5 Time Suckers for the Internet Entrepreneur

Time Management
For the past month or so I’ve been neglecting my business somewhat. I’ve been working my usual hours but looking back the time I’ve been investing has often been wasted. You could say I’ve spent the last month learning how to be busy without actually doing anything, which isn’t smart. So where’s the time going.

As I do the majority of my business on the Net, email is the preferred and predominant communication method. I currently get around a thousand emails a day, of which Google automatically trashes about 700. This still leaves 300 that need reading ad responding to or deleting. What I’ve been doing in the last month is checking my email way too often and often reading an email without acting on it so needing to read it again, so losing double the amount of time.

Starting as of yesterday my solution to this is to just check email twice a day and have the time set aside to act on all received. If I am waiting for an email off somebody I will do quick scans throughout the day but only open the email I’m waiting for.

Checking Statistics
Checking (the right) stats is an important job but doing it too frequently or following the wrong stats is a real resource drain. A sample of stats that you can check are:

  • Todays visitors
  • Current Technorati Ranking
  • Current feed subscription numbers
  • Affiliate revenue(various networks)
  • Chitika revenue
  • Adsense earnings

Once you multiply the stats against a number of sites you could be creating a large and pretty pointless chore.

There’s a lot to be gained from analysing stats but analysing and watching are two very different things.

So I’m moving back to analysing rather than monitoring and if there is something that needs monitoring on a daily basis it should be automated.

RSS Subscriptions
With the nature of my business I read a lot of different sites, some of which are very useful but a fair few are well over due a culling. There are also a fair few news ones that are time sensitive so if I don’t read on the day they are written there’s not much point. So plan here is to remove a load of feeds from my reader and organise the rest into both subjects and importance then if any of the not so important ones are building up I’ll just mark them as read. Finally I’ll set aside an amount of time each day to go through them so as bot to be checking throughout the day.

Desktop Tower Defense
I will not play Desktop Tower Defense, I will not play Desktop Tower Defense, I will not play Desktop Tower Defense, I will not play Desktop Tower Defense, period. God that game is a time sucker, I have now managed to complete the 100 challenge with 9 lifes intact so that’s enough for me (until the next version).

Failing to Plan
When I was running my business around a day job I had to use my time much more wisely and plan what I needed to achieve each evening/weekend. I seem to of stopped doing that and without a plan it is so easy to drift from one job to another. So now each evening the last thing I’ll do is plan what I want to accomplish tomorrow.

My friend Johan once had the following in his sig (don’t get more on forums being a time sucker): “If today was a test how did you do?” and for the past month my honest answer would be “Could do (a lot) better” so time to put some changes into effect.

If you have any ideas about time management I’d love to hear them and if you asked yourself the question “If today was a test how did you do?” whay would your answer be.

About Al Carlton

Al quit the 9 to 5 rat race in January of 2007, before then he was a software engineer and systems architect of financial system. Nowadays Al spends the days running his various businesses and experimenting with different ideas and opportunities.
Al can be found on twitter at AlCarlton.


  1. Its so easy to waste time when you have got work to do, especially with the internet at your hands, and web apps like stumbleupon.
    For your RSS feeds I would suggest Netvibes
    Good luck and regards

  2. On efficiency the best advice I ever got was to schedule my priorities and trust that all the small things will fit around. Have a look at this Covey video and see if it makes sense. “First Things First” is a great read on efficiency.
    and part 2

    • Cool videaos, thanks. A bit easier to watch than read the books, I like a lot of Covery stuff but find the books a bit heavy going.

  3. Time wasting is an art form that once proficient at it, you will not know you are doing it all. Desktop Tower Defence - I hold selfmademinds completely responsible! I would also like to blame freecell on you as well but I don’t think I can back that up with a good reason (22 straight wins!!).
    Emails are my main culprit, acting on a new email before finishing what I’m doing for a previous email and then end up spending far too long on it. I am trying to plan things a bit better and only look at blogs etc at lunchtime, but it is so easy to wander with the internet at my fingertips.

  4. Didn´t you say no more numbers in the title? Or that was Scott?

  5. I find a good trick for me is to organize my RSS feeds in order of priority, that way I give less concentration to the ones that will bring me less benefit. This feed is the first on my list.

  6. I look at all my tasks and work out what is time sensitive (ie, needs doing at a particular time). Once that list is in order I go through the smallest and easiest tasks first which normally take 30 minutes to an hour. The reason I do the quick tasks first is that there tends to be way more then the longer tasks and I hate having a job list with 30 tasks on. If I can clear 26 in an hour then I feel like I have accomplished a lot and I can concentrate on the 4 larger tasks for the rest of the day with out the clutter of another 26 on my desktop.

