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What is a Typical Day in an Online Business?

It's another Expert Briefs, where I ask really smart business owners to answer your burning questions.

If you've missed past Expert Briefs, you can click on the undies to see them all –>

Here are a few of my favorite Expert Briefs:

Today's question is

What does a “typical” day or week in your business look like?
(If such a thing exists.)
Do you have a to do list for either that you can share?

And, here are our answers…


AliceAlice Seba of Contentrix.com says:

Over the years, I've worked strategically to make sure my typical work day doesn't look like a typical work day. I make sure I work with partners and contractors so we can all focus on our strengths…leaving me to work on just a few specific things in my business.

The things I work on are:

* Marketing Strategy: While this is done to some degree on a daily basis, most strategizing takes place annually, then quarterly and most in-depth, monthly.

* Email Marketing & Promotions: This is my real strength and what my daily work is really focused on. On a weekly basis, I plan out emails an promotions and then work on them each day. This includes communication to subscribers, customers and affiliates.

* Product Development: For some products, I simply work on the ideas/planning, but where my expertise is required, I am more hands on. I generally keep product development work to one or two days per week.

Things I don't work on:

  • Support, inquiries and administrative tasks. I have a capable assistant to manage this.
  • Management of most of our contractors or writers. My business partners handle this.
  • Technical tasks. I have a techie on board to install scripts, customizations, etc.
  • Graphics. I just don't have the skills. 🙁

So to make a long story short, my work days are fairly short and are focused on strategizing, writing copy and sometimes developing products.

I will often work a little in the morning and finish up in the evening…rarely working more than 2 hours at one time. I find working longer than that, I get really distracted and start exploring other things I shouldn't be!

I also keep my iPhone around and that's what I use for my online goof off time…separate from work time. The laptop is for work. The iPhone is for social media, reading blogs, etc. So you'll often see me tweeting in the bank line up, while waiting for the kids, and reading blog posts while I relax on the couch. 🙂


ShannonShannon Cherry of The Power Publicist says:

A typical week? Really?!? Is there such a thing when you have a business with reporters calling all hours of the day (and night), twin preschoolers and a business to run?

Actually there is. And that's because I plan and organize my weeks. Here's a glimpse on how I do it:

1) I have a six months+ plan I work with.
I know exactly what I'll be promoting when it comes to my products and services, as well as any affiliate or JV promotions six months in advance. That way I can plan what marketing I will do for each thing. I use a wall calendar to map it out so I know exactly what marketing has to be done when. (Hint: I work backwards from the launch date to set deadlines on what needs to be done when.)

2) I know when I'm at my best.
Unlike Nicole, who tends to be a night owl, I am an early bird. My creative ideas are abundant in the early morning and I can write quickly. By 2 PM, I need a nap! So I make sure I schedule my most creative work in the morning on my to-do list.

3) I split my week up into segments.
I have two days set aside for talking on the phone with clients. One day is strictly for writing. One day is a combo of writing and planning. (I try to take an extra day off to make a long weekend. That way I can meet any school obligations my kids have, as well as a little me time.)

4) I don't do my own scheduling.
I've learned I am too nice when it comes to putting people on my schedule for phone calls, etc. So I send all stuff about my schedule to my administrative director, who knows which days are for calls and schedules people accordingly.

Finally, here's one last tip:

Know – and accept – that there will be days that will screw up your best laid plans.

A kid gets sick. A reporter wants to interview a client on Good Morning America. Your Internet service dies. It happens and there's nothing you can do about it. So when you plan, don't over-plan your days. (Psst! It's one of the reasons I try to have that extra day off a week. It's a great to have a ‘just in case all hell breaks loose' day.)


And, here's my 2 cents.

 

Nicole Dean of .. here! .. says:

First of all, I love this quote from Alice “I've worked strategically to make sure my typical work day doesn't look like a typical work day“.

And, Shannon – this rocks! “It's a great to have a ‘just in case all hell breaks loose' day.”  Been there. Done that.

Boy, can I ever relate to both of those.

I asked our experts this question, because it's something I'm always in the process of re-evaluating and tweaking in my own business.

For me, the best use of my time is spent in content creation and networking.

So, the majority of my time that I work during the day is spent –

  • Blogging here. (Creating content here.)
  • Writing emails to customers &  leads. (Lists and relationship building.)
  • Connecting with my friends/mastermind partners & affiliates. (Goal setting, brainstorming, and JVs.)
  • Communicating with my team so things are running smoothly. (Business management.)
  • Getting exposure on other sites (doing interviews, guest blogging, article marketing, and video marketing). (Traffic.)

