Time management is a skill that will serve anyone well, in any professional field. It can be as simple as planning out your day, month, or quarter with some targeted goals and plans. This can be particularly challenging though, for anyone involved in the world of ecommerce and internet marketing. This highly technical field is nearly 100% computer based, and doesn’t offer much physical or geographic differentiation to help you divide your day. With everything your PC offers you when you sit at your desk, it’s definitely worth your while to think about time management before you plug in.
Planning: daily, weekly, monthly
The first step to actually living a successfully optimized professional life is planning. Most of the time we waste in a given day or week is the result of lacked planning. When you sit at your computer and you finish a task, your mind may begin to wander. You may think for a moment “what am I supposed to be doing?” but that usually fades by the time you’re on your fifth IM, text, or facebook post. With distractions a mere click away, it’s more important than ever for Internet Marketers to avoid this vague period of time that leads instantly to distraction. The answer? Make a plan!
By planning out detailed recurring tasks for you day, week and month that lead directly to your desired goals – you can almost guarantee that you won’t face the time when you wonder what you’re supposed to be working on. You’re effectively not giving yourself the excuse to waste time on the internet. Even if you don’t finish every task on your daily list – you’re going to be working more of the time. Whenever you find yourself without a clear idea of what you’re doing, simply reference your task lists for the day and get back on the wagon.
Everyone knows the hurdles of the “dreaded tasks.” These are the mundane or painful jobs that you put off week after week, or ever month after month – but they need to get done. Maybe this is an overhaul of your Site Map, or a batch of similar outreach emails to bloggers that you really must send. Either way, the toughest part of these jobs is getting started. Once you’ve taken the first crack at the work, you can easily continue on a daily basis. So, these tasks are usually performed first in your day, or at least in the first half of the day. Start them in small chunks, even 10 minutes per day. This will allow you to make progress slowly at first that will get you moving in the long run.
Break up larger tasks
Even if they’re not your most dreaded tasks, large projects are easy to put on the back burner. The wrong approach here would be to try and take on the whole project over a 2 – 3 span. Perhaps this would be composing an entire bank of landing pages for your new expanded product, or topic. Working only on this project for 3 days is going to make you completely sick of it, lowering its ultimate quality – while also preventing you form making progress on any of your other goals. It’s essential to break large projects like this up into smaller chunks and complete them over the course of a week or two. This will make your end result higher quality, while allowing you to also complete other smaller projects.
Take time for quality
Equally as important as it is to break up large tasks, and not get bogged down – it’s also important to make sure you aren’t rushing your work. Trying to move to quickly through projects will also make your work suffer. If you’re identifying keywords to target for example, make sure you check all of your SEO tools, your competitors, etc. Don’t try to bang out your entire next month’s keyword strategy based on 30 minutes of research alone. Sometimes, it’s best to take the time to do work truly well – even if it comes at the cost of missing a couple other daily tasks that are much less important.
Dealing with Distraction
Okay people – we’re internet marketers. Our full time jobs are literally to be on the internet all day. It’s nearly impossible not to get bombarded with distractions! You don’t have to have someone tap you on the shoulder, or even make a sound to get distracted from your work – everything is only a click away. It is a true act of will power to accept that you will simply have to ignore many things you’d like to click on as you perform your legitimate work and research on the internet throughout the day. Don’t worry, there are a couple good ways to cope with the procrastination withdrawal.
1) Stages: like removing yourself from any strong addiction such as junk food or smoking, you can’t go cold turkey. It’s going to be extremely difficult to sit at your desk and simply not click on any distracting links or pages. You might make it for the first couple hours, but then you’ll likely break and fall off the wagon. Give yourself a withdrawal budget of 1 click per hour, five minutes of “online break time.” This will feel a lot more like the good old days of constant clicking, while scaling back the wasted time. Before you know it, you’ll be down to a few clicks a day.
2) Saving: another great method to not feel anxious about missing out on all that great content you see as you perform your work on a daily basis, is simply to copy and save links, URLs, and websites you’d like to visit – and go back to them later after work. You can keep an open email window, or word doc and past URLs in there as you go throughout the day. You’ll probably find that after some consideration, when you’re at home later, many don’t even seem worthy of your time and attention.
Prioritizing like a pro
By far the most important thing you can do for time management is to prioritize your day. You need to know what has the most important impact on your overall success that you can work on right now. To answer that question, look at you yearly, quarterly, monthly and daily goals. Then list out specific tasks, that if completed, will get you to that end result. When you have a daily list of tasks created waiting for you in the morning – take a look, and see what you “top priority” for the day is. Start there, and move on accordingly. For example, if you have an quarterly goal of moving your Digital Printing page up three spots in natural search, there are going to be several steps you need to do to get there. Link building, onsite optimization, and site architecture. If you were to prioritize what you can do to move you closer to that goal this hour, and this day – answer that question before thinking about the week or month.
Though it may be hard at first, try some real changes in the way you prioritize your time as an internet marketer. You’ll see results the very same day – and will definitely see long term results the longer you keep at your time management commitment.
Author : Tyler Watkins is a Marketing Manager at PrintingForLess.com. He enjoys learning and sharing knowledge about online marketing.