Let’s face it. The Internet, with its extensive amounts of information, lightening fast speeds, and varied content, has become a necessary tool for any small business owner. However, that same information and interesting content is responsible for untold amounts of time wasting each day.
It is easy to fall prey to its charms. You log on to verify a shipment or research a new possible product line and it happens… you see a blurb about the hottest new vacation spot and off you go. Hours later you have read the latest international news, checked your investments, booked your next vacation and bought a pair of house shoes. Unfortunately, however, you haven’t gotten a bit of work done.
So, with all the temptation and the necessary information to contend with, what is an entrepreneur supposed to do? The answer is simple; you need to find a balance that focuses your efforts more successfully.
Start by reviewing your activity tracking worksheet again. This time, however, only scrutinize the entries that are related to Internet use. Pay close attention to the amount of time you spent surfing compared to the amount of actual work you completed. Once you can see the problem in black and white, you can actively see the need to do something about it.
Next, make an online “to do” list. While the heading “Internet” can be a daily entry on your regular “to do” list, you need to make a separate, more detailed list for your online activities each day. Include everything related to the Internet on this list including reading emails, ordering supplies, booking your vacation, even shopping for your mother’s birthday present.
Once your list is complete, reorder the entries according to priority. Next you should jot down an estimate of time next to each entry. For example, agree to let yourself spend ten minutes searching for and booking your hotel accommodations. Adjust the time allotment according to importance and degree of difficulty. Of course using one of the time tracker tools referenced in a previous chapter that tracks what program you’re using and for how long, does away with making notes about your time spent on line.
Once you have your list completed and your time boundaries in place, vow to adhere to the list. Also, select a dedicated time period of each day to concentrate on your online “To Do” list. This will keep you from hopping on and off the Internet at many different times throughout the day and running the risk of varying from your online “To Do” list.
So, now that you have your Internet time organized, how do you fight the temptation to wander off task? One good way is to take advantage of bookmarks. It is very easy to happen upon an interesting, and potentially important website while conducting a work related search. But, instead of ruining your well laid time management plans, bookmark the site and add exploring that site to a future “to do” list.
All browsers have a “Bookmark” or “Favorites” options that allows you to save web pages to a folder for later viewing. Take advantage of this time management tool by creating folders based on topic and interest and delegating all newly discovered sites to the appropriate folder for future viewing put them in a place where you can plan on time to review them instead of them costing you time and causing you frustration when you had not alloted time for “Favorites Site Review”.