As an entrepreneur, it’s far too easy to find yourself a bit disorganized and losing time throughout the day. As many people grow up and begin their work under the dynamic of a boss-employee relationship, it can be easy to have a bit of a crisis when first learning to self-manage. Unfortunately, that’s a mistake that’s not just left to the newbies.
While you may have avoided the disorganization and task jumping plague, here are just a few tips for making sure that your day goes to the most important tasks on your plate, and in the right proportion.
1. Don’t just make a to-do list, have time slots. For example, write out approximately how much time you think each task will take, and then assign it a time in your day. To-do lists have a weakness, and that’s their lack of boundaries. Too often, we can let tasks drag on and on because we just want to have them done and ‘check them off’. When each task has a specific time allotted, we tend to be pretty good at actually sticking to that allotment.
2. Check email at 2-3 specific times throughout the day. The nice thing about email is that it’s a form of communication that people don’t expect to be instant. Even as everyone has their phones on them all day and can check their emails constantly, most people still understand that email communication is asynchronous. Most professionals waste an ungodly amount of time in their inbox, and for entrepreneurs or those who are working in consulting (contacted by clients all day, etc.), email can turn into a huge time sink before you even realize it. Many productivity experts recommend making special times a couple times throughout the workday for non-emergency communications, and sticking to them. Turning off the alerts on your phone for new emails during this time can help you resist the temptation to read and reply to everything as it comes in.
3. Take a lot of breaks. In a net way, you want to be working extremely hard and putting in a lot of effort into your business to give it the best chance of supporting you. That said, many people don’t realize that the human brain can absolutely suffer from task burnout. If you can stomach the change, try a week of working for 20-30 minutes, then taking a 5-10 minute break. Do some pushups, play a game on your phone, write a song – anything to completely switch gears for a few minutes and come back at your tasks refreshed. Every person will respond slightly different to this type of schedule, so be willing to tweak it a bit and find out what exactly will work for you before knocking it completely!
Finally, consider taking your office outdoors for a day, or at least a few hours. Work in the office most days? Try the kitchen! Entrepreneurship, especially done from home, can be lonely and unstimulating despite its best parts. Changing scenery can be a great way to break things up!
So, right about now your newsfeed is probably littered with predictions for internet marketing in 2015, ringing in the New Year with “insider knowledge” in your pocket, blah, blah, baitclick. What a drastic change from each one of the past ten New Years blog trends, no? Do you want to know what is going to happen with internet marketing next year in no uncertain terms: the same thing that is happening right now.
The Most Exciting Prediction in the World
Here it is: trends are going to continue; they are not going to reverse. Things that are working right now are going to continue to work and slightly change as the weeks turn into months. Things that are not working any more will stop being used. If something new comes out that works, people will start to move towards that tool/technique.
Brilliant, no? Actually, what I’m really trying to get at here is that the current trends are only going to get more in-depth. And as for new trends, you’re going to have to keep your ear to the ground and your eyes to blogs to follow them. Don’t rely on a once a year prediction blog to set your internet marketing strategy for 2015, this is the age of real time pivoting and actionable metrics. If you aren’t plugged in 24/7, you’re run the risk of missing out on something big and falling behind.
But if you are really dying to know what I think about the marketing trends that will be the hottest in this upcoming year, I guess I can put in some picks for you, but as I said, your best gauge for next year’s success is your own intuition and your own research. After all, isn’t it your money and livelihood on the line?
– Mobile marketing will continue to be on the top of everyone’s “must” list but honestly, unless you’re running a huge website, I’m going to go ahead and tell the truth: every one has been predicting this trend for the past four or five years. When are we “there” and not “striving for there” already? If your site isn’t mobile-friendly by now, chances are you’re not in business.
– SEO will continue to be blurred along with content creation and social media. What we have now is a digital marketing operation that is focused on driving traffic and sales. Or conversions. Or whatever you want to call them. The point is, the once finely delineated departments of internet marketing are all lumped together. Watch for this mixed cauldron to continue to be stirred until unrecognizable as separate entities.
– Content will still be king. SEO will still be dead. Everybody will continue to say it and argue about it, but the fact remains that the more quality content you have that is written for your customers and not for search engines the better ranking and sales you will have.
– Metrics and analytics will continue to be super-important as well real-time pivoting, so if you aren’t paying attention to what customer behavior yet, your time is rapidly drawing near to being “too late.”
Now, before you say there was nothing of value there, remember what I said earlier. You are the only one who can bring value to your internet marketing and it’s not going to come from the predictions of a quick email on 2015 internet marketing trends. I don’t care who writes it, the fact of the matter is, you have to pay attention year round if you want to get to the heart of the matter.
Often, people begin their online marketing efforts as a part time gig, with the transition of moving as soon as possible to fulltime self-employment. Unfortunately, as time goes on, far too many people find themselves exactly where they started out: Coming home from a necessary day job they don’t particularly enjoy, and working on their online marketing for a few hours for a little “extra income.”
While this is a happy medium for some people, many others will become frustrated. Here are a few ways you can change your approach to your online marketing entrepreneurship efforts in order to finally make the transition into working for yourself full time.
1) ‘A few hours’ won’t cut it: Let’s face it, if you went to work for ‘a few hours’ each day, your boss would have a talk with you before long. Think of how long it would take for a business to reach profitability if every employee cut down their 8 or 9 hours to 2 or 3 each day. Somehow, people expect this approach to work in building their own businesses from home. At best, they underestimate the amount of time it will take to compound the effects of a few hours per day into a fulltime income. The people who will break away from this mode don’t shy away from the hustle, and know that they need to essentially be working fulltime hours on their marketing efforts to quickly get them to a livable scale.
2) Get serious about your customers. Many online marketers like to talk about their ‘clients’ or their ‘projects’ but remember that, at its core, the success of your business is a direct result of how well you interact with your customers. ‘The customer is always right’ should apply, because you’re a small business. People find it too easy to get caught up in ‘working for themselves’ and don’t take the time to be respectful and appreciative of everyone who is kind enough to hand them over money for a service or product. Stay humble, even when you’re kicking butt.
3) Get outside of the norm. In your communication channels, consider working on some new angles that are less crowded and also less expensive to engage with (if you go the route of paid advertising). For example, properly working your content into reddit or Stumbleupon can offer a massive return on your time if done correctly. While most marketers are chasing burnt out and overvalued approaches, you’ll be sitting on the secret sauce.
4) Finally, get disciplined. Have a routine for everything. If you’ve got just your evenings to grow a business with, you need to be efficient. This means making a schedule for your tasks and sticking to it. It means working to ensure that tasks don’t drag into others (checking and responding to emails is a big one!). And, above all else, it means testing and drilling down into the actions that are driving the most results, and focusing your time on those.
Remember, if you want to have a business, don’t work on a side project.