If a business is centered around your individual talents, the need for good time management should be as obvious as a slap in the face. Running a business as the solo brains can be a grueling ordeal at the best of times. It becomes a nightmare if you are guilty of mismanaging time.
How often do you use time as an excuse for failing to meet the targets you set for yourself? Anybody who uses the phrase “there simply aren’t enough hours in the day” needs to realise that time is always at their disposal, and the only thing lacking is personal drive. Yes, even for those with four kids, demanding wives and multiple jobs. Good time management backed by decisive action is an unstoppable recipe for success.
I have dozens of websites in my portfolio. Some are fully realised and highly successful, others are half baked, while the rest resemble hilariously ill-conceived brainfarts that never should have seen the light of a GoDaddy domain checkout cart.
Finding time for so many projects can be an enormous headache, particularly when your attention is divided even further by a hyperactive affiliate marketing career.
It’s very easy to label the successful projects as the best ideas, but in the purest sense, they’re simply the areas you chose to spend your most valuable time. If you’re spending all your time on websites that have reached their peak and still don’t provide the monetary return you need to run a successful business, you’re stumping your own growth.
I only started making money online when I established that the correlation between websites I enjoyed building, and websites I made money from, wasn’t as strong as I first imagined. While you should always pursue your passions and aim for something genuine (it gives you a competitive advantage over the majority of Internet Marketers), you have to balance your time accordingly and work where the money is.
The biggest time management mistake, in my opinion, is the tendency to overestimate how long a task will require through to completion.
Before I grasped the error of my ways, I would assign myself task lists that looked like this:
1 hour: Write a new blog post on…
30 mins: Bookmark, update on Twitter, post on Facebook etc…
Now, what is wrong with that schedule? It’s always so tempting to divide our goals in to neat hourly chunks, but it would be foolish to do so. I would typically spend longer than an hour writing the blog post. But my “social bookmarking” spree would spiral in to 25 minutes of bitching on Twitter over nothing in particular. My schedule suggested that 30 minutes was necessary, and my attitude made it so.
You will naturally increase how long each task takes if you assign a longer time frame than is necessary. Doing so invites the draining twin sisters of procrastination and indecision in to your day. Work to a tighter deadline and you will often get a job done to the same quality in shorter time.
Deadlines are often seen in a negative light. They loom on the horizon as threatening confirmations of failure. But enormous power goes to the entrepreneur who can use the power of deadlines to control all he needs to be. I believe deadlines should be worshipped as the necessary milestones for turning our best kept ideas in to something physical.
In those calm moments where we sit down and sketch the steps required to reach our goals, we are using perfect logic. You can often find a great sense of clarity and expectation by scribbling what it is that you have to do. Your brain never betrays you. The steps you write are typically accurate blueprint plans for creating the success you desire. It’s the refusal to set a deadline that stops the plan from coming to fruition.
If your office storage is anything like mine, you already have a notepad tucked away somewhere with a foolproof idea worth millions of dollars. The moment you confined it to the back of your memory by refusing to set a deadline, you said goodbye to those riches. For your best planned ideas to be worth more than the paper they’re written on, they need to be set in to action with a definitive deadline.
Surely deep down, you understand that great achievers are never found guilty of underestimating what they can achieve in an hour’s work. If you spend day after day sending your brain in to a stupor while setting time aside for chores like linkbuilding and commenting on articles, how do you expect it to develop a winning mentality that aspires to be more than just a slave labourer?
But, I hear you say, those small stupor-inducing tasks add up. We need to build backlinks for our websites, and we need to share updates over Twitter. And I can’t deny that it’s often necessary, but it should never be the backbone of your working day. Making it so is time management gone severely wrong.
People forget how the skill of managing time encompasses more than simply assigning scheduling tasks. It also means delegating or outsourcing the simple work. Anything that distracts you from being the creative and innovative brains at the helm of your business is a burden you should do without.
Likewise, cluttered to-do lists are a sign of poorly planned scheduling and short term thinking. A stressed looking businessman with seventeen items on his to-do list usually only has himself to blame. Half of those items should have been done yesterday, and the other half could be done tomorrow. Assigning too many meaningless tasks is the best way to ensure you’re left feeling unsatisfied at the end of the day, and unmotivated throughout it.
When allowed to degenerate, poor time management becomes a vicious cycle. We create new problems and then burden ourselves with enormous stress by losing the clarity of our original plans.
Many entrepreneurs persistently undervalue their time and by doing so, fail to realise the true potential of their businesses. It may start with a notepad scribble, but all achievement has to be nursed through deadlines and bouts of self-discipline.
Being too busy for a moment of inspiration could turn in to your million dollar mistake.
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