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Six Sinister Blog Time Wasters

Time is slippery.

On a Monday, it creeps along taunting you minute after agonizing minute.  Sunday evening it races along pulling Monday morning toward you at breakneck speed.

It seems arrogant to believe time can be managed.  Yet, we do.  My iPhone is stuffed with time management apps and at least three-different time-management systems jostle for attention in my laptop backpack.

Think about your schedule today.  Most likely you have a sense of what you want to accomplish.  You have appointments penciled in.  You have tasks listed.  You are ready to go.

However, by the end of the day something insidious happens.  Your task list only has one or maybe two completions.  You’ve been busy but nothing has been accomplished.  In your heart you know you had more than enough time but somehow the day has “gotten away from you”.

As a creator and publisher, I must  “ship”.  Time is money.  Ironically, I manage time best when I ignore the “systems” and focus on eliminating time wasters. I suspect that the same will work for you.

The War on Waste

In the Pursuit of Happyness, Will Smith is a investment trainee that has a list of cold calls he needs to complete everyday.

He can’t stay late to make his calls because he needs to hustle across town to check-in at the homeless shelter before it’s full.  In his words, “I had to do in 6 hours what they (his colleagues) could do in 9”

Necessity breeds innovation and Smith looks for any way to shave time wasters from his day.

He realizes that if he didn’t drink water during the day, he would spend less time in the bathroom freeing enough time to make a few more phone calls.  After a phone call, he keeps the handset on his shoulder, saving another 9 minutes adding  another several phone calls.  Eliminating waste creates time.

Inspired, I looked for similar wasters in my day.  I found six.

#1: Stalling

Stalling is different than procrastination.  Stalling happens after you’ve started a task.  It interrupts your momentum. My favorite blog writing stall is looking for a photo before I write the post.  You see, I have a post in mind but I decide to look for the perfect photo.  My conscious is appeased because I’m still writing a post – right?  Wrong.  Just stalling.  These little moments are so subtle that I don’t see how they steal hours from my day.

What are your favorite stallers?

#2.  Disorganization

The blank page steals another hour a day.  I used to start with a title and begin writing.  Most of my time was spent tapping the backspace key as I tried to create something from nothing.  My posts came out as jumbled streams of conscious requiring hours of editing.  What a waste.

Now, I never write unless I start with an outline.  I also gather all of my research and place it within easy access.  I follow the outline without wavering.  I don’t edit until the outline has been fleshed out into a full post.

Guess what happens?  I write 700-1,000 word posts in 30 minutes.  Just 10 minutes spent on an outline saves me at least an hour in deletes, rewrites, and head-scratching.  Disorganization – find it and kill it.

#3. Untimed Work

I used to love lazy Sunday afternoons.  After coming home from church, I would sit in front of my computer with a luxurious four hour time span to write my posts.  Heaven right?  Wrong.  I almost always spent the entire time fiddling with one post. The more time I had, the more I managed to waste.

Instead, I started setting a limit on my writing time.  Just one-hour to write, edit, and upload a post.  No more. Incredibly, the post ALWAYS got done.  For you quality naysayers out there, try this, my best posts are the ones I write in under one hour!

Why?  I believe that It’s hard for your brain to understand a “work until it gets done” directive.  On the other hand, your mind kicks in when it must marshal resources to beat a deadline.   Eliminate the “open time” temptation and watch how much time you gain.

#4.  Lack of Schedule

Similar to Untimed Work is an empty calendar.  I’ve learned that an “open day” is a wasted day.  Beat this time waster by scheduling your work and your breaks.  That’s right, fill your entire time with specific tasks and breaks.  I schedule coffee breaks, writing time, walks, Twitter responses, and more.

The cool part is that these days are incredibly efficient.  In fact, scheduled days are so productive that I often finish each task early.  My theory is that the saved time comes from time usually spent trying to decide “when” I will work versus just getting sh*t done.

Pull up your schedule.  Add your blog writing time.  Fill in your breaks.  Shoe-horn in other priorities.  Now get to work.  It will work, I guarantee it.

#5. Time Management Doodads

Productivity software and time-management apps just get in the way. All you need is today’s calendar,an egg timer, and an outline to get started.  Seriously, schedule your time on the calendar, set your egg timer for each task, follow your outline.  That’s it.

Before you waste precious time “testing” yet another system, ask yourself, “Does the app allow you to do more than one thing in less time?  Does this software noticeably improve the quality and value of my work?  If not, it might be a doodad that wastes time and not manage it.

#6. Multitasking

Multi-tasking is the antichrist of time-management.   Surprisingly, a recent study by the Harvard Business Review concluded that multi-tasking led to a 40% drop in productivity, increased stress and a 10% drop in IQ.  Multi-tasking makes you stupid.  Nice. Don’t do it.

I have an non-negotiable rule that states that I will only work on one-project at a time.  Blog posts are done in one block of time: no excuses, no exceptions, period.  Adopt the same rule and watch your posts get done in less time.

Putting It All Together

Try this tomorrow or even do this today.

Get to your desk 30 minutes early.  Write down three tasks that must get down.  One of those should be to write a blog post.

Print out your schedule for the day.  Grab a pencil and schedule each hour, include your three priority tasks, breaks, lunch, and drive time (for day job warriors).  Hint – your calendar should be full.

Next, write the outline for today’s blog post.  Set a timer and spend 15 minutes on this.  You will feel an irresistible urge to just write the post. Resist the urge.  Just write the outline.

Follow your schedule.  Interruptions will beguile you all day.  No worries.  Just return to your schedule.  When you get to your post writing block, perhaps at lunch time, pull out your outline, set your time to 30 minutes (leaving time for editing and uploading), and write the damn post.

Ever watch the Terminator, you know, the movie about the relentless cyborg that achieves its mission no matter the obstacle?  Well, you are a Pushing Social Terminator.  Complete your mission.

Come back here and tell me how you do.

{A Blog Moonlighting Installment}

About Stan

Stan Smith is the CEO of Pushing Social a content marketing consultancy for aggressive, results-focused organizations.

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