7 Unproductive Habits of Highly Ineffective Online Entrepreneurs

unproductive habits
Please note: This post is much longer than what I thought it would be (over 2400 words). Still, it’s a message that every online entrepreneur has to understand, in order to get the results they are looking for.

Habits define our lives and also how successful we are.

Some of the habits are good ones and we should definitely continue doing them (exercising, eating healthy…) while others are far from optimum.

It’s utmost important that any online entrepreneur should watch out for these negative habits and find a way to replace them with more positive ones.

In this post, I’m going to help you find alternative approaches to the most common unproductive habits that don’t serve us and which take us farther away from our goals.

1. Complaining for nothing

Ah … this is my favorite one.

Isn’t it so satisfying to complain why a particular guru strategy doesn’t work, why this or that e-mail service provider is crappy, or why this particular training program costs so much money?

I know, I have been there too and it is indeed very satisfying. However, the “good” feeling you get out of the complaining is only temporaryand it’s by no means a long-term strategy.

The next time you feel like complaining, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is there something I can do to fix the situation?
  • Didn’t I understood what I was getting myself into when I started with ([insert your activity here]?
  • Is there an alternative way to handle the source of irritation – or to ignore it altogether?
  • Have I just started and am I not skilled enough?
  • Am I failing to take responsibility of my actions?
  • Am I judging something too soon?
  • Can I outsource this frustration?

To open up these points, consider the following examples:

  •  Is there something I can do to fix the situation?

So the user interface on this website is messy and it’s driving you nuts – so have you contacted the owner to fix the situation?

  • Didn’t I completely understand what I was getting myself into when I got started?

Yes, building an online business while having a day job requires some temporary sacrifices – like skipping your favorite TV-show or waking up at 5.30 a.m.

  • Is there an alternative way to handle the situation – or to ignore it altogether?

This particular piece of app crashes all the time – perhaps there is an alternative you could use? Or do you even need this app in the first place?

  • Have I just started and I’m not skilled enough?

If this other blogger/marketer/entrepreneur is very successful, it’s useless to be jealous of his/her success. At one point he/she was also a beginner and felt frustrated too. Nevertheless, he/she took action – consistent action – and that’s why this person is so good at what he/she is doing.

  • Am I failing to take responsibility of my actions?

Your e-mail list is still small, but perhaps you should stop spending so much time on Twitter and start a guest posting campaign to improve your figures?

  • Am I judging too soon?

The free app is still in its beta phase, so spending time on blaming its shortcomings is unproductive. Why not giving the developer some solid feedback about the situation and get the thing fixed?

  • Can I outsource this frustration?

All this admin work takes so much of your time and effort – perhaps you could outsource at least some of the work to someone else?

When I look at the list, I almost feel guilty of using them in the past. At the same time, I can always look myself in the mirror, take responsibility, and decide to do things differently.

Remember: The sooner you replace a negative behavior with a positive one, it grows into a good habit and this makes you a stronger online entrepreneur and a human being.

2. Letting Low-Value Tasks Overcome High-Value Tasks

It’s so tempting to check out your Facebook profile often, find out who just e-mailed you, or watch that funny video on YouTube.

Unfortunately, most of the time they do not add anything to your bottom line. Doing the fun stuff first is a sure way to get distracted and let the procrastination kick into high gear.

So why not just turn things around: Create a positive habit of getting that important stuff done first and then rewarding yourself with the fun stuff?It works wonders and you actually feel good about yourself when doing so.

Wake up earlier than what you usually do and get started with your important tasks right away. And when you feel like a little bit of fun, schedule some fun time in your schedule(but after doing some serious work first).

Another tip is to have a distraction listwhere you jot down all the thoughts that pop into your mind while working. I have realized that these thoughts are mostly low-value tasks, which take me away from the work I was doing.

