Between endless meetings, constant emails and messages, and managing employees, entrepreneurs and business leaders often feel like they have very little time to check “real” tasks off their to-do lists. The secret to overcoming this feeling is finding ways to increase your productivity during those limited distraction-free periods.
Below 15 members of gotechbusiness.com Business Council share some hacks they’ve found to boost productivity when they’re short on time to get work done. They explained how entrepreneurs can integrate these hacks into their own lives to manage their time and achieve more throughout the day.
1. Get a Virtual Assistant
I have a virtual assistant on Zoom with me throughout the day who keeps me on my schedule and helps me manage what needs to be done and when. While I finish my ‘real work’, she takes care of all my digital distractions, from managing my inbox to answering my phone calls. – Craig Goodliffe, Cyber backer
2. Set ‘non-meeting days’
Getting the “real work” done has to be done outside of meetings. Try to have special “non-meetings” days within your teams. If you can’t block entire days, start small by holding fewer meetings, especially those with too many people or sparse calendars. Finally, if your calendar is full of standing meetings where you’re just a listener and not a contributor, you probably don’t need to be there. – Erica Brinker, Matrix technologies
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3. Designate times to answer emails
I answer my emails three times a day: before work, during lunch and after work (excluding urgent customer inquiries). This approach means I don’t get caught up in the ping-pong of email responses, which can take up parts of my day. It also has the added benefit of allowing the team to make decisions without constantly asking me for permission. – Victoria Usher, GingerMay
4. Plan your day in advance
By scheduling my day, I can see what time I realistically need to work. If it’s not planned, it can be difficult to visualize how much time you have and how best to use that time. Planning also gets you to take breaks, which can help avoid distractions while you’re at work. – Josh Thompson, Thompson Construction
5. Plan your day and focus on those tasks
There is a time and place for everything, so plan your day and focus on certain tasks. Don’t get distracted by other items or needs during your “real work” time. Delegate these tasks or set aside time for later in the day (or out of office hours) to address any nuisances that could grab your attention during your most valuable hours. Focus is the key. – Nadir Qazi, DO, Qazi Cosmetic Clinic
6. Assign time goals to your tasks
When I’m short on time, I always write down my priority list and evaluate which should be done immediately and which can wait. Assigning a time target to each maximizes your efficiency. – Bryan Fried, PANGEA Global Technologies, Inc.
7. Do your job, not anyone else’s
There is one thing you excel at and that should be all you do. If you find yourself doing something that could be done (better) by someone else or not making you a rock star, you know your time is being wasted. Removing everything that gets in the way of doing what you do best, or setting things up so you can do more of it should be your top priority. – Jean Paul De Silva Clauwaert, Web Content Development
8. Filter your to-do list with a priority matrix
A priority matrix is a tool that helps you figure out which tasks have the highest priority by giving them more weight than others. It elevates your typical to-do list with a filter that allows you to view your tasks in order of priority. This is super effective in helping you get an idea of the difficulty of each of the tasks, as well as understanding which tasks are most important. – Meg Yim, MSA Security
9. Outsource smaller tasks to focus on more time-consuming tasks
I’ve never been the kind of entrepreneur who shy away from spending money when I need to. Outsourcing is an extremely effective hack because it has the added benefit of helping someone else bring in revenue, which is more important than ever in these uncertain economic times. – Tevin Jackson, Stellar Service Group
10. Work from home to minimize distractions
Schedule remote work days regularly to give yourself time to do your own work without the interruptions of the office. This also gives your employees the ability to carry out their responsibilities without you being around all the time, creating a self-sufficient team. – Kelley Higney, Bug Bit Thing
11. Get Organized
We use an organization tool across our organization which has been great. I know at all times what to do and how to prioritize those tasks. People talk about slowing down to speed up and it’s true. If you want to be more efficient, take the time to get organized and stick to your habits to get more done. – Sabrina Shafer, Transformation continuum
12. Use your energy to your advantage
Take your toughest challenges when your energy is at its highest. If you’re a morning person, do it. If your energy is highest after a run, go for a run and then do a few hours of work. You will be amazed at how efficient the mind can be when it is time bound and you are energetic. – Marian Evans, Elevate BC Ltd
13. Understand that you will be able to handle more over time
I have noticed that my productivity and ability to get more done have increased over the years. Just as you can build your strength and muscle in the gym by taking on more weight and exercise, I believe that periods of high production at work prepare you to handle much more over time. – Lucie Marchelot Shukla, Straight teeth immediately
14. Work smarter, not harder
Simplifying my schedules, grouping tasks, and streamlining my meetings with strict agendas are some of the hacks that have improved my day-to-day activities and, in turn, improved the lives of people who work with me. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to the situation as these hacks were all very effective for me. – Michael Ede, Uplift11 Sport
15. Decide What Habits Are Holding You Back
The most helpful advice I can give others is to identify one small habit you want to change and replace it with a more productive one. For example, I started my day reading emails that took me straight to projects and tasks. Today I start my day with a meditation practice that prioritizes my intention for the day. I also end my day with a sincere evaluation of my daily work. – Loubna Noureddin, Mind Market Consultants