Being productive as an entrepreneur is no easy feat. We don’t have people who tell us what to do and there are many obstacles that can get in the way of us getting things done. But not all hope is lost. We all employ certain habits that help us get shit done, be productive and make our ideas happen.
Well, we asked hundreds of our entrepreneurs what their most productive habit is.
Here are the 35 most popular ones. What’s yours?
1. Make a To Do List
My most productive habit to me would be that I set a goal on my work, I don’t stop until I finish my list. I make lists all the time, of what I want to get done, and then I have a certain time frame for each item, and I will stay yup til 3am working if I know I wrote something down, and I don’t want to let myself down by getting behind on my projects I make up.
Vince Stead (http://www.fun2readbooks.com)
My most productive habit is taking the time in the morning (before turning on the computer and letting all hell break loose) to write down the list of tasks that I need to complete for that day. I’ve noticed that hand-writing these tasks enables me to put more thorough thought into each and lets me cross them off the list at the end of the day. Additionally, Moomkin.com helps me stay productive by finding and connecting with like-minded people to discuss ideas, work on projects and collaborate.
Yenlik Baimukhanbetova (www.moomkin.com)
My most productive habit is a pretty basic and simple idea- the “punch list”. Much like the list one needs to make when they finish building, painting or dressing a set, the ongoing punch list keeps your focus on what needs to be done immediately, soon and eventually.
My business partner Lisa and I keep an ongoing punch list in our google docs and assign ownership to some of the tasks (that are person specific) and the rest we divide and do as needed to meet our deadlines.
I know we’d be lost without our company punch list. It’s such a basic concept, and better, I think than just making personal “to do” lists for the day, each day (although that is a helpful second step to the process).
Beth Bell (www.greenproductplacement.com)
Sounds old school, but nothing beats a legible, newly written list on a legal pad every Monday morning.
Lisa Ann Schreier (Http://www.timeshareinsights.com)
I keep myself productive with two tricks. My first trick is to keep lists, many lists, lists on nearly every counter and work surface in my house. I have lists for house chores and lists for work chores. I am one of those folks who love scratching each item off as it gets done. My second trick is to a lot certain time each day for each set of chores. I will tell myself “OK, you have from 9am til lunch to get as much done with Beads by Dawn as you can”. I make myself stick to it and then move on to whatever it is I need to do next. Are there days I “fail”? Well, yes, because life happens when you need to keep track of two small kids but these habits have helped be most productive.
Dawn Martin, www.beadsbydawn.etsy.com
My most productive habit is my daily calendar and task list. I check off what I get accomplished daily as I move along!! I have short term and long term goals, and my daily lists help me get there!
I’m a huge planner and list maker. To make sure I am my most productive, I spend a little time each night before I close up shop planning how the next day should play out. I’m most productive first thing in the morning, so having this list already in place with my goals and what I hope to achieve makes it easy for me to dive in head first the next day, knocking out the tasks that have the highest priority one at a time. I’d be lost without my planner and lists.
Kimberly Crossland, www.thesavvycopywriter.com
I assess tasks as they come in and if they are quick I do them immediately (ie. sending a file that is needed). I work this way because if someone is requesting something of me, it means that I am a bottleneck and they cannot be productive until I respond. So in order to keep things moving, I try to be a “do it now” kind of person.
For larger tasks, I love my lists! My friends and coworkers even joke that I have lists of the lists I need to make. I break large tasks into more manageable to do’s and try to delegate where possible.
So lists + do it now = super productive.
Aneela Kumar, twitter.com/ak310i
When I am on my game, no distractions, my to-do list is the most productive thing I have going on! Some times its a mental exercise but when I prioritize ( customer projects first, of course) and write it down I am unstoppable! The to-do list works for me because it serves as a promise to myself that helps me reach my short and long term.
Maisha B. Hoye, www.customer1stmarketing.com
Ok, easily the most productive habit is to work off a task list. Easily this is it. We all waste too much time online, we all are guilty of it, a task list makes us do the important work and by writing the list this makes you choose what will actually help your business. Make it better by working on your most important but least interesting tasks first. And backing up the task list idea is to have weekly short meetings with your managers. 20-30 minutes tops where each manager is focused on working on or finishing one key task each week. Are you tired of your management team not getting key items done, a quick weekly meeting focused on finishing tasks solves that.
You always hear meetings waste time, not true if you use this fast focused method.
Luke Peters, Air-n-water.com
I keep a categorically organized list of the action items that are related to all of my projects. (To make it easier, I use Wunderlist.com)
The first thing I do when I get to my office is print and redline my to-do list. I read through all action items on all projects and determine what can be accomplished TODAY and I schedule or set reminders for those in the future.
If a task sits on a list too long, I then demote it to my long-term goals list or just delete it altogether because it’s not a priority. This habit creates a “what’s the next important step” approach to starting my day and I always have something to do. It also forces me to keep sight of things that may not be getting attention.
Matthew Stroh, matthewstroh.com
My most productive habit is to create a list and stick to it. I do it every night before I go to sleep in preparation for the following day. I have 2 sons, a 50+ employee company and many extra-curricular activities. To stay on top of everything and get things done, I make a list. Rather than letting my day control me, I control my day. If I finish my list before my day is over, I’ll take a 20 minute break and start a new list and keep going. It keeps me focused and in control.
