How to Make An Extra 10-15 Hours A Week – Prima Dona Studios

How to Make An Extra 10-15 Hours A Week

Posted by Dona Sarkar on

Many of you have reached out and asked some great questions about getting your 5-8 side-hustle started OR how to invest more into it.  The biggest issue of course is TIME.  The one thing that we can't make more of…yet the thing we (most of us) are least deliberate about.

One of the things I have working for YEARS on is productivity and time management.   The process I have created works very well for me and I invite you to try it out. You'll likely adjust and modify to suit your needs and schedule, but it's a decent v1 to start with.  Keep in mind that I DO NOT have kids or other dependents which make time-management much easier for me.  This process HAS worked for many people who do have lots of family responsibilities.

  1. Mandatory/Not Mandatory/Low Energy/High Energy - I categorize everything in my days into these 2 buckets: Things that are Mandatory or not. Things that bring me High Energy or things that do not. Think of it like budget tracking but time. I know I can always make more money, but can never make more time, so I am SUPER PICKY about my time management. For example, in the past 3 months, I have discovered a love of lifting weights. I love how I feel after. So now, unlike EVER BEFORE, working out regularly with weights stays on my schedule no matter what. While working out is not mandatory, it gives me a TON of energy so I devote at least 30 mins a day to doing it.  Likewise, passive meetings (where I don't have much to contribute but am expected to be present at) are Mandatory but Not Energizing. I just minimize these as much as possible. I also try to spread these low-energy activities so they're surrounded by high-energy activities so there are no (or less) just endlessly draining days. The table below are some of my activities and the categorization. Everyone gets categorized and decided upon via the Time/Activity/Mandatory or No/Energizing or No/Keep or Lose system. After doing just a basic round of this, I was able to reclaim 2 hours in my evenings. 


2. Drop the Not Mandatory/Low-Energy Activities - simple as that. During the second month of this pandemic, I dropped ALL Zoom happy hours because they didn't bring me the energy of in-person ones and they're not mandatory. Even if you feel like you SHOULD do them, at least minimize them dramatically. You know that friend you have that loves to complain? You feel bad dropping them completely BUT you can minimize the contact to once every few months, not every few days.  Just say, "I'm working on a new project and it's taking up all my energy. Let's do this in a month or so." Once you do a cleanse of your time, you'll be surprised at what kind of time you can reclaim

3. Do your show watching and social media time AFTER your 5-8 -  I know, I know. This is how you relax and unwind, etc. At least put boundaries around it and be intention about it. Say, "I Will only spend X many hours a day doing this AFTER I pay myself with my 5-8." Don't let it seep into time you can be creating something for yourself. Why watch others do cool stuff when you could be doing cool stuff? What will future you say, "Thank god, I spent that time watching X show--or thank god I spent that time investing in myself?" A decade ago, I used to binge watch Netflix, like LOST (see screenshot below). I regret wasting those hours because I could have gone to fashion school then or written more books and been so much further along right now. Now if I'm going to watch a show or mindlessly scroll social media, it happens AFTER my 5-8 side hustle time. 


Note: when the average person REALLY does this cleansing exercise, they're able to reclaim between 10-15 hours a week. That is a LOT of hours that were not bringing you energy!

4. BLOCK IT - Once you've reclaimed this time, BLOCK IT. This is now your 5-8/side-hustle time. If people try to infringe on this time, just be clear, "this time is not available".  People will actually respect your time MORE if you have a side-hustle.  I've done the experiment.  I was to help co-chair a conference and I really found that kind of thing to be low-energy. The two excuses I used were:

a) "I'm super burned out right now, so I'm going to say no."  The person organizing went into problem-solving/negotiation mode about how it wouldn't be that much work (it was) and how I would only be responsible for X, Y and Z (ugh) on specific days, etc.  I wound up having to do a LOT of low-energy work that I regretted.  Plus, there were TONS of others who would have loved the opportunity and I felt stupid taking that away from others

b) "I am working on a writing project right now and my deadline is coming up, so I'm going to say no." The person IMMEDIATLEY backed off because asking me to set aside a legit thing for an optional thing didn't feel right.

This becomes increasingly easier if you actually schedule time to do your side-hustle that becomes a regular thing. Set expectations so that people know that you are simply not available during that time.  When I was going to fashion school two evenings a week from 5-9 pm and all day Saturdays, no one would ask me to take on extra work during that time because they knew I was not available. When I was working on my last book, everyone knew I was not available from 6 pm onward on M-Th.  I still have all this time reserved to work on whatever comes next.

5. Keep The Time - Even if you change your project, KEEP THIS TIME. Don't mindlessly go back to doing what you were doing before. Move onto the next experiment you'd like to try for your 5-8 in this newfound time.  As far as how long you should pursue one experiment, I believe in seasons. I believe it takes at least one season == 3 months to see any results of a new experiment. After 2 seasons == 6 months, if you're not seeing results AND ALSO not enjoying this, it might be time to move onto the next thing. Don't give up after 2 weeks though!  

Keep in mind that this is a long game.  I wrote for 5 years (from 2002-2007) before getting a publishing contract. I designed my own fashion for 7 years (2012-2019) before launching my fashion brand.  Don't do this with some mysterious "success" goal at the end other than doing something with your time that you truly love. 

Many of you like the Queen's Gambit on Netflix (I haven't seen it since I'm working on some new writing and fashion stuff). I liked this quote though: 

The Queen’s Gambit has been viewed by 62 million people. The producer Alan Scott was on BBC News talking about how it took 30 years, with 9 rewrites, and every studio he showed it to said that no one would be interested in chess.


Please persevere with that thing you’re making.


Credit: Amy Charlotte Kean 


So cleanse your schedule and immediately reclaim the time to #DoTheThing. Let me know how this works!


Dona is the co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Prima Dona Studios, a fashion line that helps women achieve economic power. When you put on one of our pieces, we guarantee that you'll feel like the total bad@ss that you are and be compelled to pursue your wildest goals.


We also pay the woman who hand-tailored your garment Seattle wages no matter where she lives. To learn more about us, visit us here:

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