4 Productivity Tips for Entrepreneurs: Maximize Your Time and Thrive
Productivity is a big deal for entrepreneurs. You’ve got a lot to do in a limited amount of time, and the success of your vision depends on you making things happen. Luckily, other brilliant founders have faced this dilemma and found ways to get things done.
In this post, we’ll discuss how the successful entrepreneurs of YEC implement four top strategies for time management to maximize productivity:
- Plan Your Time
- Clear Your Mind to Create Flow
- Focus on What’s Important
- Minimize Distractions
Have a look at how they use these ideas to make things happen.
Plan Your Time
Time management is crucial in the entrepreneur life. You’re not getting more than 24 hours in a day, and you’ve got to leave some of that time for yourself to avoid burnout. So, to keep everything straight, start with some kind of a planner. Whether paper or electronic, hand-held or in the cloud, formal or jotted on a legal pad, a to-do list with the most important items highlighted can be a lifesaver.
YEC member Thomas Griffin, co-founder and president of OptinMonster, suggests the time blocking technique — that is, “the practice of planning your schedule for the day in advance by blocking every hour of your day for specific tasks and responsibilities. It's just like creating a to-do list, but here you know when exactly to do what.”
Planning your time also means considering how many hours you spend in meetings, and whether they are the best use of your time. YEC’ers recommend keeping meetings short, sweet, and to the point.
“Meetings can make or break the productivity of those involved. If it’s a short meeting that is to the point, it’s a productive one. If it’s a long one that has been dragged out to over thirty minutes and little has been accomplished, it can put a damper on the meeting attendees’ productivity,” says YEC member John Rampton, founder of Calendar.
YEC’er Kristopher Brian Jones, founder of LSEO.com, recommends even shorter meetings. “Talk to any number of CEOs and I'd bet you'll find more or less the same advice: Minimize your meetings and the duration of each. Don't set meetings that have no plan. Or don't schedule them for longer than 15 minutes. This will keep attendees focused on the relevant topic.”
Clear Your Mind To Create Flow
For maximum creative productivity, the optimal brain state is that elusive but powerful state called “flow.” When you reach flow state, the chemical makeup of your brain actually changes, resulting in creativity and better performance. This makes you feel good, which creates more flow chemicals, and a positive feedback loop is created.
So smart entrepreneurs do everything they can to send their brain toward and into a flow state. Different folks use different strategies, but they all talk about clearing the mind to make room for what’s important.
YEC’er Meeky Hwang, CTO and partner of Ndever, starts preparing her mind for flow before her work day even begins. “I started meditating in the morning for 20-30 minutes before interacting with anyone, making sure that during this time I focus on ‘me’ only,” she says. “This has allowed me to manage my mood, control my thoughts and slow down enough to form solutions to problems that may be plaguing me. Taking some 'me' time in the morning gave me a chance to go into my day with a clean slate and a focused state of mind.”
When the work day begins, start with a clear desk. “It’s important to declutter your workspace to create a positive, healthy environment that makes you feel calm and at ease. If you’re stressed about the condition you’re working in, it can often hinder you from achieving your goals and crossing off your tasks,” says YEC member Stephanie Wells, co-founder and CTO of Formidable Forms.
Finally, YEC member Blair Williams, CEO of MemberPress, says “One way to boost your way into flow is to take out a number of quick, easy tasks first. “What’s happening is that the seemingly small jobs which are many in number occupy a great deal of mental space. Being done with the small and quick tasks frees up your mental energy and significantly boosts your productivity.”
Focus on What’s Important
When you’ve knocked some of the small tasks out of your mental space, choose one project to focus on, and direct all your energy there.
Stephanie Wells says, “By focusing your attention on one task at a time, it’s easier to do quality work and waste less time. Concentrating on one thing allows you to excel at that task and finish it quicker than if you lump it with other things on your to-do list.” Likewise, Blair Williams points out that “your energy and attention are dispersed while trying to meet several goals at once. Instead, what if you could focus on just a few of your goals and give it all your energy? You’d likely see a massive boost in your happiness levels and productivity.”
YEC’er Cooper Harris, CEO and founder of Klickly, agrees. “I am passionate about having a laser focus in business. You can’t boil the ocean. I now religiously kill any project/feature that isn’t part of our core offering and our well-vetted adjacencies.”
So, for best results and max productivity, choose one thing at a time and give that thing your full attention.
Once you’ve decided where to put your focused effort, it’s time to block as many distractions as possible and get going.
Of course, it’s impossible to eliminate distractions entirely. But to do your best work and get the most done, you need to minimize the distractions as much as possible.
So schedule breaks for things like checking email (and only do it then). Use the “snooze notifications” function on Slack. Block your time, post a DND status on your messaging apps, and find a quiet place to work.
Above all, put your phone away. In a drawer, or a cabinet, or in another room. “Social media is extremely engaging, which makes it distracting too,” says YEC’er Josh Kohlbach, CEO and founder of Wholesale Suite. “And it’s difficult to stay away from it. But you can stop yourself from indulging in any social media activities by creating a distraction-free zone for yourself. All you have to do is to keep your phone away from this zone and resist the temptation to break away from this area.”
It’s not easy to stop looking at your phone. But if you do, your focus will be greatly improved.
If you’re an entrepreneur or business founder struggling with productivity (your own or your team’s), evaluate your use of these four strategies. If you plan your time, clear your mind, focus on what’s important, and minimize distractions, you’ll be well on your way to a super-productive day.
Want more great advice? See if you qualify to join YEC, where you can meet and share ideas with other successful young entrepreneurs.
YEC members, who have successfully founded and built businesses that generate a minimum of $1M in revenue or have a minimum of $1M in financing, offer great advice in the posts below (links to published articles can be found in each member's profile):
- Three Ways To Use Time Blocking For Better Time Management by Thomas Griffin
- Supercharge Your Workweek With These Three Strategies by John Rampton
- New to Being CEO? Here's How to Stay Constantly Productive by Kristopher Brian Jones
- Five Tips To Control Your Stress And Be More Productive by Meeky Hwang
- How To Quit Multitasking And Boost Your Productivity by Stephanie Wells
- How To Set Goals And Learn Faster With The 80/20 Principle by Blair Williams
- How To Effectively Beat Social Media Distraction by Josh Kohlbach