Deborah Sweeney, http://www.mycorporation.com
It sounds very old school, but making a list of all my “To Do’s” for the week and following through with it is probably one of my most productive habit. Well that and turning off my email when I need to dedicate my brain to a strategic piece of work.
My lists though are probably the most helpful. I make a new list at the end of the day on Friday’s when the tasks and projects I need to tackle and complete for the coming week are still fresh in my mind. Then when new items come-up throughout the week I simply add them so they don’t get forgotten. My weekly “To Do” list includes everything from admin stuff like month-end billing to kicking-off a new client strategy plan, but I segment the work into easy to tick-off chunks – that way it doesn’t feel so daunting. A bonus is every time I finish an item on my list I find it very satisfying to check-it-off as complete! These weekly lists are my bible and help me prioritize work, keep me organized and let me stay on top of things.
Arleigh Vasconcellos, www.theagencyinc.ca
Organizing my tasks by today & upcoming. Every morning I dump all my ideas and tasks into my new tasks list then move each task to either to do today or to upcoming list. Doing this before i start working makes it easy to understand my goal for the day and I go one by one and complete my tasks. Checking off tasks is a great feeling!
Eskat Asfaw, www.collegeshuttles.com
When you have a long list of to-dos, it can get pretty overwhelming thinking about how to get everything done. One thing that has always helped me is to find the most important item on that list and get that done. Once you are done, revisit the list, rinse and repeat. Before you know, you’ll have made a significant progress.
Pranaya Ghimire, http://startuplift.com
I’m great at making lists and prioritizing tasks for myself and my staff. I still use an analog pen, paper and highlighter to do that. What really makes my system effective is that I know when to scrap the list and improvise or rearrange all of the priorities. Flexibility is a requirement if you’re trying to run a company or do anything innovative. Your system has to make room for the spontaneous.
Emily Lonigro Boylan, http://www.limeredstudio.com/
I take the subway to and from work. My commute is a half hour each way. This hour is valuable down time since I’m not interrupted by phone calls or meetings. I keep lists everywhere, so I am sure to organize the schedule of all my projects and videos. These subway rides allow me time to stay on top of my schedule, respond to emails and coordinate with people in a highly effective way.
Alicia Arinella, http://www.whatyoucando.com
Productivity is best ignited by using Stephen Covey’s Habits of Highly Effective People’s quadrant of 1: Urgent Important 2: Important Not Urgent 3: Not Important Not Urgent 4: Not Urgent, Not Important. Also, for entrepreneurs, especially in start up mode, making sure to always make money the most important thing to deal with at the start of every day sets priorities straight. A sense of being in charge of one’s own success or failure is the ultimate inspiration.
Alyson Dutch, www.ConsumerProductEvents.com
2. Get up early
GET UP EARLY. There’s a reason that this tip appears in virtually every CEO biography. Get to bed before the crappy reality TV comes on. Get up before your competition. Do something important before you check email. Get at least 90 minutes of high-quality activity first thing every day. This is one of the great secrets to success.
Andy Crestodina (www.orbitmedia.com)
I firmly agree with the adage that the early bird catches the worm. Therefore, I start every day at 5:30. By 11 am, I am generally finished with a day’s work because much of it is done by the time others start working and the phone starts ringing. This schedule allows me to devote my afternoons to physical activity and nourishing my professional network by meeting with clients and potential clients. The result is a successful and thriving business and active participation in several civic and charitable organizations since 2004
Sir Jerry Pradier (http:www.probusdev.net)
My most productive habit is two-fold but is how I start each day.
As soon as I wake up each day – between 4:30 and 5:30 – I immediately pray and give thanks to god for another day and for a productive day.
After the Amen, I immediately grab my laptop and cull through my email; quickly deleting junk and then answer important business email.
With a global brand it’s important to answer email while my team in Asia is still at work and while my guys in Europe can react to my replies. I spend about an hour to an hour and a half on this while sitting up in bed watching the early news. I then take my shower, get dressed and head out of the door to the office.
Most of my email and daily communication is done before I even get to the office. What a time saver and you also get the bonus of looking very crisp and on top of things to your global partners.
Tim Talley (www.u-lace.com)
Getting up at 5 AM before the rest of the family, hitting 12 minutes of Tai Chi, grabbing a coffee and then working (writing, creating presentations, copy or other work for clients) for 2 hours straight.
Geoff Hetherington, www.dancingblindman.com
Waking up early and maxing my day is probably the one habit I’ve cultivated to pack in maximum in my day as an entrepreneur. Managing three different work profiles as a documentary film maker, television producer, wedding documenter and a stylist need me to juggle many hats with many hours.
Yasmin Kidwai, http://springboxfilms.com/
3. Read. And learn.
I spend two hours every day reading up on my industry news to stay on top of the trends most important for my niche. I read every day news that comes into my inbox regarding the supermarket industry and then I read alternative news sites like Natural News to stay on top of the latest in health news. This is important for us as manufacturers of healthy raw foods to learn what others are saying about the future of food and superfood industry. It is also important to learn what new trends there are in the food industry to stay on top of certifications for future health needs of the country.
