Most people associate entrepreneurship with hard work and long hours. It’s common for many small-business owners to make statements like, “I’m working this hard for a few years so I can have many years of leisure once my business takes off,” as justification for working 10 to 12 hours, or even longer days.
Yet one has to wonder how many of those hours each day are actually productive. Multiple studies have shown that most people spend only a few hours each day actually working, and spend the remainder of their time focused on tasks that don’t really add value to their business — or flat out waste time.
One area where online entrepreneurs tend to waste time is in managing their websites. When your site is the business’ foundation, devoting a significant portion of your day to managing it is worthwhile. However, many of the tasks that considered “vital” can be handled in far less time than is typically spent, or outsourced, thereby clearing your plate for more strategic, income-producing activities. So if you are wondering where your days go, evaluate how much time you spend on these typical time-wasters.
You’re probably already screaming, “But my analytics are everything! I have to know who is coming to my site, how long they are staying, what they are doing!” And yes, you are right. You cannot afford to ignore your site’s analytics. But how much time are you spending poring over the graphs and numbers on your analytics dashboard each day? How much energy are you devoting to agonizing over every little fluctuation, or tinkering with A/B tests?
The fact is, analytics are most useful when viewed in aggregate; that is, you need to analyze trends over a longer period than the time it took you to grab a sandwich from the deli. Trends are far more important than performance in a single day, or portion of the day. The longer the timeframe you’re analyzing, the more accurate your interpretation is likely to be — and subsequently, any adjustments are likely to be effective. So resist the temptation to log in to your dashboard every day and devote hours to looking at the numbers. Instead, schedule a regular check-in, weekly or monthly, and develop a more structured approach to analytics.
Anyone who has a social media account can tell you that it’s a major time suck. When you are an entrepreneur using the channels for marketing, you can easily fall into the trap of spending all day managing social media. Your posting content, updating your status, responding to questions, engaging in discussions on your blog . . . so on and so forth. Oh, and you’re busy reading other content as well.
Social media is important, but it can eat up your time. Consider choosing one of the social media scheduling tools listed on Top 10 Best Website Builders to pre-schedule your content, keeping in mind that you may need to make adjustments based on the news cycle or other events. Designate a specific time each day to check on your accounts and address questions or concerns. If your social media presence is especially active, consider hiring a social media manager to take those tasks off of your plate and help you develop an even more strategic approach to your social presence, while freeing your time for other tasks.
Excess Marketing Channels
Too many online entrepreneurs take a scattershot approach to their marketing, essentially trying anything and everything to see what works. The result is often disjointed and ineffective. You need to be willing to put in the time, money, and energy into any approach – and to wait for results. In other words, if you launch a Facebook ad campaign, give it time to work before you abandon it and move on to something else. Otherwise, your lack of focus just wastes time, and keeps you from reaching customers.
Basic Website Maintenance
Maintenance is undoubtedly important. A site with broken links, slow loading speeds, and other problems won’t attract customers, and will tank your SEO. However, that doesn’t mean you need to spend hours every day checking links and confirming that the site is up and running. There are several applications that can run in the background and monitor the state of your site, notifying you immediately if there is a problem. And again, by setting aside a regular check-in period every few weeks, you can catch small problems before they become big ones.
Effectively managing a website is an important job, but it doesn’t have to be all consuming. By stepping back from these time-wasters, you can give yourself more time to accomplish the big-picture stuff — and maybe even get to that magical, four-hour workweek someday.
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Leslie Truex is an ideaphoric writer, speaker, entrepreneur, social worker and mom trying to do it all from the comfort of her home. Since 1998, she's been helping others create careers they love by providing work-at-home information and resources through Work-At-Home Success.
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