Business owners often fall prey to some of these common timewasters. Online business owners can be especially susceptible to the Internet-inspired time traps.

Email – personal email

Everyone gets personal email just like they get letters in the mail at their homes. Hopefully you don’t bring your personal mail to your workspace and open it. Do the same with personal email. Open and respond to social emails off the clock.

Email again – taming the monster

Email is obviously a great invention but along with all of the advantages come some issues which need to be handled. For example, if you stop and read emails as they arrive, you 1) interrupt your concentration, 2) can drift off your focus, 3) make those 'important' new emails the basis for indulging in procrastination.

Chase this tiger back into the cage! Check your email first thing in the morning then at reasonable intervals during the day, scheduled in so as not to interrupt productive work time. If you are worried about missing important information, you can set up other systems, such as 'phone me or page me if you need my attention quickly'. However, you should also think about how many of the emails you have received in the past month were so urgent that they couldn't have waited until a scheduled email period.

Lack of prioritising

You probably have a to-do list that helps you organise your day. If you are like many people, you feel great when you cross things off the list so you frequently tackle the smaller jobs because it gives you a sense of satisfaction. Unfortunately, those small jobs are frequently much lower priority and sometimes even get managed without your attention (the theory of benign neglect!). Even though you are 'doing something' you may be wasting your time on non-priority items instead of tackling the more important to-dos on your list. Take the time to prioritise your list into:

A list – Must happen today
B list – Must happen this week
C list – Must get scheduled in

Of course, if you never schedule in C list items, they may eventually become A list items when they can no longer be put off. It's often useful to spend some part of each day, on a scheduled basis, attending to C list items.


Is there anyone that doesn't procrastinate at least sometimes? Probably not. But, the better you can manage that very human tendency, the less time you'll waste. We've all done it – you have to make an important but difficult phonecall. Amazingly enough, you realise that you should really clean off your desk first so your papers are in better order for the call and you should really freshen your coffee because the call may take a while and you should really call home about that other matter first so you don't forget and so on and so on ... procrastination!

There are two good ways to get a handle on procrastination.

  1. When you find yourself vacillating between tasks, ask yourself what is the best use of my time right now? Then do it.
  2. We often procrastinate because the task in front of us is large or complicated or distasteful. Try breaking down those tasks into smaller parts – it's easier to consider taking a small step in the right direction (plus you can check it off your list!) and often, once you are involved, you find the initiative to continue.

Search engine addiction

Search engines are wonderful tools for obtaining information quickly, gathering many points of view and evaluating products, services, etc. However, you can easily enough be sucked into the black hole of limitless searching, needing to pursue 50 citations, 100, 150 citations when you really covered the bases with the first 20, if you are honest with yourself about it.

When you are researching on the Net, continually ask yourself if you are finding new and valuable information or re-hashes of information you have already found. And, ask how much more information you really need and whether or not additional information could be valuable enough to be worth the time cost of searching for it.

Forums and Networking Sites

Yes, these sites may be very helpful for information exchange and marketing but they can easily become one more way to kill time instead of managing your business. Place a time limit on your networking.

Game Sites

Are you ready to even admit to this one? Okay, so you are probably not spending the whole day gaming or at least you won't be for long because your business will come to a grinding halt. But, are you heading to a game site to take a break or relax over a lunch at your desk? Well, that may be okay as long as your break remains within the boundaries of break or lunchtime. How often does that 20 minute break become a 45 minute gaming session? Your time is too valuable and your business success depends on your attention and energy.

Did you find yourself in any of these descriptions? It's painful to admit but your business will work better if you can find ways to avoid some of these time wasters.