Audrey Darrow (www.righteouslyrawchocolate.com)
Example 1: I don’t waste time having long discussions without any measurable outcome of that discussion. I prefer to talk about solutions rather than simply wasting one hour discussing problems.
Example 2: I don’t spend time carelessly on non-productive stuff. (When am at work – I dont have un-productive talks/activities, I work like an employee of my company.)
Example 3: I invest approximately 10-15 hours reading and learning, this helps me adapt with the changing WWW.
Manish Bhalla (http://www.fatbit.com)
I find many good ideas for my business reading books. Often not the ones on the current best seller lists, but the ones that were on it several years ago or even decades ago. Business books are great, as are biographies of business leaders that you admire.
Read, Read and More Read. Idea is simple, I always believe if I want to make big (an extra big of course), I need to research and learn more about things. As more I know and learn about things, the more I know about different ecosystems near me. This at par makes a direct proportionate to help me make more new productive products which benefits all.
Karan Chopra, G2OneNetwork.com
My habit: Read, and read often.
One of the greatest threats to any entrepreneur is becoming a silo. Working so hard inside the confines of your business that you are oblivious to what is going on in the world. Yes, there are chapters where you need to be in the weeds, but often those chapters become the norm. As a leader of a company, you are supposed to command the ship, and that means lifting your eyes to the horizon on a periodic basis. Seeing what other companies are doing is critical – and the best way to do this is to read, and read consistently. Not just about businesses in your industry. I have found some of our greatest strategic shifts have been influenced by companies in other industries.
Hamilton Powell, www.crownandcaliber.com
As an entrepreneur, the most productive thing that I do is read the news. This keeps me on top of industry trends and developments and helps me steer my business in a direction where we are staying ahead of the curve, not playing catch up with it. By adopting new trends before anyone else, we’re able to get a first movers advantage – something that can be very valuable in the long run!
Jack J. Bergman, http://www.abnsave.com
Listening to podcasts and audiobooks while I’m driving, doing house work, standing in line, etc. I’ve never been much of a book reader, but I consume large amounts of great material, most of it free too.
David Fox, greenr.com
4. Single task and do the hard stuff first
The ability to focus intensely is a habit I’ve mindfully cultivated. In a few hours of focused effort, I produce volumes of emails, proposals, presentations, billing, etc. – more than most people manage in a week! The upside of this is that I can then “kick back” and immerse myself in activities that require less intensity . Phone calls, meetings, sales calls, networking, and communing with my staff fall into this category. It’s all work, but if I couldn’t churn out the “paperwork,” the engine of the operation would falter. As an entrepreneur, it’s my role to do it all and this style of concerted focus vs. more relaxed social interaction balances out well for me.
Karen Perry-Weinstat (www.EventJournal.com)
Setting small goals throughout the day to keep on track with what is top priority. For example, if I have return calls to make, I will dedicate my time to taking care of those before starting a new task. Despite all the multi-tasking that goes on in our daily lives, I like to complete what I am working on before I leave my desk. I will tell myself that whatever I am working must be finished before I can take a break, go to lunch, etc.
Ellen Sperling (www.youvegotfunds.com)
Doing the stuff I hate to do first. If I do those tasks first, I tackle them at the beginning of the day when I am fresh and less distracted. When they are done, they are out of the way, and I can focus on the things that I enjoy doing.
Stacy Rybchin, http://www.MySecretLuxury.com
I pick two “hard” tasks that are valuable to the long-term growth of my company (i.e. calling on a potential customer, finishing a customer’s business model) and write them on my daily to-do list. Those are two things that get done first in my day.
Aaron Vidas (http://www.aaronvidas.com)
By far my most important habit is writing down the one thing I want to accomplish each day, and making sure I do that before I do anything else work related. I try very hard to make sure I don’t open email and don’t check social accounts before getting that task done.
Sean Johnson, www.sean-johnson.com
5. Find your most productive time and focus
Late nights are my most productive times. When everyone is asleep and the phone stops ringing there is no better time for focus oriented work. This time is best used for putting together large concepts and planning at a higher level. I am not sure how most people get this type of work done during the day.
Brendon Schenecker (http://www.travelvegas.com)
Always think about how to improve your customer’s experience
My most productive habit is to constantly imagine how we can deliver an exceptional customer experience in a way that our competitors can’t.
This is a doubly powerful concept: our customers appreciate that we’re always thinking of new and better ways to serve them. And by making it difficult for our competitors to emulate us, we set ourselves apart from them; we become seen as unique and special; and if we’re unique and special and offer additional value we are able to charge a premium price for our service and products, if we wish.
Alex Glassey (www.stratpad.com)
I find early morning to be a great way to clean up my inbox and get a fresh start on the day. So much can happen before emails start coming in. I follow that by an afternoon 20 minute meditation to help slow things down before the day gets away or too stressful.
Jordan Ruden, http://www.acresmediagroup.com/
Most of my day in the office is spent in meetings, calls and unblocking issues for the team. I don’t get real, execution-based work done until nighttime, which I reserve for hacking on projects and cranking through emails. Leaving the office by 5 p.m. every day ensures I get home with enough time to see my family and still have the rest of the night to crank out execution work.