The distraction list is nothing more than a piece of paper, which lists all the “stuff” you’d like to do while working (but which you’ll resist doing until later time).

distraction list

My distraction list. Looks messy for sure :)

 

When you decide to process the list, take care of the items at once. That saves your time and improves your focus considerably.

3. Not Stretching Your Comfort Zone

You have probably heard about stretching your comfort zone over and over again, but there is a real reason for that.

The fact is that if you keep yourself inside the zone all the time, you’ll most likely get the same results you have always gotten and you stop growing as a human being.

stretching your comfort zone

Take a brave move and really stretch that zone by doing something new and different. For instance, I’m doing my first mini-seminar very soon with a friend of mine. The seminar is aimed for local small-business owners and it’s about time and stress management.

Is that a comfort-zone stretcher? Indeed!

However, there is another important component embedded into this whole comfort zone topic and that’s becoming an authority. If your goal is to become a real expert in your niche, then it’s time to step up and start working with people.

As a blogger, it’s very easy to write stuff and just publish content on your blog. But when you decide to start working with people and exposing your expertise to them in live situations (speaking, consulting, coaching), that’s when you make quantum leaps in learning and becoming a recognized expert.

I want to learn more about my market, so I’m looking forward to doing more speaking and even free consulting over the phone very soon. For many, this is definitely stretching your comfort zone (yes, for me too!), but at the end of the day it’s totally worth it.

4. Leaving tasks 80% finished

One of the things I have struggled in the past was leaving things incomplete. In other words, I would execute a task, but still the following would occur:

  • The task was only 80% done (in other words, it wasn’t really done)
  • I crossed the task off my task list too quickly
  • I had to finish the task some later time

As you can understand, this kind of activity is very unproductive since you are not taking care of the work at once. And since the task is unfinished, the Zeirgarnik effect kicks in and “haunts” you as long as the task is unfinished.

So the next time you are facing a moment when you want to give up on the task too soon, do the following:

1. Prepare mentally. Be aware that a task you are supposed to do can contain a series of other smaller tasks. And in order to declare a task fully done, you have to tackle each one of these smaller tasks.

2. Figure out the optimum time. Can you work without distractions? Are your energy levels high?

When I’m not distracted, fully rested, and I have blocked out the time for the task, I’m in my most productive state. Understand what requirements you have for reaching this similar state and then take care of the task at once.

3. Don’t break the momentum. This final step is a reminder of appreciating the momentum. In other words, why prematurely stop working on the task when you have just started?

For instance,

  • If it’s responding to every customer feedback, do it at once
  • If it’s about writing newsletter content for a month in advance, do it at once
  • If it’s about proofreading your blog posts or your forthcoming e-book, do it at once

Getting tasks 100% done requires some practice, but it’s a great way to clear your head and use your mental energies for something more productive.

5. Not preparing enough for your execution time

It’s very easy to do the wrong kind of work when you should be focusing on high-value stuff.

Instead, split your working time into two parts: Preparation time and execution time.Both parts are important, but especially when you can shift some of the work to your preparation time, you can achieve a victory much faster.

Here is an example of some of the tasks you could do during both of these times:

Preparation:

  • Outlining your coming blog posts
  • Making sure your computer and other equipment is ready when you start working
  • Planning the tasks and identifying high-value tasks for the coming day
  • Planning your webinar/presentation slides

Execution:

  • Writing your next e-book
  • Building relationships with other people in your industry
  • Writing a guest post for a big blog
  • Creating your 1ooo true fans – 1-by-1

The idea is simple: Do as much of the planning and preparation work in advance, so that you are not spending your valuable execution time for those kinds of tasks.

6. Not documenting and having checklists

When you are building your online business, there are both one-time and recurring tasks you have to take care of. Once you knock out your one-time tasks off your task list, it’s done and you can move forward.

However, it’s those recurring tasks that can be time consuming and it’s very easy to waste time on them. These tasks could be like:

  • Writing a blog post/guest posts
  • Setting up a new WordPress site
  • Recording a podcast show or a video
  • Promoting a blog post
  • Packing your suitcase for the next business trip

Unfortunately, many people start working from scratch every time they do tasks like these. But what if you created a checklist out of recurring task?

