How to Increase your online productivity

Niche site marketing blog

Alex Whalley

Effective time management is probably the biggest killer of progress, and all the motivational tapes* and SMART goals in the world will only get you so far when you take 45 minutes to figure out which is your left and right sock (*if you don’t know what a tape is – ask Mum and Dad)

Managing your time is something that is easily overlooked in the online world, because there is no set shift allocated to the time you are putting in, and more often than not there is no Sun in the sky to act as a reference either! The Bricks and Mortar world includes a 9 to 5, and part of this 8 hour ritual is a process of working, breaking, working, lunching, looking busy, snack time, watching the clock, going home. That’s how I remember it anyway. This process demands time management, and whether or not it is effective is irrelevant because you are bound by those hours, but when you are building a business online this process disappears, and what you are left with is a gaping hole called time.

Working out how best to fill that time is the easy part, it’s working out how YOU work and then actually being honest with yourself about it that’s the tricky bit.  So today I wanted to talk about effective ways to manage your time and how best to overcome distractions when you are working, because until you can learn to focus on the task at hand AND be honest with how long it will actually take you to complete it then you’re really setting yourself up for failure from the get go.

When I am working I am all over the place, and even though I try to implement the strategies I will be talking about here I still find times when I am not where I am supposed to be, so believe me – it’s an ongoing battle, with yourself mainly.

5 killer methods to help you manage your time effectively

  • Set a timer.
    This seems like a no brainer in relation to time management, but it’s not just about keeping to the clock. If you have given yourself 4 hours to blog, then break this up into 30 minute sections so that the timer alerts you. Trust me, when you are in the moment time can fly by, so having that timer there is a great way to remind yourself exactly how long you have spent on any given task, whilst also making sure you work efficiently in the time you have got. Trust me, when you know that timer is going off soon, you start working a LOT more efficiently.
  • Only open one window
    And tabs don’t count! I like a good analogy and this is mine. The internet is a chaotic and windy place, with information and what not flying everywhere, and you’re at your desk which is calm and organised. If you open one window, then that’s fine, you get a nice breeze, and whatever comes in is not too overwhelming. But what happens when you open another window? All of a sudden you get a cross breeze and stuff starts flying everywhere. Your wonderfully organised study is now in shambles. Ok so that was not the best analogy but it works! Open too many browser windows and you are going to lose focus on the task at hand – clear and simple.
  • Disconnect completely
    Sometimes you don’t even need the internet to do your work. Writing articles for instance rarely requires the need to go online, so why be connected at all. I know that in the modern age we are all connected by default, but it’s not that hard to disable your web connection momentarily. I personally do this because too often I found myself writing a post, going to a site to reference a link or an article and then getting carried away with something that caught my eye.
  • Give yourself a break
    This hardly seems like the best thing to do considering the purpose of managing our time effectively is to ‘get shit done’ but giving yourself a rest does more for your overall effectiveness than you would think. But don’t feel guilty about it! I still give myself breaks, sometimes I will take a whole night off because the kids are particularly bad and I am tired or something, but then I will feel guilty for it, thus defeating any good the rest could have done. Don’t do this!  Alternatively, if you have been working for an hour and tracking well then tell yourself that you can have a coffee and a walk around after 30 more minutes. Somehow this increases efficiency? Don’t ask me why though, I’m not Dr. Phil.
  • Be Honest with yourself!
    This is the one that will kill you if you get it wrong. Here’s some personal examples.
    I am still learning to accept that it does indeed take me well over 30 minutes to actually create an entire blog post in wordpress, images and all. (I Know this is because it SHOULD take me 10 minutes so therefore I tell myself it will)
    I am still ignoring the fact that I know my children wake up all through the evening, constantly interrupting my work time (yet I still set goals based on the optimistic hope that just this once they will both sleep through)
    I am still trying to do too much and add more things to that pile everyday even though I know I still need to master what I have already learnt if I really want to get anywhere.
    Until you can be honest with how you work, what makes you tick, and acknowledge the realistic nature of the environment you work in you are never going to be able to manage your time effectively or work efficiently for that matter.

Alex Whalley, also known as The Keyword Research Blogger is the author and founder of The Keyword Research and Niche site marketing blog.  Alex recently quit his fulltime job to concentrate on niche site and search engine marketing. Subscribe to his Keyword Newsletter to get the Ultimate Keyword Research Resource and learn how to generate waves of organic traffic to your blog today. You can also Follow him on Twitter or subscribe to his Blogs RSS Feed.

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  1. A couple more ideas on things that can help your time management:

    1. Watch out for the BS. TV /Video Games etc. They are a huge time sink. I sometimes like watching TV myself, but you need to keep it at a minimum to be productive

    2. It will not be good for “writing” but if you are commenting/doing other things you can multi-task. Listen to podcasts/audiobooks while doing other things
    Steve´s last blog post ..Constant Learning equals Constant Improvement

  2. Love it, set a timer… I should do that, most of the time I set my own time limit but don’t literally set a timer, I end up working more hours than planned. Next, be honest to myself ‘lol’, we all have to admit that once in a while we fool ourselves, the result, we don’t go as planned.

    Thanks for sharing a decent article.

    1. Teena,

      Thanks for such a refreshing comment! Good to know I am not the only one who lies to himself about how long things ACTUALLY take :)

      Thanks again for your ‘decent’ comment and kind words, glad you liked the post.

  3. Some good tips Alex. Like you, I find it difficult to work in segments, though when I do, I find I am much more productive. I find the best way to do this is to adopt most of your suggestions; close the door of the back room office, set an online timer, have minimal windows open and set about the task in hand.

    Turning off the phone and making sure the dog has had a walk also helps!
    Stephen @ The Blogging Academy´s last blog post ..Do you want to know what your blog looks like on an iPad

  4. I agree with William, gotta heed the advice. Great quick tips here, I like disconnecting to actually get something productful done in the realm of my own creating.

  5. I haven’t read much about the Pomodoro technique (timed action) but I think it definitely helps in the first item – “Set A Timer”. It takes a lot of more discipline if you’re working online than offline. It is also important to analyze your 80/20 (Pareto Principle/Rule) in order for you to understand “the way” you work. Sometimes, it is not just about time management.
    marlon @ productivity bits´s last blog post ..5 Things You Can Do During Office Downtime

  6. Those are all very great tips, Alex, but can’t say that most work for me.

    I write best when I’m in a sort of “moment” or “zone”, if you will, and I find that it works out best when I don’t restrict myself in any way and just let everything flow naturally. I usually work particularly fast in this state, but I still find that setting a timer would very much disrupt the creative process, so I don’t like doing it.

    I also don’t give myself breaks, lol. Like you mention in the article, time flies really fast when you’re working on your own time, so my break is actually my sleep, hehe. I literally like to work until I drop.

    I do very much agree with your last tip, though, in that we all have to be honest with ourselves. We should constantly remind ourselves when we are or are not reaching our goals, whether we’re doing something completely unproductive (as Steve mentioned as well, in his very thoughtful comment), and so on.
    Noel´s last blog post ..RUNNING BAREFOOT

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