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We Internet marketers have the greatest job in the world, don't we?
We don't have a boss or supervisor hovering over our shoulders. We don't have
schedules or deadlines. We work when WE want to work. If YOUR favorite time to
work - when you are your freshest and brightest - happens to be at 2:00 AM,
that's just dandy. If it's 2:00 in the afternoon, nobody's gonna complain. Want
to take a few days off and shoot down to the shore? Not a problem!
In short, we have that most desirable of all assets - FREEDOM!
But freedom is a "two-edged" sword, isn't it?
Everyone says they WANT the freedom of being self-employed, but my experience
has shown that few people can HANDLE the complete freedom that comes with being
your own boss.
This is especially true on the Internet.
It is incredibly easy to fool yourself into THINKING that you are "working,"
when all you're doing is surfing from site to site, "getting ideas" or "doing
research." You can spend half a day online, until blood is shooting out of your
overworked eyeballs, and not accomplish a doggone thing.
Have you ever noticed how, "Work expands to fill the time available."
In other words, if you have a certain task that you want to accomplish, and you
have ten minutes to do it, then that task will take... ten minutes. On the other
hand, if you have all day to perform that very same task, six hours later you're
wondering why the job isn't done yet.
Yes, my friends, we're talking about Time Management.
Now, some people are natural-born experts on time management; they
automatically, and without thinking about it, naturally do the things necessary
to make Time their slave and not the other way around.
I'm not so lucky!
I've been in marketing for more years than I care to think about, and yet, every
day I fight a battle to use my time efficiently and effectively. Stuck for an
idea? Take a break and have a cup of coffee. Can't quite figure out that new
piece of software? Take a break and call that old friend you haven't talked to
for a while. Run into a particularly sticky problem? Take a break and watch a
little TV - "clear your mind." That's me, alright, the world champion Master of
Wasting Time! Managing my time does not come naturally to me!
I, Jim Roche NJ, am the biggest goof-off, the worst procrastinator, the least
organized person in the history of Internet marketing!
So over the years I've HAD to pick up some techniques that I use EVERY SINGLE
DAY as a crutch to help me...
...get ON the computer, and get OFF the computer, so I can have a normal life.
And I'm gonna share 'em with you...
Jim Roche NJ's PERSONAL TIME MANAGEMENT SECRET # 1:
Make A "To-Do" List for the Next Day
Can somebody tell me somethin'?
Whatever happened to that pie-in-the-sky fantasy of the 1980's that we would
have totally paper-less offices by the nineties? I don't know about YOU, but by
the afternoon of each day, my desk and office look like somebody threw a grenade
into a paper factory! Contrary to what they told us when computers were first
becoming an office mainstay, current statistics tell us that the modern office
generates THREE TIMES MORE paper than it did twenty years ago!
And mine is certainly no exception. During the course of my normal work day,
stacks of paper and files "magically" accumulate on every flat surface in my
office. It gets so bad that I have to budget time just to clean up.
So I always "end" my work day at approximately three o'clock PM.
This is when I clear off and organize my desk, put files away, and put my office
in a condition like I was expecting the president to visit. (I even polish my
desk!) This all takes about half an hour, and then comes my most important task
of the day, and for the NEXT day...
...I get out my trusty yellow legal pad and make an itemized, point-by-point
list of precisely what I plan to accomplish tomorrow. I consider the making of
my to-do list to be THE most important part of my time management system. It is
only after I am done with my To-Do List that I feel organized and ready to face
What! Am I saying that I am COMPLETELY done working for the day by 3:30? Ya
gotta be kiddin' me! There may be several more hours of chores that I SHOULD be
doing. By by organizing my office and organizing my "plan of attack" for the
next day, I subconsciously feel that I've ended this day successfully and
actually accomplished something.
NOW... I can take a break if I want (or even take the rest of the day off). But
if I really want to, I can "go back to work" for a while; at least I don't have
that psychological feeling of never being done.
And if I DON'T work anymore for the rest of the evening, why, that's just fine.
The next day, I am greeted by a squeaky clean office and a nice, neat To-Do List
in the middle of my desk.
Oh, yeah, and two more key principles about your To-Do List:
Principle 1; The "Worst-First" Principle.
When organizing your To-Do List, always list the LEAST desirable jobs first. Get
THOSE out of the way as soon as possible, so you have items on your list to look
FORWARD TO, not DREAD. In other words, list the worst jobs first, at the
beginning of your work day, when you're still fresh and can handle aggravation
better - get the dad-blamed things outta the way! Then you can "coast" the rest
of the day and concentrate on those tasks that are a little more enjoyable.
Principle 2: The "Cross-It-Off" Principle.
