productivity leaks bucket

Whether you’re working from home Full Time on your home business venture or you’re a Part Time Marketer building your business on the side, there’s one thing we can almost all agree on — We’re not as productive as we should be!

It can be confusing and frustrating.  We work hard, keep busy, and even sacrifice sleep just to build the life of our dreams.

But at the end of the day, so many times we’re left with the nagging question…

“What did I do with my time today?”

Indeed, we can spend our day busy every minute and still not move one inch closer to our business goals.

So what’s the problem?

It often comes down to what I like to call PRODUCTIVITY LEAKS.

It’s Hard to Fill a Leaky Bucket

Have you ever tried to pour water into a bucket filled with holes, like in the picture above?  It seems like the more water we pour in, the faster it leaks out.

And if we try to plug the holes, new ones seem to appear out of nowhere and we’re back to the same problem.

It’s the same with our productivity.

All of us have leaks in our time and productivity, big and small holes that keep us from moving forward at a faster pace.

Pretty frustrating, right?

What are Examples of Productivity Leaks?

Everyone’s productivity leaks are different.  For some, it may be the ways in which you are using your time.  For others, it may be things you’re not doing, as in avoidance behavior.  Finally, there are leaks in productivity caused by doing the wrong things.

The examples below are productivity leaks that I identified in myself.  Perhaps you’ll see yourself in some of these, as well:

  • Watching baseball on TV when I should be working.
  • Spending way too much time on Facebook when I should be doing something more productive.
  • Checking emails constantly throughout the day.
  • Struggling with perfectionism vs. productivity — failing to move forward in a project because it’s not perfect.
  • Wasting time listening to news radio in the car, when I should be listening to motivational and mindset CDs (making my car a rolling university).

Oh, one more I forgot to mention and it’s one that I’ll bet many of you fall victim to — you’ve become a Professional Student.

Now, you’re probably saying…
“How can this be wrong… Dr. Bob is always preaching about improving our value by improving our skills!   How can taking training courses be bad?”

Good question.

A while back I wrote a post called “How to Buy Information Products Without Wasting your Time and Money.

If you haven’t read it, take a look after you finish reading this post.   It will open your eyes.

Okay, now that I’ve given you some examples of Productivity Leaks, how can you identify your own?

How To Identify YOUR Productivity Leaks in 3 Simple Steps

If you want to figure out where you’re losing productivity in your day, it’s a pretty simple process.

Step 1:  Perform a Time Audit

This is the most tedious part of the process.  For the next week, keep a small notebook with you at all times.

Write down how you spend your time during the day.  Be as exact and quantitative as possible.  Write down what you do and for how long.

This may seem unnecessary, but believe me you’ll be surprised when you see how you’re spending your time.

Step 2:  Summarize Your Weekly Time

As you look at your Time Audit, you’ll begin to see some trends.

For example, I realized that I was spending roughly 2 hours a day on Facebook.  For someone working from home Full Time and using Facebook as a major form of marketing, this may seem reasonable.

But for me, a Part Time Marketer who uses blog traffic as my major source of leads and sales for my business, 2 hours on Facebook each day was ridiculous.

Here’s another example — when I added up all the time I spent reading and answering emails, it came down to somewhere between 1-2 hours each day.  Again, for a Part TIme Marketer this is too much, when you could be spending your time in a much more efficient way.

Step 3:  Decide if it’s Important for your Business

Now take a look at they way you’re spending your time and ask the question, “Does this contribute to my business in a meaningful way?”

In plainer language, is this helping me build my business or is it a waste of time?

“What will happen to my business if I don’t do this task at all?”

Here ‘s where the rubber meets the road.  Sometimes we are kidding ourselves, thinking that something is helping build your business when in reality, we’re just wasting time on something that feels comfortable and is fun to do (like spending hours on Facebook to “build relationships”, when really you’re just avoiding doing something out of your comfort zone!).

Obviously, I’m speaking to myself there.

So be careful and try to be as objective as possible.  Identify those time wasters and unproductive tasks that are using up your time with little to show for it.

Find them and eliminate them.  Your business will thank you for it! :-)

Marketing Takeaway

Leaks in your productivity can wreak havoc on the success of your home business.  Sometimes these leaks are obvious, but other times they can be disguised as productive tasks.

When you can identify your productivity leaks and make efforts to plug them, you’ll be able to use your business building time much more wisely and likely see positive results faster than ever before.

Your Turn

What are YOUR productivity leaks?   Leave a Comment and Let’s Make a List!

Image credit

Bob Clarke
Dr. Bob Clarke teaches Part Time Marketers how to better leverage their time, effort, money, skills, and other people's knowledge in maximizing their business success. Don't forget to grab your Free Training Grow a Thriving Business in 30 Minutes/Day or Less -- an essential resource for anyone struggling to build their business Part Time.
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Showing 34 comments
  • Jamal
    Reply

    I have read a short story in my college course book with same theme with title ” Why Boys Fail in College”. A boy wants to study but he think that his pencil should be sharp, he do so and similarly he performs many such tasks.This is also known as leak.

