A Day In The Life Of A Side-Hustling Solopreneur

day in the life of a solopreneur- Jessica LawlorYesterday I had the pleasure of carrying the One Woman Shop Baton on Instagram.

That meant I was invited to give One Woman Shop’s audience (an awesome community for female solopreneurs/business owners) a glimpse into how my business/brand runs on a day-to-day basis.

When Cristina Roman, the founder of One Woman Shop (OWS) reached out to invite me to carry the baton, giving me the opportunity to take over the OWS Instagram for the day, I was excited, but I hesitated.

After all, I’m not a full-blown solopreneur. Instead, I’m a side-hustling solopreneur, nurturing my blog/brand/biz on the side of a full-time job working in PR.

I told Cristina some of my hesitations and she immediately let me know they were interested in my perspective as someone juggling a day job, along with a growing brand. She mentioned that many members of the OWS community were in my same situation- and would appreciate my perspective.

I had a blast carrying the OWS Baton and interacting in the comments section of their Instagram account with the many amazing women in the community. You can check out my photos (here, here, here, here, here , here and here).

I realized that many of you have also asked me via email or blog comments how I manage my day. So many of you have told me that you want to continue to develop your careers, but also pursue your passions on the side. I believe that you can absolutely have both. I thought this would be a great opportunity to completely break down my day for you to show you exactly how I do what I do. If you have any questions, I’m happy to answer them in the comments.

Here’s a day in my life- a glimpse into how I manage my time and energy- juggling both a full-time job and growing side hustle and brand.

4:45 a.m. My first alarm rings…I glare at my phone angrily and turn it off.

4:50 a.m. My second alarm goes off. I consider getting out of bed, but opt for seven more minutes of precious sleep.

4:57 a.m. Odd time to set on an alarm clock, I know. I finally get out of bed. Why do I wake up so early? There are many, many reasons!

5-5:45 a.m. Depending on if I’ve gone to hot yoga the previous night and therefore showered the night before, I may dive right into getting ready for the day. If I haven’t gone to yoga, I jump in the shower and then blow dry my hair. I’m a crazy multi-tasker, so while I straighten my hair and do my makeup, I usually catch up on a guilty pleasure TV show. This is usually when I watch episodes of Big Brother, whatever iteration of The Bachelor is currently on or one of my favorite sitcoms like New Girl or The Mindy Project. I don’t have a lot of time for TV, so this is generally the time I give myself to indulge.

6 a.m. By 6 a.m. I am downstairs in my kitchen making coffee (aka turning on my Keurig) and popping a piece of cinnamon bread in the toaster for breakfast.

6:15 a.m. At this time, I’m seated at my kitchen table (my makeshift office!), steaming cup of coffee ready to get to work. I try to ignore my email and social media at this time of day to get right to work on whatever it is I’m focused on that morning.

6:15- 8 a.m. I spend the next two hours working on my business and blog, often in complete silence. The best part about waking up so early is that my email and social media accounts are often very quiet at this time of day, so I’m able to avoid distractions and really focus in on my work. My tasks vary on what I’m focused on at the moment and what deadlines I’m currently working toward. Here’s a sampling of some of my early AM projects.

  • Write a post for this blog, design a graphic to go along with the post, hit publish and schedule social media updates to promote the post.
  • Work on the #GetGutsy newsletter. This includes sending personal notes to new subscribers, writing content for the newsletter and scheduling emails to send.
  • Brainstorm, strategize and implement on upcoming Get Gutsy projects. Right now, I’m focused on my Get Gutsy ebook and email course, but in the past this has included special theme weeks on the blog like personal branding week, the Get Gutsy essay contest and Get Gutsy week.
  • Edit, layout and publish blog posts for one of my blog management clients. Respond to emails and schedule out editorial calendar for that same client.
  • Work on freelance articles and blog posts for various clients.
  • One thing I try *really* hard NOT to do at this time is answer emails, but sometimes I’ll give myself one dedicated a morning a week to do that. The reason I try not to do emails in the early AM is because this is my prime time for creativity and writing- I don’t want to zap that energy by responding to emails.

8:15 a.m. Leave my house for work. My commute takes about 30 minutes in the morning and I usually listen to a podcast (here are a few of my favorites) or catch up on the phone with a friend via my car’s bluetooth. Once or twice a week I’ll stop at Dunkin’ Donuts for an iced coffee.

9 a.m.- 5 p.m. Work! I get to my day job working in travel/tourism public relations and I stay completely focused on my full-time job. During lunch, I may catch up on some personal emails, but in general, I also use my lunch hour to run errands or get some work done for the two organizations I’m a leader with-the Temple Women’s Network and the Philadelphia Public Relations Association.

5-10 p.m. My evenings vary depending on the day, but just like my mornings, here’s some of what you may find me doing on weeknights.

