous free plan to help you get started, and automatically notices and adjusts for inactivity when users forget to clock out.
Your side gig might require you to keep track of expenses for later invoicing or just bring heightened attention to your finances. In either case, Expensify is definitely worth a look. Users can set up a free trial period and use the app to track expenses and customer financial transactions. Expensify prides itself on its ease of use, quick set-up, and straightforward approach. Take a photo of your receipts, tag them, and let Expensify do the rest.
Resisting Side-Hustle App Overload
There are so many free and low-cost apps and gadgets available! It can be tempting to fill up your tablet and smartphone with apps. Which apps you select will depend in large part upon the tasks and specifics of your side hustle. The ones listed above tilt toward fulfilling functions that almost everyone will have to manage as they attempt to achieve work-life-work balance.
As you start out your side gig, give yourself a lot of freedom to toss apps that (for whatever reason) just aren’t doing it for you. You’ll want the dust to settle on your choices soon, though. That way, you can focus on the work and not your IT requirements.