10 Hacks to Save Time and Boost Productivity
By Thomas Smale
Every entrepreneur wants to get more out of his or her day. Unfortunately, willpower starts depleting, and will only take you so far. Trying to cram more into an already busy schedule is just going to make you less productive in the long run.
It's important to realize that entrepreneurs are naturally ambitious people that tend to take on more than they actually have the time or energy for. Don't get down on yourself if you can't seem to "get it all done." Nevertheless, it is still possible to hack your way towards increased productivity. Here are several hacks that will enable you to get more out of your day:
1. Organize your desk and your environment.
Clutter can be extremely distracting, and even stress-inducing. If your to-do list is already a mile long, a disorganized desk or environment is only going to make matters worse. File away documents, put unused stationery back in your desk drawers, move empty coffee cups and reduce the mess. You'll instantly feel more organized and less stressed.
2. Quit social media -- at least partially.
Roman Grigorjev, chief "yeti" at Guessmate, says he changes all of his friends on Facebook to acquaintances. When you do this, instead of receiving all of the updates your friends share, you will only see the most important ones.
Although you don't have to do exactly what Grigorjev did, any strategies you can implement to reduce time on social media will give you a lot of time back in your day. Curtailing the number of notifications you receive is a good way to cut down on Facebook time.
3. Exercise in the morning.
Exercising in the morning can give you a much-needed productivity boost. Though some might argue that exercise actually depletes your energy, the endorphin release alone seems like reason enough to take a quick jog or walk on a treadmill first thing in the morning.
Exercise can help you eliminate stress, put you in a better mood and increase your overall efficiency and productivity.
4. Make your to-do list before hitting the sack.
Think about everything you need to do the next day the night before. Get all of your tools ready and prepare in advance. This shouldn't take you more than 10 to 15 minutes, and it will help you get your next work day off to a great start.
Thinking about these tasks the night before will also put your subconscious mind to work while you sleep. The moment you wake up, you should have immense clarity around what needs to be done next.
5. Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
Most people don't hydrate enough throughout the day. Drinking more water should help you to keep your energy levels up, and if your work requires that you sit at a desk all day, you'll also be getting up more often to take bathroom breaks, which is healthier for you than sitting all day long.
Give your body what it needs, and it will give you the resources you need to stay productive.
6. Keep at least one day per week on your schedule clear.
Dustin Moskovitz, co-founder and CEO of Asana and co-founder of Facebook, says he holds "No Meeting Wednesdays."
It's important for everyone to have uninterrupted work time to make progress on their projects, so having a day that's free and clear of meetings is extremely valuable for everyone involved.
It might be worth considering reducing the number of meetings you have in general. Not only do they have the tendency to be derailed and unproductive, you could probably be just as efficient, if not more efficient, by holding fewer meetings and communicating in other ways.
7. Take a few breaks during the day.
Entrepreneurs are hard workers, and often don't want to peel away from their work to have a drink of water, eat a chocolate bar or get some fresh air. However, it is perfectly healthy to take a breather here and there, as your mind isn't really designed to work at full throttle all day long.
It may be worth experimenting with different techniques, such as the Pomodoro technique, to achieve a healthy balance. It will remind you to take regular breaks, which will allow you to distribute your energy more effectively.
8. Create a schedule for your day.
Many people have to-do lists. However, not everyone thinks about mapping out their days in advance. Odds are you already have a pretty good idea of how long each task on your to-do list will take, but you haven't actually thought about how much time you will be allocating to each.
It's easy to identify wasted time if you track your activity and actually plan out what you would like to happen on any given day. Certainly, you may need to allow for some margin, but if you're constantly distracted or procrastinating on given tasks, you may want to rethink your approach.
9. Follow the two-minute rule.
Christian Sutardi, co-founder of Lolabox, says he uses David Allen's two-minute rule to determine whether to finish a task immediately. If it takes less than two minutes, then he does it right away. This creates a simple structure for productivity, since it doesn't require any tools or software. The moment a task comes in, you decide whether you'll do it now or save it for later.
10. Outsource and hire virtual assistants.
Do you have too much work on your plate? Are you surrendering a good portion of your time to low-level tasks that aren't making the best use of your skills?
If so, you may want to consider outsourcing and hiring virtual assistants. You can train your virtual assistant to take over a lot of the necessary but repetitive, mundane tasks so you can spend more of your time engaged in strategic activities.
Remember to stay flexible. Productivity is all about developing effective habits, and habits can take time to implement. Some of your experiments may not pan out, but as you continue to try new and different things, you'll find what works for you.
If you want to be productive, you're going to have to get good at prioritizing and eliminating. More than likely, there are a lot of things on your schedule that don't need to be there, and it's up to you to figure out what you can automate, delegate or eliminate completely.