The one thing that's been put on the back burner for me the last few months has been product creation. It's the easiest thing for me to let slide “just one more day”… so I'm actively working on that now before I get strung by by my toes from my mastermind partner (and before my customers who keep asking me WHEN I'll be teaching my next course come knocking at my front door to kidnap me and make me finish it). Yes, we all have obstacles to overcome.

ok. Back to getting things done. You guys know I'm a project person, so I like to break up my tasks by “chunking” them.

Rather than writing one email each day, I'll write all three for the week at one time and schedule them.

Rather than writing one blog post each day, I'll write a few and schedule them.

So, I've learned that I work better when I focus on a weekly set of goals (or a weekly schedule) instead of a daily one.

I'm the kind of person who would spend one full day exercising each month rather than having to do it on a daily basis. I'll also put off laundry until I have nothing to wear and am running around nearly nekkid. Then I'll spend a day doing laundry, knowing that I don't have to deal with it for another month. I also prefer to do batch cooking rather than cooking a meal every day. I'd rather make one big huge batch of chili and freeze it in meal-size containers than to have to cook every day. It's just how I work.

However, I've also known people who NEED a daily schedule. They thrive on knowing exactly what they'll be doing every day. It's about knowing yourself and being true to that.

Rather than setting yourself up to fail – set yourself up to succeed.

I have two lists. A “must do” list and a “wish list” of things that I'd like to accomplish, but that's a separate list. 🙂 Never do the two meet.

So, here's my “must do” to do list for this week – the things that I have to do or my accountability partner will beat me:

– Final plan for my next infoproduct (outline, format, price)
– Order sales page for course
– 3 Blog Posts NOTN (here)
– 2-4 mailings (see promo schedule and decide based upon what provides most value to readers)
– Switch EasyPLR.com to WordPress (working with hubby on this)
– Daughter's birthday & party (make it rock!)

Next week, I'm focusing more on Traffic Generating activities.

The “must do” list doesn't look too impressive, in my opinion. (The “wish list” is much longer.) But then again, I don't work that many hours compared to a lot of my colleagues.  In fact, today, I'm working a whopping 2.5 hours total. When I'm on vacation, I don't work at all other than checking email every few days. But, the only reason I CAN do that is because I outsource to really smart people.

One other thing that's really helped me with my “to do” lists is this book –

Focal Point: A Proven System to Simplify Your Life,
Double Your Productivity, and Achieve All Your Goals

Knowing where your focal point is – WHERE you should focus your time – helps to prioritize. Your list may be completely different than mine or Alice's or Shannon's. But, knowing where you should focus helps you to make a smart decision.

I hope this was helpful.  Please throw your thoughts at me. I want them!

Warmly,
Nicole Dean

I adore comments! Please share your thoughts.

  • Devin
    Reply

    Nicole,

    Thanks so much for the great information. It really helps to see what successful online business owners are doing. I’m still trying to find a “typical” day, but I’m enjoying the learning process.

    These interviews give me encouragement that I can make it online.

  • Mark Mason
    Reply

    This is really different than my typical day, which is spent in a brick and mortar business. But it is fun to see that the key principles are the same — focus, making real progress, efficient use of time, etc.

    Great brief. Looking forward to future issues.

    Mark
    masonworld.com

  • Julia
    Reply

    Boy, I want your days!!

    I’m a single mom trying to get my online business to take off, and right now I’m in the “work all the time phase”. Not enough money to outsource, not enough time to do what I know would make it take off!

    I mention my motherhood status because managing my family in addition to managing my business takes all my time. My goal is to make enough money to work the 2-4 hour days that you all talk about, but I’m not there yet. When I work my business all day, I feel like I neglect my family. When I focus on my family, no money comes in. In the end, I feel like I work a 26 hour day!

    Still, I love working from home and in spite of all the challenges, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I will keep your schedules in my sights, knowing that it is possible to run a business and still have time off.

    Thank you very much–it is very helpful to hear how other people run their businesses.

    Julia

    • Alice Seba
      Reply

      Good luck to you, Julia. You can do it. I was about 2 years in when I started working only a couple hours a day and it was a goal I worked toward all the time.

