Mastering The Art Of Getting Shit Done

The summer is coming in London Town. And that spells major trouble for my work productivity levels should I decide that airing my balls to some rays is time well spent.

One of the questions I get asked by my non-affiliate friends is how I manage to not waste my life playing videogames and watching TV. It would be very easy to hit cruise control and let business take care of business while I watch four back to back seasons of Prison Break. Obviously I’m not talking from experience. Anybody who has enough time to watch 3418 minutes of espionage during working hours should probably stop blogging about productivity tips.

Err, not mine

It would be rude not to finish what I started so fuck you.

I’ve been experimenting with various time management techniques, Firefox extensions, and god knows what else in my pursuit of a productive working day.

One of the most talked about productivity tips is simply to make a to-do list.

Now, I’m not knocking anybody who manages to stay on top of business with a simple notepad. In fact, I envy you. But personally speaking, if I’m having a lazy day, I’ll just give myself less to do on my to-do list. Which defeats the purpose of making a list altogether.

There will be some guys and girls out there who shake their heads in disgust.

“Productivity tools? Do you need Antony Robbins to inspire you to brush your teeth too? Just get it done and stop fart arsing around, you emo blogging prick”.

Yes, some people are capable of sitting at a desk, plowing through their tasks and not so much as batting an eyelid at a fresh new post on FinchSells.com. Others, thank God, are easily distracted.

I was sitting in a library musing through various self-help books the other week (don’t ask). I stumbled across a method in a book called Stress Proof Your Life, which is a really dull read except for this one particular method. So don’t go canvasing Amazon for a new bedtime story just yet.

It basically outlined the power of momentum in your working day. I’m sure many affiliate marketers are in the same boat when I say that momentum is probably the deciding factor in how much we get done on any given day.

I find it very easy to sit at my desk and tear through hours and hours of work. But only if I have the momentum where I feel like I’m getting somewhere. Otherwise I’ll bitch and moan and find the most fiendish of ways to waste my own time until somebody invites me to a pub where I can pretend that I’ve been at it hammer and tongs all day over a pint of the good stuff.

Momentum is everything.

If you set yourself a simple to-do list, it becomes very easy to switch off after you’ve completed a task. How often have you found yourself scratching your head at 5pm having spent the morning whacking off and telling yourself that it’s all okay because you don’t have plans tonight and those tasks will get done eventually?

I’ve started breaking down my tasks in to three different categories:

6 x 10 minute tasks
6 x 20 minute tasks
6 x 30 minute tasks

The idea is that you set a recurring timer to run through the time allocations with no gap in between. For example, the first hour of my morning may look like this:

10 minutes – Reply to emails from night before.
10 minutes – Analyze stats for yesterday’s campaigns.
10 minutes – Update PPC ad groups with new A-B split test.
10 minutes – Update Facebook campaigns with fresh images.
10 minutes – Add another 100 test URLs for PPV campaign.
10 minutes – Set and forget my automated scripts for the day.

These are all tasks that I could quite easily stretch to take an hour out of my day each if I was working from a simple to-do list with no time constraint. By setting the recurring ten minute alarm, you’re concentrating on one task for a very short window. It encourages you to keep moving, quit Twittering and start building the all important momentum that gets shit done.

After all my ten minute chores are done, I go straight in to the next set of activities. It might read like this:

20 minutes – Research demographics for Offer X. Decide on test groups.
20 minutes – Find and buy suitable imagery for the landing page.
20 minutes – Plan out important points to be conveyed in landing page copy.
20 minutes – Set up hosting, tracking & domain.
20 minutes – Sort out laundry, put on some clothes and apologize to the neighbours.
20 minutes – Carry out keyword research and assess prices across different platforms.

Why would I distract myself with laundry when I’m in the middle of setting up a campaign? It may sound like a really bad idea, but as long as you stick religiously to the timings, you begin to develop the momentum where it doesn’t matter what you need to do – you just do it. And that is the ultimate mindset you’re looking to achieve. To be able to get the ugly crap done.

I leave myself an hour at the end of the day to deal with the inevitable bullshit that arises while I work. Dropped offers, phone calls, email correspondence…the necessities of running a business that can be ballbreakingly annoying if you allow them to dictate your working day.

Everybody has their own way of staying productive. Some people are just natural troopers who’ll rip up the earth to get their latest project online. If that’s you, congratulations, come back when I have something worth reading.

