How giving yourself a break can make you more productive

By Kim Ross
How giving yourself a break can make you more productive


I was heartened by the comments left on my last blog post to see that many people are in the same boat as me. Someone asked: where are the 6 solutions to the 6 affiliate marketing hurdles?

Good question... but I think it's the wrong one to ask. There aren't 6 universal solutions - everyone experiences their own hurdles differently, and overcomes them due to their own merit (just take a look at the comments in ‘Top 6 hurdles for an affiliate marketing newbie').

One thing that does follow many of us through our affiliate marketing trials is that of self-doubt and procrastination, and it's this issue that I'd like to tackle today.

While I can neither provide a quick fix nor 6 solutions, I believe that if you can strengthen both your commitment and your working strategy - you'll willingly embrace any hurdle rather than run the other way.

Now if you're working independently from home... well firstly, what luxury! It's many people's dream situation - but is it your ideal situation for working at the best level you're capable of?

There's no boss that's going to dock your pay check if you stumble into work two hours late because you slept in. There are no expectations from an employer or team members reliant on you pulling your weight.

The buck starts and stops at you.

And yes, I know you already know that... I'm telling you to give yourself a break, working for yourself is hard!

It's a long accepted paradox that creativity levels are at their best when boundaries are set - and the same goes for productivity levels.

If you don't have any boundaries to work within, then your productivity levels are going to suffer. The promise of freedom and being your own boss can wind up being not so rosy as you find yourself painting the bars to your own captivity.

It all depends on how you set (or don't set) your working boundaries. Do it right though and you'll be carving the path to achieving your goals.

So how can we stop that seed of doubt and procrastination bug growing and defeating us?

I have a few tricks up my sleeve that I'd like to share with you, and it'd be great to hear your tips in return...

1. Reward (and motivate) yourself.

If one of your greatest distractions and enjoyments is spending time sifting through your emails and salivating at the latest ‘shiny object', then don't cut it out completely. Going cold turkey has a high failure rate for everything, it's best you try and control your time spent on this instead.

So save up your browsing time until you've completed a set amount of work for the day, and use it as a reward for goal completion.

Do this with all your guilty pleasures (for me, this often includes chocolate) - adopting the attitude that you need to cut them out is not going to be helpful. Better yet, it forces you to set and complete a goal at the same time ;)

2. Like the environment you're working in.

Don't tell me you're not easily distracted by other household members who always seem to be doing something much more interesting...

And how tempting is it to have the TV or the radio on at the same time?

While watching TV and constant chit chat with others isn't all that productive, you do need to make sure you're cashing in on some of the benefits of working from home - otherwise, what's the point?

Now speaking from my days as a student working from home (rather than an affiliate marketer), one of my greatest guilty pleasures was waking up early in the winter and doing 2 hours of solid work before I even got up.

That may not sound like your cup of tea, but I loved it because I then gave myself a 1 hour break (at 9am!). It split my day up nicely, and gave me a great head start for the rest of the day.

So find something that makes you love working from home (distraction free), and set yourself proper working hours (remember - this does NOT need to be 8 hours straight).

3. The common thread: Goals.

These have to be set, and they have to be done right.

Firstly, you need one big overall goal. It really needs to be clear to you WHY you are doing affiliate marketing. What do you want from it that you can't get from another course of action? At what stage will it be ‘complete'?

Secondly, you can't just ride on the recognition of your overall goal - it's too big and easy to become overwhelmed by. You need to break it down into bite-sized, manageable goals.

In other words: Making a plan for achieving your overall goal. Each of these smaller goals need to be tied to time. For example, you might decide to spend 30 minutes per day working on goal X, to be completed by date x.

Sounds manageable, right?

To make goals even more focused, you should also include some that are tied to specific figures. For example, you might be aiming to have 10 articles written by date x, or to have increased your site's traffic by 20% by date x, and so on.

My final word on goal setting is that they do need to be flexible. If you're just starting out, you may not have enough knowledge to set an achievable goal that is 10 steps down the track. You'll need to constantly reassess and revise your goals - and most importantly, do NOT give up if you don't meet a couple down the track.

I repeat; goals are necessary - they are your boundaries.

To non-goal setters:

If you prefer to work with the carefree "I'll just see how I go" attitude, does that mean you're keeping failure as an open option?

