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6 Ways To Save Time and Get More Done Online

Guest post from Carrie of Natural Mom Talk Radio

Every work-at-home-mom wants to maximize her time online. Whether you are a blogger, virtual assistant, writer, or crafter, here are six tips that will help you get more done in less time when you boot up your computer:

1. Define Your Purpose

Before you even open your computer, know exactly what you’re going to accomplish and get right down to business.

I’m reminded of those movie scenes of medieval times when a traveler arrives at the gates of the city. Before he is allowed in, he must state his business. Doing so will help you avoid aimlessly checking email, social media accounts, and the like (who, me!?). Personally, I find it imperative to have a to-do list at my side so I don’t get sidetracked.

2. Analyze

What are the steps you regularly take in your business? Are they paying off for you? Are your marketing efforts producing measurable results?

It’s important to track these things so you don’t waste time in unprofitable activities. For example, getting to know your website stats so you can see where your traffic is coming from is vital.

Another area to analyze is your own energy and productivity levels. In her book, 2K to 10K: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love, author Rachel Aaron said that she created a spreadsheet to track how much she wrote at various times of the day. She was shocked to discover that simply by changing her writing schedule a bit, she could produce far more words in the same amount of time.

3. Think Like Henry Ford

Henry Ford didn’t invent the car. He invented the assembly line, which made cars affordable, and that changed everything.

Mass production saves time, money and energy. How can you use the assembly line approach in your work? By batching similar activities together.

If you have a time slot to write an article and get on a roll, write two articles. Don’t check your email all day. Check it once or twice a day, when you’re actually at a computer and can answer emails.

Need to make some changes to your site? Wait until you have several tweaks, and do them all at once.

Brain researchers have told us that each time we have to switch gears mentally, we lose time and focus. So stay in flow. Multitasking doesn’t really work.

4. Automate

Tools like autoresponders, vacation response settings in email, signature lines, e-courses, FAQ pages on your website, scheduling posts in your blog, etc. are all wonderful pieces of technology that allow you to do something once and benefit from it over and over.

For instance, if you are a virtual assistant, you probably find that clients ask you the same questions over and over again. Copy and paste those into an FAQ page on your website to save yourself time. If you’re in direct sales and have a downline, train them all at once using Google Hangout, webinars, teleseminars and such.

5. Identify Your Shiny Objects

In some way, we’re like that dog in the movie Up. (Squirrel! ) We get distracted by shiny objects online. Maybe it’s email, Twitter, visiting message forums, reading too many blogs, Facebook or Pinterest — oh, don’t get me started on Pinterest!

You might just have to eliminate some of your social media accounts if they aren’t anything more than a distraction. Consider using some of the free software available to help you block these, because here’s the honest truth: Anything that doesn’t directly earn you income needs to be done in your free time, after money-making activities.

6. Use a Timer

If you have young kids, you probably know the power of the timer. The timer keeps your preschooler in time out. The timer tells your impatient child “how much longer?!” until something happens. Etc. Why not utilize the mysterious power of the timer on yourself?

If it currently takes you 45 minutes to write a blog post (which you should know from the “analyze” portion), challenge yourself. Set the timer for 35 minutes then hit publish. If you have only an hour to work while hubby plays with the baby, set a timer for 45 minutes and work quickly, then check email and Twitter.

These are a few of the tips that have helped me to stay focused and get more done online… do you have anything else to add to my list?

Carrie, a wife and mom to seven lively kids, writes about homeschooling, practical frugality and natural parenting at Natural Mom Talk Radio. She is the author of the ebook, Slash Your Grocery Budget *and* Eat a Whole Foods Diet with ALDI.

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  • Alexa says:

    I love the assembly line tip. When I get in the mood to write I go for as many articles that I can consecutively come up with. I need to work on defining my time more though. There are at times when I get lost in email or reading blog instead of doing my work.

    • Carrie says:

      Alexa, blogs are definitely my candy! I have to “reward” myself by checking my Bloglovin app after my work is done, not before. Another reason I do it this way is because, if I read blogs before writing, I’ll start thinking my thoughts aren’t creative enough. 🙁

  • I have been slowly easing my way out of jobs that don’t really make me money, so I can focus on the ones that do. I always have a hard time saying no, so it has been difficult to pull away from these tasks, but your post really helped me know that I’m doing the right thing. Thanks!

  • Corinne says:

    Great article–thanks!

  • I set work hours and then, within that, work from a to-do list. I try to keep the list manageable so I don’t get frustrated if I don’t get it all done. I try to save social media, Pinterest, etc for when I have down time. Or I will add them to my work list. Work needs to be fun sometimes!

  • Elizabeth says:

    Great post, Carrie! I’m pretty good on the timer technique. I swear by them when I need to get something (anything!) started on days that I’m low on gas, but I could certainly use some work on the “shiny objects” one.

    The first step is one I’d like to utilize too. Great imagery of the medieval parts of movies when you must “state your business” (as if our computer is a guardsman of our time). 🙂

  • Time can slip away so quickly online. This is just what I need right now. Thanks for the great tips!

  • Excellent advice that I’ll start using tomorrow! Thank you!

  • Wow, great post, Carrie! I need to follow your advice especially about knowing what you plan to do before you get online. Facebook eats up too much of my time when I sit down to blog. 🙁 I often sit down to work without any particular plan in mind and that probably really hurts my productivity. Thanks so much for the tips!

  • Great ideas! I’m trying to get better about having an intention for my time when I sit down at the computer. Otherwise, I’m all over the internet (ok, here I am!)

  • Krissy @ Just Take Two Bites says:

    Oh gosh, my biggest problem is wasting time online when I should be working. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in other blogs, Facebook, etc. This was just what I needed to see this morning! Thanks!

  • Jennifer Wells says:

    Carrie! I love this list!! I am a full-time working-outside-the-home girl in sales & this advice is just as applicable in my world. Yup, I am Dug (the dog in Up) personified! I have the attention span of a gnat! I truly think multi-tasking has ruined me:) Mix that in with a heaping cup of perfectionism syndrome & we have a big-o recipe of wasted computer time! I am even going to share these ideas with my hubs because we were just talking about this very topic this morning. Thanks for the article! I found you through Money Saving Mom:) (P.S. I may or may not be reading this while I’m supposed to be working! Ack!)

  • jennifer says:

    I could really relate to the “define your purpose” suggestion. So many times I set aside time to work on my blog and don’t have a list of what I intend to do. As my mother always says, ‘if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
    Thanks for the good tips.

  • Jana says:

    Great post! These are all good points, and number 1 is definitely my biggest challenge. Oh, I go to my computer with a purpose in mind, but just glancing at email first often derails me.

    A tool/app I’ve discovered that has helped me in that area is Trello. It keeps all my project and task lists — both personal and work-related — in one tab which I can refer to when I first get on the computer, and when I’m switching between tasks. And it’s really easy to move items around, and organize them in a way that makes sense to me.

    I made a video showing how I use it…

    • Sara says:

      Thank you for posting this! I’ve been looking for an app like this one to keep me on track. I get distracted with the piles of paper I get daily, and need something that I can manage better. I think my boss could use this as well… 🙂

  • Love these tips! I really need them right now! Thanks for sharing!

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