One of the great things about blogging, or communicating with people online in any form really, is the fact that you can advise people on what to do, even if you know in your heart that sometimes you ought to be better at taking your own advice!
This blog post is a great example of this for me personally, as what I am about to tell you is not only great advice, but also something that I simply must get better at doing myself.
Let's consider this a lesson and a bit of therapy for me all at the same time!
It may sound obvious, but seeing things through to completion is the only way that you are ever going to make a bean online, regardless of your niche or the kind of work that you get involved in. Yet many people, myself often included, are guilty of wasting precious time by starting something, getting a long way into it, then leaving it to gather digital dust on their hard drive.
So why do we do it, and what can we do to ensure that we don't do it again? Hopefully this short blog post (and possibly future ones depending on how much I can find out about the subject) will go some way to answering the question.
The subject of why we fail to finish things is a tricky one, and without speaking to hundreds of people I'm more inclined to look at my own situation and question why I fail to get things done. In order to do this, let's start by looking at the normal lifecycle of an idea and how that manifests itself into a tangible product.
You normally start with a moment of inspiration. This could be anything; an idea for a blog post, a thought about a product you could create or an idea for how to market something. Whatever it is, it always starts with an idea, and that idea then needs a bit of 'fleshing out'.
Many ideas will (probably quite rightfully) fizzle out at this point. Imagine if every business idea you had instantly became a reality - Whilst your productivity would be through the roof, the amount of tat that would have your name on it would, for most people, also be through the roof. You need an element of quality control, and that's what usually happens at this stage.
It's once you've cleared this stage that problems usually start. In theory, if an idea makes it beyond the 'Quality Control' stage, then it should be deemed good enough for you to want to see it through to completion. But as we know that things often don't make it much further than this stage, it's important to work out where the problems begin.
Over the course of the next few blog posts I'm going to offer up my suggestions on why people fail to complete things, and suggest some ideas to ensure that it doesn't become a problem.
The planning stage is crucial in any project, but it often gets actioned really badly or worse still, ignored altogether. In the same way that a house builder wouldn't move a brick without knowing where it was going to go and when, any project you work on should go through a decent planning stage. It doesn't have to take forever, but having a full understanding of what you need to achieve BEFORE you try to achieve it will usually pay off.
Let's think of an example. If I was going to create a membership site in the weight loss niche, I would want to plan the whole thing out. I would start by drawing up a rough idea of a contents list, and would do this by researching the niche using various methods. This wouldn't necessarily be the be-all and end-all as I could change the contents later if I wanted to, but it would be a good starting point. Pretty soon I would know what chapters I would have to write up. I would then work out what would be written content and what would be video content (or any other kind of content for that matter). This way I know I'm covering all the subjects I need to, and will have an idea of the scale of the project early on.
I will at this stage also do a bit of an inventory check. Is there any reason that I will be unable to complete the project? Do I need any specific kind of software? Will I be able to record the videos? Will I need to buy or borrow anything? Learning this at this stage will help ensure that I don't get stuck halfway through, as there will (in theory) not be any surprises.
Finally, for the planning stage at least, I will decide if I want to outsource anything, and get the work out to the people who need to start work on it. I want to do this as early in the process as possible so that I'm not being held up by people later on. Ideally, in the closing days of the project, I want to have all the work in and for it to be up to me to get everything finished.
Planning is vital, and good planning can be the difference between a successful project and a total flop. Check back soon for some more tips.
In previous posts I've talked about the importance of learning how to correctly value your time, and we looked at the idea that once you know how to value your time you can start to assign time correctly. With that understood, the next step is to ensure that we maximise the time we allocate to our business. If we allow ourselves 3 hours in a day to work on our business, we need to know that the 3 hours is being used effectively.
There's a couple of methods that we can use to help maximise our use time. The first is to only do the stuff that makes the best use of you and your skills. Yes there are always going to be occasions where you have to do things that aren't particular interesting or inspiring, but you should always try to avoid spending large amounts of your time doing things that you could get someone else to do for a bit of money.
If you're in the offline SEO consulting business for example, would your time be better spent dealing with your clients and planning a new marketing campaign to bring in more business, or would it be best spent building backlinks to a client's site? Now you may actually think it's the latter, but that all depends on your skillset. Personally, I get people to make backlinks for me, because they're time consuming, and I think there's more value to my business when I spend the time organising business development.
But that's just me.
If you're an affiliate marketer, is your time better spent writing up boring content to go on a small niche auto-blog website, or is it better spent creating exciting and inspiring content you can offer to your list, building your relationship with them in the process?
Again, I know which I would go with, but you get the point.
Outsource wherever and whenever possible, unless it's something that you and only you can add value to.
The second method is to work off of lists. I love lists because of their simplicity; You prioritise your workload, establish what needs doing and in what order, and mark stuff off as you go along.
That's it - There's no hidden science behind creating to-do lists, it's as simple as that. But they work, and they also work alongside a wonderful time management technique known as the Pomodoro technique.
I'm not going to waste your time trying to summarise this technique here, instead I'm going to suggest you go and read up on it yourself. It's available as a free PDF from it's own website.
That's it for my time management ideas for now - More to come in the future