How much more likely do you think it is that you will procrastinate and doubt your ability to succeed in affiliate marketing, compared with those that have set themselves clear and measurable goals?

Lack of goals is just one factor that can create what we at Affilorama like to call "the ticking time bomb".

The build up of doubt and the lack of results to show for all your hard work so far is all it takes to make it feel like forever Wednesday, and make the ticking time bomb go off for many people who give up before the show has really even begun.

And we don't want you to give up, we want you to see for yourselves the great rewards that your hard work is worth!

So please, set yourself boundaries and goals, and diffuse that bomb before it gets you...

...or wait for AffiloJetpack to arrive, our new product that will diffuse the ticking time bomb for you, and give you your own proof that affiliate marketing can work for you.

It will at least jump start you out of feeling like it's forever Wednesday!

What are some of the tricks you use to keep yourself on course?

Gerry Lacuarta 14 years ago
I use GTD techniques, Pomodoro (working in spurts of 25 minutes, then taking 5 to 15 min breaks), using Toodledo, and also separating myself from the PC at certain periods just to free my mind of the clutter and info overload.

I also find this useful: setting targets at the start of the day, clearing the desk of clutter and reading a good book at night.

Finally, I give myself a day off where I don't touch the PC at all, not even to check email. For someone who works from a home office, this might be tough but I'm learning to unplug myself and spend quality time with the family at the most appropriate times of the day,
epic traffic systems review 14 years ago
There are to many people in the AM world that think they should work 16 hours a day everyday. While this is a really good work ethic, it is a poor life ethic. I get some of my best ideas when I am just relaxing. I write it down and just continue on relaxing until it is time to work.
Francisco Acosta Reyes 14 years ago
I am a retired engineer and I will turn 60 in January. One might think that I have all the time in the world to make of my life whatever I want as is economically possible. But having lots of time and doing nothing means you simply are wearing your life off. For me, currently there are two things that still motivate to me to keep moving forward: being a runner and time to build my new Internet affiliate business. Running 8 or 10 kilometers early in the morning makes you sweat all the frustrations and failures of the previous day. It simply gives me enough energy to face and do my best to accomplish the new goals and challenges of today and tomorrow. It clarifies my mind to continue on with my second hobby: my affiliate business. As a newbie what gratifies me the most is that every day I learn something new. Every day I set my goals. Sometimes I achieve them, sometimes not. If I don’t accomplish them, is not because I do not want to. More likely, is because the day is finite. But I would surely do my best on the next day.
Rachael McNaught 14 years ago
If only there were some way that we could be connected to the internet - so that we could still submit stuff - but there was some sort of time lock on our access to other stuff - like checking our e-mails, Twitter messages, Facebook messages, Digg stats, Squidoo ranking, Clickbank account, Warrior forum, Affilorama forum, Claytons blog, James' blog and oooh, what's that cool new vid that Mark has put out on You Tube....... :o)
Andy Dee 14 years ago
As a self-confessed workaholic, this post strikes a chord deep within me. I love what I do, so it's easy to become attached to my work. This may be the case for many of you. When you truly love what you do, it hardly feels like labor. That's clearly one of the most beautiful things about finding your calling.


I'm also a single dad. I have a little guy that seems to grow leaps and bounds overnight in his sleep. There's nothing more heart-wrenching to me than the moments when he sits patiently, waiting for me to "get this done real quick," or for daddy to "make this one last phone call."

This post for me, is less about being more productive, and more about being more engaged. Don't get me wrong...I'm fully involved in my son's life, as my relationship with my father was nothing less than troubled, and I'd never allow my son to experience the same.

I really just have to remind myself that, as a business owner, the "boss" is not my clients/customers, but rather my little guy. I need to live my life by his schedule, rather than force him to suffer through mine.

Thanks Kim, for the kick-in-the-pants reminder!

Blaine Rumsey 14 years ago
Finding the right environment:

For myself the key was to realize the emotional ties I had with my working environment. Working from home was not an option because even thought here was no TV, etc, there was always something else that would distract me. I found that working outside at the park or beach, I was able to accomplish more. Try alternative working places you may find one better than another, and you can always change it up to break the monotony.