      But if I can pass on one tip is the always in work mode doesn’t really mean always being productive. Sometimes its easier to put work aside to tend to things at home and the kids and have a shorter, more focused time to work later.

      All the best!

      • Julia
        Reply

        Thanks, Alice. I totally agree. I have to monitor very carefully just how productive I really am to make sure I’m not spinning my wheels!

        Julia

        • Shannon
          Reply

          Yes, Julia…. you can do it. My guess is you have a lot of interruptions. (I know ALL about that.) What helped me get organized is I made a list of EVERYTHING that needs to be accomplished, then picked the top 3 that needed to get done in one day and put that on a new list. Put the big list away. Then only work on those three things. After all, three things to be accomplished can be done with a lot of interruptions. Once you get them done, stop. Relax. Enjoy. If you have more time, add another from the big list. Just rinse and repeat the next day!

        • Nicole
          Reply

          I definitely agree with my smart friends. I find that oftentimes the less time I work, the more I get done.

          I challenged myself to work 1 hour or less each day during the summer. It was amazing how much I was able to accomplish in that little time.

          Also, I understand the guilt. It’s part of being a mom – you’ll always feel like you’re letting someone down. Just don’t let that person be YOU all the time. You know what I’m saying? I’ll let myself down before I’d let anyone else down and it’s been a tough road to learn to say “no” and do for myself.

          Hope that helps! Proud of you!
          N

  • Becki Maxson
    Reply

    With a service business, we’re partly at the ‘mercy’ of when clients need us n.o.w! That’s one reason I’ve decided to sell it – plus it’s more than served my purpose in starting it five years ago.

    But even with having to flex with client needs, I definitely work (think) better in the morning — and used to do caffeine at 2 pm but often find a nap is really what’s needed.

    An idea for Julia — if you’re working sooo long because you struggle with different parts that you’re not good at, see if you can find another mom to barter stuff with — like if you’re a writer & they do graphics, you can trade services. None of us are good at everything, and you can keep it cash-less for now.

    Becki

    • Julia
      Reply

      Dear Becki,

      Yes, I’ve already started experimenting with outsourcing my work. It’s so liberating to not force myself to do things I hate (or that I’m not good at.) I like your idea of bartering to keep expenses low.

      Thank you,

      Julia

    • Shannon
      Reply

      Sounds like you need some boundaries set, Becki. I too run a service based business, but one of the boundaries I put in place is that if it’s an ’emergency’ they pay extra for it. It really eliminates those emergencies! And keeps me sane!

    • Nicole
      Reply

      I bartered a lot in my business. Heck, I still do. One of my most talented ghostwriters at EasyPLR.com is writing in trade for business coaching. It’s a huge benefit for me and her passive income is growing each month, too.

      So, I highly encourage any win-win situation you can find that brings you closer to your goals while helping someone else along the way.

      Great suggestion!
      N

  • Danielle Johnson
    Reply

    I love “chunking” as well but what I have found is that with an almost 2 yr old & 4 yr old (not to mention my school age kids) I get interupted constantly! Even in the evening. I am more productive in the morning so this has been a real struggle.

    All of you give great examples of what to strive for. Ilook forward to the 2.5 hour days!

    • Nicole
      Reply

      You may have to do “mini-chunking”. Even if you focus on one task per day and have to work in 10 minute intervals, I believe that you’ll be more focused and productive.

    • Nicole
      Reply

      Hint: You’ll notice I “chunk” my blog commenting. All of these replies are minutes apart. 😉

  • Dan Reinhold
    Reply

    So then what you’re saying, Nicole, is that you spend one day a month doing laundry for exercise…in the nude??

    Hope it’s not the same day you wash the windows. :O

    I have actual quiet time for my work hours and STILL get too distracted! I’m in the process of working out a schedule that really suits me and yet gets things done. Great ideas here!

    Well, the laundry’s backed up, so I better go. Seems a little drafty…maybe I’ll wear the Speedo…

    Dan

    • Nicole
      Reply

      Hey. Some people work in their jammies. Others are too busy washing them. lol!

      There are some chores I love – like vacuuming, but laundry is definitely not one of them.

  • Laurie
    Reply

    I love working from home because our days don’t have to be “typical.” But I have to admit, I spend a LOT of time working because I really love it! When I hear others say they only want to work a couple hours a day, I wonder what I would do all the rest of the time:-)

    But I do think it is great if you can get your business set up so that you don’t HAVE to work that much. It gives you options to do other things.

    Thanks for the great post.

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