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THE #1 Internet Business Time Management Tool

by Steve Scott | Join Him On Facebook

Every single day I use a sophisticated tool that allows me to perfectly manage my time and ensure that I’m only working on the things that bring actual results.

This tool helps me do important things like:  Create content for this blog, increase my affiliate income, manage my information product, use social media to network with people, and write my forthcoming affiliate marketing course.

iPhone Timer AlarmAt any given moment; this device helps me know exactly what I need to do and when I should do it.

What is this tool you ask?

It’s the timer on my iPhone!

You might be a little disappointed after that build up.  But hear me out!

By the time you’ve completed this post; you’ll be convinced that a simple timer can have an incredible impact on the success of your Internet business.

Introducing…Parkinson’s Law

Cyril Northcote Parkinson is famous for his adage which states: “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

To put it simply, if you allot 8 hours for a project, somehow you’ll find a way to do it…in exactly 8 hours.

Think of the work that’s often done by full-time employees. If you give them a job to do in 8 hours, they’ll take that long to do it.   However if you halved that time somehow they’d still manage to complete it.

In my opinion, many people (myself included) find unique and interesting ways to procrastinate when we have too much time on our hands.  But if you had a proverbial gun pointed at your head, I’d bet you’d find a way to get it done a lot quicker.

How does this relate to a timer on an iPhone?

I’ve discovered the best way to manage your time is to structure a schedule around specific blocks of time where you work on a project.  Each “working period” has a strict start time and end time.  Once you’re done…YOU’RE DONE.

When working on a project, I purposefully restrict my time block so I’m completely focused on what needs to get done.  I set the timer on my iPhone to ring when work is finished.  Then I take a quick break and immediately move on to something else.

This technique works because I don’t spend all day on a project.  Instead I limit the time and make sure that I’m focusing 100% of my attention on this task.

Example:  Every morning I get up; drink a large glass of water, and eat a light breakfast.  Then I immediately sit down in front of my laptop and set my iPhone timer to go off in 1 ½ hours.  During this time I work on the “affiliate marketing course project.”

This technique helps me efficiently chip away at a large project in a systematic manner.  I don’t get burnt out because I limit the amount of time that’s spent on this particular task.

In fact, I’m usually disappointed when the timer goes off because I feel like I could have written so much more.

Implementing a Timer-Centric Approach to YOUR Internet Business

Wow this subtitle is a mouthful.  Try saying that five times really fast!

Anyway I highly recommend using a timer if you struggle with “getting things done” for your Internet business.

To get started, check out the post on The Art of Completing Internet Marketing Projects.  Then block out periods of time where you work on an individual task for your Internet business.

Finally you don’t have to go out and buy an iPhone like I did.  A small egg timer or computer alarm does the exact same thing.  The important thing is to use a device that’s completely reliable.

You’ll find that limiting the amount of time for a project has a dramatic impact on your productivity.

You’ll work quicker and produce better results.

Right now, I urge you to grab a timer and use it to help manage your projects.

The clock is ticking…

Take Action. Get Results.




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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Robert Dempsey@Internet Marketing Strategies

Hi Steve great point. In software development there is a method called Pomodoro. How it works is you do 25 minutes of work and then step away for 5 minutes. You do this over and over again. People that use this not only for software but generally for work increase their productivity big time as they are focusing on the task at hand, and get to step away. A timer (like the one on your phone) works like a charm and ensures that you only work for the 25 minutes. I have a feeling that the time constraint works as well.

Self-discipline can be hard to achieve when you work all by yourself and are pretty much beholden to no one. It’s the blessing and the curse of self-employment. Using tricks like these we can ensure we stay on task and are focused on the work.

I use an app called Things on my Mac and iPhone and am always working on my top priority items. I’ve found that timers just piss me off so I dumped that. Glad to hear it works well for you though.

I highly recommend trying this technique. So a big +1 for Steve on this.

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Steve Scott

Personally 25 minutes writing for me isn’t enough to set into a flow of writing. I can imagine that reading code though…25 minutes might even be too long.

It is partially for the “keep it fresh” aspect that these breaks are good, but it also helps to get things done. Nature truly does, “abhor a vacuum” and when you give too much leeway you find ways to fill the time.

I will have to check out, “things” …. I can be a little slow on getting the coolest of apps. I just got this one about a month ago, up until then i was actually using a wind up egg timer. (I carried it with me all through europe…lol)

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Robert Dempsey@Internet Marketing Strategies

Agreed – I can’t work in 25 minute increments, but the example can be adjusted. The way that “Things” works is it’s project focused. Each of my sites, along with everything else I’m into, is a project. You have all the tasks with due dates under the project. As it syncs with my iPhone I can just enter stuff in and then go to bed without me head yelling at me to not forget stuff. Works like a charm. It also helps to keep the highest priority stuff in front of you, using either the due date or how you sort the tasks. Great stuff.

