I'm not an organized person. I can get pretty detail-oriented and hyper-focused (I have many other faults!) but I tend to keep things stuffed in a drawer or hall closet, rely too much on technology to keep me from spiraling out of control, and don't keep track of physical objects like I should (such as expense receipts). I can learn a few things from these busy entrepreneurs, who seem to have figured out a few things.

1. Stick with tools that work for you

"As a co-founder and CEO, time management is essential. I'm tied to email and my calendar, whether it's on my phone or desktop. To filter through the noise, I work closely with my assistant to prioritize my emails and typically only review those that are starred and clear them out of my inbox as soon I've responded. I use Google Docs and Notes on iPhone to keep track of deliverables, ideas, etc. Overall, my advice is to find the tools/systems/processes that work for you and then keep it that way. That is, make sure the tools work for you vs. you working for the tool (e.g. becoming a slave to your calendar). These are all just tools to help you stay organized and productive, you still need to think for yourself, trust your intuition, follow your heart, etc. Tools add to but do not replace that." Greg Tseng, co-founder & CEO, if(we)

2. Find a great tool to keep track of info

"As an interior design company, we sincerely value the look of the products we use. Airtable is a beautiful, intuitive tool for data organization that goes above and beyond a traditional spreadsheet. We needed an online catalog of furniture and dcor items, and it was a challenge to find a product that was just right for us. Airtable sheets have customizable filters that allow us to easily search through and sort data from multiple vendors, maximizing our efficiency when building a proposal. It also makes organizing our business basics and cataloguing our favorite items actually enjoyable with an interface simple enough for our entire team to use." Hannah Ruskin, principal designer, Swell Spaces

3. Do whatever it takes to get you back on track

"My job centers on conversation, presentation and negotiation. I spend a lot of time talking, meeting, managing. I needed more physical challenges in my life to balance all that head work. Take Seneca--the Stoic philosopher. He was wealthy, but every month or so, for one day, he'd live as if he had no means, denying himself not just luxuries but needs. So my test was giving myself an ice bath, to see if I could handle the sheer physical difficulty of it. It's hard, but then I go with it and handle the challenge. Now I do it about four days a week. It invigorates me, focuses me, reminds me that I can do more than just get through difficult situations, I can thrive. So find your ice bath--something that propels you to move forward." Tasso Roumeliotis, Founder & CEO, Location Labs

4. Use calendar app features

"The calendar app is a great and often times an under-utilized tool. One of my favorite features is being able to compartmentalize individual departments and their responsibilities, for my own reference, but also have the ability to share that particular calendar with them and keep an open dialogue as to what's to come and who is responsible. I also personally believe in constant motivation methods. For example, on my mirror at home, I have nine Post-It notes with negative things others have told me. On top of those nine negative notes, I have one Post-It covering them all saying, "yes you can." I believe that by reminding myself constantly that I can stay focused and achieve goals, I'm training my mind to accept the tasks at hand." Anthony Alfierr, Co-Founder & CEO, Flips

5. Set up a predefined time to tackle all admin tasks

"That way, you can safely ignore these tasks for most of the time and give your undivided attention to building your company. I typically block off 11pm on Tuesdays to tackle admin stuff. The timing is deliberate, as I know I will not have any meetings during that time and it will not eat away my time with my team, customers and my family." Anirban Bardalaye, CEO & co-founder, VaycayHero

6. Delegate, delegate, delegate

"Hire the right people and empower them to completely drive their initiatives. There is no bigger productivity killer than having your hands on many different things and not being able to put your 110% in all of them. For the first couple of years, I was responsible for growth/marketing in addition to everything else. You have to live and breathe growth at our stage of the company, and not being able to focus on it full-time meant that either we were not performing certain things as well as we would have liked or not being able to take on some initiatives. We hired our Director of Growth and entrusted him with the responsibility, with myself acting as a resource as needed to drive his initiatives. The results we are achieving now is a testament to the single-minded focus and complete attention to growth." Anirban Bardalaye, CEO & co-founder, VaycayHero

7. Organize the apps on your phone so you're using it regularly

"My phone is my best friend and four apps have prime real estate on the front page: WunderList for my to-do list per project, Evernote for all the notes, pitches and ideas I have on the go, Sunrise to keep me up to date on where and when I need to be and Slack to communicate with my team anytime and anywhere. However to get my ideas straight, good old pen and paper is still king." Frank Poirier, founder and CEO, MakerBloks

8. Define priorities to keep your team focused

"First I recognize crazy hours are part of it. Then, I define ranked priorities for myself based on clear and ranked operational milestones that will push the company forward. We work with the team and cascade the priorities down the organization's top leaders. When you have to choose between two fires, the ranked priorities guide you to focus on what matters most when you just can't do it all." Stephane Marceau, co-founder and CEO, OMsignal

Published on: Jun 9, 2015