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Why You May be Wasting Your Time & How to Fix it

time management, working online, internet marketing, working from homeMost people who work online take on way too much…and yes, even we do, despite the fact that we always advise others not to do it. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who only has one single website or is working on just one project at a time. That is a very rare person indeed.

However, taking on too much has its consequences. It results in a lack of focus and a lack of focus (also known as ‘spreading yourself too thin’), means that nothing ever has a chance to succeed and even if it does eventually succeed, it takes a lot longer to do so.

The reason most people take on too much is that they keep thinking that the next thing is what is going to make them the money. They don’t trust that what they are doing now will work, or it may be just taking longer than they thought it would.

The blatant promotional affiliate marketers have a lot to answer for here – “You too can make $100,000 in just 10 days” and they have the ‘proof’ too with all their Clickbank screenshots.

I’m not going to lie to you, this is a business like any other business and that means that both time and work are involved. It’s rare for someone to make money overnight. Usually the first signs of any money coming in are anywhere from 3 months to a year and even then it may only be enough to buy you lunch every day.

But, my god, it is so worth it because the lifestyle of working from home is just amazing. That is where you want to be. I still have to remind myself sometimes of how good this life is – wake up when you want, start work when you want, take a day off when you want, spend time with your family when you want, take a vacation whenever you like. I love it! It really is a great business to be in, but you have to make it work and that means focusing.

Step 1: Focus on what you are currently doing

So what we want to do is get you thinking about what you currently do on a day-to-day basis. It truly is an amazing process because you often don’t realize the amount of time you waste on tasks that don’t really accomplish anything.

Ideally you will want to spend a week doing this. All it involves is spending a couple of minutes at the end of each working day writing up a list of the tasks you did that day and the time you spent doing them. You can actually do this during the day as well if you prefer. As you finish a task, write it down and note the time taken.

The whole point of this exercise is to get you to see where you are spending the majority of your time. The reason why we need to do this is because in most cases we tend to spend our time on tasks that are not contributing in any way to our business.  Or we are spending too much time on social networking, forums and blogs. Unless these sites in some way contribute directly to your income then you should spend only a limited amount of time each day on them.

If you spend more time on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, reading promotional emails and forums than you actually do working on your website (or whatever else you need to do for your online business) then you are going about things the wrong way.

Step 2: Determine whether each task contributes to your business

Next, you need to look at each task and determine whether it actually contributes to your business in some way. For instance, you might say that Facebook brings traffic to your site. Okay, how much traffic? Is it 10 people a day or is it 100 or is it more? How many actually come to your site and is it worth all the effort you put in to bring them there? If you are spending 3 hours a day on Facebook and only 10 people turn up to your site, is it worth it? Only you will know the answer to this question, but it is something to keep in mind when you are doing this sort of analysis.

Basically what you want to assess with all of this is how you are spending your time and how much of that time actually benefits your online business.

Step 3: Work out your daily task list

The next step is to work out your daily task list so that you are spending more time on those tasks that actually contribute to your business. This is easier than it seems.  All you need to do is start each day by spending five minutes writing out what you want to achieve that day.

Now just stop for a minute before going any further and look at your reaction at what I just said. Did you feel good about hearing that you will have to create a daily to-do list or did you just yawn and whine about it in your head? Don’t be upset if you said the second – I’m the same when it comes to these sorts of things but I can tell you that setting yourself up for the day even if the to-do list is only in your head will really keep you focused. You will be amazed at how focused you will be.

Ideally when setting up your daily task list it should only take a few minutes, if that. You don’t want to waste time figuring out all the detail and worrying about exactly how much time to the second you want to spend on each task. It’s really not necessary. All you really need to do is write down a basic outline of what you want to achieve. For example my task list for tomorrow might look something like this:

  • 120 minutes – Work on training program
  • 30 minutes – Read and answer emails
  • 30 minutes – Answer comments on the blog/Youtube/Facebook
  • 120 minutes – Create a YouTube video
  • 120 minutes – Work out a marketing plan for our next product

That took all of a minute to write up but it gives me a basic overview of how my day is going to go.  And this is very specific to me. We get a lot of questions and comments so I need about an hour a day to answer them.

Your task list may be totally different.

And if you really can’t stay away from social sites, then you might include that as a task but instead of it being an hour or two like you normally spend, you can set it for 30 minutes. And you might allocate it as the last task you do for the day so that you get all of the necessary work done first. It’s so easy to get sidetracked and spend more time than you need to on these types of sites.

Of course if Facebook or Twitter are your main source of income then by all means spend your day on those sites. It’s all about deciding where is the best place to place your focus.

What If I Am Already Focusing on the Right Stuff?

Now you may be one of the very few that has a very focused list when you do your analysis and yet you are still wondering why you aren’t getting traffic or making money. If that’s the case then you need to analyze even more deeply to see what you are actually doing when you do these tasks. For example, if you are creating content for your site is it the best it can be? This is where you need to be really honest with yourself and determine whether your content is actually helpful to the reader. Are you are writing product reviews that are short and just repeat what is said in the product description from the manufacturer? If you are working on getting backlinks to your site, are they quality backlinks or are you just paying someone to get you thousands of links that really aren’t worth anything? If you are writing a tutorial, does it include all the steps?

You are better off:

  • getting one good backlink than hundreds of poor quality backlinks
  • writing one in-depth blog post than writing 10 poor quality blog posts
  • creating one highly detailed ebook that takes you weeks to do than writing one poor quality one
  • posting one YouTube tutorial video a week that takes you a whole day to do and provides every possible step than posting short, unhelpful videos on a daily basis

Quality is what will make it for you in the end. Provide value and the traffic will flow in.

How to Work with a Timer – This really works!

Now that you have your to-do list for the day you need to implement it in a way that ensures that you get the most productivity out of your day. To do this, you will need a timer of sorts and preferably one that you can pause if required for when the phone rings or the kids need you for some reason. This can be an electronic egg timer or you might be able to download one on your smart phone or from the internet. Either way, you will need some sort of timer so that you can be alerted when your time is up.

So determine what you want to do for the day, and set a time limit for each task.

When you start a task, set the timer for the allocated period. If you are using an egg timer keep it in front of you so you can see the timer counting down.

When the timer alerts you that your time is complete you can either get up and have a quick five minute break to grab a tea or coffee or immediately get on to the next task. Start the timer again and go for it.

This works particularly well for keeping your social networking time to a minimum. If you know you only have half an hour to spend on Facebook then you are more likely to focus on getting the best results whilst you are there.

It also ensures that you don’t spend too much time on just one task. For instance, let’s assume you only have two hours a day to work on your online business. And let’s also assume that you might prefer article writing to answering comments. So you might decide before you start working that you are going to do an hour and a half of content creation and a half hour of answering comments. So you start off with great intentions writing up the article but because you don’t have a timer to tell you when the hour is over (and let’s be honest here, you probably don’t want to be reminded because you know that answering comments is coming up next), then you are more likely to just keep writing that article and the comments are forgotten for that day. The same thing can happen day after day and before you know it you haven’t answered comments for weeks, and interacting with your readers is very important. The fact they have taken the time to comment shows that they are interested in what you have to say – Don’t ignore them.

With a timer however, you are more likely to stop writing the article and get started on the task of answering comments.

I don’t know what it is, but for some reason when you have a timer set for each task, you stay focused on that task. It really does work so give it a try.

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