What if your 2016 was even more productive than last year? That's the goal for these business leaders, some of whom have big plans to get more work done, reduce distractions, and hit an even higher milestone.
1. Reduce the opportunities to become distracted.
Elimination of choice. The key for me, especially as someone with ADHD, is to eliminate my ability to get off track. For me, that means things like: the same outfit. If you see me speak, I'm in a button-down shirt, jeans, and a jacket. Not speaking? T-shirt and jeans. Removing the need to choose keeps me on track. Same thing with food. Lunch is the same salad every day when I'm in the office. It makes it easy. I also institute one day a week for meetings or conference calls. That allows me to work without interruption the other four days of the week. I get into a zone, and go with it. Minimizing interruptions is key.
--Peter Shankman, bestselling author, Zombie Loyalists: Using Great Service to Create Rabid Fans
2. A healthy lifestyle is crucial.
Regarding productivity, some of best advice I can give is to balance your workload with physical and mental well-being. As an entrepreneur, your daily schedule is likely incredibly demanding and often has you skipping meals, losing sleep, or sitting at a desk for long amounts of time. While you may think you are getting more done, these things are actually wearing you down, causing you to be sloppy or make mistakes. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is crucial to keeping your body and mind fresh--make time to work out at the gym or play a sport several times a week. Take a 20-minute power nap during the day if you are dragging--it's much healthier than coffee. Make sure you are eating right (don't always order out) and staying hydrated. Your body and your mind need to be fresh and fit for you to be your most productive self.
--Steven Royzenshteyn, president, CARiD.com
3. Don't drown in your inbox.
It's important not to let email get in the way of building a lasting business. I received over 150,000 emails in 2015, and from the trend this year, 2016 isn't going to get any easier. To be more productive as an entrepreneur and founder of the Muse, I bundle similar tasks together to increase focus and reduce time lost to context switching. I'm a huge user of Boomerang for Gmail, and use it constantly to schedule emails (and the tasks they hold for me) for a better time. For example, if I've blocked 3-5 p.m. Tuesday for working on a product roadmap, I Boomerang all of the product-related emails in my inbox for 2:55 p.m. Tuesday, so they're ready for me when I get down to work. If I'm sent a document in advance for a meeting, I'll read through it, and then Boomerang it to a few minutes before the meeting starts, so I don't have to spend any time looking for it when the time comes. The bonus? Those emails are not distracting me in my inbox between now and then, so I can better focus on other tasks.
--Alexandra Cavoulacos, founder, The Muse
4. Don't forget to set aside time for yourself.
Find your me-time. Your world as an entrepreneur is chaotic, and finding time to organize, iterate, get creative, and measure your movements is crucial. While what constitutes as me-time for everyone varies. Something as simple as a walk (outside the office, yes--I really mean that) or even drinking some nice bourbon can provide a quick reset. The world around you is moving fast and your me-time will give you additional speed to be successful--just make sure you find your place outside the office.
5. Be as passionate about your hobbies as you are about your business.
Every successful entrepreneur has a tip or piece of advice on how you may become successful, and they vary, with some leaning toward luck and most attributing their success to hard work and dedication. Passion is my key to success. To achieve balance, it is imperative that the passion to win permeates all aspects of your life. For me, it's owning and racing horses. For others it may be sports, outdoor activities, or charity. The key is to maintain passion across all your interests, focusing on your personal pursuits as intently as you focus on exceeding your business goals. This keeps you refreshed and hungry for future success.
--Robert V. LaPenta, CEO and chairman, Revolution Lighting Technologies
6. Your growth is as important as your company's.
As an entrepreneur, I think that it is very important to always take stock and to first and foremost remind yourself that although it is a business you founded, turning that business into your vision of success is also a journey that you decided to go on. During that journey, there will be successes and there will be failures. People will get on the train and some will jump off. There will be many opinions shared and much wisdom overlooked. With all of this, the most important thing is to remind yourself, and to commit to yourself, that this is your journey and your opportunity to learn and grow as a person and as an entrepreneur. If we can do this, no matter whether we win or lose in the business, we will be successful entrepreneurs.
--James Briggs, CEO, Briabe Mobile
7. Get control of your schedule.
I cannot tell you how much time I have wasted trying to coordinate meetings with everyone I need to speak with throughout the week. I often receive meeting requests from my staff and engineering team while scheduling my own meetings with potential partners and investors. Creating a shared calendar has been the best way to manage my schedule along with expectations for my team. By sending a link to my calendar to those who need to speak with me, they can easily see when I am and am not available, and schedule a time directly within the calendar. This ensures I can keep the meetings (and family time) I have blocked out, while also making time for the important team meetings and updates I need to be kept informed on.
--Sheri Atwood, founder and CEO, SupportPay
8. Enhance your profile.
Resolve to put yourself out there. Go beyond attending conferences to speaking or presenting at them. This not only shares your thought leadership but also makes your life easier by validating your expertise and, potentially, your company. Plus, it boosts your confidence--helping you to tackle unexpected hurdles and making you a stronger entrepreneur.
--Jessica Rovello, co-founder and CEO, Arkadium