Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy. We have a lot to deal with and often very little time to do it. While every individual and business is different, I wanted to share some of my best habits, strategies and short-cuts in case they might help you, too.
Here are seven of my favorite productivity hacks for entrepreneurs:
1. Ditch Your To-Do List for a Calendar
Don’t just list things you have to do. Instead, incorporate your daily task list into your calendar. If you know you have to get a blog post written, for example, block off a designated amount of time in your calendar to devote to it.
“Calendaring” has helped me tremendously when it comes to managing my time and not overcommitting to tasks when my calendar is looking full.
2. Make a Habit of Habit-Stacking
Combining something you love with something you don’t love can help you build healthier habits. All credit for this tip goes to James Clear’s brilliant book, Atomic Habits.
For me, exercise is my kryptonite. I don’t like it, and I have to force myself to do it. So I’ve combined it with something I do love: talking. I schedule some of my phone calls to be “walk and talks” so I get my steps in while also doing something I love.
3. Invest in Resources to Get Your Ideas on Paper
Content helps you sell your ideas and is essential for a small business. But it can be challenging to get ideas out of your head — especially when you simply don’t have the time or energy to craft a compelling article.
That’s why I partner with a content marketing agency to help me put my ideas on paper (including this blog post!). We discuss a topic, clarify the ideas I want to convey and then I let someone else write the first draft, at which point I come back for the final edit. It’s my ideas and my voice without my having to dedicate hours to it.
4. Use Music to Guide Your Power Half-Hour
When I have a task that I don’t find particularly engaging or stimulating, I like to set music to help me work through it. If I have a lot of emails to sort through, for example, I set a playlist of 15 to 30 minutes to keep me focused and motivated.
Looking for music to keep you interested in your work? Check out my Recalculating playlist on Spotify.
5. Earplugs: Never Leave Home Without Them
I live in New York City, so I know noise. But I find a loud phone talker, jackhammer or faucet drip can happen pretty much anywhere.
This is why I bring earplugs with me wherever I go so that I can block out the chaos around me and find a little bit of peace no matter what. Earplugs can help you focus better when you’re working in a public place, too. I never leave home without them!
6. Have a Go-to Conversation Starter
Making small talk can be awkward, so I’ve found a question that always helps me get the conversation ball rolling.
I always ask people I meet what book they’re reading or what podcast they’re listening to. It says a lot about their interests and ambitions. I love to read and listen, so it brings out the best in me in response. Your question might be different, but having a good conversation starter is a great strategy, especially if you’re introverted or socially anxious.
7. Avoid Decision Fatigue by Freeing Up Your Brain for Bigger Issues
Finally, there are some habits that I simply never change. I almost always eat the same breakfast, wear the same color of shoes for events, and order the same dinner when I’m on the road (a Caesar salad, french fries and a glass of chardonnay).
Boring? Maybe. But for me, the consistency is comforting, and it means I’m not wasting time or energy making decisions that don’t really matter — so I can focus on what does.