    • Bob
      Reply

      Hi Jamal,

      Sometimes productivity leaks come in the form of procrastination. The key is to spot them!

      Thanks for sharing your story, Jamal!

  • Bill Farrell
    Reply

    My main productivity leak was doing things in the wrong order. I usually managed to get everthing I want to achieve done by the end of the day but I would always start the day with emails, forums and so on. Then I would do my work and I would invariably end up working late just to complete it. It took a while but I now get all my work done and leave all but urgent emails to the end of the day. The result is that I get more done and my working day is shorter because also spend less time on the peripheral tasks.

    • Bob
      Reply

      Congrats, Bill… you have plugged one of the major productivity leaks known to business people — doing things in the proper order.

      I used to attack emails first thing in the morning because it was easier than doing the important things.

      Like you said, you get a lot more done when you set things in the proper order.

      Thanks for sharing your insights, Bill.

  • Timo Kiander
    Reply

    Bob,

    This is great advice!

    Time logging will definitely tell you how you are spending your time. You may think you know what you are doing on daily basis, but you get a clear picture after logging your time for a while – you start to see certain patterns to emerge.

    Identifying these leaks as soon as possible is crucial when building your online business.

    Any advice on tools you might be using to time audit (other than pen and paper)? Also, how often do you do a time audit in a year?

    Timo

    • Bob
      Reply

      Hey Timo,

      I am in so many different places during the day that I stick to good old pen and paper, usually a small notepad I can stick in my pocket.

      I generally audit my time about every 6 months, sooner if I get the feeling that I’ve been slipping or wasting too much time. It’s funny — when you become really attentive to how you spend your time, you can spot leaks as they come.

      Thanks for the comment, Timo!

  • Karen
    Reply

    I’m starting a time audit today! I’m a little scared to see how I actually spend all my time, but I’m looking forward to becoming more productive!

    • Bob
      Reply

      Great, Karen! Let us know what you come up with!

    • Bob
      Reply

      Great, Karen — let us know what you come up with!

  • Hans Schoff
    Reply

    Bob, I discovered this method of tracking exactly where my time goes a few years back, and would record in MS Outlook exactly what I was going every half hour. Not only did I see my productivity sky rocket but also my motivation increased as I wanted to get as much done as I possibly could to fill up that calendar. I would accomplish more in a few hours than I would normally accomplish in an entire day just because I focused on productivity and tracking exactly what I was doing. A very powerful way to get more accomplished!

    • Bob
      Reply

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Hans…. sounds like you had great success improving your productivity simply by gaining an understanding of where your time was going!

      Awesome!

  • Loren
    Reply

    Hi Bob,

    Great post! In order for me to stay productive I have to turn everything off (including email) except what I’m focused on with an end goal in mind. That often means sending the majority of my email to the spam filter so I’m not tempted or distracted! I find any mail of value usually finds its way to me again anyway! Creating my list of daily goals at night really helps me achieve what I need to do for the next day. When I fail to create my list I am definitely less focused and less productive. I simply require guidelines to keep me on track and I feel so much more satisfied when I know I am meeting my goals for the day.

    • Bob
      Reply

      Sounds like you have a great system for getting things done, Loren! I guess we each need to come up with a system that works for us and maximizes our productivity.

      Thanks for sharing your insights here, Loren!

  • Steve Nicholas
    Reply

    Great post, Bob! You are so right about the need to check our time management. I know that, being a doctoral student, there is a part of me that is frustrated by the fact that there is information out there somewhere that I don’t have time to learn 😉 but I think that this is probably my biggest problem. There is so much that I want to learn, but there is only so much that someone can learn before you have to apply the information. This is why it is so important to figure out what is important and what isn’t.

  • Joyce Penner
    Reply

    Bob. Where’s the “Like” button. I would like to hit it a few (many) times. An excellent post. Extremely important for everyone of us to do. I’ve done this myself and was completely amazed how much time I “waste”.

    Thanks Bob. That was super advice and we should all be bookmarking/broadcasting it out far and wide so as many people as possible get it.
    Joyce

  • Dereck
    Reply

    Bob,

    Awesome posting and great tips! You know, we all have these problems and one of the biggest (like you said) is the professional student part.

    So many times people spend their time getting ready to get ready. It’s action that counts and that’s why I like the time audit you mentioned.

    Great stuff here. Keep up the good work. 😀

    -Dereck

    • Bob
      Reply

      Thanks, Dereck! It’s true that so many of us prepare and prepare and prepare and never end up doing what we plan.

      It’s one of the biggest productivity leaks I’ve identified in my own life. Glad to see I’m not alone! 🙂

  • Kristina L.
    Reply

    Hi, dr Bob!

    My productivity leak happens if I fail to wake up earlier in the morning…it automatically means less time. I am an early riser in general, but sometimes my body can’t help it and if I need rest, I will have to take it…the worst things is that I feel guilty afterwards, as I should have gotten up earlier, anyway…

    It seems 24 hours per day are not enough, even if I try managing time well.

