If you want to be a successful entrepreneur (or successful at anything) you have to know how to get stuff done. These 21 successful young entrepreneurs shared their best productivity advice.
1. Schedule tasks like college classes
Michael Pomposello, 24-year-old founder of Influencer Connect, says you should schedule your tasks on your calendar, during set times just like college classes.
“A task I estimate will take 15 minutes to complete will usually be done in 10 or 15 since I am focused on getting that done during the set time. Without setting a deadline I may wander and do other things causing this one task to take 30 or even 45 minutes.”
2. Delete it, don’t reschedule it
Omer Perchik, 30-year-old founder of Any.do, says you should be realistic about what is important and realistic to get done.
“When you find yourself constantly rescheduling something, you need to ask whether it actually *needs* to be on your task list. The most successful people really know how to focus on their priorities, so they’re comfortable with deleting tasks that aren’t highly relevant. “
3. Avoid distractions
Shannon Palme, 28-year-old founder of Shannon Palme Web & Graphic Design, says you have to avoid distractions at all cost.
“It’s really tempting when you’re acting as your own boss to visit time-sucking websites like Facebook and Reddit, and what you might intend as a 10 minute break can easily turn into losing hours of valuable work time. I use a free extension for Chrome called Block Site, so that I’m not able to visit websites that distract me while I’m working.”
4. Never ever answer the phone
Paula Rizzo, 34-year-old founder of listproducer.com, says you should never ever pick up the phone unless you are expecting the call.
“Never, ever answer your phone. Not unless the person on the other line has an appointment to talk to you right at that moment. This will cut down on distractions and derailing your day!”
5. Stay on top of your health
Selena Narayanasamy, 29-year-old founder of Orthris, says you have to take care of your health.
“You have to build in time to workout and manage your health. A typical day for me involves a set number of working hours, time to actually make or grab something healthy to eat, and I schedule in (yes, actually schedule in) my workout hours. Even though I’m working less, I have a higher output and I’m more responsive and helpful to my clients.”
6. Have a morning brain purge
Jay Clouse, 23-year-old COO of Tixers, says you should dump everything out of your mind first thing in the morning.
“For the first 1-1.5 hours of my day, my brain is not prepared to start work. I work out every day, so I can order my thoughts while I work out, and also knock off one of my daily needs. This prevents me from trying to “end” work early to get to the gym, because it’s already done.”
7. Create a sustainable routine
Sean Dudayev, 24-year-old Founder of InsureChance, says you should have a daily routine that you can stick to.
“When building a company it’s easy to get caught up in a fast paced, energy drink, fast food fueled nights turning into mornings work hours. However that is simply not sustainable in the long run. Eventually you will experience a burn out that makes every mole hill seem like a mountain. The fix to this is establishing a routine daily to make sure you hit on all the things that will create long term, sustainable progress. I was able to do this without sacrificing work ethic, which is a fear for most young entrepreneurs. “
8. Always set deadlines
Tyler Brewer, 24-year-old founder of co-creator of Spontivity, says you should have a deadline for everything.
“Whether it’s making a decision, writing a blog, or completing a task, everything needs a deadline. Entrepreneurs are inundated with a variety of tasks everyday and being efficient was something I was terrible at before I started setting a deadline for everything I did. Decisions need to be made promptly and setting deadlines helps those decisions get made. “
9. Set a specific time of the day to check email
Jenelle Augustin, 25-year-old founder of RESTore Silk, says you have to set aside only one specific time each day for email.
“Set a specific time of day to check email to avoid distractions. If I do not need to be on the Internet, I put my devices on airplane mode until my task is finished. I learned this out of necessity to keep myself from getting distracted so easily.”
10. Turn off email notifications
Marc Guberti, 16-year-old co-founder of Teenager Entrepreneur, says you don’t need to be interrupted every time you get an email.