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Steve Scott

Hmmmm That really might work for me. All my “tasks” are project oriented. I separate everything I want to do by projects and then assign time blocks to do it each day IE 50 min time blocks do: 2 blocks of A, 1 block of B, 2 Blocks C etc. etc. and then cross off the blocks as i have done the time on them. It is awkward for some…works like a champ for me though… Having a over-arching tasker on the iphone could be a good way to keep on top of the big picture

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James M

This is similar to how I am working. I’m basically given only an hour or two a day to get things done, so I have to break up my tasks into time blocks. If I didn’t do it that way, I think I would end up staring at my task list and not doing anything, or would keep starting big projects and never finishing them.

I use Nirvana (nirvanahq.com) for my consulting business, and then Google Tasks for everything else (can sync it to my phone, Gmail account, and it’s free).

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Steve Scott

James,

Done right, breaking it up like that makes sure you get to everything. Personally I think it is a great method we use. Some people just don’t “get it”.

In some ways I think organization is a very personal thing. when someones gets something that works for them they cling to it with dear life.

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TheInfoPreneur

Scott,
I like it. You know…it’s simple, but that’s all that is really needed, right?
We all get so log jammed with fads and high tech stuff, that sometimes we just need to keep it simple…as you’ve done.

PS…I’m sure your affiliate marketing product will be great! You’ve definitely been proving you are crushing it.

Take care,
Brandon

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Steve Scott

Brandon,

Yup…Simple is the new complicated! ;)

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alam

Great post, I have problem with time management. Starting my day with facebook bring me to spend whole day with chat, play game etc. When I start my day with checking writing post I can get more post and more. Your method is good, I’ll use that for remind me and discipline my work.
Thanks.

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Steve Scott

I have mixed feelings about facebook and twitter. On one hand they are great ways to interact and connect with people. they are also great tools if you do use them to truly interact.

On the other hand I am even MORE strict with my time on those networks, because like you say it is very easy to ‘lose time’ while on those networks. As a matter of fact I think their whole business model revolves around that.

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Riley Harrison

Hi Steve,
You are a kindred spirit with my wife who wears a timer like a necklace. And is the most efficient person I know. Time really equates to life and isn’t to be wasted. Great post – thanks.
Riley

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Steve Scott

Timer like a necklace…that is cool! I don’t think I take it to “that” level…but perhaps close.

Time is precious when you have a lot to do and still want to have some sort of a “life”

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Daniel M. Wood

Hi Scott,

I talk a lot to people about parkinsons law it is very important and central to efficiency. I use it in everything, goal setting, project planning, doing activities and so on. Everything needs deadlines and time contraints.

Have you heard of the 15 minute method?
I was introduced to it by Steve Pavlina. It is a great recipie for procrastination.
Every time you take up a new task you just promise to work 15 minutes. After those 15 minutes it is okay to stop, but if you are on a role, feel free to continue.

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Steve Scott

No, I haven’t heard about this method yet, I will have to check it out. I am not sure if it is for me, though. I am too easily distracted by the “bright and shinies” of the internet so I personally prefer the more rigid time control.

Always worth checking out new ideas and seeing how they work though….

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lawmacs

I never use the timer on my iphone but now that you have mentioned it i will give it a go. Time management is important but the most important ingredients in time Managing tool is “Focus” i learn that if i stay focus i can write a post in about 30 mins this does not include review time.

Reply

Steve Scott

Gary,
Yeah…focus is the key. Everyone will likely have there own personal method that makes them focus and be at top productivity (or they should get one) but it is important to learn that focus and make sure it translates to your writing and efficiency and quality.

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Jimi Jones

I’ve used a timer, and still do occasionally but only when *really* pressed for time. Need to be more consistent with it and make a habit of using it daily. Taking breaks and walking away from my work is something I am consistent about. It’s amazing how refreshed you feel after a short getaway.

Thanks for the reminder, I’m going to work on this.

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Alex@Jocuri

Hey Steve,

I did notice that when you are under pressure to finish a certain task in a certain amount of time, your work faster and are more productive, this also works best (at least for me) when you work with a reward system. An example would be to set a time for 2 h to work on something and if when you finish that time, you will go an eat your favorite snack, or drink your favorite beverage.

Also, scheduling your tasks everyday and motivating yourself, that if you finish all your tasks earlier then you will have more free time is an other way to make things done.

I am procrastinating a lot, I don’t think that any schedule or timer can help me out anymore. I tried to have a set of plans for the day, but I always end up doing something else that seems more important. I might be a lost cause :(.

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Fran Aslam From Onlinewriter

Hi Steve:

Yes it is possible to be focused and work smarter within a limited time. You have to be super active, positive and alert about all the aspects. Doing it few time will make it a habit and then you will do it naturally .

But saving time should mean more entertainment time, then it will work better. If it means another skilled activity, it will be hard to keep doing it every day. As human machine does not work without entertainment, at its best.

Fran A

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Adam Paudyal

Steve; I use a crappy razor phone for right now. Like you mentioned it does make a huge impact in managing time, being effective and getting things done.

Find Interesting and unique ways to procrastinate…haha.. I so agree here brother! Your post on the Art of Completing Internet Marketing Projects is a very insightful post. Awesome read!

