You know what’s one of the two best things about making money online? It’s that you can work whenever you want. If you’re a morning person, you can get up at the crack of dawn and start checking your affiliate sales. If you’re a night owl, you can burn the midnight oil and crank out those epic blog posts. If you want to take a three-hour lunch break with your best buddy, by golly, you can go ahead and do that. (For the record, the other best thing about making money online is the location freedom. Earn your living from the beaches of Maui or your hotel room in Vegas.)
But this ends up being a double-edged sword, largely because there is no one to hold you accountable but yourself. On one end of the spectrum, you could feel compelled to work all the time. There is always the opportunity to make more money and there is always something you can do. On the other end of the spectrum, you could get lazy and slack off, allowing yourself to get distracted far too easily.
Some time back, I shared some tips for more focused work sessions. Today, we expand on that list with a few strategies to help you avoid wasting your time online so you can be more effective at growing your business.
1. Schedule Your Email Time
If you are anything like me, then you might always have a browser tab open to Gmail (or whatever other email service or program you like to use). As a result, you might also get easily distracted when you notice that you have an unread message. This can pull your attention away from whatever it is that you’re working on, even if you don’t actually click over to your Gmail tab at all. You’re distracted.
Believe me, I get as frustrated as anyone when people take forever to respond to their emails, but I think a 24 hour window is more than reasonable. Other people can’t really expect you to reply instantly all the time, so why tempt yourself with that distraction?
A great strategy to avoid this potential problem is to schedule the time in each day that you’re going to dedicate to your email. It doesn’t even need to be hard appointment. Just tell yourself that you’re only going to check your email once in the morning, once after lunch, and one more time before you call it quits for the day. And simply don’t allow yourself to check your email outside of these sessions. That way you can stay focused on your work while you’re working.
2. Block Time-Wasting Websites
All of us know that there are several websites that turn into bottomless pits, pulling us further and further down the rabbit hole with algorithm-powered suggestions, wasting more and more of your time until suddenly it’s dawn again and you’ve got absolutely nothing done. Facebook, Reddit, YouTube, Buzzfeed… these sites all serve their purposes, but they can also pull you away from being productive.
So, just don’t visit them while you’re supposed to be powering through that new ebook you’re writing, right? If only it were that simple. Self-control and self-discipline can be challenging at the best of times and lack thereof can be positively crippling at the worst of times. You can’t rely on yourself. Let technology help.
There are a number of browser extensions and other programs that can block websites for you. The aptly named Block Site from Google Chrome is one example. When it’s outside of “work hours,” you can remove those restrictions and get lost in subreddits to your heart’s content.
3. Set a Specific End Time
Something that I’ve said before on my own blog is that there is nothing more inspiring than an imminent deadline. When you absolutely have to get something done by a certain time, you’ll figure out a way to get it done. When your timing is more lax, you’ll procrastinate and let things slide. And then work can creep in your family time and well past your bedtime, because you’ve spent the whole day on Facebook and Instagram.
Instead, consider setting a specific end time to your day. This is largely arbitrary, of course, but it could be saying that you’ll have dinner with your family at 6 pm, so you have to be finish XYZ task by that time. It could be that you’re going to catch a movie with your wife, so you need to be done by then. The actual circumstances don’t matter as much as setting a hard end of the day for yourself. This forces you to be more productive while you are actually working.
Do you have any tips to stop wasting your time online? Share them in the comments below.