There are only so many hours in a day, but entrepreneurs don’t spend them wasting time. Productivity is critical when you’re a thinker and a doer. As these famous entrepreneurs’ productivity hacks prove, there are ways to cut down on wasted time while maximising the energy you’re investing.
We've put together this ultimate guide for boosting your productivity. Plus, find out which entrepreneur is your kindred spirit with our interactive quiz!
Thomas Edison spent his life inventing amazing creations. From the phonograph to the motion picture camera to the electrical light bulb, Edison held over a thousand patents in his lifetime. He was also married twice and had six children, but still managed his prolific inventing until his death in 1931.
While most of us can only dream of being as brilliant as Edison, he left us one valuable piece of advice that helps boost productivity. He slept less than the average man, around four or five hours a night, but he also established convenient napping spots throughout his house, labs, and libraries.
A brief nap can re-energise and refocus muddled minds, but Edison maintained that most people slept more than necessary. Therefore, his midday catnaps helped him achieve scientific goals that the rest of us can only dream of undertaking.
Even if you’re confident that you can go it all alone, Sulaiman Sanni of WeDidIt recommends asking for guidance. Along with Ben Lamson, he co-founded a crowdfunding platform, and the pair credits their mentors with their success.
For any startup, knowing what to do and what not to do in the early days can have a tremendous impact on your business’s success. What better way to learn the ropes than by checking in with someone who’s already been there?
This hack also saves time, because you’re less likely to waste precious hours making unimportant decisions, thanks to the sage advice of an entrepreneur who has done just that. At the same time, mentorship can help you make industry connections, another perk for your fledgling business.
Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.
Stephen King - Author
Along with his non-profit activities, authorship of six books, and steering of his multiple billion-dollar companies, Richard Branson claims that making lists helps him get everything done. Although he notes, accomplishing the things on your lists is the only way to move forward, so make sure each task is manageable.
Still, Branson suggests making lists of “far off” goals too, “outlandish” ones for decades ahead. Making forward-thinking personal and business goals gets you in the right mindset to achieve them. It also motivates you to keep moving forward.
Branson says he uses notebooks for his list writing and fills up a handful each year. Putting pen to paper can help many of us retain what we’re writing and keep it in mind for later use. Others might prefer digital methods of note taking, but the concept is the same: get your goals written out so you can work toward them.
Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos, outlines a helpful entrepreneurial technique that focuses on your digital communication. Specifically, Hsieh has challenges with email, he writes, and the combination of day-to-day responsibilities plus procrastination that cause our inboxes to clog up.
Hsieh’s productivity hack takes your inbox from overwhelming to manageable. First, forget about answering emails the day you receive them. Instead, schedule your day so that you address yesterday’s emails first. Commit to responding to all of them, or filing them as appropriate, and leave new incoming messages for the next day.
Another aspect of Hsieh’s technique is calendaring, where you schedule a time to address particularly tricky emails later, the same way you would a face-to-face meeting. That way, the item gets the attention it needs, but you don’t neglect the rest of your inbox in the meantime.
Have you ever felt like you have to say “yes” to someone just because they asked? Did you end up spending more time on someone else’s needs than your own, or your business’s, as a result? James Altucher, an entrepreneur, chess master, spiritual teacher, and author of eleven books, wrote one book on the topic of saying “no.”
Altucher explains that using a well-placed “no” can do wonders for both your business and your personal life. He advises entrepreneurs to protect themselves and their time, saying no to toxic people and practices that don’t serve them. However, the concept does allow for some “yes” answers, but only when it’s meaningful and useful for us.
The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It’s as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today.
Nolan Bushnell - Founder Of Atari
Sitting in meetings all day might feel like you’re getting a lot accomplished, but you’re often losing productivity while teams are sitting around a table instead of doing their jobs. This applies to entrepreneurs too, who can become swamped with meetings on all subjects.
LinkedIn’s CEO, Jeff Weiner, has a hack to return people to their desks with less fuss, without losing the valuable elements of meetings like collaboration and relevant discussion. His strategy is to provide meeting or presentation materials to attendees at least 24 hours before a calendar meeting.
By the time people arrive at a meeting, they’ll have valuable feedback and ideas to share. Weiner says his hack lets people participate instead of reading through presentation materials, and they’re more present in the moment when it comes to critical decision making.
If you recognize passive income practices as the most productive hack out there, you’ll want to hear what Pat Flynn has to say on the subject. He runs a blog called Smart Passive Income and has his own hacks for keeping business moving.
Staying grateful is a huge part of Flynn’s daily practice, he writes. If you disagree with thankfulness as an impetus for energy and project progress, consider that science suggests positive thinking can improve our overall well-being.
Even if business is slow and you’re struggling with motivation, being thankful for what you do have can help you accomplish even more. Schedule a moment of gratitude into each day, then get back to work making things happen.