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Patricia@lavenderuses

Hi Steve

You and Murray (Murlu.com) must be 2 of the most motivated and disciplined guys I know in the blogosphere! Now I know what to do with a timer my Mother was given and has no use for ;-)

I love networking so limiting my time on Twitter and blog hopping would/should be a priority! Really helpful post Steve.

l have to get one of my blogging buddies to check how I’m doing once I tell them I’m implementing this for the project I am now working on.

Patricia Perth Australia

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Timo Kiander

Steve,

Yes, this technique definitely works.

I have been using a timer for couple of years when I’m working and it has made wonders to my productivity.

I’m able to focus so much better to a task at hand than without a timer.

Mostly I’m using Cool Timer (for PC), but occasionally I set an alert to my mobile phone. Either way, timer works :)

Reply

Steve Scott

Timo,

It is amazing how something so simple can improve effectiveness, eh! Perhaps some people wouldn’t work as well being “under the clock” but I am amazed how much it increases productivity. Thanks for the comment!

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Aloys@Yeast infection in men

Great points Scott. Being self-employed, I’m starting to see the benefits of allotting set times for my tasks instead of spreading myself thin through the day. I am not timing myself at this point but am instead trying to be conscious of the time spent on tasks, but I might get to timing myself so as to have some pressure on me during work.
Like Scott, I schedule my core work in the morning, and leave blog reading and commenting and other learning that I do in the afternoon and evening. It’s a little more difficult to keep schedules when you have kids :)

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Henrik Hedberg

Hi, I find that the pomodoro technique works for me, and there’s of course an app for that also. I can concentrate 25 minutes without distraction and then use the 5 minute break to stretch, walk around, drink water.

My wife, on the other hand, cannot take 5 minute breaks when she gets into the flow. She just ignores the rest of the world for some hours, immersed in what she is doing. This is just an individual thing. But allocating a certain amount of time to a task is good, it is like putting up a goal, even if you miss it by a little, you are ususally much more ahead than without the goal.

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Jennifer Barry

Hi Steve, I don’t usually use a timer for work, just cooking. Sounds like it’s worth a try! I already limit my time on social networks because it’s too easy to lose time and forget to do key tasks before it’s too late in the day.

I definitely agree about work expanding to fit the time. I can be a real perfectionist with my writing, so something that should take an hour or two can take all afternoon if I let it.

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Steve Scott

Jennifer. Glad you are already eliminating distractions. it is just too easy to lose time on Facebook and twitter and the like.

As I see surprising how much more it done with limiting my time. The funny thing is… I don’t think the quality suffers that much since I make sure I get it done early enough that I’m not rushing something to post that isn’t good enough.

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Marcus Sheridan-The Sales Lion

Steve, loved this post man. I like a little time pressure with tasks. In fact, have you ever used Egg Timer before? Here’s the link:

http://www.e.ggtimer.com/

It’s the best and most simple I’ve seen for people like yourself (although the iPhone is great too ;-) )

Marcus

Reply

Steve Scott

LOl,

I used a “real” eggtimer for years. Actually I have seen the program. I do like that too and have used it on and off also.

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Derick LIM

Hi Steve.

very true with your post talking about setting timer on our project.
I realized there are two good friends we ought to get to know them.
Please allow me to introduce them:-
1) Timer
2) Self-Discipline

These two essentials partners could either make or break whatever our project/assignment we are currently in.

Perhaps I’ll be looking forward to have hear your comment or feedback regarding Self Discipline.
But then again, whatever your comments are……we are always learning……teachable attitude
Thanks bro…

regards
Derick LIM

Reply

Steve Scott

Derick,

No doubt. Any tool is worthless without the self discipline to use it. A tool is only as good as the effort a person is willing to put into it.

The perfect example is a treadmill. Person A uses it to get in shape. Person B uses it for a few days and then it becomes a place to stack laundry.

Self discipline is at the core of everything.

I just had a post that talked about something that can -help- slef discipline, though.

Creating “habits” can be done in 30 days. When the use of something becomes an ingrained habit, it becomes a lot easier to implement it every single day because it works its way into your routine.

Of coarse you still need the self-discipline to get to that point..

Thanks for a great comment Derick

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project planning online

I agree with Robert – I use the Pomodoro technique.

I think the key is to break things down to things that can be done in 25 minutes – the point being that every 25 minutes you achieve something and tick it off of the list. Longer than 25 minutes, as you’re likely to lose focus. Then there is the idea that you fit your work into the amount of time available – so if you gave yourself 2 days for example, it would likely take that long to complete, where maybe 3 sessions of 25 minutes might be enough (extreme idea, I know, but I believe that it is possible) Timeboxing is a very effectively project management technique to get things done.

By the way, I also have a background in programming – writing code is no different to writing a book, actually I’d say you’d need a greater focus for writing code.

Using the iPhone is a great idea, as it is easy to access anywhere. There are iPhone pomodoro timers if you wanted a tomato flavour to your timer!

Reply

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