I’ve been in internet marketing in one way or another since 1996 approximately and doing this 100% as a living for the past 15 years.
Despite that length of time, I am still always looking at how to work optimally. Over the years I’ve tried many different methods of work and routine to figure out what works best for me.
I’ve tried assigning different tasks to different days (ie: Tuesdays are “Form sites” days, Thursdays are “Gambling sites” days etc).
I’ve tried having a cutoff each day like working until exactly 2pm with no breaks then finishing for the day and having lunch then.
I’ve tried 7 days on, 4 days off schedules. Or 3 day week schedules where I cram in 12-16 hours per day with an extended weekend.
This year I feel I am more optimal than ever, with the introduction of working in one hour blocks. One hour where I work in a specific category of work, and shut the world out.
I read a lot about working from home and strategies to implement etc. As it can be tough to find a balance. Sometimes you work too much. Sometimes not enough.
This one I just sort of stumbled upon although I am sure many have came up with the idea in the past.
It was when I was in Scotland over Christmas visiting my family that it dawned on me. I’m always an early riser so I was up at 5am there just like I am here in Canada. No difference there.
The big difference however was the lack of friends online. While I do have a few friends who are in the same timezone, the majority that I talk to every day are in EST/MST etc etc.
So there I am working away and suddenly I think “Wow – I’ve been incredibly productive”. It immediately dawned on me why – I had no skype messages coming in. No texts. No whatsapps. No facebook messages. All my buddies were still fast asleep.
So that’s where the initial idea of working in one hour blocks came from, although I would evolve it throughout the year. When I returned home to Canada, I started to implement this. I’d chat with my friends etc for a little bit, and then I would shut off the world. I’d set a timer on my phone for an hour (pausing it when I need a glass of water or have to pee etc), throw in my headphones and go to work.
I log everything I do in a journal (another new productivity tool I just started last year) and it was such a big difference seeing the difference in productivity using this timer compared to before. It was an hour of solid work with zero distractions.
So I thought about that and decided to evolve it and work it into my every day life more. First of all I started thinking about my days. Every day I have a “daily to do list” that I do each morning. This is a variety of things from doing hockey tips to soccer tips to basketball tips; to going through my e-mails, to catching up on my RSS Feeds to reading the latest on various SEO subreddits and websites.
Depending on the day it will vary from 2-4 hours.
So I decided to set up X hours per day for the one hour blocks in addition to the daily to do list. 5 hours was a nice number. I’d get the daily to do list done, then get my kids school lunches ready for the day and get them off to school. Then I’d work in 5 hour blocks each day.
At the end of each hour, I’d reconnect to the world, chat with friends etc. Take a little break for 15-30 minutes. Play a quick game of Madden. Read a few chapters in a book. Essentially recharge, then get right back at it for the nex hour.
Good. But not perfect.
I started thinking about the work I do, and how it ranges into different categories. First of all there is all those general items that pop up on a regular basis. Need to change banners on a website. Need to start working with a new affiliate program. Need to add a new no deposit offer. Need to update some content that is outdated. “Oops just discovered this website isn’t forwarding from non WWW to WWW need to fix that”. “Hmm I wonder if this site I am adding 100 articles a month to benefits from that. I should do math and see if I can lessen the expenses or if I should be increasing them”.
etc. etc. etc.
Then there’s various other set tasks I have. I like to spend time once per year auditing my existing websites and optimizing them more. I have websites that I am doing a complete overhaul on that have over 3,000 articles on. Then there’s some large database work that needs done on a regular basis. I also like to spend time writing content even though I have a team of content writers.
So I decided to break those 1 hour blocks into those categories. That way each day is varied. So for example, this is a typical day for me:
– Do my Daily TDL
– 1 Hour: General/Misc To Do List
– 1 Hour: Content Writing for various websites
– 1 Hour: Book Database Work
– 1 Hour: Working on New Websites
– 1 Hour: Website Audit
I have various other 1 hour tasks that I can pick and choose what to do. so if I am not in the mood for content writing or working on new websites, where you need creativity, I can skip them for the day and do something else.
It’s nice as it also restricts the amount of time that I can work on a certain task. Building new websites for example – man that can just suck me in. I’d burn the midnight oil at times and work on launching a new website like crazy, while neglecting other tasks. Then it would wear on me. Now? With just one hour I don’t neglect other tasks, and I come in feeling fresh the next day.
It also helps cover various other little tasks too outside of work. My wife recently discovered a bunch of VHS tapes we had from many years ago with family videos on them, and wants me to convert them all to digital. No problem – I’ll add that to my “1 hour tasks” list and then each day dedicate 1 hour to that. Or I decide to do a newsletter for my events listings website and need to spend time looking at that – great, another 1 hour task.
It also keeps me in line too, setting 1 hour to do that work. My friend John asked me just this morning if I could look over his website Casino Bonuses Now and offer any suggestions in regard to optimization, conversion etc and just general thoughts. Now this is the type of thing I can get lost in – spend hours upon hours doing and waste my whole day.
Instead I am able to say “No problem I’ll dedicate one hour to it tomorrow”. Then set it as a one hour task, and focus on it just for that one hour. It will be maximum productivity, without wasting my own time.
I know a lot of people who work from home that really struggle in regards to production. I’ve been there. Give something like this a try. It’s created a nice work/life balance too and makes sure each day is optimal for me. We might go to the movies and not get home till 10pm but then I’ll be like “Will be up to bed soon – I have 32 minutes left of website audits to do”. That way each day I know I am working to my full potential, without overdoing it.
It really helped lately, when I was helping someone launch her new website Best Books. She’s not planning on monetizing it for at least a year. She doesn’t even know if it WILL make money. However she asked for my help in regard to setting it up.
I was happy to help however I’ve did this before with friends and its interfered with my own workload on a negative basis. That’s never fun. So I was able to tell her “I can help – I’ll be able to dedicate one hour each day to it but that’s it” and then I was able to do that and feel good for helping, while not cutting in on my own workload.
Now if you don’t mind I have 32 minutes left on my “content writing” timer and many more articles to write…