In my recent Time Management Tips article I talked about a strategy that I use to be productive and stay focused everyday at work. A couple people asked some questions about it so I thought I would go through the exact steps I take each day to make the most of every hour I work. As I said previously, I’ve always struggled with focus as a self employed business owner but this simple little time management strategy has improved my productivity dramatically.
So read my previous article first and then come back to see what I’m talking about. You’ll see that the basic steps to my time management strategy are..
- Divide your tasks into 3 to 5 categories.
- Decide how much time you will spend on it each day.
- Record it and stick to it religiously, everyday.
And below is what my work day looks like at the moment. Remember I’m using the free online timer over at timeanddate.com. I’ve found it to be awesome! The only issue I have had with it is sometimes video advertisements will screw with my Firefox browser, so I just use it in the Chrome browser and problem solved. It’s free and it does exactly what I want it to do. Let me know if you know of anything better out there.
So, someone asked to see what my categories are and how to choose them. Only you can know what categories you need to focus on to make your business grow but I’ll go through mine and explain why I chose them.
At least a couple categories should make you feel uncomfortable in the beginning though as these are probably the categories that will grow your business. For me it’s “video” and “newsletters” that make me squirm as they’re both new to me and I would rather stick to things that are familiar. It’s human nature.
We can’t grow by staying comfortable and doing what we’ve always done. Growing pain is for business too, not just for kids having a growth spurt.
My 5 Areas of Focus Each Day | Time Management Tips
I’ve found 5 to be the magic number for me. If it’s less than 5 your tasks become too general and don’t give you enough focus. While having more than 5 categories becomes too restrictive and difficult to manage. In no particular order here are mine..
- Social Media | 1 Hour I’ve never really liked social media much but not having a strategy to take advantage of it for your online business would be stupid. It’s where all the eyeballs are and for the most part it’s free traffic. I still struggle with all the drama and stupidity of people on social media but I’m learning to ignore the drama queens and energy suckers.
Check me out on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook and I’ll probably follow you back if you’re talking about making money, investing, cars, art, success, or motivation.
Allowed: Regular posts on all platforms that grow my audience. Strategies to grow followers. Research social media marketing techniques. Interact with other users with constructive comments.
Not allowed: Personal social media posting or browsing. Anything that doesn’t grow my social media accounts. Don’t feed trolls or haters. Don’t participate in any drama. No negative posts.
- Newsletters | 1 Hour This is one of my categories that makes me uncomfortable as I’ve always neglected email newsletters. So if I didn’t have a list of tasks to focus on each day, guess which task would be left until last and usually never done?! But the more hours I put in to working on my newsletter lists the easier it gets for me.
I’ve started using AWeber for my newsletters and their set up is very intuitive so they make my job easier. They also have a whole bunch of email marketing guides and a good help desk to give you support when you need it. Check them out here.
Allowed: Send at least 2 newsletters every week. Work on methods to increase subscribers. Funnel with bonus to subscribe. Advertise to increase list. Work on auto newsletters. Subscribe to leaders in the industry and see what they’re doing. Learn as much as possible about increasing list, properly monetising list, and managing list properly.
Not allowed: Anything that doesn’t help to grow my email newsletter lists.
- Shop | 1 Hour I don’t talk about my online store much as I’m still not 100% sure that I’ll be keeping it long term. It either has to grow to a point where it requires a physical shop front and/or warehouse with workers or I have to sell it. Location freedom is just as important to me as financial freedom and time freedom. Having to pack and send orders myself everyday means that I can’t just get on a plane and disappear to a deserted island for a few weeks. I need to be here and take care of everything or close the store to have a few days off. So I’m still not sure which way to go with this one as I do like having the shop.
Allowed: Pack and send orders. Reply to emails and messages. Buy stock and packaging supplies, etc. Interact with community. Keep up to date with industry. Add new products to website. Learn more about Shopify.
Not allowed: Watching review videos on youtube (too much time wasted). Don’t become involved in dramas.
- Video | 1 Hour This is the other category that makes me feel uncomfortable as it’s all new to me. I don’t even like having my photograph taken so I definitely don’t like video cameras pointed at me. And I know nothing about editing, so I’ve still got plenty to do to make this category work, but I believe it will eventually grow my business in so many ways.
Allowed: Learn as much as possible about Adobe Premiere Pro CC for editing videos. Look into recording equipment. Start posting videos on Youtube asap. Learn from others.
Not allowed: I can’t just watch an hour of Youtube videos and say I’m done for the day! At least half of my video time has to be actually doing stuff, creating stuff!
- Content | 2 Hours This category is basically writing, producing content for any of my websites or businesses. It’s two hours as it’s hard to do a whole article in 1 hour unless it’s short and sweet. If the two hours is up and I’m half way through an article I will stop writing it. Once I’m done with all of my other categories I can then return to writing the article or I’ll finish it the next day.
Always, always STOP working on a category when the timer tells you to! The last thing you want to do is get to the end of the day and find that you don’t have time to do your least favorite categories. If this becomes a pattern then start work on your least favorite categories first thing when you arrive for work.
Allowed: Articles for my websites. Guest posts? Sales pitches. Content for funnels. Focus on content that grows visitors and sells products. Basically educate, entertain and sell. Check statistics to see what people want and give more of it. See what others are publishing (what, how, why, etc).
Not allowed: If it doesn’t grow the business then don’t do it.
Some final thoughts on Time Management
I’ve used these categories for a couple of weeks now and will probably add a new one very soon. I’m looking to use paid advertising so it’ll need its own category. I haven’t decided if I’ll take an hour from my “content” tasks or simply add an extra hour to my work day.
Don’t see your categories as set in stone as they’ll change as your business grows and as you learn more. Sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know so you won’t have a category for it. If you didn’t know the money making potential of an email newsletter then you’re not going to have a category for it until you learn more.
What are some of your favorite time management tips for Internet entrepreneurs?