Yesterday was an interesting day for me. Interesting in that I was in my office almost the entire day and got very little work done. Interesting because it pissed me off, yet I was in such a mental fog that the best thing for me to do was just to get up and leave.
We’ve all had days like this. You start the day, full of piss and vinegar and ready to tackle your business, only to get mired down by your own disorganization. At the end of the day, you wonder what happened.
Well, I’ve thought about it. And I’ve identified the big 5. These 5 things are the huge sucking sounds for our time. Unfortunately, too, bloggers are particularly prone to these big 5.
#1 – Email
Email is a huge time suck. Most of us, too, keep the email open all day. We see that little “(1)” show up and we’re thinking, “Ooohh! Who emailed me?!”. We head over to check our email.
Whatever line of thought we were in before that email came in is shattered. Gone. Waste of time.
I’m also going to let you in on a bald-face reality – one that I know full well a lot of people will debate with me. That reality is…. email doesn’t make us any money. It is an auxiliary activity. One that needs to happen, but isn’t really moving things forward all that much (for the most part).
I’ve had the same email address for awhile. Honestly, I’m giving some thought to changing it. If I do, I’ll set up an autoresponder to point people to the proper places depending on what they need.
I also highly recommend you remove email addresses from your sites and switch to a support desk instead. Not only is it much better organized, but then you can have somebody else deal with it (as I do).
There is no need to be wide open and easily accessible via email. The reality is that clinging to that idea will keep your business from growing and also keep you a slave to it.
#2 – Social Networking
A few days ago, I watched Jim Kukral get in on this debate on Twitter. In short, he decided that being “engaged” on social media wasn’t a good use of time. Of course, Scott Stratten (Un-Marketing) took issue with that and a little debate ensued.
I know full well that, as bloggers, we feel compelled to be highly engaged in social media. Social media is the new shiny object. It isn’t going anywhere. It is here to stay. Fact remains, though, that I think some people give social media way too much credit. Most of the people who’ve made good use of social media had a full marketing approach behind the scenes which did most of the work. If you wanted to go and develop a full business based on social media alone (no list, etc), you’d have one hell of a time doing it.
Here’s another bald-faced reality for you…
In terms of the things we do as bloggers, messing around with Twitter and Facebook (and similar services) has probably the lowest ROI of any other activity we do. Spending time on building your list, building JV partnerships, guest posting and participating in comments – these things build your brand much more than Twitter.
As for the idea of “engagement”, that means a lot of things. Obviously, to build a sense of “know, like and trust” with your audience, you need to be engaged. However, I would maintain that you can do that MUCH, MUCH more effectively using your blog and your email list than you can on Twitter.
Social networking happens to be a huge time suck, too. We feel compelled to interact. We see links which look interesting, so we click on them and end up reading a post. That can lead to other things. At the end of several hours, all you’ve done is have conversations, read several blog posts, but you’ve accomplished NOTHING.
I’m not going to stop using social media. It has a clear role. Plus, I really do like interacting with folks on Twitter. But, it needs to be kept in its place.
So, Tweetdeck is going to have to be turned off when I’m working. I’ll turn it on in batches, then turn it back off.
#3 Web Surfing
As bloggers, we like to read other blogs. However, it doesn’t pay your bills, does it?
As I’ve said in the past, you can’t eat and talk at the same time. In a similar vein, we can’t consume media and, at the same time, produce it.
The Internet is full of interesting things. Blogs, news, videos, more blogs, more news, more videos. Oh yeah, check our stats. Then, more blogs. Check Twitter…. which leads to more blogs.
#4 Customer Support
Customer support is tedious and a time suck.
Yes, you read that correctly. However, before you jump down my throat and act like I don’t care about my customers, think about it.
When you get a customer support request, each one takes up time. You’ve got to look up an account, reset a password, figure out why they can’t log in, process a refund, change card numbers – all these things are busy-work that is keeping you away from business development.
If the development of YOUR business depends on YOUR time, why are YOU doing your customer support?
The answer is to set up systems and procedures that will result in your customers being treated like absolute GOLD, then putting somebody on the job who’s entire mission is to take care of your customers. In fact, by having somebody else do it who is more dedicated to it, often your customers will be better supported this way than if you were to do it yourself.
As I said above, I recommend people use a support desk and not email. Then, have a virtual assistant handle customer support. If you submit a ticket to either of my sites, Lisa will be working with you and she’ll take good care of you. I’m busy making good, solid products.
#5 Trying To Learn Things To Solve Bottlenecks
So many bloggers fall into this trap.
You want a nice looking blog, but you don’t know how to program anything or make graphics. You think you can’t afford to have somebody else do it, so you end up spending hours upon hours trying to figure out how to do it yourself. In other words, you’re “dicking around” with something you shouldn’t be.
Why WASTE your time like that?
I speak to you on this one as recovering addict to it. I’m currently in the process of finding the right team of people who will do stuff for me. If my strengths are content creation and marketing, why should I bother making my own landing pages, logos, setting up blogs, installing plug-ins? Yes, I know how to do those things, but it isn’t a good use of my time.
Most bloggers DON’T know how to do those things, yet they STILL try to do it themselves. At the end of the day (or month), you end up either completely dismayed and confused, or you manage to put together a crappy design that somebody else could have produced for you in a few hours and it would look 10 times as good.
Also, the idea that you can’t afford help is a myth. Check Odesk.
The Plain Truth
The plain truth is that most of the activities most bloggers engage in with their average day isn’t going to help them achieve a six-figure income (or anything remotely close).
Most successful online entrepreneurs have other people working for them. At the same time, they’ve introduced certain levels of discipline and systems to keep these 5 “time sucks” at bay.
Each of these 5 things are things you cannot avoid, but they need to be managed in such a way that they don’t take over your schedule.
What do you think? Have you noticed these big 5 suckers of time at play in your day? Do you do anything to handle it and keep it in check?