Productivity secrets from 10 successful young entrepreneurs
To be a successful entrepreneur (or successful at anything) you have to know how to get stuff done.
We’ve all experienced it at some point — that moment of the day when you’re sitting at your desk and you lose all focus. You grab your phone and check Twitter, reply to some texts, and surf your favorite websites. You have a laundry list of tasks to get done, but you can’t seem to focus on anything.
To try and beat this efficiency slump, I researched what productivity tricks work for successful young entrepreneurs. Here’s what I found:
1. Journal daily no matter what
Anna DiTommaso, 27-year-old founder of Creative80, says you should journal every single day, even when it seems like there’s no time.
Writing is a way to help process things. It clears your mind of thoughts that would otherwise sap your energy and provides a sounding board for ideas.That’s important when you work alone. It also gives you a point of reference for when you fall on tough times and want to find your way back to good. When I write on a daily basis, I am much more productive and hold myself to much higher standards. Even when I am working a 14 hour day, I realize the necessity of writing.
2. Schedule fun activities outside of work
Tim Halberg, 34-year-old founder of Tim Halberg Photography, suggests you should schedule fun activities outside work to motivate you to finish on time.
Schedule activities outside of work, like a round of golf in the afternoon. I’ve found this forces me to get my work done in time to get out the door. It’s funny how much you can get done when presented with a hard deadline. I discovered this by taking a two week backpacking trip and realizing my business was caught up before I left and that nothing died while I was gone. I decided I needed to recreate this as a normal piece of my weekly schedule.
3. Do the work you need to do
As an entrepreneur for 10 years now, I’ve learned that you have to do things even if you don’t feel like it. There is nobody above you forcing you to do the difficult parts. At some point I realized this is not school anymore and there is no teacher giving me an assignment that is due next week. Part of becoming an entrepreneur is realizing there is never a right time to do the things you need to do in order to move the business forward.
4. Purge your brain every morning
For the first 1-1.5 hours of my day, my brain is not prepared to start work. Every morning, the first thing I do is work out. By doing this, I can order my thoughts while I work out, and also knock off one of my daily needs. This prevents me from trying to “end” work early to get to the gym, because it’s already done.
5. Turn off notifications
Marc Guberti, 16-year-old co-founder of Teenager Entrepreneur, says you don’t need to be interrupted every time you get an email. I take this advice one step further and suggest you turn off all notifications on your iPhone or Mac via Do Not Disturb.
Each time I saw the new email notification, I always felt obliged to see what that message was. Each time you look at your inbox, you are losing valuable time. When I am working on creating a product, I remove the mail icon from my Mac’s home screen. That way, I am not even tempted to look at my inbox since I cannot see it.
6. Kill distractions
Shannon, a 28-year-old entrepreneur, says you have to avoid distractions at all cost.
It’s really tempting when you’re acting as your own boss to visit time-sucking websites like Facebook and Reddit, and what you might intend as a 10 minute break can easily turn into losing hours of valuable work time. I use a free extension for Chrome called Block Site, so that I’m not able to visit websites that distract me while I’m working.
7. Build sustainably
Sean Dudayev, 24-year-old Founder of InsureChance, says you should have a daily routine that you can stick to.
When building a company it’s easy to get caught up in a fast paced, energy drink, fast food fueled nights turning into mornings work hours. However that is simply not sustainable in the long run. Eventually you will experience a burn out that makes every mole hill seem like a mountain. The fix to this is establishing a routine daily to make sure you hit on all the things that will create long term, sustainable progress. I was able to do this without sacrificing work ethic, which is a fear for most young entrepreneurs.
8. Give everything a deadline
Tyler Brewer, 24-year-old founder of co-creator of Spontivity, says you should have a deadline for everything.
Whether it’s making a decision, writing a blog, or completing a task, everything needs a deadline. Entrepreneurs are inundated with a variety of tasks everyday and being efficient was something I was terrible at before I started setting a deadline for everything I did. Decisions need to be made promptly and setting deadlines helps those decisions get made.
9. Set a specific time of the day to check email
Jenelle Augustin, 25-year-old founder of RESTore Silk, says you have to set aside only one specific time each day for email.
Set a specific time of day to check email to avoid distractions. If I do not need to be on the Internet, I put my devices on airplane mode until my task is finished. I learned this out of necessity to keep myself from getting distracted so easily.
10. Think like a tomato
Shaun Walker, 30-year-old cofounder of HEROFarm, recommends using thePomodoro Technique to improve your energy level. Here’s the Pomodoro timer I use everyday.
Follow the Pomodoro Technique, and move around at least once an hour to get the blood flowing.
There are five basic steps to implementing the technique:
1. Decide on the task to be done
2. Set the Pomodoro timer to *n* minutes (traditionally 25)
3. Work on the task until the timer rings; record with an *x*
4. Take a short break (3–5 minutes)
5. After four Pomodori, take a longer break (15–30 minutes)