Entrepreneurs are always looking for ways to get more done in the same amount of time. After well, we all have the same amount of time each day, and since we can’t buy more time it requires productivity hacks to accomplish this goal.
Every entrepreneur knows that getting adequate rest and staying mentally clear are some of the more basic hacks, but there are plenty of little tips and tricks that we can all learn from and pull ideas from, tweaking them to meet our own personal productivity goals.
Rather than just speculate and guess, I like to speak with other entrepreneurs and see what has and is working presently for them. I’ve put together a list of four productivity hacks that are simple to implement and have produced amazing results for these entrepreneurs. Give them a shot, and tweak them as needed to help you get more done on a daily basis.
1. Achieve ‘inbox zero’ before 9am.
We all receive emails around the clock, and while it’s not always possible to be super responsive, if you slack on your emails it can create a backlog that not only becomes unmanageable, but when you do dive into your inbox it can take much longer to weed through the mess.
Brad Rafferty, Digital Marketing Manager of Wabash Power likes to reach “inbox zero” before he starts each day. His suggestion: “Start your day early and tackle your emails while eating breakfast, and motor through them with the goal of starting your day with a fresh inbox. Emails will pile up through the evening and continue through the morning hours, so if you get a late start it can take you much longer as more are added to the mix.”
Even with emails accessible on our mobile devices, it’s not always easy to reply properly to all emails on the go, so if you can start the day with a clean inbox it will help you allocate your time to other areas. Personally, I like to hit my inbox before the day, mid-day and then before I end the day. If you do this religiously you will never be drowning in unread and unanswered emails.
2. Maintain an up-to-date to-do list.
We all know that a do-to list is a great way to make sure you stay on track. When your time is allocated properly your productivity naturally increases because you aren’t wasting time figuring out what to do next.
The trick is to be consistent and David Sessford, Managing Director of Ready Steady Sell ensures consistency by always keeping a notepad by his side. “While modern technology is convenient, sometimes opening an app to type out a note isn’t always possible. When you have a million things going on it can be easy to forget little details. I maintain an up to date to-do list by keeping a notepad and pen on me at all times. It’s easy to update and physically crossing items off is satisfying,” he says.
I have two to-do lists, one is a larger picture list, for the week or month and the other is a daily list. The big picture list is maintained on a whiteboard in my office and my daily to-do lists are written on pieces of paper that are next to me all day. Physically seeing what I need to do and crossing them off works for me, more so than using an app.
3. Apply the 80/20 rule when it comes to your ideas.
As entrepreneurs, our minds are always working and we often have new ideas spring up. It’s impossible to pursue every single idea, so you need to learn how to prioritize. You never want to miss an opportunity, but you also don’t want to pull too much attention and focus away from when you are currently working on.
“I like to use the 80/20 rule and apply it to new ideas. 80 percent of my attention and focus remains on my main project, while 20 percent is allocated to exploring new ideas, ventures and opportunities. You have to find the right balance. You don’t want to sell yourself short, but you also don’t want to get pulled away and lose focus,” explains Chris Dziak, CEO of Pure Nootropics.
Always keep an eye and ear open for new opportunities — it’s crucial — but know how to properly delegate that time and energy.
4. Keep one day a week ‘meeting free’ for flexibility.
Sometimes an emergency will pop up, like a meeting request or an opportunity, but if you have no flexibility in your schedule it can make things difficult. Michael Plaza, CEO of Compare the Financial Markets suggests keeping one day a week wide open to accommodate this type of situation.
“If you keep one day consistently open every week, say Tuesdays, you will always know when you can not only fit in an emergency meeting, but also shift other meetings and commitments around in order to adjust on the fly,” says Plaza.
This hack works well, especially knowing you have a day open that you can use to shuffle your commitments. There will always be changes to your schedule, but the more flexible you can be, the easier you can adapt. This little tip just helps make you more flexible.