The startup world is known for its fast-paced, high-pressure environment, and as such, getting things done efficiently is perhaps the highest-rated trait for a startup founder.
Here are several productivity practices that are popular in the tech startup world that can help you get more done in less time:
1. Prioritize ruthlessly
If you’re juggling multiple projects, deadlines, and stakeholders, you have to making difficult decisions about what to focus on at any given time.
To efficiently prioritize, list all your tasks and projects and mark them by priority. Focus on the most important tasks first and delegate or postpone the rest.
More importantly, you should be comfortable leaving projects in the backlog so things that are less important don’t crowd out high-impact projects and tasks.
“I learned that if you work hard and creatively, you can get just about anything you want, but not everything you want. Maturity is the ability to reject good alternatives in order to pursue even better ones.” ― Ray Dalio, Principles: Life and Work
2. Use the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed in the late 1980s by Francesco Cirillo. It involves breaking the work into 25-minute intervals separated by short 5-minute breaks.
This technique is very efficient for people who have trouble staying focused for long periods of time. Bundling your distractions (e.g. social media browsing) into a short span of time – the break, and having a timer that tells you when it’s time to get back to work makes it easier to control yourself and waste as little time as possible.
3. Block distractions
Distraction is the enemy of productivity, and tech startup founders know this all too well.
They often use tools such as noise-canceling headphones or browser extensions to avoid distractions and stay focused on their work. To block distractions, identify what distracts you most (e.g., social media, email notifications) and take steps to eliminate or minimize them.
4. Practice time blocking
The problem with distractions is that sometimes they come from work. At the same time, if you are constantly answering messages through chat apps or emails, it is difficult to get into the flow and do complex work that requires concentration.
Time blocking is a productivity technique where specific blocks of time are scheduled for different tasks or activities. Tech startup founders often use this technique to ensure they are moving forward on their most important projects while still leaving time for other commitments such as meetings or networking events.
To practice time blocking, create a schedule for your day or week with specific blocks of time for different tasks or activities, making sure you don’t break up your deep work blocks with meetings or other distractions. For example, you can block 4 hours of your workday for deep work and another 4 hours for meetings and communication.
5. Automate repetitive tasks
Try to streamline your workflow and save time. Try out automation tools to handle repetitive tasks like data entry, social media posting, or email management.
If the task can’t be automated, try delegating it. It’s easy to get swamped with operational tasks that don’t really require your input. If you allow this, you wouldn’t have time for the tasks where you add real value, which other people can’t.
6. Set goals and deadlines
A critical part of being productive is accurately assessing how productive you’ve been. In the end, it’s about the results, not how much you’ve worked. To see if you’re on the right track, you can use KPIs to objectively measure your progress and evaluate whether your expectations have been met. If your results are bad, consider turning around and changing what you focus on.
7. Practice self-care
Last but not least, don’t get burnt out. Startup success is a marathon, not a sprint. Being insanely productive for a short period of time at the expense of being unproductive in the long run is a bad strategy.