Over the years, I've learned that productivity is a skill that takes time to develop-- especially as a self-made business leader. And I know I'm not alone. Ask any entrepreneur whether he's busy and pressed for time, and he'll probably laugh in your face. It kind of comes with the territory, but luckily, I've learned a few hacks to ensure my teammates and I are getting the most out of our time.
Here are six productivity tips I've gleaned from my years as an entrepreneur:
1. Untether yourself from the 9-to-5 grind. The traditional 9-to-5 workday is no longer in vogue. If you're more alert and ready to go in the morning, get to the office at 6 a.m. so you can jet out by 2 p.m. And if you're a night owl, pop in at noon and close up shop on your way out.
A word to the wise: Avoid burning the candle at both ends. Don't make a habit of going in early and staying late; it will take a toll on your personal life. And in the long term, this practice may actually damage your productivity because you'll never get a chance to recharge. You can't take care of your business if you can't take care of yourself.
2. Cut out arbitrary tasks. At the beginning of each day (or the night before), write out your to-do list and prioritize the top three things you need to get done for that day. I also find it incredibly helpful to use calendars and schedules to keep me focused, allotting myself specific amounts of time to accomplish each task.
3. Don't lean on technology. Technology can be a godsend to productivity, but it can also be a time suck. I have applications that allow me to sync my calendars and task lists to my various devices, which is great. However, I've also spent countless hours trying to figure out different programs in the name of productivity to no avail.
When it comes to technology solutions to aid productivity, leaders must weigh the time investment in learning the technology against how much it will actually improve productivity in the long term.
4. Self-reflect. No one knows your strengths and weaknesses better than you do, so choose productivity hacks that play to your strengths. If you pay more attention to automated task lists and pop-up reminders on your computer or phone, use technology to aid your productivity. But if your mind works best by writing tasks out and physically ticking them off, invest in a killer planner, a giant desk calendar, and a fancy pen.
5. Support your tribe. Being a more productive leader isn't limited to checking things off of your personal list--it also involves the ability to encourage others to cross things off of their lists. The power is in your whole organization doing many tasks at once. If you can help other people achieve their daily tasks and overarching goals, you'll be able to lead your entire company in being more productive.
6. Be the dumbest person in the room. One of the best productivity hacks I've learned is to hire people who are better at specific things than I am. I actively work to ensure I'm the dumbest person in the room. As I do this, I become less needed on a day-to-day basis to complete projects, and the company's talent actually accomplishes more than I ever could.
As my team accomplishes more and becomes increasingly independent, I'm able to focus on the big-picture tasks I'm responsible for so my company can continue to grow and evolve.
As you develop as an entrepreneur, I'm sure you'll find additional (and even better) ways to improve your productivity. After you put your own list together, I hope you share your productivity hacks with me so I can still be the dumbest productive person in the room.