Being busy is definitely not the same as being productive. Ask any entrepreneur and they will tell you that the activities that keep them the most busy are the least productive.

However, the mark of a  successful entrepreneur is to be able to organize your tasks efficiently. That means keeping distractions at bay and dedicating time to only what matters the most. Here are nine productivity hacks from some of the top entrepreneurs in the world.

1. Plan effectively.

The founder of Clarity Media, Haddy Folivi, likes to plan her day with minimal distractions. I really like the way she divides her client work into slots of an hour each. She plans her day so that most of the taxing work can be done in the morning.

She finishes her calls by 11am. And after 3pm, when her pace starts to naturally slow down, she doesn't work on anything too demanding.

2. Self-impose deadlines.

I love the idea of creating artificial deadlines like those that Carl Reader proposes. He buys a train ticket to a random destination. And on the journey, he completes a task which he would otherwise have found difficult to complete in the office.

Carl recommends combining such journeys with a meeting when you might need to travel. But if that doesn't happen, just buy a ticket to any place you like. The increase in productivity will compensate for the price of your ticket.

3. Utilize your calendar.

Fellow Inc columnist, Dave Kerpen relies heavily on his calendar for productivity. The bestselling author and co-founder of multiple startups schedules everything from meetings to writing and reviewing in 15-minute time slots on his calendar.

So if something is there, it definitely gets done. What's not in it, doesn't. Simple, right?

4. Let go of your smartphone.

This one is another one of my favorites. I'm sure that for all of us, a smartphone is the biggest source of distraction, and an enemy of our productivity. The founder of The Stag Company, Rob Hill, has actually ditched his smartphone and moved to his old Nokia 3310.

He says it has helped him minimize distractions and increase productivity immensely. So the next time you find yourself checking your phone too often, you know what to do.

5. Write it down on paper.

The President of Stretch Zone, Marc Abrams believes in the good old-fashioned to-do list on paper. A daily list of things to do can be really helpful in boosting your productivity.

That way you know what you're aiming for and can keep ticking them off your list as you complete them. I really think this makes much more sense than just memorizing about your daily goals.

6. Utilize larger screens.

Microsoft co-founder, Bill Gates, relies heavily on emails to get work done. His secret to productivity is going practically paperless. Instead of paper, he uses his desktop across 3 screens. A larger display area is the key to his productivity.

His browser stays on one screen, his emails on another, the specific email to be worked on the last one. Using inbox rules he is able to effectively organize the emails that require his attention.

7. Plan your emailing time.

Not everyone might be an email enthusiast. Some even consider emails to be taking up most of their time. Hence, killing their productivity.

If you are one such person, this productivity secret from Lina Hu, CEO and founder of Clipper Corporation, will help. Lina makes sure to read her emails and respond to them only at certain dedicated time slots.

8. Utilize commute time.

I love this idea from the CEO and co-founder of Guidebook, Jeff Lewis, about utilizing your commute time. You know the amount of time that you spend daily in commuting to and from work. What if you could use this time for some personal development?

Jeff listens to podcasts on topics of interest that can help him do his job even better. So the next time you're stuck in traffic, you know what to do.

9. Recharge your batteries.

This is definitely my favorite productivity tip and something I can very much relate to. CEO at Tropical Smoothie Cafe, Mike Rotondo, says that unwinding is the best way to boost your productivity. Disconnect yourself from your laptop and phone so your mind can rest.

Instead, devote time to other engaging activities that help you shift from work mode completely. Trust me when I say that, this truly refreshes your mind so you're all geared up for the next day.

What are some of your secrets to being productive throughout the day? I'd love to hear them. So, feel free to share them in the comments below.

Published on: Nov 30, 2017
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.