An excellent tool I was pointed towards not too long ago is Leechblock. This is a Firefox Extension that you can set and forget in your browser. It will display an ugly red “THIS SITE IS BLOCKED” message when you try to access your usual time wasting sites. Twitter, Facebook, Statcounter…whatever you find yourself clicking back to, get it blocked and get on with your work.

Staying productive is one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced since becoming a full-time affiliate. Dragging myself out of bed when the body says no, fighting the urge to slack off over a bacon sarnie when I’ve drunk too much the night before. It’s not easy and it requires self-discipline. I can’t remember who I’m stealing this from but it’s the gospel truth: Procrastination is masturbation…you’re only ever fucking yourself.

It doesn’t really matter if there’s a method to your madness. Being static as an affiliate is the ultimate recipe for disaster. Do what you have to do and then reward yourself when it’s done. Even if the reward lasts 3418 minutes.

EDIT: Most people who’ve added me on AIM are pretty much aware that I don’t actually use AIM unless it’s a full moon or something. I’ve created a Formspring account for people to ask their questions somewhere I can answer them in my own time. And of course, for the odd smart arse to post something witty. You can post questions here: http://www.formspring.me/FinchSells. If it’s a question that you don’t want other people reading, forward it to my email and I will reply on a rainy day.

About the author

Finch
Finch

A 29 year old high school dropout (slash academic failure) who sold his soul to make money from the Internet. This blog follows the successes, fuck-ups and ball gags of my career in affiliate marketing.

13 Comments

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  • I also started breaking up my tasks and assigning them time limits a few months ago, and the impact it had on my focus and productivity was ridiculous. That is by far the #1 thing I would recommend everyone do if they are looking to get more stuff done throughout the day.

    I also agree about setting a timer, as sometimes I will get too caught up in a task and the next thing I know I spent 30 minutes doing something that I only wanted to spend 10 minutes on.

  • …Or just stop being clustered to in-house entertainment? The UK has great outdoors activities. There’s aggressive bike trails in the North, there’s lots of hunting-related events just about everywhere, loads of Paragliders spending weekends at the hills near the Eurotunnel.

    These are all things that can be planned around certain days. Outside of those days you just work! Don’t look, read or listen to *anything* that will not net you revenue within 10 minutes. It’s that simple. Just opened a new URL? Will that URL make $20 appear in your bank account within TEN minutes flat? No? — CLOSE IT, IT’S WORTHLESS!

    Just opened a media file [mp3|avi|mkv|whatever] ? Will this file make $20 appear in your bank account within 10 minutes? CLOSE+DELETE — NO VALUE!

    Seriously. Stop all forms of in-house interaction. Office/home office = strict professional. Entertainment and relaxation = 100 miles outside of town. Much easier that way πŸ™‚

  • Finch, firstly…Happy St. Pat’s Day.

    Thank’s for the read, as I know I spend way too long on certain tasks everyday, thus preventing me from hammering out everything on my lists. I will see about incorporating this timing thing you have mentioned and will let you know how it goes. =)

    Thanks again.

  • I sorted my google reader by Starred items and like 5 of your posts came up in a row. Another excellent post bro.

  • Awesome post finchy! I need to make my day to day list timed liked that.. I especially need to make a lunch break so i can stop eating lunch at 6pm

  • Good tips on breaking up your tasks into bite sized pieces. Spending 30 minutes at the end of each day to plan the next is critical to keeping the process going as well.

    Check out EPIM Professional as a great productivity management tool. I love it. But then again your method has a simplicity about it that I like.

  • Blocking addons are ok for the top-ten time wasting sites but researching is mandatory. Which leads to surfing…

    Links4later.com is free, barebones and a nice way to interrupt wayward paths. Then open the list on Saturday morning with coffee. It’s surprising how many articles seemed “must read” when you saw them, then turn out to be “ok read”. Run by the Sneakemail guy which is a great service btw.

    Now remind me why I just finished reading your whole article (and typing this comment) instead of saving it?

  • Oh, this is good stuff. I’ve always been a great believer in forward momentum, but I’ve never seen a method like this, where you kind of “accelerate” through your tasks, beginning with very short ones.

    Thanks for this post, I’ll try this method out immediately.

    Actually, I think I’ll watch some Prison Break first. And then tweet about it. But after that, I’ll try this method. πŸ˜›

  • Haha great post Finch, I’m actually surprised at how good motivational speakers are at getting you pumped up to be productive and efficient… but hate all you want πŸ˜‰

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