From A Laptop In Thailand…
Mastering The Art Of Getting Shit Done

From A Laptop In Thailand…

Many Internet Marketers dream of leaving the concrete jungle to go about their work with laptops on sandy beaches. It’s the stuff those work from home jpegs are made of, right? Having stomached the first half of a bitter London winter, I would be lying if I said I haven’t been itching at the balls to fly out here to Thailand and kickstart my new life of luxury.

Even though I’ve only been in Bangkok for a week, it’s already clear to me that the quality of life is worlds apart from what I’ve known in the past. The people are friendly. They call Thailand the Land of Smiles, while my old neighbourhood was more like the Ensemble of Chavs. The food gets better seemingly every day, and my taste buds are on fire. Literally. Somebody should have warned me how the Thais love to douse meals in chilies. Of course, the weather here is bliss too.

I’ve waited a long time to live like a nomad. The biggest challenge now is to remain focused on my work while the sun is beating through my window. And if the last six days have been anything to go by, that’s something easier said than done.

I’ve always believed that your environment plays a big hand in your ability to achieve your targets. If you can’t turn your head away from the television, you’re going to miss tomorrow’s moneymaking niche. If your wife is trampling around your office telling you to do the dishes, you probably don’t want to be scouring through female dating pics.

To put it simply, your working environment dictates what you’re able to accomplish. Nothing affects an attention span quite as harmfully as a poor working environment.

I consider myself lucky to have found initial success as a young guy in my 20s, without any kids, without any mortgage and with relatively few responsibilities. It gave me the freedom of locking myself away in my bedroom and sitting at a desk throwing shit at the wall until some of it stuck. Many of you do not have that luxury.

Whether you’re working in Thailand or England, in a home office or at the kitchen table – you need to be able to cancel out the distractions of everyday life fucking with you. I’ve only just noticed since flying out to Asia how badly television can affect my productivity. How eating out can zap monumental hours out of my day. I’m still searching for a balance between work and play. And no, the equation doesn’t involve ladyboys.

Once you find a situation that allows you to focus properly, it’s easy to find a rhythm where to-do lists become yesterday’s waste in the litter basket. It’s what we call the grind. But it’s damn near impossible to slip in to that grind at the snap of your fingertips. We can become ruled all too easily by the environment around us.

So much of the success we enjoy as marketers is carved through momentum. I believe in the theory of 5% inspiration and 95% perspiration being the blueprint to success. Momentum is everything. If you don’t have an online/offline switch helping you to gravitate between work times and social times, it’s your work that will suffer the most. And probably your friends too when you explode with anger through the stress of knowing you’re not working efficiently and haven’t earnt your ticket out of the office.

There’s nothing I find more frustrating than being frustrated with myself.

I’ve become so tuned in to my former working environment that it’s truly a bitch to get my head down and work in a different climate. When I looked out of my window in London, I would see a stretch of grassy nowhereland and maybe – on a busy day – some dude being dragged along by his dog. When I look out of my apartment in Bangkok, I see a city waiting to be explored. The low hanging fruits of my work over the last few years, ready to be plucked and enjoyed.

How do you stay motivated when everything you’ve worked for is sitting on your doorstep?

I’m treating this first week as a holiday that I’ve earnt. Nobody can travel halfway round the world and expect to snap in to a working routine. So much of my success as an affiliate marketer has come from an almost robotic tendency to stay rooted to one spot and churn out profitable campaigns. It was the by-product of a mundane working environment, but a very effective one.

To get the best out of myself, I need to be in an situation where I have complete focus and concentration. As much as I enjoy working on laptops in the sun, a quiet office where I can shut myself away from the world is just the tonic I need to get by. Maybe it’s the snobbery of a guy who swears by his dual screen, but I’m finding it pretty difficult to function without seventeen windows at my disposal.

Laptops are suitable, I guess, if your entire job involves sending emails. Anything more and I need my Mac. Unfortunately it’s still in transit and my productivity has gone down the shitter ever since. I don’t like having to use my finger as a mouse and I’m acting quite grouchy at the idea of having to work out of my established comfort zone. It all comes down to that environment.

If you’re working from home, you need to become a master of your own work space. Maybe the ultimate goal is to one day pack up your bags and migrate to warmer shores. But even when you’re there, there’s no such thing as retirement for an entrepreneur. Understanding how to get the most out of your working day, and how to control your environment effectively, is a prerequisite to success.

So while I’m sitting here pissing around with a shoddy baby laptop and a failing Internet connection, take a look around the room and see how you can channel some extra focus towards your work. Maybe it’s a television that needs to be switched off, or a little white noise to cancel out the cars from the street below. Maybe you should throw your kids over the balcony. Anything to focus your energies where they need to be. Actually please don’t throw your kids over the balcony. Or at least close this window before you act on impulse.

There’s always a way to control your environment. But you can be certain that most of your competition are chained to their own. Working harder and smarter than the rest, with more discipline and more drive, will nearly always get you results. The problem I’m finding, is how I can maintain that level of focus with the allure of Thailand shining through my window…

Recommended This Week:

  • If you haven’t read it from front to back already, snap up a copy of the brilliant 4-hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss. Inspiring stuff for any affiliate marketer.

  • If you’re looking to explore some very different but potentially very profitable micro-niches, take a look at ShareASale. It’s like a CJ that isn’t run by a bag of dicks.

  • Feel free to add Finch to your Facebook. Yes, this is the right link. My real name is not actually Finch. Also follow me on Twitter

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.

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