How to Manage Your Time and Get Productive Online: 5 Practical Tips


How could you say no to a distraction this adorable?

How could you say no to a distraction this adorable?

Lets face it… the internet can be a distracting place. One moment you’re working on a web page or reading a marketing blog and then all of a sudden out of nowhere it happens: you’re looking at pictures of cats doing hilarious things. Maybe you’re watching a YouTube video of cats doing hilarious things. Maybe you’re posting to Facebook to let your friends know about your day of consuming and hunting for the most hilarious of all cat media. I don’t know. What you do on the web is your business.

Wait… let me repeat that.

What you do on the web is your business.

Exactly! For many people (and I’m guessing you might be one of them), the internet is often a place of business: networking, learning, producing content, and maybe even a place where your actual business lives. Whatever the case may be, even the best of us can loose sight of goals and end up wasting a lot of time online. Here are some pointers on how to keep your focus.

1. Plan it out

Without a gameplan it’s easy to go astray. For some it might be writing out your online to do list on Google calendar. For others it might be as easy as typing it out on an excel spreadsheet. I like to use an old fashioned pen and small notebook. Whatever you plan for yourself, try to stick to it! It’s only human nature to get off task and procrastinate important matters with entertaining ones. Acknowledge your waste of time and then get back to the task at hand immediately.

2. Set time for breaks

If you plan your distractions and know when they are coming it could be a huge boost to your productivity. Spend a solid 45 minutes on one activity and then take a 15 minute break. When you work with blocks of time it’s easier to get more done and prevent burnout.

Need more help in this department? Try using an online timer

3. Stay away from mega huge distractions

When I’m working on a blog post I have to isolate myself from harmful time wasters. 30 minutes of scheduled writing time can easily turn into 3 hours without even a finished paragraph. Are any of these hurting you more then helping you?

Leaving the TV on
MSN, Yahoo, or AIM messenger
Working in a crowded or noisy space
Pandora or iTunes
Farmville (or anything resembling it)

4. Hold yourself accountable

Unless your wasting a significant amount of time at work and your boss is monitoring you heavily, odds are that nobody will stop you from wasting it. Mindtools.com is a great website for learning more about time management. One thing they recommend is to create an activity log and review it to find out where all the precious minutes of your day are going. They offer a free template to help you get started.

5. Finish!

What is one of the easiest ways to get stuff done?
Work until there is no more work.  Sit down and do what you need to do. Don’t tweet, don’t check your email, and just hammer it out. If you finish working on your Powerpoint presentation in one sitting then you no longer have to worry about it. It’s simple methodology, but it’s a  good technique that can easily be forgotten. Hard and focused work never goes out of style.

Need more?

Here are a couple of informative articles from some really smart people.
8 Simple Online Management Tools for Freelancers from Leo Babauta
6 Time Management Tips: Time Audits from Chris Brogan
Some Media Time Management: 9 Guiding Principles from Amber Naslund

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