Matt Ehrlichman, porch.com
My most productive habit is having focus times. I am a bit ADD, which works great when I’m helping customers and needing to be answering the phone and also checking in new merchandise and everything else! But it doesn’t work so well when I need to be writing or doing bookkeeping or finishing up projects. So I make a habit of carving out focus times – times either in the early morning or in the evening or when I’m working from home, when no one will be bothering me. I set my timer and get to work and stay working on that project until the timer goes off. It might only be for 10-15 minutes, but then I take a quick break and set my timer again.
Teresa Gonczy, http://www.teresaeg.com
My most productive habit have been reflective thinking. This habit have been enhanced when i scheduled a part of my daily activity for ‘thinking’; creating time to have fun with my thoughts. This helps me to consider series of thoughts i had earlier noted in my notepad (which is always handy), focus on which thought to work on, reflect on previous activities, and how i can learn from them and scale up the impact.
Weaving thoughts, contrasting it with resources at hand, and continually envisioning the effect of its realization though may be tasking, but is much fun.
Damola Morenikeji, www.admnigeria.blogspot.com
Chunking my schedule. I reserve certain parts of my day for specific tasks so I can keep focused and get more down on multiple projects. For instance from 12-2pm reserve time for doing interviews with inspirational entrepreneurs and I know everyday what to expect at that time. I reserve certain times for preparation and certain times to return all phone call messages.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz (http://www.INspiredINsider.com)
Setting a 30-min timer, turning airplane mode on, on my phone, and closing gmail. The timer acts like a life raft that will rescue me in less than 30 minutes. I don’t have to worry about my day slipping away doing a useless task or spinning my tires.
When the timer goes off, I take a break and then come back to the same tactic. It’s much easier focusing on how much time you dedicate to something then stressing about trying to finish that project in that one sitting.
Bassam Tarazi, www.colipera.com
Email and meetings have become a heavy leash for me, so carving out times in the day to be available for both and yet respective time to “create” and “do” have been essential. A small calendaring app called Timetrade allows me to coordinate my 6 calendars and enable others to schedule meetings at times around my own initiatives, rather than making an initiative out of finding a time to connect. It has saved my life. I receive NO compensation from Timetrade but recommend it highly.
Justin Gray, http://leadmd.com
My most productive habit is giving myself time to think and avoiding quick decisions if possible. Sure, sometimes action needs to be quick but a lot of business decisions need to be pondered as well as discussed with others. With a bit of time, I can talk to our people about the situation, talk to other colleagues, do some searching on the web and then just let it gel for a few hours or a day or two. Some of my most creative solutions have come from that kind of effort.
Simon Wieczner, https://twitter.com/SnowboundS
Waking up super early and sitting still for 15 minutes reflecting on what is the two most important things I can do that day. Then I do it.
Esther Kuperman (manonymous.com)
Being relaxed is actually on of my most productive habits. This does not mean working slow or not having drive — it simply means embracing the creative process, thinking clearly and not letting outside stresses get in the way when problem solving.
Concetta Halstead (http://lordcreative.com)
My most productive habit is getting disconnected. Yes you read it right, “I shut off my computer, phone and work offline”. I still use old school pen and paper to create social media plans & strategies. I wish I could take a picture & show you one of my latest social media plans (for a new client). Its in my notebook and it WORKS !!
Ali Mirza (www.iSocialYou.com)
Find a quiet place and brainstorm for a solution. One way to do this is to take a walk in nature or work-out vigorously because once I allow myself to deal with my emotions (get them out of the way or my disappointments) then I can look for a solution to the problem. When I am calm and the body is calm, then I can think more clearly and work on a solution to the challenge. This approach has been most productive for me.
Mel Brake (http://www.manta.com/c/mvtftks/mpw-foundation)
I have blocked off two hours of every day in my schedule, during which everyone knows not to interrupt me, schedule appointments for me or expect email responses. Those two hours are dedicated to Internet-less, phone-less and speech-less focus time, during which I can brainstorm and focus on work that I need to accomplish on my own. It helps me strike a balance between being responsive to everyone else’s need for discussion and direction, and my need to push bigger company-wide objectives forward.
Robbie Friedman, www.viewabill.com
Well, I can’t say it’s very normal, but my most productive habit is my ability to have 1hr a day to recharge my batteries. My day starts when I get a bath in the morning, and ends when I get a bath the next morning to start again. I do my best to set 1 or 2 hours in my busy schedule to unplug, but that doesn’t always happen to be an option.
I live across 10 time zones, I’m either in a plain, or a train and even when I’m at home, I’m either on Skype is having conference calls from the US to China and India, or fighting with my emails. Thus, this skill gives me the chance to be on top of my game.
7. Work Out. Move around.
Working out in the morning 5 days a week – even though I don’t consider myself a morning person (yet I’ve become one with a year old daughter) when I exercise in the morning it increases my energy level, gives me better ideas & puts me in a better mood for the rest of the day!
