As I am writing this it’s Friday. The week has been hectic and I am preparing for the Google conference in Manchester. There are dozens of details which need to be finalized, I started the day with over 50 emails which will need to be answered, a magazine is asking me for an article on search and a website I usually write for has launched a new section on social media for which they have asked for content.
Overwhelming? You bet! I could easily allow all of this to swamp my day and get to the end of it having done nothing but worked all day without being sure that I really accomplished anything of value. The thing is that in this regard I am not alone. In a corporate environment there would be management reviews which would set targets, quotas and interim steps, all of which are really designed to allow each person’s work to feed into a ‘master plan’ in a meaningful manner.
When you work mostly alone, as I do, you are your own corporate manager, so to speak. This often means that it becomes increasingly easier to be swamped by the work details and lose sight of how they could be prioritised, whether they are important and what contribution they make, exactly, to the development, progress and success of the business.
To achieve this it requires a little mental discipline (it is incredibly easy to get sucked into the daily routine of running an online business) and a handy little checklist which becomes your self-management tool. You run this on the tasks or activities you are not sure about and then decide whether it fits into your business model the way it should.
Self-Management Checklist for Webmasters
Before you tackle any activity which is going to soak up your time and energy run this quick checklist against it:
- Is it crucial to my website’s success? If yes, how exactly.
- Does this fit in with the long-term plans I have for my online business? How?
- Is this the best use of my time? Why?
- What are the consequences of my not doing this task/activity?
The moment you run this checklist against tasks you think are necessary you realize, just which are truly necessary in terms of positive impact on your business and which appear to be necessary merely because they happened to land in front of you when you were in active/working mode.
How do I Work Strategically on my Business?
The question I always find the hardest to answer is when individuals ask me about the best way to set up a strategy for their business. When I do this for corporate clients I spend quite some time taking into account their capabilities, history, manpower and long-term objectives. Essentially the same formula can be applied to individual webmasters though, obviously, here the issues of manpower and capabilities are compressed as they apply to the same person.
If you want to set up a strategy for your online business you need to give yourself some breathing space (which is really hard to do) and, in the time created, go through the following checklist:
- What are your main competitors doing? Why? How is it working out for them?
- What kind of partners should you look for? Where would you find them? Why would they want to work with you?
- What do you have to offer which your competitors can’t? How would you promote it?
These are three things which simply help take your mind off the day-to-day stuff which tends to kill creativity and eat up time under the guise of being productive. They help create the ‘strategic mind set’ you need in order to start thinking about how you will run your business in terms of objectives, expansion and development as opposed to answering emails, sending out stuff and responding to queries.
Set aside an hour or two a week, ideally at about the same time, where you start off by examining these ideas and see how far you get.