  • Head into the city for a networking event, Temple Women’s Network board meeting or simply to have dinner with friends. In general, there is usually at least one night per week that I hop on 95 from my job in the suburbs to the city. I don’t mind going to the city at all and I love making fun social plans during the week to catch up with friends over delicious food and cocktails.
  • At least two nights a week, I reserve for hot yoga. You all know how much I love yoga, so I prioritize that in my calendar. On nights when I go to yoga, I have time between work and class, so I’m able to join my family for dinner.
  • I’m working at getting better at saving one night per week simply for me to do with it what I please whether that’s getting a manicure, running errands or just sitting on my couch.

Between 10:30 and 11 p.m. Lights out! 5 a.m. comes quickly and this side-hustling solopreneur needs her sleep to recharge for the day ahead. I try to read a little bit before bed, but I’ll be honest, I’m usually so exhausted I fall right asleep or mindlessly scroll through Instagram or Twitter before bed.

carrying the One Woman Shop Baton

A glimpse into my day carrying the One Woman Shop Baton on Instagram.

A couple more notes on how I manage my time:

  • Instead of time management, I practice energy management. This means maximizing my energy and the times of the day I am most alert and creative to get my most pressing work done. It means prioritizing my day based on when my body and mind work best.
  • This is a glimpse into a typical day. My friend Sarah Hutton asked how I plan for non-typical days like when I have a vacation coming up or know I have a late-night event. Vacations are interesting especially because I typically unplug when I’m away. The first thing I do is let all of my freelance clients know that I’ll be out of reach for however long and I work ahead of time to either schedule out posts for publication or meet deadlines early. In terms of my own blog, I generally try to schedule a post to go live while I’m gone, along with making sure I have a Start Your Week Right Sunday scheduled since that’s a weekly feature here.
  • Another friend named Sarah asked how much wiggle room I give myself to deal with last-minute curveballs. Great question. Honestly, I just roll with the punches the best that I can. If something comes up one morning and I’m not able to get a blog post written, I try a little harder the next day. If a client project needs to take precedent over a Get Gutsy newsletter going out, I prioritize my client. What I’m doing here isn’t rocket science or life or death. If something has to wait, in general, nothing absolutely terrible is going to happen. I recognize that not everything is going to be perfect. That’s okay and that’s part of being an entrepreneur.
  • You’ll note I haven’t mentioned running in the schedule above. While I’ve figured out a system that seems to work for me, it certainly isn’t perfect and I am missing a few things that I wish I could better fit into my schedule. I used to go for a run several mornings per week- I find that I do my best running early in the AM, on an empty stomach. However, I’ve also clearly identified that mornings are when I can get my best work done. Right now, I’m trying to figure out a way to do both, but it’s not that easy.
  • You may have also noticed that I typically do not do any client or blog work in the evenings. The reason for that? I’m generally completely wiped by the time I get home from a day of waking up early to get things done and going to work. I know that I don’t do my strongest creative work in the evenings, so that’s why I’ve prioritized my day in a way that allows me to do my best work first thing.
  • Habits take time to form. Believe me, it hasn’t always been easy to wake up at 5 a.m. I used to be the girl who slept as long as humanly possible leaving just enough time to get dressed and eat breakfast in the car. Don’t get frustrated if it takes time for you to figure out a schedule and rhythm that works for you.

Do you have any questions about how I manage my day? I’d be happy to answer them in the comments below!

Start Your Week Right Sunday: Links and Goals

start your week right- Jessica Lawlor

Photo of the week: A stunningly beautiful day on the Delaware River in New Hope, PA. Those clouds! That reflection! Gorgeous.

Start your week right! Every Sunday I post my favorite links from around the web and share my goals for the upcoming week.


On Productivity:

The Biggest Time Suck Of All: Know what the biggest time suck of all is? (And no, it’s not email…although it’s close). DJ Waldow tells us. I COMPLETELY agree with him…and there are ways to tackle this problem.

On Burnout:

5 Signs You’re On The Way To Burnout City (And How To Escape If You’re Already There): Ohhh, this is a good one from Kelly at Cordelia Calls It Quits. Feeling burnt out? Here are some tell-tale signs and how to escape.

On Biz:

How To Name Your Thing: Coming up with a name for a new blog, business or product can be incredibly frustrating. Lisa from Elembee shares some tips and tricks for painless naming.

5 Reasons Every Solopreneur Should Write an Ebook: Perfect timing for me with this post by Ashley Brooks for One Woman Shop’s blog! If you’re a solopreneur, you should be writing (or promoting) your own ebook…here’s why.

On Getting Gutsy:

The JourneyCast Podcast: Jessica Lawlor: I’m honored to be over on my friend and mentor Jason Mollica’s JourneyCast podcast this week talking about public relations, personal branding and getting gutsy. Grab a cup of coffee and listen in!

This Week on Jessica Lawlor.com:

What’s Around The Corner for 2015? A Peek Behind The Curtain of the Get Gutsy Brand/Biz: Here’s what’s just around the corner for 2015- an exclusive look into what I’m working on and how I plan to grow the Get Gutsy brand and business this fall, 2015 and beyond.


Have any links or goals you’d like to share? Leave them in the comments!

Want more gutsy content delivered straight to your inbox twice a month? Be sure to sign up for my FREE #GetGutsy e-newsletter filled with inspiration, ideas and action items to get out of your comfort zone.