It’s 6 AM and you are ready to do some work related to your online business: writing the next free report for your e-mail list. You have an hour to do your work until the rest of the family wakes up.
You fire up your computer and open the word editing software of your choice. However, as soon as the blank page opens in front of you, you feel kind of helpless. After pondering for around ten minutes, you don’t have anything concrete written on the screen and you start to feel frustrated.
It’s now 06.20 AM and you barely have anything useful written on that document. Then, at 06.27 AM, you get an idea and you start writing an initial outline of the report. At 06.46 AM you have at least something on the screen as you start writing the first words.
Needless to say, you keep adding and deleting sentences, as you are not happy with what you see on the document. Then it’s 07.04 AM and your family wakes up. You have pretty much wasted the whole hour for planning your work when instead you should have couple of pages written already.
Yes, you are pissed, and that’s not a good way to start your day. So the question is: Are you going to repeat all this again and again?
The simple habit that is missing
This example was related to online business, but the same can happen in any profession or in anything you set out to do.
All this frustration and being pissed comes from one simple reason that you fail to acknowledge: You are not preparing for your work enough. In fact, when failing to do the preparation you are eating into the valuable minutes of your actual working time and that’s why you aren’t seeing any results.
Had you done some planning and preparation in advance, you’d have probably finished your task (or at least had a great start on it) and you would feel much better about your situation.
Actually, what is happening here is way too common, but there is a simple way to fix it. But first, do you know what your excuse for not doing the obvious (the preparation) is?
What is your excuse?
It’s very easy to just jump into your work without doing any preliminary actions, like planning or preparing for your tasks. That’s why it’s also very easy to get disappointed if you are not careful.
First, you might just have something better to do than planning and preparing. This could be anything, from watching TV to even doing otherwise mundane tasks – like cleaning your home or washing the dishes.
Then, you may not just give enough value to this whole preparation phase. You may find it useless and want to spend the time instead on doing something nice (like watching your favorite TV show).
Finally, you think that all this planning and preparation is just a waste of time, since plans never work and the preparation is just some extra thing that you have to do on top of your actual work.
All these reasons are unfortunately very common and there is a price to pay: Missing deadlines, frustration, and longer-than needed workdays.
Get those lost minutes back – right now!
It’s no secret what I’m going to tell you here: To fix the situation, you need to change your attitude towards preparation and standardize the whole process.
What this means is that you grow a habit out of preparation. In order to create this beneficial habit, take these steps:
1. Remember your priorities. Understand that in order to maximize your time, you need to prepare your work. If you fail to do this, you’ll pay the price.
Let’s say that you waste 10 minutes every day (from Monday to Friday) of your actual working time on pondering. As such, you are already losing 50 minutes from your precious time on a weekly basis.
In that time you could:
- Write a guest post for another blog
- Write exclusive content for your e-mail list
- Record a video for your e-mail subscribers
- + other valuable things that take takes your online business further
Even though that 10 minutes may not seem that much, it’s the cumulative nature of the time that makes the difference. It all adds up and you may not even notice it.
Especially if you work part-time on your online business, you have even less time to waste. That’s why every minute counts, and when you understand your priorities, you can cut down the time wasted considerably.
2. Register into an online task management software. If you are not using a task management software of any kind, it’s time to do so now.
I’m using a software called Nozbe, but you can choose from any of the applications that are available for various operating systems, smartphones, or as a cloud-based service.
It’s easier to manage all your tasks in an application than keeping them in your head.
3. Take 15-30 minutes of your time every evening for preparation. Dedicate a small time block every evening, where you go through your tasks for the next day. If this time is too little, spend as much as necessary to do the required preparation.
For instance, I make sure that I have written all the blog post outlines ready the evening before, so that I can get into work mode as soon as I start my computer the next morning.
Just think about your task and try to figure out the steps that would complete the work faster if the preparation was properly done.
4. Remember the task wording. Tasks on your list should be self-explanatory.
- Write a blog post: <your topic>
- Send a reply to Sophie about <topic>
- Read through the document and send it for <person’s name here> proofreading
As you can see, the tasks are easy to understand, and after you have completed the task it’s done and you can cross it off of your list.
5. Make sure that your equipment is ready for you. Before you start working, make sure that all the necessary equipment is ready before you start working. That way you are ready to get started right away and without any unnecessary delays.
Especially if you are building your online business part-time, this is yet another of those moments where you could lose some valuable minutes if you didn’t prepare enough.
6. Understand your location. In some cases you can’t do all the work in the same location. This may happen if you work when the rest of the family is sleeping or if the environment is not suitable for a certain type of work.
For instance, I used to do some work related to my blog before going to my day job. However, since I was working early in the morning, things like recording a video or a podcast was out of the question (I didn’t want to wake everyone else up).
Try to remember this in the preparation phase and adjust your schedules and tasks accordingly.
7. Tweak your process further. This whole process is just a start and there is always room for improvement.
For instance, you could realize that a certain type of document that you write every time from scratch could be built as a template. That way you wouldn’t be repeating the same steps over and over again and wasting those precious minutes of your working day.
Hopefully I was able to sell you the benefits of preparation. Just make sure you know your game plan before you start working. This way you actually get work done and you don’t waste your time wondering what to do.
As Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the phone said: “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” Those are the words of a wise man that shouldn’t be forgotten.