As an affiliate marketer, you are your own boss. Especially if you’ve taken the plunge, quit your job and become a full-time affiliate. But whether you’re a full time, part-time, or some-of-the-time affiliate, it’s essential to get the most out of the hours you put into it.

As the saying goes; time is money. It’s your most precious resource, and once it’s ticked by you can never get back. So how can you manage your time most effectively to maximise your income?

Here are 12 ways to get more done in less time:

1 – Get Rid of Clutter

First things first. Before you do anything, tidy your working space. When you’re surrounded by disorder your thought processes can reflect this. Find yourself staring out of the window a bit too often? Move your desk. Distracted by that novelty bobble head toy in front of you? Get rid of it. A tidy office equals a tidy mind, so clear away those dirty coffee cups, file any documents you’re not working on, close distracting chat windows and get your surroundings organised. It will make a big difference to your concentration and help keep you in a productive frame of mind.

2 – Get Dressed

If you do your affiliate marketing after returning home from a regular job, this might sound odd to you. But to those full-time affiliates who get out of bed in the morning, get straight to work, and then find it’s suddenly 2 o clock in the afternoon and you’re still in your pyjamas, you might want to take note. When you dress at random times of the day – or don’t get dressed at all – you’re probably stopping yourself from getting into a real workflow. If you’re a member of the pyjama club, try dressing for the day as soon as you get up. It can completely change your frame of mind for the day ahead.

3 – Block Distractions

The problem with working online is that temptations are just a click away. It’s too easy to find yourself side-tracked by social media, that funny viral video, or sites like Buzzfeed that drag you deeper down the rabbit hole with every click. It’s best to block all distractions when you’re working so you can’t be led astray. If you can’t trust yourself, software such as LeechBlock and StayFocusd will block your chosen sites for you. If you can’t bring yourself to switch your phone off, try disabling push notifications. If you can’t see your emails, Facebook or Instagram notifications popping up on your screen, you can’t be sucked in by them.

4 – Put Some Music On

In my last article, I discussed how listening to music while you work can have a surprising effect on your productivity. It can improve your mood, help you get through boring tasks much more quickly and even make you better at what you do. Click here to read it.

5 – Get the Worst Jobs Done First

Now you’ve got dressed, cleared your desk, blocked all distractions and put on some music, you’re ready to get down to some work. What should you do first? It’s tempting to put off that horrible, boring task until later, and get some easier, nicer things done first, isn’t it? But the problem with this is that even while you’re doing the nicer stuff, that horrible task you just delayed will keep niggling at you until you do it. Which isn’t great for your mood or your attitude. Whether it’s writing a new product review or responding to comments on your site, tackle the tasks you dread most first thing so you can get on and enjoy your day with a much more productive attitude.

6 – Plan Your Day

Planner with Pen

Now that nasty task is out of the way, what else is on your to-do list for the day? You did make a to-do list, didn’t you? At the end of every day, you should be planning your tasks for the following day. Research has shown that we misjudge the amount of focus we think we’ll be able to maintain in the future. It’s easy to think we’ll make a plan the following morning, but we often get distracted and stumble off track when it comes down to it. So it’s better to plan your to-do list the night before so you can hit the ground running the next day. There are so many things you need to do as an affiliate; research products, write reviews, respond to site comments, update your site/s, not to mention checking your stats and earnings. Although you might have a set routine stored in your head, using a to-do list helps your productivity by giving you clear, visible tasks and goals. And being able to visibly see your progress by ticking tasks off a list as you go is a great motivational tool in itself!

7 – Utilise Time Management Software

Ditch the post-it notes. There are loads of handy tools to help you keep on top of your tasks and better manage your time. Quickly and easily create and manage lists for all your tasks and projects with apps such as Trello, which the Twist team use and recommend, Clear, and Wunderlist. With ClockingIt, you can start a timer when you begin a task. You can keep stopping and starting it until you complete the task, and it will tell you how long in total you spent on the task once it’s complete. It makes it easy to see whether you are spending your time wisely enough (or if you want to find out just how long you really spend checking your email each day!).

8 – Make a To Not Do List

It actually makes a lot more sense than it sounds. By creating a list of all the things that you frequently find yourself doing just to avoid doing any real work, you’ll have a constant reminder to stay on track. For example, “do not look at my personal social media accounts until after 5pm”, or “do not check my email every five minutes”.

9 – Limit Your Email Checks

Speaking of email, it’s the single biggest interruption for most people. One study showed we spend an average of 13 hours per week reading, writing, or responding to email. Another found that when you try to complete tasks while checking your email at the same time, your IQ drops by 10 points! Limit yourself to checking your email once per hour and then closing it completely, leaving you focused and able to fully concentrate on the task you’re currently working on. You’ll save yourself much more time in the long run.

10 – Schedule Chunks of Uninterrupted Time

Segmented Clock
Not surprisingly, disruptions are costly to your productivity. A study by Microsoft suggested that it takes the brain 15 minutes to re-focus once you’ve lost your train of thought. Every time you’re interrupted by your email pinging or your phone bleeping, you’re losing your focus and delaying completion of your task. Schedule chunks of uninterrupted time by turning off your phone, closing your email and logging out of Skype and you’ll get a lot more done during that time.

11 – Outsource

Every serious affiliate marketer should realise the importance of delegating tasks to someone else who can do a better job. It might be tough to let go of things at first, especially if you’ve always done them yourself, but when you outsource you’ll not only free up more of your time to spend on the things that you are good at, but you’ll benefit in the long run. Not so great at web design or writing copy? Give this to someone who specialises in these areas and your conversions will improve too.

12 – Keep Your Professional and Personal Life Separate

When it’s time to work, it’s time to work, and keeping your personal life organised will ensure it doesn’t spill into your business life. Make sure you can give your full attention to the task at hand by turning your phone off, switching off the TV, and avoiding social media. It’s also important to set boundaries with your family and friends. Especially if they don’t really appreciate what it is you actually do. To them, you might just be tinkering with your blog, but to you, it’s your business. So explain to them that you’re going to be working for the next few hours and won’t be able to entertain any distractions during that time. And just as importantly, once you’ve finished, call it a day and don’t touch your laptop or phone again. Now is the time to spend with your family or friends – not for checking emails on your phone or sneaking back to the computer to check your stats. When you can balance your work and personal life you’ll not only find you’re much more productive but you’ll be happier yourself.

Remember, You Are in Control of Your Own Time

The biggest hurdle when it comes to productivity is staying disciplined. You are the only one in control of your time and whether you choose to waste it is up to you. But by taking steps to discipline yourself and minimise distractions you can manage your time far more efficiently, make the very most of each day and become a much more successful affiliate.