This article will cover the thorny topic of how to be more productive online.
The barriers to productivity are many:
- internet browsing
- online chat
- domestic interruptions
- telephone calls
I’ve discovered that after an interruption it can take on average at least 15 minutes to get back into the flow of working, sometimes longer.
Also, often internet marketing requires that you need to follow a process, sometimes quite convoluted if, for example, you are building a new website or a sales funnel.
This therefore means that you can potentially lose your place in the process or leave the process unfinished if you forget where you were entirely. My computer is littered with unfinished projects simply because that when I returned to my computer I have forgotten what I was doing in the last session!
In the course of my consulting, I have also discovered several other major barriers to being productive online:
- slow broadband speed is potentially deadly. Internet marketing often requires that you upload and download files frequently. Some of these files can be large like, for example, videos. This means that you can waste a lot of time waiting for files to upload and download, during which time you can also be distracted. This is a major productivity killer and, in my opinion. You should invest in the fastest broadband speed available. (When I moved house 3 years ago, having access to fast broadband was a major consideration forb me in the buying process!)
- I’ve also come across internet marketers that have no proper filing structure on their computer. Files are littered over their desktop and they have no proper filing system and therefore lose a lot of the information on their computer or struggle to access it. This too is a major productivity barrier – lesson 101 in internet marketing is to take time to file everything in a properly structured filing system on your computer.
- Also, make sure that you back up all your computer files and have access to the programme software. You never know when disaster can strike:
- house fire
- hard disc corrupts
- computer theft
- computer virus
It is absolutely essential that you have back-up copies of everything so that you do not lose any of your hard work and you can restore your programmes and information as quickly as possible. I use Carbonite.com to keep an automated real-time backup of all my files on a remote server i.e. away from my property as I have literally years of work and effort stored on my computer
- another potential area of lost productivity is not using the right tool for the job.
- Time management is also critical but what does that mean? To me, it means that you plan your work and work your plan. It also means that you plan to take regular breaks to rest your eyes and stretch your muscles. One method that works well is to chunk your time down into smaller chunks.
- Parkinsons Law says that work will always fill the time available so that if we plan to take a day to complete a task it will fill a day even though if we set a deadline of one hour we could achieve the same result. Setting deadlines is therefore an important strategy for increasing productivity. I like to use a tool like Action Enforcer to break down my tasks into hourly chunks and at the same time set deadlines to achieve them – if you do this, you will be surprised by the amount of work you will get done.
- At the beginning of this article, I outlined a number of potential time stealers like Facebook, email etc. Knowing that these are time-stealers, you also need to adopt habits that deal with these problems i.e. only look at Facebook and emails at certain points in the day, turn off chat during working hours, turn off your phone and pass calls to answerphone whilst working if possible or educate staff and customers to only contact you at certain alloted times in the day – they have no automatic right to break your concentration and workflow. Plan to eliminate all interruptions as far as possible.
I also want to emphasise the importance of working to a framework rather than in piecemeal chunks. If we take writing a book as an example, the book is the framework. We break the book down into chapters and the chapters into sub-headings or topics that fit into our overall plan to deliver either a story or a result.
The same is true of anything we do in internet marketing – we need to ensure that all our actions fit into an overall framework that delivers a result rather than being piecemeal or random in nature. The power of working in this way is that everything builds on each other to deliver an awesome result to our customer. When delivering any of our work to any customer, it is important to explain how this piece of work fits into the overall framework that we have planned to deliver although each piece of work also delivers a particular result in and of itself. For example, our product may be all about list building but may not cover email marketing or affiliate marketing strategies. These may be additional products that will be delivered within an overall framework of products that you are planning.
I have seen plenty of marketers that deliver products within a sub-segment of each niche. For example, they produce mainly Facebook products, YouTube products, Webinar products or SEO products – this is more productive because they can focus, go deep and sell more related products to their existing customers. Compare this to someone who is trying to be all things to all men and you will see how effective this is when you can focus your point of attack – it works well on the battlefield too! You also see this with many book authors – they become known as a crime writer or romance or historical biographies – it just makes more producive sense to narrow your point of focus and expertise and become known for something that you are particularly good at or knowledgeable about.
Within any business there are always points of leverage i.e. 20% of actions that produce 80% of results. If you can identify these and work mainly in these areas then your productivity can increase massively It is important to take some time to identify what these things are – for me, they are things like:
- Traffic generation
- Product creation
- Email marketing
- Measure and monitoring key performance indicators
- Outsourcing work that has been systemised or where I need to acquire skills.
These are all areas where I can increase my productivity and the financial return on my time.
The one thing that none of us can create more of is time – time is short. I can say this from the perspective of being in my mid-fifties and wondering how the time has passed so quickly. It is therefore important to make every day count towards an overall lifetime of achievement and contribution.
I often hear of people flitting from job to job – this is not really the best way to be productive unless this is part of an overall plan to acquire skills towards some lifetime goal like starting a business. My working career has been dedicated to helping other people to start and grow their own business, in the course of which I have created my own businesses to hone my understanding and skills. I’m still learning new things every day and my skills and knowledge would have much less power if I suddenly decided to pursue a career in say the health sector. My productivity would go through the floor for an extended period of time until I had acquired new skills, training and experience in my new role.
So there is a lot to be said for ‘sticking to your last’ which makes it all the more important that you choose wisely to start with so that you can stay the course. I’ve tried to advise my children to pursue a passion or interest in their career because I truly believe that they will be far more productive by doing something that they really enjoy.
I hope this article has given you some ideas on how to be more productive online and that you will subscribe to my blog in the sidebar to receive more great tips and information.