I know it sounds silly, but when you have completed a task on your To-Do List, CROSS - IT - OFF! This is a well-known
psychological ploy that subconsciously gives you the feeling of accomplishment.
It seems like a simple thing, but it works! In my case, I actually use a thick
pink marker to cross off completed items. By the end of the day, my To-Do List
has all these pick bars going across it.
MAN, what a great feeling!
Jim Roche NJ's PERSONAL TIME MANAGEMENT SECRET # 2:
Never Touch A Piece of Paper More Than Once
Lemme ask you somethin'...
How often do you check your email?
If you're like most marketers I know, you check it about every ten minutes (and
in the middle of the night when you get up to go to the bathroom!).
Who do you think you are!? You're not Jack Bauer, expecting a message from the
CIA about a terrorist plot endangering the entire world!
Now, I'm not picking on you, my friend; I used to be the same way until I
learned to compartmentalize my time. I finally realized that the foundations of
Western civilization are not going to collapse if I don't read my emails every
87 seconds! Now I access my emails three times, and ONLY three times, during the
course of the day; once in the early morning when I start my day (and BEFORE I
start working on my To-Do List), once around lunch-time, and a final time before
I close up shop for the day.
And I never open my emails unless I have time to read them and (here's the
important part!) ACT ON THEM. As I stated above, "Never touch a piece of paper
(and this goes for emails too!) more than once!" Live by this golden rule - it's
called the "Three D's Rule"...
Either DO it, DITCH it, or DELEGATE it!
Of course most of us don't have employees or subordinates that we can DELEGATE
duties to, so that means that we Internet marketers must DO it (if a response is
required, then by golly respond NOW; don't save it til later "when you have more
time." You won't!
...or we must DITCH it. If a piece of paper is important enough to save for some
reason, then it's important enough to process NOW; if it's not important enough
to handle now, then DITCH it - throw it away!
Jim Roche NJ's PERSONAL TIME MANAGEMENT SECRET # 3:
Organize, Organize, ORGANIZE!
This sounds like a no-brainer, but it's something we Internet marketers have a
tough time doing. One of the things I do to solve MY problem of organizing is by
being what I call a "manila folder guy."
I know, I know, I know! We are living in the computer age, where paper files are
supposed to be unnecessary - an old-fashioned and obsolete throwback to an
earlier, "less-enlightened" time.
Don't you believe it for a second!
On a regular basis at Home Office we receive frantic emails that start out...
"Jim! Please help! My computer crashed, and I lost all of my information!" Or
emails that state... "Help! I was careful to backup my computer, and I put all
of my important documents in folders in my computer. But NOW, I don't remember
WHERE those folders are!"
Save yourself a lot of aggravation and be "old-fashioned."
Whenever I join a new program, or buy a new piece of software, I am careful to
print out and save just about EVERYTHING connected to that transaction! And I am
METICULOUS about filing that information. I take a few extra minutes to clearly
label the file, and then file it alphabetically. It takes just a few minutes
NOW, but can save you hours of digging through piles of paper, trying to find
that forgotten username or password, or receipt that proves you actually made a
purchase, or the instructions on how to set up a program.
If a problem occurs, or I have a question, with something I purchased or joined
five, six, even seven YEARS ago, I can quickly find all the pertinent
information I need in a matter of a minute or two.
According to the Wall Street Journal, more time is lost in the workplace simply looking for lost information than anything else.
Jim Roche NJ's PERSONAL TIME MANAGEMENT SECRET # 4:
Do NOT Procrastinate!
Without doubt, my favorite corporate advertising slogan has to be Nike's... "Do It NOW!"
If we just followed those three simple words religiously, we'd all be rich,
famous, and happy. But it's human nature to postpone unpleasant tasks. We are
ALL guilty of procrastination, and I could never figure out why. After all, if
we KNOW a thing HAS to be done (like it or not), then why don't we automatically
dig in and do it as SOON as possible so we can go have a beer!?
And I'm no exception. If you look in the dictionary under "procrastination,"
you're gonna see a picture of the 'ol Jim-meister!
THAT'S why I have to have all these little gimmicks and tricks to FORCE me to get things done.
But I don't have to worry about procrastinating if:
I make a definite time when I'm going to "close up shop"
I make a To-Do List
I make a practice of doing... the Worst First
I cross off an item when I've done it
I NEVER touch a piece of paper more than once. I either DO it. DITCH it, or
I am organized. I can find any piece of information or document I need in less
than sixty seconds!
Jim Roche NJ's PERSONAL TIME MANAGEMENT SECRET # 5:
My personal favorite!!!
Time management is not entirely about work. It's just as important to schedule downtime to relax and recharge your batteries.
PLAN YOUR REWARDS so you have something to look forward to once your tasks are completed.
"Work hard, play hard!"
Jim Roche NJ