What are the best productivity hacks of startup CEOs? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.
Put your phone on silent. Totally silent. And leave it like that always.
The external demands on your time are going to be considerably greater than the time you actually have to allocate, and this is going to get worse, not better. The bigger your team gets, the more questions you will get asked. The better known your company gets, the more people are going to want to speak with you. My core productivity hack is to always be in control of how I allocate my time.
Calls, text messages, notifications -- all these things take away that control. If someone calls you and you pick up, it means you are speaking with them when it's convenient for them, not when it's convenient for you. When you're the CEO of a startup, that's just not okay. You struggle to find time to grow the company, grow the team, manage it, resolve problems, while still spending enough time with your family and maintaining social relationships - every minute is valuable and must be spent in the right way. Taking an incoming call, checking a text message, that's taking those minutes away from you.
Once the phone is on silent, communication becomes asynchronous and in your control. You check your missed calls, texts, e-mails at specific times -- times when you have chosen to allocate attention to doing so. The rest of the time you are fully focused on whatever you are doing -- on that important meeting, on that important document, or on being with your family.
As long as you check the communication regularly enough, every few hours for example, you will never miss out on anything. I wrote a blog post about my communication strategy a year or so ago ---- and one of the comments was about interruption being a valuable chance to connect. But think back a few decades to before mobile phones. There was no way of interrupting people. You called, and if they weren't by a landline, you had to wait to call them back.
The one caveat I would add, is that in some cases it is important to be contactable in emergencies. I'm a carer for a family member, and I need to ensure that I can always be contacted by them. I useto make sure that when they call (and only for them) the phone rings, and I also make sure they have numbers for everyone who is around me. I am always with, or close to, someone I know, and in an emergency those people will run in and get me.
So that's my main productivity hack. I too use lots of task management tools, from mindmaps to project management, but these are well covered. For me the core has been taking back control of my time, and the way to do that has been to remove any and all device-based audible notifications and interruptions.
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