    I actually did write on paper things I am doing on daily basis, to find out where is the leakage…but, I am no sinner, just a tired sleeper…:)
    No help for me…

    • Bob
      Reply

      Hi Kristina,

      I am a firm believer that your body tells you what it needs. If you need the sleep, its quite likely you wouldn’t be that productive anyway when you first arise.

      Don’t sweat it, Just give your body what it needs and move forward.

      Thanks for sharing your story, Kristina!

  • Desi
    Reply

    I spend much time Facebook and email. But I must admit the last time I struggle with these addictions) I really liked the advice about listening audio tutorials in the car, a special thank you for it

    • Bob
      Reply

      My pleasure Desi. We all have problems with FB and email! 🙂

  • Lynn Jones
    Reply

    Wow, Bob, very revealing article on how to identify our productivity wasters. I have some of the same ones you do. Checking my emails take far too long! And I am not even reading some of the good information I signed up for! When one reads several blogs during the week, you could be a “professional student” by downloading or signing up for what everybody is offering. I know better, I rarely do, because I know me by now…….I probably won’t read it even if it is great stuff.
    Great article! Helps us check up on ourselves.
    Lynn

    • Bob
      Reply

      Hi Lynn!

      It does require a lot of discipline, because there is such great information out there. I am like you — I can easily become a professional student [I have the same problem with taking online courses — everything interests me!]. But we must be choosy and we must be disciplined. It’s the only way to move forward.

      Thanks for sharing your story, Lynn!

  • Darryl Burma
    Reply

    Hi Bob,

    One thing I will admit to is I should certainly spend less time on Facebook. It can be so addictive and it’s usually just a waste of time. I’m sure a lot of people can relate to this whether they admit it or not.

    Every little bit helps when it comes to productivity. Thanks for this article!

    • Bob
      Reply

      As Natasha notes in her tip about emails, FB and other social media can be HUGE time wasters. It is addicting for sure.

      Like you said, Darryl… it’s the little things that all add up to huge time savings and increased productivity. Start cutting!

  • Kevin
    Reply

    Hi Bob,

    I’m a freelancer and I agree with you that it can be frustrating to expect the fruit of your hardwork. I really like this post and gives much ideas to the readers. Thanks.

    • Bob
      Reply

      Thanks, Kevin… glad you found it useful to you.

      Great to see you here on BobandRosemary!

  • Natasha
    Reply

    This is all great advice, I (like everyone else) am guilty of wasting time on a regular basis, but I’ve been working on it!! One thing I’d recommend is setting aside a specific time to check and respond to e-mails rather than doing it constantly throughout the day. Unless you’re waiting for a specific e-mail, doing it like that allows for more time to focus on your responses instead of trying to get a quick one out in between everything else you were doing!

    ~Natasha

    • Bob
      Reply

      I totally agree, Natasha… email used to be one of my biggest time wasters, especially when I first got my blackberry. I would check that darn thing constantly.

      I’m getting better at it, but sometimes fall into the same bad habits. It’s a process, for sure.

      Great tip, Natasha — thanks for sharing it!

  • marquita herald
    Reply

    Great article Bob! I’ve been a fan of time audits for years – and yup, they are tedious, but wow so worth it! Now I perform a sort of mini audit each day with a very informal list of each task completed. It’s not as extensive as a time audit, but it really helps to keep me on track and at the end of the day I can say exactly where my time went. Thanks, as always for the inspiration!

    • Bob
      Reply

      Hi Marty,

      That’s a great idea.. a mini time audit each day. If you can say where you’ve spent your time each day, you are way ahead of 95% of the population. But perhaps that’s why success is no stranger to you!

      Thanks for sharing this tip, Marty! Great to see you here again!

  • Radu
    Reply

    Hi Bob,
    I love your post about productivity!This is a vital part for every online business owner.As for my self..in the past months I studied and took action to increase my productivity.As you said,there are many types of productivity leaks:watching tv,interuptions,talkinkg on the phone,checking emails,skype etc.I keep a journal for some time and now I’m more determined to write everythingdown .At the end of the week I analyze all that I done ,seeking to create more positive habits.It;s not about work and time..even if you split your tasks well there are more factors..a personal example:over 90 minutes of work I start to feel how my energy is going down.Thus,I take a break:30minutes.
    I learned this from a great book: The power of full engagement by Tony Scwhartz!It has a lot of great tips that include:rituals,food,sleep,exercising,more scientifical data etc.I highly recommend it!

    At the point no 3. I still have to improve it!There are many new things and it’s easy to get distracted!

    Thanks for the great value shared here!Look forward for more of your posts!

    All the best,
    Radu

    • Bob
      Reply

      Hi Radu,

      Wow! Looks like you have taken your productivity and time management to the next level! Awesome!

      Thanks for the book suggestion. I have not heard of it, but will check it out.

      Appreciate your insights. Keep us posted on your progress!

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