Scott Asai, http://growingforward.net
My most productive habit is that I crossfit every day. It keeps me sharp, in shape, and accountable to many other things in my daily life. It gives me energy and discipline in everything I do. What makes this the “most productive habit” IMO is that Crossfit (or @bodeefit) workouts are short and extremely high intensity… If maximizing your time and being the most efficient in what you do doesn’t scream entrepreneur.. I don’t know does.
Blake Miller, http://twitter.com/ImBmills
My most productive habit is going for power walks to discuss difficult issues. By briskly walking and talking, I can focus energy on the challenge at hand. I try to limit the walk time which then in turn limits the time spent on the issue. Goal is to resolve within a short period and get some exercise at the same time.
Mary Juetten, www.traklight.com
My most productive habit is finding time each day for a physical workout. While the mental challenges continue to mount on a daily basis, the ability to step back and unleash the energy in a positive way allow me to reset and refocus on whatever challenge I need to face next.
Zachary Perry, www.infamousbrewing.com
Movement! You cannot sit at your desk all day. Movement is key. Try working at a standup desk! Must move every 90 minutes or take a break.
Tracy McClimans, twitter.com/tmcclima
I put my health first. Whether it’s a green super green smoothie in the morning or getting to bed at an early hour, I don’t skimp on the things my body and mind need to perform at its best. When I find myself skipping a meal or not getting an exercise, I see an almost instant impact on my productivity,
Amanda K. Larrinaga, modernentrep.co
8. Make your email productive
My most productive habit is utilizing my email inbox as a productivity tool. As emails come in they are filtered, organized and prioritized to become my daily task list. I can ensure that nothing is missed and I’ve retained conversation threads should I ever need to revisit the task.
Kelly Mistry, www.myfairytalebooks.com
I found that turning off Push notification of emails on my iPhone has helped me to be much more productive. When I was constantly being bombarded with emails I would find the urge to respond immediately thereby distracting me from my main priorities.
Now I check my email every few hours which lets me focus on my task at hand, whether it is developing new app features, talking to clients, or reaching out to potential customers.
Try this small change yourself for just a few days and see how much more productive you become.
Scott Falbo, www.front9technologies.com
Dealing with emails in batch mode avoids getting involved in endless email ping-pong discussions and allows to provide more concise responses with reflection after some time and reflection. While it also allows you to get real work done while not checking emails, running into meetings or making phone calls.
It is not uncommon for me to receive over 400 emails on a given work day. To check them as they arrive would bring my productivity to a halt. I have a rule when it comes to addressing my inbox — I only check emails at designated times throughout the day and when I do, make sure to have to have an action associated with each one (read it, file it, trash it, do it, etc). This method has been the most efficient method for taming the constant inbound email flow.
Asha Sharma, @Asha_Sharma
9. Super(use) Google Calendar
(Super)use Google Calendar Multiple Google Calendars, color-coded, integrated across multiple platforms (phone, tablet, computer) and each shared with the right people/person: work1, work2, personal, family, etc… This is most productive as I actually use them, enter info from birthdays to pay the utilities to parent teach conference to date night. AND, I use the reminder function with 2-3 reminders per event with both pop-up and email reminders. AND, I put in the location of meetings or events, and even phone numbers, so if I’m lost (maps!) or late (call!), I can still get ‘er done.
Molly Bradford (www.MissoulaEvents.net)
Using Google Calendar is my most productive habit. I schedule my days by the half hour. I love that it can be color coded, and the description box is great for to-do lists. It also has alarms and can sync with your phone. This really has been the best way for me to keep track of what needs to be done and to be accountable to myself for getting it done in a timely manner.
Nicole LaBonde, www.nicolelabonde.com
My most productive habit is taking 15 minutes every morning to plan out my day in its entirety. The way I approach this is by using my Google Calendar to plan out all my meetings and phone calls in red, tasks which have to be done on a certain day by the end of the day in yellow, and tasks which need to get done but aren’t on a deadline in blue.
With dozens of emails coming in, phone calls, and other issues to deal with, I find it’s very easy to get off track and fail to get things done. I’m big on systems and organization — I think it’s a requirement to be successful — and this system I have helps me organize my day and make sure at a bare minimum I accomplish the things which have to be completed.
Brendan Egan, http://www.SimpleSEOGroup.com
10. Take a break between accomplishments
Giving myself an inspiring break between accomplishments. That can translate from a quick headstand or cartwheel between meetings, to a quick photoshoot of the fiery sunset on my way home from work, to a rewarding weekend trip after a (or before if you are expecting one) week from hell at work. The point is to reward myself in the most beneficial ways to keep me motivated doing what’s on my agenda, not only as an immediate instant gratification reward (yes, sometimes ice cream counts too, but only some-rare times…) but mainly as a way to continue developing myself even when I am “taking a break”, which ultimately makes me feel good about myself, and come back feeling even better continue my tasks. Hence why ice cream or spontaneous shopping doesn’t really (usually) do it for me, although it may for others. You just have to ask yourself, what does really drive you and how can you translate that to simple daily actions that need almost no effort to do, so they come naturally followed by that great feeling of accomplishment and fulfillment? It should come as natural as drinking a glass of water.
