One thing that most successful leaders have in common is the ability to be productive and efficient. When it comes to productivity and getting work done, there’s a lot to learn from the most successful entrepreneurs. Here we’ve compiled 22 productivity tips from successful leaders, and their secrets to a productive and efficient workday, from waking early to turning off notifications. These tips can help you stay productive and learn to organize your schedule, so you stay at the top of your game every day.
“I have always lived my life by making lists,” says Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group. Many entrepreneurs find this particularly helpful when they do it as their final activity before leaving the office each day. They’ll plan out the next day’s list so they can prepare for the day.
“Identify and protect your peak energy time for focused work,” says Kathryn Minshew, co-founder of The Muse. Many entrepreneurs, including Nathan Blecharczyk, co-founder of Airbnb, find that they can focus more in the morning, so they try to reserve the time for doing most productive work, and then hold meetings later in the day. “Find out when you are most productive and creative in the day, and guard that time for performing focused or new tasks,” said Ryan Smith, CEO and co-founder of Qualtrics.
“Don’t let anything or anyone interrupt your focus and flow,” says Gina Trapani, founder of ThinkUp. Try to turn off your email and other app notifications to avoid distractions. Don’t let people interrupt you when you’re in your focus zone. To work uninterrupted, you should schedule your tasks on your calendar to block off time and remain focused.
“Focus on a single task without interruption,” says Dianne McKeever, cofounder of Ides Capital. Channeling energy into a single task provides you with the right amount of focus and passion for work. There are also several technology solutions available for blocking out distractions.
“Most of my meetings are Google Docs-Based, starting with 10 minutes of reading and commenting in the doc,” says Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter. Google Docs provides everyone with time to stay on the same page and get to critical thinking faster. Using Google Drive, Google Docs and Google Sheets are good ways to collaborate with others to complete things quickly and more efficiently.
Ask “Am I doing the most important thing I could be doing?" says Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder of Facebook. As the leader of your organization, you should spend your time on high-value targets that allow you to have maximum impact.
“Get rid of frequent meetings, unless you’re dealing with an extremely urgent matter," says Elon Musk, co-founder of Tesla. This will help you save more time every day to focus on activities that generate income. “Set a strict time limit on meetings,” added Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Renault and Nissan.
"You should make most decisions with somewhere around 70 percent of the information required. If you wait for 90 percent, in most cases, you're probably being slow," says Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.
"It's just as important to set aside time for yourself as it is to set aside time to meet with other people," says Shan-Lyn Ma, co-founder of Zola. This helps you stay on top of your health. Also, set some time aside to read and learn. Learning from others will help you avoid pitfalls and ensure that you don't waste time by taking the wrong path.
"Sometimes, when you innovate, you make mistakes. It’s best to admit them quickly and get on with improving your other innovations," said Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple.
“Spend time and thought to make a solid decision at the first time so that you don't revisit the issue unnecessarily," says Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft.
“Have a clear system for to-dos: whether it’s ‘getting things done’ or the ‘checklist manifesto,’ just have a system and stick to it,” says April Underwood, vice president at Slack. Write down everything and batch out similar tasks that you have to do at the beginning of the day. This will help you maintain your focus and increase your productivity.
“Never procrastinate. Just get it done right away. That way, the work never piles up,” says Anthony Tan, CEO and co-founder of Grab. When you procrastinate on a task, you might slow down the progress of your entire company.
“Delegate tasks to free up time and focus for highly valuable work,” says Bedros Keuilian, founder and CEO of Fit Body Boot Camp. If there's something that someone can do a little better than you, let them do that thing, while you focus on the thing that only you can do with accuracy. Also, learn how to delegate less important tasks.
“Prioritize the most important tasks daily,” says Nick Loper, founder of SideHustleNation. List everything, sort it based on priority and estimate the required time to complete each one. That way, you can find out how much time in-house tasks and new client acquisitions are taking.
“Use applications or technology to automate daily manual tasks,” says Olof Mathesis, co-founder and CEO of Mixmax. Leveraging technology for automation helps you work more efficiently and be more productive. “When you have opportunities to streamline and reduce time spent on various tasks, you end up with more time to work on other things that aren’t as scalable,” said Chris Makara, founder of Bulkly.
“You should have a daily routine that you can stick to,” says Sean Dudayev, founder of InsureChance. Allocate your time to the most worthwhile tasks that can help you meet your goals. Highly productive people are selective about how they spend their energy. They also don't waste time on repetitive tasks.
“If there are menial tasks that are eating up your valuable time, hire them out,” says John E. Discala, founder and CEO of Johnny Jet. Outsourcing jobs that take up a significant amount of time can allow you to get additional help without the costs or responsibilities of hiring employees.
“You should have a deadline for everything,” says Tyler Brewer, founder and co-creator of Spontivity. “Do an 80/20 analysis of your daily efforts once a month,” said entrepreneur and author Tim Ferriss.
“Wake up early,” says David Hauser, co-founder of Grasshopper. Research shows that mornings can make or break your day, say experts ranging from former General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt to former PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi.
“Avoid multitasking and hone your focus on the job at hand,” says John E. Discala, founder and CEO of Johnny Jet. Multitasking can be the greatest threat to your productivity as an entrepreneur.
“Make sure you have one day a week completely free,” says Dustin Moskowitz, CEO of Asana. To be productive, you need to plan out your breaks to keep your mind engaged and active.