Guide For Content Creators On How To Waste Time
I remember the first time I bumped into author Tim Ferriss. We were both speaking at a conference and he rushed past me; he was running late and needed to get to his podium. Later I saw him dash out and head to his next appointment. Turned out that the author you would think would be more mellow and efficient than any of us — after all, he wrote “The Four-Hour Work Week” — was hustling like no-one’s business.
That’s because he was dealing with something we all have to manage, whether we’re the CEO of a newly funded startup, a coder fighting a customer fire, or manager of a Website that publishes articles about gem collecting: time wasters.
Content Creators have a finite amount of time, duh…
You know what I’m talking about, I’m sure. There’s no way to avoid these time-wasters. It’s the 5 minutes spent finding the right charging cord in the mess of a desk drawer when someone borrows yours without returning it. It’s debugging Microsoft Word which is suddenly reporting that Arial is an unknown font.
It’s the warnings from Google Search Console that tell you there’s an uptick in 404 errors that turns out to be a hosting problem and nothing to do with your site at all. Which, of course, you figure out after two hours of phone calls and emails back and forth.
Where time is typically wasted
As a content producer myself, I know where I waste time. I have lots of meetings and can spend 1-2 hours just driving around from place to place. I track a lot of Web sites (ya have to keep up on the state of the art, after all) and that commonly leads down innumerable rabbit holes, Wikipedia lookups and Google searches.
Email is another black hole and probably the worst offender in terms of stealing time. Those funny memes, the cute/sexy messages from your significant other, even junk mail and vendor newsletters. They don’t respect work/play time separation, so how can we?
Worse, each of us is more efficient and more productive at different times of the day. I’m far more efficient in the morning and by 2-3 in the afternoon am often done for the day. At least, in terms of peak productivity. Which can be a problem if I have a few more major tasks to accomplish before I wrap it up for the day.
Add it all up and the problem is that an eight hour work day isn’t enough time to squeeze eight actual hours of work out of.
Leave the house at 8am sharp and by the time you’ve grabbed your coffee, lucked out and found a parking spot, made it into work, caught up on sports or the latest TV drama with colleagues, it’s 9.00, or maybe even 9.30. And noon? You don’t want to grab lunch then and be in the big lines, so maybe 11.45 works better. Back at 1pm, it’s siesta time — or possibly The Boring Meeting Hour — and productivity is at its nadir. Then 4pm is a good time to start sending out some texts and emails to plan the evening activities. That’s not even close to eight hours of working, is it?
Blocking out all the interruptions
An even bigger challenge content creators have in this always-on world are interruptions. Turns out that however much you believe you’re the queen or king of multitasking, you’ll be faster, more efficient and produce better work if you just focus on one darn thing at a time. Turn off the notifications. Mute your phone. Power down your smartwatch. Even one hour each day where you focus, interruption free, on your primary task can produce astonishing results.
Training others to respect your routine
You can also train everyone around you that, yes, you get to tasks and do them well, but that their crisis and lack of time management doesn’t mean you’re always willing to deal with every single darn thing as an emergency. Not every email needs to be read immediately, not every text needs a response within seconds. Social media posts will still be there two hours later.
Speaking of social media, turn it off during work hours. Just do it. You’ll be pleased how much more you can accomplish once you stop stalking all your friends on Facebook and SnapChat. And let’s be honest: how much of social media is truly interesting stuff anyway?
Which reminds me, I should post about this article on Facebook…