The way we've worked has changed: we're co-working, mobile, free-lancers and digital nomads. We are entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, small-business owners, the disruptors and the disrupted. And regardless of title, location and salary, we're all pushed to the brink to stay productive. Rather than review the endless stream of new apps and advice columns on how to organize our workdays, to-do lists, contact lists and multiple projects, I reached out to some of the most productive people I know to learn their secrets.
On getting things done:
Having a productive mindset and feeling good are critical. To stay productive I manage my energy and then my time. I meditate a few times a week and try to journal daily. Additionally, I'm strategic with my time. I've realized that email and my phone significantly reduce my energy and creativity. I try to schedule when I check email, and I also block out chunks of time to complete my most important projects.-Belma McCaffrey, Founder of Work Bigger
I refresh my checklist each day to make sure it includes what I can actually get done in the next 6-8 hours (otherwise I get distracted by the growing to-do list). Also I block out hours in my workday for "work" sessions so I don't simply fill them with meetings (meaning the real work has to be done at night). The best secret I have is this: when I am zoning out, I walk away from work for an hour or two in order to re-engage with renewed energy. By walking away, I end up being more productive.-Randle Browning, Director of Content Marketing, SkillCrush
To be productive, I had to give up the traditional office. Eleven months ago I started my own business with determination, a career full of business relationships and the awareness I created my best work from my couch! For me (and the thirteen social media unicorns I've hired) the change of scenery, along with perspective, fuels innovation.-Krista Whitley, Chief Unicorn/Founder, Social Media Unicorn
I have one rule when it comes to productivity -no whining. A lot of people complain about the work in front of them or want people to feel sorry for them because they are "busy". One of my biggest productivity hacks is that I never complain and I don't surround myself with people who do. Surrounding myself with creative, positive, go-getting people keeps me motivated and inspired to accomplish more.-Mike Smith, Professional Teenager and Founder, Mike Smith Live
I spent too much of my working life pushing against my inner rhythm. When I began to understand my internal energy flow, I discovered my productivity peaks (with fewer coffees and shorter hours). -Sanne Aronsson, Purpose Coach
I use my calendar aggressively! I schedule everything so I don't miss anything. I also find (like many people) that exercising in the morning makes my day so much more productive.-Adrienne Garland, Founder, She Leads Media
And the productivity hacks they have ignored....
I use Week Plan but other than that, I try not to bombard myself with apps, technology and too much content. Mindset is the biggest productivity driver.-Belma McCaffrey, Founder of Work Bigger
I'm not beholden to my calendar. Some days, I'm simply not inspired to work on what I planned to do. If I'm not threatened by a looming deadline, I switch work up to fit my mood. I'm much more productive when I take on the tasks I'm motivated to do.-Randle Browning, Director of Content Marketing, SkillCrush
Work-life balance is crap. Work-life immersion is key. My home office can be interrupted at any time, and by not creating a false tension I can get quality work done, listen to my daughter read and find time to give my dog a belly-rub.-Krista Whitley, Chief Unicorn/Founder, Social Media Unicorn
I ignore all productivity advice! My competitive advantage is to get in front of the industry I'm trying to make an impact on, so I stay productive by doing exactly that-not having a coffee to talk about it or simply reading about it.-Mike Smith, Professional Teenager and Founder, Mike Smith Live
Having a morning routine. I tried many times to create one but found real peace of mind when I accepted that mornings are not my jam.-Sanne Aronsson, Purpose Coach
I find that life is so unpredictable, that it's difficult to use any type of system and thus I ignore most productivity tricks (or maybe, I'm just a rebel at heart).-Adrienne Garland, Founder, She Leads Media