The other day I realized that I can draw a quick circle about three times faster than I can draw a square. Why does this matter? Because each day I draw 20 or 30 little check-squares on my to-do lists, and it's always annoying to me that they look weird and disproportional. It's a tiny frustration, but one that I've now removed. (Circles forever!)

It's amazing how good this made me feel, and it got me thinking about other small frustrations I've removed from my life. For example, while I don't quite go as far as Mark Zuckerberg, I make my mornings marginally easier by wearing the same kinds of clothes almost every day. (Shout out to my dad who advised me to do this years ago. Of course, it took me years to follow his lead.)

Fewer frustrations leads to greater productivity, so I asked a few dozen entrepreneurs and business leaders for their best examples. Here are things they told me they do to make life a little less annoying--and get more done. (Got any other great examples? Let me know and maybe we'll talk about them in a future column.)

1. I shave my head.

"As the CEO of a new Internet startup I try to save time anywhere I can. I save about 46 hours per year by keeping my head shaved. I used to cut my hair twice a month. Factor in drive time to the barbershop, wait time, cut time, drive time back home, buying hair products, washing my hair, styling my hair and maintaining my hair throughout the day, and you're looking at about 50 hours. Then deduct the 20 minutes each month, or 4 hours per year, it takes to shave my own head twice a month, and voila - a full work week I can use on my business or spend with my family."
--Meny Hoffman, CEO of the Ptex Group

2. I fixed my email in-box.

"I made it a 2015 priority to finally do email right. Years of email overload, a clogged inbox, and a sense of inefficiency motivated me to get smarter at a nagging source of personal and professional weakness. What'd I do? Used Mailstrom to cut through 7.6k emails in my inbox and get me, no kidding, to empty. (I have no affiliation with any of these guys.)"
--James Gardner, Connective DX

By the way (Bill here): I had never heard of Mailstrom but I tried it after James Gardner recommended it. It works. I cut through more than 17,000 emails in my primary inbox in about two days. I'll be writing about it in a separate column soon.

3. I cut the top off egg cartons.

"It used to be a mystery how many eggs were in my house. ... So I've started to rip the top half off before I store it in [the refrigerator]--so I can see inside it and always know ... if I need to buy more."
--Sid Savara, technical product manager

4. I spend more on postage.

"I realized I was spending an inordinate amount of time at the post office just so I could save $15 a month on a [subscription] postage account. It has changed my day to be able to handle all my postage and shipping from my home office and not have one more thing to do. Completely worth the money!"
--Elyse McNabb, chief creative officer, NourishWithStyle

5. I draft boilerplate emails.

"I run CutCableToday.com [and] I provide my readers free email support. You have a question about cord cutting or online streaming, I'll get back to you within 24 hours. Man, I had no clue how time-consuming this would become. [So], I created a Google Doc with [20] responses to common questions. So when I'm asked the question, I can copy/paste and then tailor the response. ... I'd say it probably cuts response time in half."
Chris of CutCableToday.com

6. I make my own abbreviations.

"As CEO of a growing company, I found myself typing "come to my office" into the small chat box many times a day. I sent out a company wide email with the following: 'CTMO stands for Come To My Office.' since than I've been using ctmo multiple times a day saving me a few minutes a day while not needing to fix any misspelled words."
--Meny Hoffman, CEO the Ptex Group

7. I use a spam-killing email address.

"Loved this tip I heard from Noah Kagan on a Podcast. Ever want to opt-in to an offer for a free ebook or another special offer? ... If you use Gmail you can simply add a + before the @ symbol and next type a name, like marketing, offers or spam. For example, I'm info@SocialQuant.net But for offers I use info+marketing@SocialQuant.net. Then in Gmail you set a rule that anytime info+marketing is used, it goes automatically into a folder."
--Michael Kawula, Social Quant

8. I got rid of the light switches.

"I've replaced the light switches in my office with motion sensors that turn the lights on when I walk in. This way I don't have to think about which button I need to press for which set of lights. The lights just turn on when I enter the office, and I can get going with my day."
Adam Pedowitz, CCO, CHARFEN

9. I carry a jump rope.

"I [used to] get upset because it seemed I did not have time to workout daily , until I started carrying my sneakers and jump rope (and even a Frisbee) with me to get fit on the go! It removes stress. It gets me moving. It helps me become one with nature and I don't have to stress over getting to the gym."
Vanessa Wade, Connect the Dots PR

10. I eat the same breakfast every day.

"I drink a chocolate protein milkshake every single day for breakfast, and have been doing so for the last 5 years. As an entrepreneur you want to make sure you have a healthy lifestyle, but when you're running a business one of the first things you ignore is often your own body. This ensures that I never miss breakfast."
--Ashley Thompson, Dot & Bo

11. I only meet at certain times.

"I schedule meetings first thing in the morning or straight after lunch to minimize time spent stopping and resuming a task. You'll be surprised how much frustration you avoid by saving yourself the hassle of finding the precise point you left off on a task and acquiring the same mindset as when you left the project."
--Simon Slade, Doubledot Media

12. I eat the same lunch everyday.

"This might sound like I'm ripping off Zuckerberg's ... idea, but the same applies to lunch. I never have to think about where or what to eat for lunch because I pack the same lunch every day. ... Bliss."
Ryan O'Donnell, Avalara

13. I leave early.

"I used to be a harried, raving lunatic driving to appointments, screeching into the parking lot and running in the door at the last second. ... I now leave early. My life is so much better. I get to where I need to be in plenty of time, relaxed and ready to go."
Joanie Connell, president, Flexible Work Solutions

14. I order online.

"I just switched to online/home grocery delivery. First delivery came last night, and I hope to never walk into Giant again! It saved me at least an hour (which equals money), plus it saved me buckets of frustration. Priceless!"
--Jennifer Bright Reich, cofounder and editorial director, The Mommy MD Guides

15. I block off my calendar.

"I add no-calls blocks on my calendar on a daily basis. ... It allows me to have control over my calendar so I can take impromptu meetings, or be there for my colleagues."
--Amanda Slavin, CEO & founder, Catalyst Creativ

Published on: Oct 6, 2015