In other words, create the checklist one time (and keep it updated) and then refer to it every time you execute a recurring task. This helps you to finish this particular task much faster.

Another major reason for wasting time in your online business is the lack of proper documentation. So why waste time on trying to remember something when writing things down would help you to remember them betteror would keep your project’s wheels rolling much easier?

All that is needed is to start writing information down that you might use later on. Just pick a cloud service (I’m using Google Drive) and store your documents there. This way you could easily access the information – either from your laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

For instance, all the documents related to running this blog are stored in one place and I can speed up the execution of certain tasks by taking a look at a given document if needed.

Google Drive project folder

7. Stepping into distraction mode too easily

Distraction is indeed very common “illness” we have to deal with. Even when you work from home, the distractive elements are still in place. And if you are not careful, the distraction could take over and you can kiss goodbye to a productive workday.

Here are some of the most common sources for distractions and simple ways to handle them:

  •  Checking e-mails too often

Define a schedule to process your e-mail, 2-3 times per day (the less the better).

  •  Family members distracting you

Train your family to respect your work. Set boundaries, let them know why you are working on your computer and have a family calendar (mark your important events there).

  • Spreading yourself too thin (too many projects)

Understand that working on multiple projects at once is actually slower than finishing a one and then moving to another (thanks for Stever Robbins for pointing it out in his excellent book). So get the first project done and then move on to the next one.

  • Your mind is wandering

Two things that have helped me a great deal are:

a) Power naps

b) Writing your thoughts down

If I work tired, I’m unable to focus on my work and most likely I make a lot of mistakes that force me to go back and fix things. That’s why taking a quick nap of 20-minutes will do wonders for me.

Also, as my mind keeps processing information in the background all the time, new ideas and tasks pop into my head when I’m doing productive work.

It would be very easy to start following every possible distractive thought. Instead, I have a distraction list (see item #2 on this post), I gather all the thoughts in it and process the list at a more proper time.

  • The wrong location.

Finally, the location can also be a source for distraction.

Even if you work from home and your family keeps interrupting you – no matter how much you have trained them – you have to take things to another level in order to have a bulletproof focus.

For instance, you could go to a coffee shop or a public library during those times you want to stay focused on your work. By testing various locations, you can learn the best environment you should be working on if working at home is not possible.

Conclusion

If you manage to tackle these seven unproductive habits, you’ll start seeing the real results in your online business. Your overall productivity will increase and you will feel a sense of accomplishment.

Just take one habit at a time, implement it in your life, and then move on to the next. This way you start to see real results in your online business.

Over to you: What habits would you like to get rid of when it comes to your online business?

Image credits: Photo ExtremistMax Frank

About Timo Kiander

My name is Timo Kiander aka Productive Superdad.

I want to show you how to improve your productivity when working at home and find time for the fun stuff in your life!

Comments

  1. It is a good way to measure where we are as bloggers and pull up our shocks and tighten our belt if at all we want to do well online as entrepreneurs. It is long but has very effective information. Loved it.

  2. These are all great tips, Timo!

    I liked every point, so I’m not going to go over them all, but I really think it is extremely important to avoid distractions, stop complaining, focus on what’s important and get out of your comfort zone.

    I like the way you have your Google Drive organized. I have been using it more and more, but I really need to convert all my docs to Drive so I can have them everywhere I go.

    Thanks for the post!

    • Timo Kiander says:

      Hi Kalen!

      Thank you :)

      I’m a big fan of Google Drive too. I keep all my documents there.

      Cheers,
      Timo

  3. This is nice.
    Many people who complain a lot have the power to change their position but the problem is that they never want to leave their comfort zone. And this makes them very ineffective.

  4. Great tips. Time to kick these habits.

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