One of the toughest things about being a gambling affiliate and working from home in general is the lifestyle. It’s so easy to get distracted, and with no boss to keep you in check, you can waste your whole day on forums, facebook, MSN etc., or getting too overwhelmed with work you don’t know where to start.
Let’s see what we can do about making you more productive.
This topic was recently brought up by JeremyM on Poker Affiliate Listings, in the thread Staying Focused All Day. It was also discussed on a few Poker Affiliate Blogs.
Also speaking of time management – be sure to book some time before reading this article, as it clocks in at about 2,000 words. 🙂
In this article, I hope to assist you in regard to time management, as well as organizing everything you do better, and overall making you a more productive affiliate. We’ll start this off with the obvious statement:
Everyone Is Different
What works for some people just won’t work for others. Some people find it better when they work a set amount of hours each day like a 9-5 job, others need the freedom to work when they want. Some of you love using your whiteboard, while others can’t stand it. Some of you can block out the likes of facebook and MSN by self-control, others need a program to do it.
Everyone is different.
I can’t tell you what to do, or how to be productive. All I can do is suggest a variety of ideas and options, and you can see what works for you and your lifestyle.
For example, I need a routine to be effective. I’ve tried to work just whenever I felt like it, and it just never worked for me. I’m also married with two children, so it just makes more sense to work within their schedules, and set up a routine to work a set amount of time per day.
However I also want freedom – I left my 9-5 job for a variety of reasons, and one of them was because I just didn’t enjoy the whole 9-5 schedule each day. So I work x-5pm.
This means that I start at any point I want during the day, but I don’t do any work past 5pm. Some days I’ll start at 6am, others noon, and some days I just won’t work at all. However by having a “deadline” of 5pm each day, when I DO work it makes me more productive knowing that I don’t have the freedom to work all day – I have to get all my work done by a certain time, otherwise it has to wait until the next day.
I also still try and work within my inspiration however. At random points during the day, I may be inspired to drop everything I am doing and write an article here on AB. I find I write best when I am inspired, so I make sure I am not too restricted, and give myself the freedom to work when feeling inspired.
When it comes to “To Do” lists, I don’t use a whiteboard. I tried that, but found I just couldn’t be bothered with it. Instead I use a program called Turbonote – it sits in your system tray all day, and is a sticky note program. I have two notes inside it – “Urgent To Do List” and “Regular To Do List”.
As an example, for my rakeback site – let’s say I wake up one day and receive an e-mail from Fortune Poker stating that they are changing rakeback payments from the 1st of the month to the 15th of the month.
Well, that’s something that I’d consider urgent, so I’d make a note on the urgent list to change that, and most likely do it later that day. While I may have a thought that I should split the rakeback offers category into “US Rakeback” and “Non-US Rakeback”.
That’s something that isn’t really urgent, so would go on the regular to do list and I’ll do it when I feel like it. I also use a program called Taskfreak(free!) to handle all tasks I set my employees, and they log in daily and just see what they have to do that day.
So that’s basically how I manage things. Let’s run down a few options to better manager your time, and hopefully assist in organizing how you do your work.
And again be sure to read the PAL Thread as there was a lot of great suggestions in there. These options are intended for the full time affiliate, although the part time affiliate should be able to get a lot of ideas from it to better assist them:
When To Work:
Do you work 9am-5pm? Or from 9pm to 3am? How many days a week should you work? This all depends on you, and your lifestyle. First, try and determine when you enjoy working the most, and when you are most effective.
Then, see if you can fit that into your lifestyle. There’s no point planning to work 9pm-3am if you are going to be out with your buddies or girlfriend every few nights. But there’s also no point working 9am-5pm if you hate those hours, and find yourself non-productive.
Basically, find the best time for you to work and try and stick with it, even if you’re not a fan of routine. As I mentioned, I work x-5pm. I actually prefer burning the midnight oil, and find myself most productive late at night. However with a family I just can’t do that, plus I like the freedom of just being able to go out for a couple of pints and to watch football or basketball whenever I want, so I choose the 2nd best thing which is during the day, in a routine, but with a certain amount of freedom.
To Do Lists:
You have lots of options here. You can have multiple to do lists or one to do list. You can use an actual notepad, or a whiteboard. You can use software like Turbonote, Taskfreak, or Evernote which is web-based for you guys that are on the go a lot, and at different computers .
You can use a calendar and set deadlines for all tasks, or just keep them listed and do something whenever you feel like it.
You can have one to do list. Or two. Or a thousand. One for each website perhaps. One for each day of the week. Again, there is a variety of options, and it’s all about finding out what will work best for you.
I’ve talked about my to do lists above, but one thing I like to do after 5pm is whenever I think of an idea or something I need to do, I use my Blackberry to e-mail myself. That way I’m not rushing to the computer where I may get caught up in e-mails or something and spend half the night on the computer, which I hate.
Friends. Family. MSN. AIM. Skype. Facebook. Forums. Websites. Videos. Movies. Television. Music.
There’s a lot of things that can distract you from work. It can be tough to work when you have friends wanting you to go out and watch the game. What if you have a website you are working on, but the latest episode of Dexter is just starting?
Or perhaps you just find yourself getting caught up on conversations on Skype and MSN all day. You pop on just to chat to one person for a minute, and next thing you know you have 15 conversations going and half the day is gone.
This is probably the biggest problem for full time affiliates. Thankfully there are a few options. Some people prefer to try and block it all out altogether. Work time is work time, and there’s no need to get caught up on MSN when you can just e-mail the person if it is work related, stopping any chance of getting caught up in a lot of conversations.
You can also just stop visiting websites like Youtube or Facebook, either by using your own self control, or using software like Leechblock.
Other people prefer making the distractions a part of their daily routine. Perhaps after x amount of hours, or x amount of tasks, you take a break and log onto facebook, read forums and watch a TV show. You can even use software like The Action Machine to help you organize all this, and assign time to certain tasks.
As for me, I prefer a balance. I watch TV while I work – just sitcoms that are background noise and I don’t really need to focus on. Nothing heavy like The Shield or The Sopranos or anything. I generally save things like logging onto forums, chatting on MSN etc. until the last hour of the day, as “wind-down” time.
I also rarely communicate over instant messaging programs – if I HAVE to log on to chat to someone I log on as “invisible” so I don’t get people messaging me that may distract me.
When it comes to distractions from outside the computer – well one reason I chose to work from home was so I could spend time with my family. If it becomes a distraction, that’s what headphones are there for. For days where I know I have a heavy work day ahead, I’ll just kick the wife and kids out for the day so I can work in peace.
It’s all about balance. It’s all about finding what fits for you, and then doing just that. The main thing is – don’t get caught procrastinating. That’s one of the biggest mistakes people make. How often have you got up planning a productive day, then a few hours later you’re wondering where the time went, and why you wasted it? Then you’re left feeling angry, and not in the productive mood to achieve maximum efficiency.
The overall point of this article is that you will leave it, and start working on a plan as to how you are going to manage life as a full-time affiliate. Even if that plan is “I’ll work whenever I want, and do whatever I want”. At least you have some sort of plan, which is really half the battle. Then you just have to have the discipline to stick to this plan.
Once you have decided how best to manage your time and stick with that plan, you’ll start becoming more effective, and a much more successful affiliate in the process.
You know what the main thing is though? To relax. To not get stressed out. Being a full-time affiliate is a great lifestyle choice – enjoy it. And next time you get mad at yourself for wasting 6 hours on facebook or on forums, just think life could be worse. A lot worse.
We really have it good. Don’t ruin it by sweating the small stuff.