Erinda Martin, erindasuniverse.com
Begin tasks and get into work mode So much of productivity is born of simply getting started, so my most productive habit is simply to begin a task that will get me into work mode. Something small and fast is best, because it’s not as overwhelming as facing the bigger jobs. I also prioritize and work on smaller tasks that are most important, leaving me with a sense of accomplishment and the knowledge that I can soldier on and get more done.
Dawson McKay, www.DawsonVO.com
Delegation is my habit. I believe teamwork makes the dream work, so delegating projects and tasks is the best way to maximize my efforts. It allows me to have the greatest impact on the business without getting bogged down in any one area. Some entrepreneurs have a hard time letting go of the hands-on, day-to-day functions, but that way of thinking will drastically limit your productivity. The catch? You have to know your team very well and know who to send which project, otherwise your whole operation will get tangled.
Nick Friedman, www.CollegeHunks.com
I delegate. So many founders say they don’t have time and frequently it’s because they are micro-managing or doing too many things themselves that should be delegated out to individuals on their team. By hiring smart people and trusting them to do their jobs right you can make sure you have time to spend on the things most important to your position. I also don’t have useless meetings 🙂
Kelsey Meyer, www.InfluenceandCo.com
12. Think positive
My most productive habit is that I always keep a positive frame of mind. When I am unable to reach my goals easily, I know I will be that much more grateful when I finally achieve them. When you stay positive about everything, eventually feeling negative will start to feel foreign to you. Because being positive is my norm, I find that even when I become frustrated or discouraged, those moods don’t last. Before long, I’m back in the swing, trying once more to move mountains.
Robin Jay, www.TheKeyMovies.com
Realizing that problems aren’t problems, they’re opportunities to improve. No matter what field you’re in, things are always going to go wrong, especially in a start-up. Stressing out and getting upset when things happen is simply counter productive. When a “problem” comes up, I don’t get stressed and immediately lay out an action plan to make the most of this amazing opportunity of a problem.
Sean Thorne (http://hallspot.com/)
One of my most productive habits is to smile. Not only to others, but to myself as well. It sounds almost comical, but it works. Every time you think of it, smile. It immediately makes you feel half as stressed. Even when you can’t see yourself smile, it’s effective. And, of course, when you’re in front of the mirror shaving, etc, and you can see yourself smile, it’s even more effective. Smiling helps you enjoy life more, feel better, have more friends, and be more successful. Try it for a week – you’ll be amazed!
Johnny Miller, www.oakbridgetimberframing.com
13. Listen to music
It is definitely listening to music and interview podcasts. Sitting in front of a computer screen gets really hard sometimes, so listening to music or podcast interviews works for me. It really gets me pumped and motivated to continue to work. Also, I tend to forget a lot so it helps if I keep a journal. I use online tools to manage my daily tasks.
Herby Fabius, http://billionsuccess.com
Listening to music and daydreaming. Spending time inside my own head affords me the opportunity to ideate and envision new user experiences and business models.
Kevin King, www.feed.fm
14. Build your network
Commit to networking, both meeting and helping new people as well as following up and developing/building those relationships over time. You might not know everything but your network will. Isn’t knowing half the battle. @JoselinMane
A key productivity habit for me is to have breakfast or lunch with a colleague or other friend in business at least twice per week. It’s easy to substitute tweets and emails for in-person conversations. A private conversation over a meal allows all parties to be focused on the conversation at hand and to be a bit more vulnerable, leading to deeper conversations and new opportunities.
Clint Schaff, http://twitter.com/clintschaff
My most productive habit I have is to network at my computer at night. This often runs late into the early morning hours. I enjoy networking with people I’ve met and obtained their business card. Everyone I meet is a friend and a possible donor.
I send out fun experiences and photos of us at play. good news stories and I even answer emails with my heart and not with my head. This is also my exploring time for fundraising ideas. I check out other non-profits in other states to see what they do and see if any of it might rebuild one of my less active creations. Sure, I build links to helpful sites, as well as, great causes I want to support.
And somewhere in the mist of the night I add content and photos to our website and expand our newsletter. Ok, yes I’m guilty, I also expand our email list from contacts I’ve made that day. Everyone gets added to our email list. In showing the good that we do for our community to new friends we often gain new donors and great volunteers.
I do all this because I know there is people out there looking for something to get behind. They want to help and they love to do something good and worthwhile. I look at it this way, we just pave the road, add newly painted lines so they will know when they are coming and going and then I set back with my popcorn in hand and wait for the next night. You’d be surprised at how many people find their flash lights and come out to play with us..
In the solitude of the night I open my inner doors and allow my fun spirit to come out and be creative with me.
Dan Barnhill, www.atlantapetpartners.org
15. Focus on someone else.
With everyone I meet, I have trained myself to problem solve for THEM. I have found that many people in networking situations, business settings, and most other aspects of life the typical reaction to meeting someone new is to analyze and see how they can help you. By consciously trying to switch this internal assessment I have found that I have profited as well, since focusing on what benefits others typically leads to coming up with a solution that benefits everyone. When we are recruiting designers or pitching to new business partners or even just talking with people who walk us into our shop to have something created, I always keep this ethos in mind.
