A question on Quora about how CEOs increase their productivity spurs a host of fascinating ideas from start-up founders.
Productivity worries aren't just for the little people.
The higher up the chain of command you go, the more balls people are juggling. So forget staring out that corner office window thinking big, strategic thoughts while your underlings insulate you from the chaos. CEOs of the hottest start-ups fret about how to tame the e-mail monster and squeeze a few more checked to-do items into each day.
They use various tricks and tools to get more work done in less time, and a recent discussion thread on Q&A site Quora illuminates exactly how they do it all. One curious poster wondered what tricks CEOs use to hack their productivity, and some surprisingly high-profile folks responded with useful, down-to-earth answers that any founder or business owner could put to use.
Here's how they weighed in.
Dustin Moskovitz, co-founder of Facebook and Asana
Moskovitz says: "One of my favorite hacks is No Meeting Wednesdays, which we borrowed from Facebook. With very few exceptions, everyone's calendar is completely clear at least one day out of the week. Whether you are a maker or a manager, this is an invaluable tool for ensuring you have some contiguous space to do project work. For me personally, it is often the one day each week I get to code."
Rob Rawson, founder of Staff.com and TimeDoctor.com
Rawson offers an email hack for Gmail users: "My favorite hack is actually one I found quite recently, which is a Gmail Labs feature that helps me significantly with my productivity. It is called Auto Advance, and basically it will automatically show the next email when you archive the current email. This helps you keep to a zero inbox policy and prevents you from reading emails multiple times. It trains you to be much more productive with your emails."
Gokul Nath Sridhar, founder and CEO of Inu
Srindar's suggestion hinges on leveraging your time on the go (and a bit of irony, given it's a Quora answer). He writes:
Do not waste on-desk time.
Check emails on the go.
Phone in silent mode and offline on Facebook/Skype while working.
Use do-it-later services like Pocket, to reduce time wasted in visiting distracting but interesting websites.
Not even dare open Quora.
Paul DeJoe, "Least Valuable Person" (a.k.a. CEO) at Ecquire.com
DeJoe keeps his advice incredibly simple: "I don't have a Facebook account."
Roman Grigorjev, the London-based CEO of GuessMate.me, agrees that's a good strategy--partially. He advises: "Partially quit Facebook. Go to [organize friends] and move everyone from 'friends' to 'acquaintances.' You would still be getting updates, but instead of 'check out what I ate for breakfast,' you will only be shown the most important stuff."
These hacks are just the tip of the iceberg--there are more than 30 additional answers on Quora, offering ideas that range from software-tool suggestions (AgileZen, Asana, MindMeister, and RescueTime, among others, get shout outs) to the decidedly low tech (Randy Tucker, founder of TeamAutomation, says he relies on a good old-fashioned spiral notebook; others suggest various working schedules). If you're interested, check out the rest of the thread.
JESSICA STILLMAN is a freelance writer based in London with interests in unconventional career paths, generational differences, and the future of work. She has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch, GigaOM, and Brazen Careerist. @EntryLevelRebel