How do you stay focused when you’re trying to make money online?


I don’t have a traditional 9-to-5 job. In fact, I quit my teaching job and now I’m trying to turn my side gig into my main gig.

The problem with working from home is that there are lots of distractions. So, how do you stay focused when literally if you don’t do the work, you don’t make money.

Dom Torreto says in the movie “Fast and the Furious”:

“I live my life a quarter-mile at a time, nothing else matters. Not the mortgage, not the store, not the team and all their bullshit. For those 10 seconds or less… I’m free”

That’s actually a great quote about being mindful.

I had a grade 8 student once try to teach me about mindfulness – the idea about just focusing on one thing at a time and doing it well.

So when Dom Torreto talks about just focusing on that quarter-mile to the exclusion of everything else – that’s mindfulness.

I try to live my life 25 minutes at a time – nothing else matters.

The character Will in Nick Hornby’s novel “About a Boy” lives life off of the royalties of a song his dad wrote. So, the way he gets through a day is by thinking of a day as units of time:

“I find the key is to think of a day as units of time, each unit consisting of no more than 30 minutes. Full hours can be a little bit intimidating and most activities take about half an hour. Taking a bath: one unit, watching Countdown: one unit, web-based research: two units, exercising: three units, having my hair carefully disheveled: four units. It’s amazing how the day fills up, and I often wonder, to be absolutely honest, if I’d ever have time for a job; how do people cram them in?”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0H7VtFG9F-c

I agree with this – thinking about working for an hour, especially when you’re facing writer’s block or depression or some other obstacle – that’s tough.

So, I use the forest app to help me stay focused and motivated.

Basically, the makers of this app have game–ified mindfulness and helping you to focus on the task at hand, instead of playing with your phone.

You plant a virtual seed and set a timer. As the timer counts down, the seed grows. At the end of the timer, you have a beautiful tree or bush.

  • If you set the timer for at least 25 minutes, the seed becomes a tree.
  • If it’s under 25 minutes, you get a bush.
  • If you use your phone before the tree grows, the tree dies.

If you’re able to focus and not touch the phone and grow a tree, then you’re rewarded with virtual coins

  • You can then use these coins to buy more virtual trees or,
  • You can use these coins to plant real trees in the world. (Basically, if you get enough coins, you can buy a “real tree” which represents a donation from the forest app makers to a tree planting organization.)

I used this app in the classroom to talk about focusing on the task at hand for 25 minutes – we can do hard work for just 25 minutes.

Now what I do with the app is track where I spend my time. The app lets you categories trees and make little notes. It gives you some quick analytics to see which projects I’ve been working on.

If I look at the previous month, I know that I’ve spent a lot of time on creating Teachers pay Teachers lesson plans.

But, if I look at how much money that lesson plan project has made me, it’s relatively small compared to my affiliate marketing side and the money I’ve made from client work doing digital marketing for small businesses.

So, what I really need to do is stop and look at where I’m spending my time, and I need to look at what is making me money.

I read that millionaires need to follow the money. So, if I’m spending all of this time creating teacher lesson plans and it’s not producing money yet, then I need to take a close look at my time allocation.

  • I wonder why people aren’t buying my teacher lessons?
  • I wonder how I can find other like-minded teachers? (I would buy these lessons, so if I can find people like me, they might buy these lessons.)
  • I wonder if I can track who buys my lesson plans. I know that a bunch of people buy from within the teachers pay teachers marketplace, but I don’t really know which pages they’re coming from.
  • I wonder how long it will take before my other lessons sell. My Character and Citizenship lessons sell quite well. I wonder what I could do to convince existing clients to buy some of my other lesson plans.

One final thought:

I have a friend who used to work in management at a McDonald’s. He was telling me that they monitor sales closely, and if sales are down one day, then they might send someone home before lunch time so that their salary expenses are also lowered.

I thought this was interesting because they monitor these metrics on such a detailed level. Maybe I need to look more closely at what trees I’m planting and which projects I’m working on. Am I spending time on things that will lead towards revenue-generating assets?

How do you stay focused when you work at home?

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