13 Productivity Tips For Startup CEOs

As the CEO of a startup, you are constantly pushing yourself. You have a never ending list of things to do, numerous meetings to attend and your email box is always full. Odds are that after working for hours and hours, you are not quite satisfied with what you’ve accomplished at the end of the day. Here are some tips to help you improve and optimize your productivity as you tackle your daily activities.

Set Goals

Goals have to be specific and they have to be written down. A study published in the print version of the journal of Consumer Research says that people who set ambitious goals tend to be more satisfied than those who have lower expectations.

Plan your ToDos

You should be realistic about the number of things you can get done in a day. To keep track of your tasks, you should write them down on paper or any notepad that is suitable for you and would be easy to access on the go. Google tasks is a very helpful service that is connected to your Google account so you can receive email reminders from your to-do list.

Employ time-blocking

Time blocking is arranging your day into time slots each with a designated task or activity. Don’t make a To-Do list and spend whatever amount of time you like on each task. Instead, assign each task an appropriate amount of time and focus on getting it done within that time slot. You can break bigger projects into simple tasks and assign time slots to each detailed activity you need to complete.

Do your most important work first

On every To-Do list, there are one or two items that are significantly more important than the others. Tackle the one or two things that absolutely have to be done to move the business forward. It is easy to want to procrastinate these tasks because they require the most effort but doing that slows down the business’ growth. After completing your more important tasks, you can then move on to other activities like meetings and checking emails. You should also try to complete the tasks you like the least first so you do them faster and can move on to the ones you enjoy more. This would make you happier the rest of your day because you would feel a bit relieved.

Dealing with Emails

If you are constantly checking your emails, this could mean you have too much time on your hands and you should reassess how you budget your time. Instead of replying to emails as they arrive in your inbox, you should designate specific times in the day to check and reply your emails in batches. Having push notifications for emails allows you to quickly glance through the subject lines of the emails you receive during the day and you can reply to the ones that are time sensitive. This will save you from having to constantly open your inbox.

Avoid checking emails first thing in the morning because it can be easy to get side tracked by responding to emails. Instead, wait till you have completed some of your most important tasks for the day then you would be able to pay better attention to your emails.

The Muse suggests that for emails or a section of an email you send repeatedly, you should write your best answer out once (or cut and paste it from a previous awesome email you wrote) and save it as a “Canned Response.” Then, the next time someone asks you that question, just insert the canned response into the email body.If possible, respond to emails with statements not questions to avoid going back and forth.

Managing Meetings

Amit Chowdhry stated in Forbes that time is the most important currency in your life. While it may be tempting to meet with many people to network, the time you get at your desk is extremely valuable. Knowing what meetings to refuse is very important. You don’t have to say yes to everything.

Don’t schedule too much time for meetings. You shouldn’t spend one hour in a meeting that can be concluded in 30 minutes.

Most updates can be done via email so there is no need to schedule ‘update’ meetings. If the purpose of a meeting isn’t for decision making or to complete an action, then you should cancel it.

Set an agenda for every meeting and if the conversation derails, quickly get it back on track and you can schedule a different time to discuss the other topic if it’s useful. If you are having a meeting with someone outside the office, you can avoid the time wasted while commuting by having the meeting over the phone or a video conference if your goal can be reached with these means.

Master Time Management

Note your most productive time of the day and set it aside for focused work. If it is in the morning, keep your mornings free of distractions or meetings and focus that time on completing your tasks. Take advantage of small chunks of time to get things done. You can make a list of small tasks that you can complete in a short amount of time and use the intervals between meetings to complete them.

You can use Toggle to keep track of what you do throughout the day. After a while, you’ll clearly see what activities you have been wasting time on and be able to get rid of them.

You shouldn’t work throughout the weekend but you can use your leisure time to complete simple mindless tasks like cleaning out your inbox or getting ahead of pending projects. Doing this while relaxing can be a great way to get more work done without feeling like you’re working too much.

Always have backup tasks. There will be times when you can’t complete your primary task because someone or something you need is unavailable. Having other options will let you get something done even when you can’t finish your primary task.

Delegate tasks

If you want to be productive, you have to learn to designate tasks because you can’t possibly do everything yourself. There are several tasks you can outsource to help you be more productive. Stick to doing the things you absolutely need to do yourself and you are an expert at and delegate the rest to others. Make sure to put deadlines on the tasks you assign to people so they don’t slow you down.

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Handling distractions

The Muse suggests that when you need to focus, you can shut yourself from your colleagues. If you use an internal chat system, set your status to “Do Not Disturb” to let people know that you are busy. Turn off notifications on your devices and don’t use social media at work. You can listen to music or white noise to help you concentrate and drown out noise. When you come across an interesting article, you can use a service like Pocket to save articles and read them later.

There are various Internet restriction apps you can use to actively prevent yourself from accessing the Internet for a certain amount of time. With Freedom, you can choose how long you want to be blocked completely from the Internet, for up to eight hours. You can use Cold Turkey to block your access to specific websites that usually distract you.

Take breaks

During the day, it is important to schedule plenty of breaks. It is more productive to focus and complete tasks, then take short breaks. Remember to leave your desk, take a short walk, eat a snack or drink some water before getting back to work.

Don’t Multitask

Focus on one task at a time. You simply accomplish each task less effectively when you try to multi-task. A significant part of your day is lost because your brain tries to switch back and forth between different tasks. When it comes to multitasking, there is an exception. You can swap out music for Audio books while you drive or perform other activities.

Reward yourself

It is helpful to motivate yourself by assigning a reward for completed tasks and projects. It could be in the form of a snack or material possession. Also, allocating a limited amount of time for your favourite distractions will prevent you from wasting time on them when you shouldn’t. You can reward yourself with five minutes on twitter after completing a major task.

Get enough sleep

Staying up late and having to wake up early can hinder your productivity the following day.
Lisa Evans stated that Running on very little sleep makes you less productive. Insufficient sleep inhibits concentration, causes anxiety, irritability, and affects your ability to retain information, which all results in poorer productivity. New York Times bestselling author Michael Hyatt also recommends that you should take a nap everyday to be more productive.

It is popular belief that eight hours of sleep is ideal but there is really no evidence to back that claim. Studies have shown that six and a half to seven and a half hours a night is best for you.

It’s important to focus on working on yourself and not just on your craft. Take the time to ensure that you optimize your resources and personal abilities. Be mindful of your health and make positive changes in your life that would help you become more productive and achieve your goals.

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