Does This Happen to You?

You start your day, you naughty person, by checking your email and RSS reader first. The next thing you know you have spent the better part of the morning being sucked down into the internet rabbit hole. If you’re a blogger, you’ve probably been reading things like “How to Make Money with Your Blog” or “How to Get More Traffic with Your Blog.”

There are a million and one articles like these, and every time we see one we want to read it. We think “maybe this one has some secret I haven’t read yet.” Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t. The problem is all this reading becomes dizzying and leaves you without accomplishing much. So what is the best way to ensure that you get your work done?

Input vs. Output

Input, i.e. reading other blogs on your Google Reader, is much easier than output, creation work, such as writing posts for your blog, strategic planning, or action work, such as making phone calls. The fact is we need both. We need input work, the research, to learn skills and to inspire our creativity. But we need to balance that with output work, the actions we take and the creations we make as a result of our learnings.

How to Balance Both

Plan your day into time blocks. Estimate how much time you will need to get your creation work done that day, your Most Important Things. Then block out that amount of time somewhere in your day. The time you choose should be when your energy is highest since creation work is more difficult thank input work. Everyone has different cycles of energy. Take notice of when your energy highest and plan your day accordingly.

Then for your input work, your research time, choose a block of time and schedule that. Your blocks of time can be large or small, they can alternate back and forth or be completely separate from each other.  A neat trick to use to keep yourself on track is ZenHabit’s 30-10 Procrastination Hack.

Making the Most of Your Time – Let Your Goals Be Your Guide

For both input and output work, your actions should be guided by your goals. So for input work, when you are researching, ask yourself “What information am I seeking?” This way when you find yourself, somehow, at some random article on a biker babe’s website, you can say “Ok, this may be interesting, but it’s not what I’m looking for right now.” You can bookmark it to come back to it later during leisure time, but at least you are now refocused back to the task at hand. A simple way to failproof this is to write on a yellow sticky what your researching goals are and put it right on your monitor.

For output work, you probably have an enormous list of things you need to do or would like to do. If you’re a blogger, they might fall into categories such as writing content, promotion activities, advertising activities, and so on. Again, to choose most wisely, start with your goals. Most bloggers’ goals are to increase traffic to their site and to make money. With that in mind ask yourself “Which activities are going to give me the best return on my time investment,” i.e. more traffic and more money.

Keep it Simple by Planning Your Day

In conclusion: block your time between input and output work. Let your goals guide your task choices. And use tools, such as a timer and yellow sticky goal reminders, to stay on track.

Please share your comments and tips on buying productivity. All comments big and small are very welcomed!

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  1. 1
    May 15th, 2007 at 12:57 pm

    Mahalo for the nudge to read this excellent post!
    Indeed you have hit on the topic which is extremely relevant: how to balance our online time. What works for me is I create and blog in the morning when my energies are the strongest, and then network if my energy flags for a bit, and usually surf, research, and make comments in the evening. I’m making an exception here….better get back to work! :-)

  2. 2
    May 15th, 2007 at 4:48 pm

    Great post.. dugg and stumbled ;)
    I like the procrastinatino hack idea.. god knows i need to do that!

  3. 3
    May 15th, 2007 at 7:33 pm

    Kuanyin, I do the same thing. Mornings for creation work. It’s when my energy is highest. Thanks for the support!

    Thanks Dee. Yes, I love Leo’s procrastination hack. I’m a big fan of timers to stay on track.

  4. 4
    May 15th, 2007 at 10:41 pm

    Wow, you got a picture of yourself falling into Google reader! I didn’t believe you at first, but you have a picture so it must be true. I will be more careful from now on.


  5. 5
    May 15th, 2007 at 11:47 pm

    Hey Neil, It’s pretty bad photoshop, but it makes me laugh. Hope it made you laugh too.

  6. 6
    Lady Rose
    May 16th, 2007 at 6:24 am

    Finding the balance is key! Lady Rose

  7. 7
    May 16th, 2007 at 8:05 pm

    Lady Rose – so true and therein lies the real challenge!

  8. 10
    Reah Guevarra - Google Maven
    March 14th, 2008 at 7:55 am

    The first days, I was accessing Google Reader, I also realized that I had spent so much time reading articles that would not help me get my work done.

    So what I did was I organized the feeds according to how they are related. And before I log-in I already set my mind what to find, what to read, then when I log-in just look into those what I have decided to read.

    And just like what you have mentioned, “You can bookmark it to come back to it later during leisure time.” And I really do this. I read the feeds in an expanded view. Do a quick scan, and star the articles that I think I want to read further in my leisure time.

    So far this make me having a balance input and output.

    Sorry for my long comment, I might write my own article in the near future. You inspired me with this post. Thanks a lot.

  9. 11
    March 14th, 2008 at 10:24 am

    @Reah – that’s awesome! Thank you for sharing that! Hope to see you here again!


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