    I check stats about every 2 hours to see if I can identify any problems like revenue being down or loads of extra visitors, or lack of visitors.

    I find waking up early works best. Early to bed and early to rise seems to keep my mind clearer. I am most effective early in the morning.

    When I am not in the office I like to be up at 7am and working at 7:30am. I can then get most tasks completed for 12 and have a clear afternoon to plan, research and what not. Some say 7am isn’t early, but it works well for me.

    • 7am is way early, I’m more of a night owl.

      Checking stats every 2 hours seems a bit OTT (though I have done that before too), if your revenue is down it could be a temporary blip and not worth stressing over until you know for sure, what do you do when revenue looks down for the last 2 hours?

      • Hmmm…
        I wake up at 5:00 and work on sites till 6:00. Then 30 min running, breakfast preparation for the whole family. Waking up my sons and wife, at 7:30 up to the kindergarten and at 8:00 to my daily job. At 5 pm judo with my older son, we´re back at home at 6:30. Playing with boys. At 8:00 kids go to bed. Couple of romantic minutes with my wife and let´s go online at 9:30. 0:00 sleep.

        • I haven’t mastered the 5am wake up yet 🙂 Early hours for me are reserved for airport runs only when dropping family off. I best get used to it quick though with the first little one on the way in 8 weeks.

  7. In the past I tried to set up goals per month, then divide those goals per week & per day. However I ended up doing quite different things from the goals I had originally set up so I gave up … Now I plan only the important objectives I must get accomplished during the week. This works better for me. However I often get the feeling that I have accomplished little during the day. I like Matthew’s comment of incorporating also small things to get accomplished (and doing them early). Seeing many tasks scratched from a list may tell me otherwise.

    • I agree that it’s good to tick things of your list but I’d be more inclined to break bigger tasks down into smaller ones and do it that way rather than just doing the ongoing easy ones (if that’s what you meant). I actually liked your original idea of dividing your monthly goals into more manageable chunks.

  8. I came up with a similar daily schedule which I thought took the art of procrastination to its logical conclusion. I think you may just have trumped me.


  9. Most days would be “not as good as I could have” and the saddest thing is that I also know why. The reason is simply what you are experiencing too… fail to plan. The question I keep asking my self is: “Why does one keep failing to plan when one knows what to do”? “Why does one consciously avoid following the steps that one knows is essential”?

    • Mikael, I’ll make a deal with you, each night make a plan of what you want to do the next day. If it helps to motivate you you can always email it to me, tonight is normally my pub night but I’m delaying going until I’ve done tomorrows plan,

  10. Heheheh, it wasn’t quite a “day in the life”, but there are a few grains of truth in there 😉


  11. For me the hard thing is that I set goals, but with very short time to accomplish them. I fail, but I accomplish them later …and then I’m not to satisfied. I think that this is caused by the “instant gratification generation” or “I want it yesterday generation.” that we all live right now.

  12. How dare you link to Desktop Tower Defense? I didn’t get anything done today because of that link…

  13. Ok, I officially hate SMM now…

    and I hate desktop defense…

    and I can’t stop playing it…

  14. I’m a stats addict… If I could shake that I might have more content.

  15. Al, I am really into making charts and tables - they help saving a lot of time planning, but that is very personal for everyone.

    Ok, I am not writing about that - do you realize with this article you seemed to ruin everyone else’s plans by sucking their time?.. with Desktop Tower Defence.. )))))

  16. oh no why do you post the link to this game… I’m addicted now 🙁

    I agree about stats watching, I waste a lot of time to watch them for nothing but just to see them grown.

  17. Thanks Al, I might just do that 🙂

  18. My personal waster is email and the idiots who think that it is funny to spoof in my main business site as the return delivery address for bounced mail - 120,000 once overnight - at least it made me be a bit more careful with y email naming conventions.

  19. DTD is massive time waster i remember playing it day and night when i was addicted to it..now i am somehow avoiding it.

  20. If you haven’t read the Four Hour Workweek, you should. It has definitely helped me curb the time-wasting habit. Since then, I’ve been a lot more selective about what I read/play/do, constantly asking myself if it’s something that I truly enjoy or need, or if I’m just doing it to avoid doing other things I should be doing.

  21. Time is something I don’t seem to have enough of. I have a day job so use the time here to catch up on rss feeds during the morning, lunch and at the end of the day. My evenings/weekends (when not on family duty) are spent trying to get my shopping site and a few other projects off the ground. For this I have a long list of jobs to do, then each job is broken down into bite size tasks. Each week I prioritise the tasks to do that week and then tick them off as I complete them. The theory is I should work in a more focussed and efficiently manner. My ultimate goal is to sack off the day job and put my energy into working for myself.

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