I try to set my goals for the day the night before. I reflect the progress I made that day and look at what I need to complete to accomplish my goal.


In Seth Godin's book "The Dip", he examined the fact that winners always quit, and they quit often, the thing that sets them apart is their ability to quit the right things at the right time. Furthermore he enlightened me to a personal flaw that I had been over looking. Serial quitting. I was constantly put hours of work into a project and not seeing it all the way through quitting to move on to something else. I would never know if the endeavor would have paid off because I didn't see it through to the end. To start I resolved to always complete a project. After doing such I will be able to make more effective judgment calls on the time in which something will take to complete based on experience. I can then decide if the project is worth my time or if my time would be used better working on something else.


I am all for working in short bursts and then rewarding your self with a small break. However unless you have money to delegate tasks to employees or freelances, which is another topic for discussion altogether, you may need to work 16 hours or more per day. It is simple to become rich, but no one ever said it was EASY. If they did, run away, far away.
Neo Kanobi 14 years ago
Hi Kim

I think this article and your last one are right on and hit home very nicely. THANKS !!!

You should become our new Affilorama Motivational coach :-)

Your post seems to sincerely come from the heart and I agree with the importance of setting up goals. Our brain for most people works like a laser beam and having goals (and adjust accordingly) helps you keep on track and helps you to quickly notice and deviations.

One other thing that I always keep in my mind is the following say: " There is no Failure in life, Only Feedback...." listen to it and you will learn what is working and what is not.

One more thing, I also noticed how in the end of both articles you did your marketing spill " AffiloJetpack " being a tool that will help with all the major points that you presented. Very smooth how you are setting up everyone’s expectations...congrats !!!!

Kim Ross 14 years ago
@above commenters: These are all fantastic work/life balance approaches you have, and I have no doubt that it's ethics like these that make affiliate marketing enjoyable, and keep you from falling off the wagon!
@Facostar: Hmmm running 10k per day? Wow! That's one tip I might pass on for now ;)
Tim Warrior 14 years ago
This is so true! I agree that you have to reward yourself even for small successes. I tend to work really hard on my affiliate marketing and I should take the time every once in a while to look at what I've done and give myself some credit. After all, we all need to step back and give our marketing efforts an honest look too.
Manny 14 years ago
I also recommend GTD or Getting Things Done - Its is so totally practical, down to earth and just plains works for procrastination. Forget all the high level thinking - Thats exactly what makes you wonder and procrastinate - Focus on the very next physical action to move your project forward. I highly recommend it, it has changed my life.

A great quote from David goes along these lines: "I have found through my many years of coaching that its the most creative, intelligent people that procrastinate the's those insensitive oaths that just plow on through no matter what that inadvertently succeed in life. You have to teach yourself to dumb down that part of your brain and stop thinking so much. Focus only on next actions"
Raymond Taos dela cruz 14 years ago
For me to become more productive individual you need to do your task everyday.
don't let things happens undone. And i agree that you need to reward yourself even for small successes. After all need to evaluate it.
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dinar iraqi 14 years ago
This is so accurate! I have the same opinion that you have to recompense yourself still for small successes. I tend to work in reality hard on my associate advertising and I should receive the time every once in a as to seem at what I've done and give myself a few recognition. After all, we all require to footstep back and provide our promotion labors an truthful look so.
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Richard Oneil Long 14 years ago
Thanks for all of the great tips and techniques. I am a newbie and I can learn from anyone. Time management and goal setting are at the top of the list for me. I just have to learn to implement them properly. How many of you out there use a pda or equivalent to keep track of time and appointments? I may have to get one or something on that order to keep track of important information.
William King 13 years ago
You are right, but sometimes I really like to scream, when I am going through some tensions or problems and feeling so much depressed. Than it seems very killing sitting all day in front of screen, in such time I only want to hit the roads weather with my feet or my tyre and it may happen to many people because of the same daily routine so I think after interval of some weeks it is also better to break free from the daily routine
Benefits Of Working From Home 13 years ago
Well, I learned to slack off in my online routines lately. This allows me to attend to other matters important to my existence in the outside world. But the one thing I am focusing right now is setting goals. I have the big picture ahead of me, but getting there is a struggle each and every day. I hope, in due time, I can teach myself the art of self-discipline.