Trying to start your own online career can be a difficult task, especially if you’re still working full time or have a rug rat or two causing chaos in the house.
However, it doesn’t mean it’s impossible; you just need to be smart about how you use your time.
Here are some tips for making the most of your available time in order to get things done.
#1 Plan your day
While it’s impossible to account for everything, knowing what you are going to do and when during the day can help you focus on those tasks and get them done.
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You can set aside 30 minutes in the morning to organize your day, or better yet, do it before heading to bed, that way you have your action list ready and waiting for you.
#2 Take a notebook everywhere
Do you commute to work? Take the bus shopping? Do you have to wait endlessly for things to happen?
If you do, having a notebook handy can help make the most of this “dead” time. Writing out ideas, plans and even full blown articles can be done while waiting.
If you can avoid shiny things (see below) then you can do this on your phone or tablet instead.
If you’re actually doing some work like writing while waiting, it might become a time sink to then have to type everything up. Instead look to outsource that to a typist on places like Fiverr.com (so long as you write fairly neatly!).
#3 Tackle priority work first
Knowing what tasks are important is key to getting the most out of your time. Rather than wasting time doing the less important though perhaps more enjoyable tasks get the important and painful tasks done first.
Not only will this help propel your business forward, but will give you a much needed sense of accomplishment.
#4 Ignore your email (for now)
Email is a time sink. That one reply you make can spiral into a full blown conversation spanning the whole day. As well as that email rarely stops coming in.
Instead of handling first thing like a lot of people tend to do, ignore it until later in the day.
Not only that but you should set a time limit of 30 to 60 minutes only to work on email. This time limit will help shape your responses efficiently so you become more direct and to the point, getting emails done faster.
#5 Say no more
I’m terrible at this, but saying no can help free up time that can be used to further your online business.
Saying yes to everything simply adds more to your plate, reducing the amount of time that you can work on the important aspects of your business.
Obviously saying no to everything can be detrimental, but take the time to weigh up the request, and if it doesn’t help further your own aims, be strong and say no.
#6 Wake up early
If you’re a night owl like me, this time management tactic is going to be harder than your first interview!
However, getting up early in the morning allows you to access some time which is generally quiet. This allows you to really focus on getting work done.
If your brain won’t function before 8am, then still wake up early but instead of work take some “me” time and go to the gym or focus on a hobby during that time.
It’s a rare day that problems occur at 6am, but at the end of the day there’s bound to be some issue, whether it’s work or family related. Doing things early in the day reduces the chance that your best laid plans are ruined or pushed back by unexpected issues.
#7 Make time for breaks
Making the most of your time is not about working solidly all day every day. Instead it’s about working smart and using your time effectively.
Making sure that you have some breathing space where you can grab a bite to eat and go and stretch your legs is just as important as doing work, more so in fact.
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Taking a break allows you to refuel your body and refresh your mind, meaning you will come back raring to go rather than struggling through the next 4-10 hours.
#8 Avoid multitasking
Being able to multitask is a myth; human beings of both sexes simply suck at multitasking.
Instead, focus on one thing at a time and get that thing done. This will help you get things done quicker, with less errors and do-overs caused by being distracted by another issue.
#9 Get some sleep
As with breaks, getting a decent night’s sleep can do wonders for productivity. Therefore chopping your sleep time up and using part of it for work is a big no-no.
You can only make the most of your time if you are awake and alert when using the time. Yawning, and peering bleary eyed at a task will just slow down your productivity and drag things out.
Listen to your elders: go to bed early and get up early!
#10 Avoid the shiny
Shiny things distract us, and shiny things are everywhere. They will differ from person to person, but generally they can be things like: the latest TV show, an awesome new book, a mobile game, Facebook, the news, that latest webinar on using widgets, and the list goes on.
Shiny things should be broken up into 2 separate groups: useful and useless.
Useful things like reading competitor’s blogs and learning the latest thing in your niche should be planned for and done at a set time.
Useless things like browsing Facebook and looking at cat videos should be cut out completely if possible, or bundled up into your “me” time.
#11 Clean up
I don’t get how some people love to clean, I can’t stand it! Still, living in a pig sty is detrimental to both your health and mental well-being.
Rather than spending an entire day cleaning, spend 30 – 60 minutes each night tidying up or doing the laundry.
This can be done lieu of watching the latest reality program (or at the same time if you’re just folding clothes!).
You don’t need to do everything yourself, and to be frank you simply can’t do everything yourself. That’s why companies employ people!
Do you really need to tidy your kids bedroom or can they do it? Is there any point hunting for backlinks sources or can you hire someone on Odesk to do it? Instead of spending weeks building a website, get someone else to make you a starter site.
Outsourcing costs money (for the most part), but can free up your time to work on the more fun and interesting things.
The Bottom Line
You only have 24 hours every day, so you need to make sure that you’re using each one effectively. Remove or reduce any dead time like watching TV, and optimize your task list to clear out or outsource things.
Just remember that you are a fragile organism, so make sure sleeping and breaks are part of your routine!