Daniel Riley, www.blu-bin.com
My most productive habit is pouring into other entrepreneurs and reaching back to assist them in their endeavors. I believe it is what we do for other people’s lives and visions that sets entrepreneurs apart.
Chanze Witcher, www.chanzewitcher.com
16. Work from home
Working out of home and with people through chats and email messages. There are several reasons:
1. Working out of home gets me started as soon as I wake up and gives me more flexibility. I travel for customer meetings but otherwise work longer hours than commuting to work. I also work during my most productive times (early mornings, evenings.
2. Working with people remotely provides me and them access throughout the day so that we can resolve issues quickly In addition chat logs and email provide a record of the conversation for reference and documentation.
3. Our email/chat/hangout culture prevents long unproductive meetings
Dorai Thodla, http://www.imorph.com
My most productive habitat is my office at home. I like to call it “The Situation Room” as it is the most quietest place for me to think, work on new material, edit current work, and create new material.
Kenon Thompson, http://www.kenonthompson.com
17. Do things you enjoy
My most productive habit is walking/playing with my Golden Retriever, Skye, before sitting down at the computer. This “play time” allows me to enjoy nature and open my mind to a brand new day of endless possibilities.
Sheila Duncan, www.troublethedog.net
One of the most useful and productive habits necessary for any decision-making process is to find Zero Balance on an Energetic level. That’s to say that when one calms themselves down to complete Zero Energy; the mind has the capacity to approach all concerns in the most broadest of terms. Almost removing all the emotions out of the moment to be the Silent Observer in one’s own life. When this can be done successfully; the unbridled mind can now take the impetus to work outside of the normal fear-based boundaries that all connect to fight or flight. The answer almost always lays somewhere in between the two extreme directions. Given enough time, nothing can thwart the Human Will. The answers come in so many options and nuances that it’s almost “not a problem” anymore; as much as it becomes a Strategy of choice. Looking patiently for the best possible answer must yield the best possible answer.
John Eitel, www.johneitel.com
Playing! While I imagine that many people find that the mere act of taking an occasional break from “work” during the day helps their productivity, I found that this is not enough. Instead I take a break with a specific “plan to play.” Sometimes this is looking at a funny youtube video to get a good laugh. Other times it’s taking a walk to move my body. One of my favorites is the social play break. These may be things that lots of people do by default, but I do them with the intention to re-energize, have fun, and get my brain on a different track for a brief period of time. By doing this I find that I am best able to return to work with more focus and energy.
Dr. Kirsten Milliken, http://PlayDHD.com
18. Schedule a miscellaneous day every week
My most productive habit is that I schedule a miscellaneous day into each week (usually one week out of the month, I schedule two miscellaneous days). The other five days I work during the week are highly focused around a specific objective (maybe two objectives, depending on the size). That objective is something I can accomplish within that day and something that is directly connected to that month’s business goals. On those days where I’m highly focused on an objective, I only allow myself one hour to check email and only in the afternoon after I’ve made decent headway. Any meetings I take during those days have to be directly connected to that objective I’m focused on.
But on that one miscellaneous day of the week? I bounce from one project to the next, check emails throughout the day, schedule a few unconnected meetings, and take care of all the random, little things that life throws your way. Critical issues (like a server crashing), obviously are exceptions and thankfully don’t happen (and shouldn’t happen!) that often.
I’ll be honest that this setup was tricky to adapt, but incredibly worth it. With this setup, I give myself permission to ignore random items five of the six days I work during the week and push those random items to that one miscellaneous day. This allows me to focus all of my attention on those other days into one objective which allows me to be incredibly productive accomplishing that objective because my entire brain is focused on that one objective from the time I get into my office to the time I leave my office.
Matthew Edgar, https://springtrax.com/home.htm
I meditate each morning before starting work and in the evening before going to sleep. It relaxes me and leaves me open for new thoughts and ideas. It is amazing how many cool ideas have come to me just after one of these periods, and how much easier it is to develop those ideas into awesome results.
Barbara Kline, www.breakthrucom.com
20. Follow up on everything
My single most productive habit is to follow-up on everything. I work really hard to ensure that nothing ‘falls through the cracks’. In practice, this means using to-do lists faithfully, ensuring that emails are always followed up on via the Boomerang for Gmail plugin, that I’m clear about action items in notes (using Evernote) and that my calendar is treated as an essential tool in managing my day-to-day work.
Brian Patterson (http://gofishdigital.com)
21. Get out of the house
Getting out of the house! Scheduling back-to-back meetings at Starbucks. It forces me to get motivated and get stuff done.
Marcie Jacobs (storyclubgames.com)
22. Be obsessed
One of the reasons I am successful is because I eat, sleep, walk, talk and breathe cake. I have been obsessed since I was about 8, and am now 58. I truly dream about cakes at night, so long ago I developed the habit of having a pad and pen on my nightstand. When I wake up in the middle of the night after a dream I roll over and write the idea down. If I go back to sleep and wait until at my desk in the morning, the idea is too foggy, not crisp and clear as when it first comes to me. Some of my best ideas come to me in rem sleep, and I take advantage of that.
