We all start with the same amount of time in a day. Every single day.
So then why are some people ridiculously successful, and others aren't?
You could point to luck, sure.
But I'm not a big believer in luck. It's been my experience that the most successful people also work the hardest. They're simply driven to get stuff done.
But hardworking isn't the only trait that matters. That's the starting point. Having the drive to put distractions and lesser priorities aside is crucial, but it's just the first step.
What really makes the biggest difference is productivity.
If we all start with the same 24 hours in a day, it's about getting the most out of those 24 hours.
And it's even more challenging if you've got a full-time job and are starting (or running) a business on the side. You've still got other responsibilities that can't be neglected.
So where do you find the time? It's not a trick question. You know what it means.
It means putting in time before or after work. Or weekends. And that's less time to spend with family, friends, etc.
The key is maximizing the time you do have.
So whether you have a side business, want one, or are running a business full time, these tips will help you stay super productive:
1. Create Systems to Measure and Improve Your Productivity
Before you finally shut down your laptop, list down the activities that you want to perform the next day.
Doing so not only gives you a clear direction but also allows you to see how much you got done at the end of the day.
This could be done on a simple piece of paper or an app like Evernote or Google Keep.
However, a more accurate way to measure your productivity is to use a tracking tool like Rescue Time which has been a real life-changer for me.
It not only tracks everything you do on your laptop, smartphone, tablet or any other device you choose but also gives you a clear breakdown of where you spend most of your time.
You just need to add your core business activities and potential distractions once while setting up your account, and the app will start doing the rest for you.
2. Eat That Frog and Stop Procrastinating To Achieve More and Stay Happier
You don’t think there’s anything worse than eating a frog, right?
“Eat That Frog” is a bestselling book by Brian Tracy, a hugely successful businessman and a productivity expert.
In his book, he shares this theory by Mark Twain…
That if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that it’s probably the worse thing that is going to happen to you all day long.
Your frog is the biggest and the most important task of the day which you’re likely to procrastinate on.
Instead of pushing it down your to-do list, you need to eat that frog every morning (or evening, if you have a day job as well) to get things done faster.
Because research indicates that the longer you procrastinate on a task, the harder it becomes.
Eating that frog might feel difficult at the start but once it becomes a habit, nothing tastes better.
Seriously, give it a try…
3. Identify Your Most Productive Time and Make Full Use of It
My own productivity levels rise with the sun and go down as it sets, and in my own experience it's much easier to put in a couple of hours before work than after your day job.
But it’s different for everyone so there’s no fixed rule here.
If you think you can find a couple of distraction-free hours before work, then early morning might be the right time for you.
But if you think you can concentrate better after everyone's gone to bed at night then be a night owl.
Being a morning person, though, I do recommend that you try an early morning routine for at least a month and see how it goes.
Several studies show a direct relationship between productivity and getting up early, which is why some of the most successful entrepreneurs are early risers.
For example, Richard Branson, the billionaire founder of the Virgin Group, gets up at 4AM and conquers the day even before most people wake up.
4. Follow a Set Routine To Get Your Mind Working
All of us have the same 24 hours in a day.
When you're already working at a 9 to 5 job, there's little time to work on your own business since most of us have family commitments as well.
But some people still manage to achieve much more in that time than others.
No, it's not magic.
It's called time management and following well-defined routines.
A study by The University of Maine shows that following fixed daily routines improves your brain’s ability to focus on the task at hand and perform at the optimal level.
So what exactly do I mean by routines?
The objective of a routine is to structure your day for maximum productivity and work-life balance.
It allows you to live a normal life and not drown completely in the bottomless sea of IM (which can easily happen and ruin your family/social life).
Being an internet marketer means you can work whenever you want.
But for the sake of consistency, it’s better to fix your working hours or time slots for work.
More specifically, I believe it’s important to set an end time for your workday which acts as a deadline and gives you a sense of urgency to complete your daily tasks.
5. Plan Ahead, Set Goals and Focus on One Task at a Time
As a part-time niche marketer, you have limited time to work on your business.
Which is why you should never start working without clear goals.
Otherwise, you’ll always find yourself behind time, moving in different directions without achieving anything at the end of the day.
Or you might fall victim to the shiny object syndrome (something most beginner niche marketers suffer from) and waste money buying new courses or MMO programs instead of working on what you already know.
These are common problems for wannabe niche marketers who don't have clear goals.
It all needs to be planned in advance so that you have clarity about your immediate and long-term goals, even if it means spending the first 1-2 days of every quarter doing this activity.
6. Automate or Outsource Repetitive Tasks to Save Time
There’s so much to do it’s sometimes hard to prioritize and focus on the most important tasks.
Which is exactly why you need to filter your tasks through the 80/20, also known as the Pareto Principle.
Focus on the 20% of the most important activities that bring 80% of your results.
Automate or outsource the rest.
7. Time-Cap Email and Social Media To Minimize Distractions
Emails, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc. are all key platforms for niche marketers.
You can’t make a living online without them.
But they can easily distract you from your core tasks and eat up your
Email, in particular, is not only one of the biggest time-killers for online marketers but also a major source of distraction if not managed properly.
Studies suggest it takes almost 90 seconds to regain focus after reading 1 email.
And of course, most of us read more than one email every time we check our inbox.
One way to counter email and social media distractions is by time-capping both these activities.
I personally recommend checking emails only after you’ve achieved your top priority goal for the day.
This allows you to stay focused on your own agenda and follow your own plans.
Another management expert, Craig Jarrow, recommends checking email only twice a day.
Once early in the morning AFTER you’ve set your own agenda for the day, and once in the evening to catch up on anything important.
I apply the same rule to social media as well.
In fact, I recently deleted Facebook from my smartphone and only use it on my laptop when required, which has significantly reduced the time I wasted on the platform before.
You can learn more at Niche Hacks.