March 22, 2011, 5:00 am

Stats Are A Waste Of Time

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Make Money Online
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statsI’m sure you have experienced it. Regardless if you run a website or not, I am sure know what I am talking about. In fact, statistics are a waste of time in our lives. We follow stats at work, for the stock market, at the weather channel and I personally also follow the statistics of my blogs. We are surrounded by stats but don’t seem to be that much smarter, right? So are statistics useful or are they a waste of time?

STATISTICS ARE A WASTE OF TIME

The Problem with stats is not the data by itself but (as is the case with many things) the people looking at them. They are a waste of time because people don’t understand how to use statistics. They forget 2 very important facts:

#1 Statistics are very useful when you look at a large volume of data

#2 Statistics must be analyzed and not be taken to the first degree

In order to prove my point, I’ll share with you 2 examples (one from work and one with my business).

Stats are a waste of time example #1

I work as a financial planner in a bank. This is considered to be a “sales” job since my main task is to bring more assets under the bank’s management. We have weekly reports combined with rankings. WEEKLY STATS! So the goal is to produce long term growth in my portfolio but I am judged on a weekly basis! As is the case with any place where sales are involved, you will have some amazing weeks amongst very calm weeks. And sometimes, when you are lucky, you will get 3-4 weeks in a row with steady numbers.

So the weekly report by individual is not very useful since you need a larger sample of data (a month at least) to validate a trend. And the global weekly report is not better since it is taken to the first degree (our region had a good week or a bad week). It should be analyzed to see who is on an up trend and who is constantly not bringing in the numbers. In the end, most people take time to look at the report on a weekly basis but don’t do much with it. Therefore, this is just a big waste of time right there.

Stats are a waste of time example #2

That’s even more true with a website. How many times do you log into your Adsense account or Google Analytics to see your stats? TOO OFTEN! I actually look at my Adsense stats 5 times a day and look at my traffic on a daily basis. Sometimes, I cheat and I look twice in the day to see “how the day is going”. Then again, same results:

– I need more days of stats to see a trend

– Individual statistics doesn’t bring me anything as I just smile or frown depending on the days!

Ideally, I should look at my Adsense stats on a weekly basis (to make sure my impression works properly and that all my sites are on) and my traffic stats on a monthly basis. I’m definitely pretty far from my time optimization goal! The proof that not looking at stats work is definitely Financial Samurai who looks at his stats once every 6 months!

The good news is that I am now able to restrain myself concerning my income stats. These are being compiled on a monthly basis (accounting rules oblige) so I don’t look at them throughout the month. In the end, this would not give me more info anyway!
Here’s a trick

This is what I am going to implement as of now; when I look at my stats, I will take action on them. This means, I will not only look at my current day but look at the trends, at which sites are going well, which sites are not and use the stats to take action (tweak SEO, modify ad layouts, research other keywords, etc).

This should restrain my envy of looking at my stats since I am making a promise to myself that I will work on stats instead of wasting 5 minutes looking at them with a smile like a kid in front of a shopping mall during Xmas time!

How often do you look at your traffic stats? Do you find this time is being used properly?

Am I the only one with the stats problem?

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Comments

I am guilty! I’m starting a new blog and I have a daily impulse to see more traffic.

Started like: Oooh! 1 visitor. Oooh, another one. Oh wait, that was just me. Maybe the first one was just me too. Nope, first one was from Calgary. Must’ve been a relative. Count that as half a visitor.

Now I’m: Ooh, 20 visitors. Don’t want to go below 20. It’s already noon and I only have 7. Need a lot more by end of day.

However, I do know the value of stats. At my last job we measured a lot of things, then whipped the measure down. Even you, in this post, use the stats to establish trends and take actions. But you’re right, looking at stats more often than you can act is a waste.

Another downside is that having all the stats can make you feel more in control — even if you aren’t.

GUILTY! I check statistics like 4 times a day lol

You are absolutely right! Statistics can be used to persuade us of anything. It is how you use the statistics that is most important. I check my Alexa ranking daily looking for results because I tried something new, but most importantly for a trend or to evaluate my progress to my goal.

Very true, stats over a short time are worth nothing. Statistics are very important when you are looking at the history of something, because they help provide trends. I personally love statistics classes right now at my college, and I do believe they are beneficial whether it be in sports, stocks, and many more subjects in which people search for trends.

I empathize with your addiction and agree with your stance on stats in general. I work in the education field and we throw around the most ridiculous stats ever. Not only that, but we actually base certain funding decisions on these short term ‘conclusions.’

As for checking online statistics myself and my partner are both terrible for this. I rationalize it as a sort of motivational push I need to get going sometimes, realizing the whole time that if I added up those 5-10 minutes every day over the course of a year…ouch!

by: The Financial Blogger | March 22nd, 2011 (6:56 pm)

@ Perfect Dad,
I recognize the engineer in you 😉 hahaha!

@Krantcents,
Forget about Alexa stats, it is useless. It won’t help you taking any actions to your blog. Look at traffic, page viewed, which pages are viewed, time spent or adsense analytics. Those are important stats to track.

@My University Money,
you bet! this is a good idea; tracking how much time I spend on stats and thinking of what I can do instead!

I love this article brotha! I like to treat my stats like I do my investments, ignore them haha. Over the long term, it will grow if you make wise choices. Wise choices= writing good quality content. If you produce something worthwhile, the people will come!

by: The Financial Blogger | March 23rd, 2011 (7:53 am)

@ Jon,

this is a great idea! Once the investment strategy has been put in place (writing high quality content and focus on promotion of your blog), you should look at your investment statement each quarter or one every 6 months (same with blogging stats!).

But I don’t know if you are like me, but I LOVE to look how my stocks go in my portfolio (even though I don’t trade them on a bad or good news…)

darn it’s hard to not look at them!

Preach it brother! Man stats are addicting and they can really thwart your efforts or effect your mood. I think we should all be spending more time doing real work than just looking at stats!

If things are going well, blog stats or stocks, it’s a nice boost to get you through the day. I’m trying to take it down a notch and concentrate on other things like writing, reading, and seeing where I can improve.

I used to look at my stats (website) daily but stopped because of the same reason: I wasn’t taking action! Stats are to be analyzed and strategies implemented. If you’re not doing that, you’re doing it wrong.

[…] Checking my Adsense account every hour means the number will rise, right? No? It doesn’t? I’m wasting my time? Sadness. I need to listen to The Financial Blogger who says stats are a waste of time. […]