5 Time-Sucking Traps that Strip Your Productivity

time-sucking trap


Let’s talk about the single biggest waste of money in your product-based business. Do you know what it is? Wait for it …

… it’s your TIME! Using your time poorly will cause the biggest money-suck in your product business.

It’s so easy to fool ourselves into thinking we’re being really productive in our day, only to close shop with very little to show for it.

But you were busy all day, right? Busy doing what? Were these the things you really should be spending your time on? Do they directly lead to business growth?

Let’s take a look at where we can get lost in the weeds with our time.


You have a fear of missing out

It’s the shiny object syndrome everyone talks about at play here. You’re making your product, baking your goods, feeling productive. Then you see that there’s a new Instagram app that will enhance your photos, or there’s a Chrome add-on that will make your life oh so much easier.

Because we all have FOMO (fear of missing out), you stop everything you are doing and check out the latest and greatest. If you decide you need to have it, you install and then go learn it. Right then, right there. Otherwise, you may forget that this new thing even exists.

What happened to the original project that was being worked on? Gone, forgotten or, at the very least, delayed. You fell for the time-sucking trap of trying to do it all.

What to do instead:

Don’t get sucked into something new that’s going to take you away from the task at hand. Instead, have a pen and paper near your work station and write down any new ideas or tools as soon as you hear about them. Then get right back to work on what you were doing. Have 30 minutes scheduled into every week to research these new things to determine whether they will benefit your business. 

Social media and email sucks you in

We need to interact with our customers and engage with those who connect with us on all platforms. So inevitably you will be on your social media platforms and in your emails several times throughout the day. That just has to happen.

However going in for one thing and having curiosity pull you over into another …  and another … and another may be entertaining but it doesn’t advance the business one iota.

Email presents the same danger. You enter in with a mission and your own agenda and then you end up fulfilling everyone else’s requests. Before you know it, your priorities are in the trash. The time-sucking trap of social media and email has prevented you from getting the work done.

What to do instead:

I know it’s important to check in with your customers and audience members regularly. Keep your social media apps and email system closed down most of the day, but check in with them first thing in the morning and last thing in the day only. If the thought of that raises some anxiety, add one more check-in midday. The rest of the time? Stay on task and silence notifications. Nothing is so urgent that it can’t wait at least a short time.

You’re not an expert but do it anyway

When you first start out in business you may feel like you have to do everything yourself to save money. I get that and I definitely did that too. But now I wonder if this is really the smartest move.

I knew nothing about building a website and even less about bookkeeping. I spent hours having to research resources, then learn how to use them, and finally actually doing it. I wonder how much quicker my business would have grown if I had outsourced these things to someone who could do it in a third of the time and the right way. It’s a time-sucking trap to try to save money doing things on your own.

What to do instead:

The trick is to use your time doing the things that could bring quicker visibility and sales into the business and hire out the rest. We all have our own expertise and it doesn’t make sense to take the time to learn something that’s not in our wheelhouse. And you’ll actually be able to move forward faster if you hire someone for projects like these instead of battling through them yourself.

I’m not one to look back for too long but it’s something to think about if this is the place you are right now.

Trainings and conferences aren’t effective

There are many national conferences, online trainings and local programs covering every topic you can imagine. These courses are fabulous and I encourage you to attend. However, if you do, make sure you don’t spend all your time (and money) attending the event and then come home and resort back to your same routine. (Time-sucking trap alert!)

What to do instead:

Before you sign up for a conference or training, take the time to determine if it’s right for you (instead of operating out of the fear of missing out). Then attend the program with intention and get the most out of it possible. And if you’re attending a trade show, which is a great opportunity for business growth, take the steps to ensure that you take action when you get home.

Zero revenue generating tasks

If you’re honest, there are some projects and tasks that you just don’t like to do. They aren’t comfortable or you’re not sure how to get started. So what do you do? The natural tendency is to revert to mindless busy work.

Let’s say you’re struggling with writing a blog article. No words are coming and you’re tired. So you look across the room and see something out of place. You go fix it. Then you decide it doesn’t go there and, in fact, the whole area needs to be rearranged. Your blog still needs to be written, but because it’s not something you love to do it doesn’t get done. That blog doesn’t generate income (not directly, at least). Other examples of zero revenue generating tasks are relabeling product, cleaning off a shelf, alphabetizing your folders, etc.

What to do instead:

Stop spending time on the tasks you don’t love doing and delegate them to others instead. Then take the time you’ve just gained back and start using it to generate more income.

Thankfully there are ways to get past the time-sucking trap and move closer to more productive and, ultimately, more profitable weeks and months.

  • Recognize that you’re doing any of the above time-traps and sit with that for a while. As Dr. Phil says, “You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge.” Once you acknowledge it, you’re one step closer to changing it.
  • Start each day with a Top 3 List – the top three things you want to accomplish that day. Then start working through the list in order of importance. I like to put my least favorite task or project first so I can feel really accomplished when it’s done.
  • Batch your work by doing similar things all at once. Since your mind is tuned in to a certain mode, your ability to create and produce at a higher rate is elevated … versus starting and stopping which is what happens when you switch from task to task.
  • Create uninterrupted zones in your life. Whether you are in an office environment or work from home, when people interrupt you it takes you off course. Close your office door, turn off notifications or go somewhere away from your normal workspace to help you really focus and stay in the zone. 

My challenge for you

Monitor yourself throughout your day and see if you can catch yourself in a time-sucking trap.

If so…GOOD FOR YOU! Identification of time-sucking traps is the first step to a course reset. As you make this a routine and focus your time on revenue generating activities, you’ll start to see that business of yours grow!

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For more free business support consider listening to my podcast Gift Biz Unwrapped where I interview gifters-bakers-crafters-makers who share how they started and built their businesses. Want to talk with me directly? I’m only an email away. I’d love to hear about you, your business and what you’re working on right now. sue@suemonhait.com

About the author, Sue

With over 30 years of business development and marketing experience, I've been fortunate to work with hundreds of companies of all sizes. Their needs range from start-up guidelines to advanced business building strategies. As current founder and owner of The Ribbon Print Company, we continue to recognize the need for these services ... not just for our customers but for the gifting industry as a whole. That's where the inspiration began for the Gift Biz Unwrapped Podcast and Blog.

1 Comment

  1. Shaun on December 13, 2017 at 10:54 am

    >The natural tendency is to revert to mindless busy work.

    Holy cow, so it’s not just me. That’s good to know. I do this ALL the time. And to be fair, mindless busy work can be good as a means of getting yourself back in the groove if you’re having problems getting yourself to stop goofing off and get to work – do some mindless easy work for a bit and then move on to something more intellectually challenging. But it’s not good when you find yourself doing it all the time like I do!

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