Regina McRae (www.grandmasecrets.com)
23. Budget your sleep
Budget sleep based on actual demand. Having determined that noon Sunday through noon Monday is the lowest ‘trough’ activity in my network online and offline, I use that 24-hour period for any extended downtime needed so I have more capacity to allocate outside of that trough.
Yangbo Du, http://linkedin.com/in/yangbodu
24. Evaluate your own performance
Every three months, I force myself to evaluate what I did well in the workplace and what I could have done better. This critical analysis of my own performance makes me own up to the mistakes and recognize opportunities to grow. Nobody gets to be a better employee, boyfriend, brother or anything else for that matter by always patting yourself on the back. Be critical and grow as a human being.
Mike Krass, mkgmediagroup.com
25. Actually sell
My most productive habit is taking a idea from concept to fruition, manufacturing it, putting a price on it and selling it. Too many great ideas are developed but never sold. The idea is to sell the idea, otherwise it is a hobby.
Conley Giles, www.Inventit2day.com
26. Do a daily standing huddle
We do a daily standing huddle to checkin as a team every morning at 9:49. We cover:
-Progress towards our company’s quarterly goal
-Each person’s #1 goal that day and why
There is no problem solving allowed. Issues that are brought up get tabled. We started this out as a trial and now it’s an invaluable way for everyone to quickly share and to get connected and focused on an individual and team level.
David Niu, www.TINYpulse.com
27. Spend time reviewing
Spending fifteen or twenty minutes at the end of each day reviewing projects and developing solutions.
Merrill Bradshaw, www.merrillbradshaw.com
28. Close your office door
My most productive habit is closing my office door. While the inter-office banter and sharing of ideas is a crucial part of creative design and development, taking some occasional quiet time to fully concentrate on the tasks at hand allows for a keener, more productive focus.
Jay Schwartz, www.ideawork.com
29. Allow yourself to be inspired
I live and operate Tonewood from my home in the Mad River Valley of Vermont. My lunch or afternoon break is to mountain bike or hike with my dog, Fischer, in the Green Mountains outside my front door. This is my ‘ideas’ time. My best ideas are generated from these inspirational sessions in the woods. My best sessions take place in the sugar bushes which are the sap source of Tonewood. These towering, majestic, ever-producing, 300 year old maple trees SPEAK to me.
Dori Ross, www.tonewoodmaple.com
Evernote! Open a tab, keep great notes, update them on-the-go. If you’re like me, you have ideas very often but if you’re traveling it can be a challenge. Instead of having a pad, just type it in your phone. It has helped me to document my ideas, and I can go back and change them at any time.
Kristina Villarini, www.villarinimaclean.com
31. Limit your information intake
My single most productive habit is to use my own anti-CRM tool to get things done faster/better- www.CustomerWinHQ.com. Years ago, after reading “The 4-hour Work Week,” I was inspired to reinvent the way in which I ignored busy work and performed my daily duties with a strict eye on simplicity. “CWHQ” for short, made it simple for me to stop re-reading emails and looking over notes and re-doing all of the things we should really only do once, so that we can move our daily activities forward more effectively and more often; stop spinning your wheels. Info overload and lack of focus are becoming things of the past as I perfect the use of CWHQ.
Jamie Diamond, www.DiamondPR.net
32. Do at least one creative thing while under the influence
I don’t allow myself to get intoxicated without doing at least one lasting creative thing while under the influence. Not only do I get unique angles on reality I wouldn’t ordinarily see, but I don’t feel like I’ve wasted my time with distractions…
Michael Garfield, michaelgarfield.net
33. Do 8 for a day
I have a daily process that allows me to set goals and spend my time on the things that matter. My process is called “8 for a day,” on weekdays I set six professional and two personal goals that I would like to achieve that day. The next morning I check-off the goals I accomplished and create a new list for the day. On Saturdays I flip the ratio and set six personal and two professionals goals. Finally when Sunday rolls around I don’t make a list at all, we all need a day of rest that doesn’t involve any lists. I’ve been doing this for nearly a year and now start every day with a sense of purpose and drive.
John T Meyer, http://tinyletter.com/pointletter
34. Set deadlines
One thing I always do to be productive is set time-bound activities for myself when I really need to get things done. Deadlines were always something that I had to be aware of in school and I felt that having them worked well for me. Even if there isn’t a deadline for a project I’m working on – I’ll set one anyway just to create a sense of urgency. On smaller projects, I’ll give myself an amount of time – say, an hour or so – to get as much done as I can before moving on to the next task.
Ronnie Castro, http://ronniecastro.me/
My most productive habit that lends itself to the most creativity and inspiration is to observe and immerse myself in areas outside of my interest. This might mean picking up a magazine with a focus on technology, looking at websites for culinary arts, or watching a show on history. My main interests are entrepreneurial success, productivity, and business start ups. By looking outside my normal interests, I can get a fresh perspective on a business issue I may be having or come across a solution that I might have not seen if I did not expand on my everyday focal points. ~ Elizabeth Johnson, “The Now What”.
Elizabeth Johnson, thenowwhat.org
[box type=”alert” border=”full” icon=”none”]We share many of these habits, albeit without being successful. That being said, we recently wrote a big post about why we and many entrepreneurs love Evernote to help us be productive. Do check it out. [/box] Now go get shit done.