“Each time I saw the new email notification, I always felt obliged to see what that message was. Each time you look at your inbox, you are losing valuable time. When I am working on creating a product, I remove the mail icon from my Mac’s home screen. That way, I am not even tempted to look at my inbox since I cannot see it.”
11. Batch your tasks
Tiffany Mason, 24-year-old founder of Mason Coaching and Consulting, says you should batch your tasks.
“I discovered this tip after listening to an audio from motivational speaker, Brian Tracy. He recommends that you should batch your tasks. For example, check and respond to emails all at once. Make your phone calls all at once.This saves you a lot of time. I check my email once a day at 1pm and I make my phone calls once a day at 2pm.”
12. Create a weekly strategy document
Jason Parks, 26-year-old Owner of The Media Captain, says you should create a strategy before beginning every week.
“Each week on Sunday morning, I sit down for 60-90 minutes and make a strategy document for what I want to accomplish for the upcoming workweek. I am able to create a to-do list but more importantly, I come up with proactive ideas for the company. The key to success for this strategy document is having a clear mind. “
13. Get to inbox zero every day
Sean Butler, 25-year-old founding member of LeanBox, says you should clear out your inbox every day.
“There is a tremendous amount of additional data to manage, and I work from our headquarters, our operations center, and remotely. I like to work from desktop computers, so I have a different computer at each space and a tablet that I use remotely. The only way to manage everything without losing my mind and sleep is by keeping my email inbox to zero at the end of every day.”
14. Do the one thing that would make you satisfied with your day
Greg Archbald, 29-year-old founder of GreaseBook, says you should identify what would make your day a success.
“Ask yourself, “what’s the one thing I could accomplish today that would make me satisfied with my day?” Now, block out at 2-3 hours to focus on that one, stinking item. Let the rest of the urgent BS fade to the background.”
Matthew Eagan, 30-year-old CEO of imagefreedom, says you must prioritize your tasks by what will get you results.
“Prioritize the things that must happen without forgetting the things that should happen as those always seem to be the biggest revenue generators.”
16. Use the Pomodoro Technique
Shaun Walker, 30-year-old cofounder of HEROFarm, recommends using the Pomodoro Technique to improve your energy level.
“Follow the Pomodoro Technique, and move around at least once an hour to get the blood flowing.”
There are five basic steps to implementing the technique:
1. Decide on the task to be done
2. Set the Pomodoro timer to *n* minutes (traditionally 25)
3. Work on the task until the timer rings; record with an *x*
4. Take a short break (3–5 minutes)
5. After four Pomodori, take a longer break (15–30 minutes)
17. Run every task through an impact vs. effort analysis
Joshua Dziabiak, 27-year-old founder of The Zebra, says you have to understand the amount of impact a task will have relative to the amount of effort it takes.
“As an entrepreneur, you have to make peace with the fact that your to-do list is never going to be truly complete. I’ve found that it’s less important for me to get every single thing on my list completed, and more important for me to instead fully tackle the things that immediately move the needle. By constantly asking yourself which tasks require the least effort but yield the most impact, you will move faster toward your larger goal. “
18. Never, ever procrastinate
Vincent Dolliole Jr., 19-year-old fashion blogger, warns that procrastination will steal your life away if you let it.
“So many people my age and younger let procrastination get the best of them. When I don’t feel like doing something I just ask myself this question: “If procrastination was a thief who was blatantly and continually stealing money from me, would I continue to let him do it?” Asking myself that question is usually enough give me a massive surge of motivation.”
19. Work even when you don’t feel like it
Cody McClain, 24-year-old founder of WireFuseMedia, says you still have to do the stuff you don’t want to do.
“As an entrepreneur for 10 years now, I’ve learned that you have to do things even if you don’t feel like it. There is nobody above you forcing you to do the difficult parts. At some point I realized this is not school anymore and there is no teacher giving me an assignment that is due next week. Part of becoming an entrepreneur is realizing there is never a right time to do the things you need to do in order to move the business forward.”
20. Journal daily, even when it seems like there’s no time
Anna DiTommaso, 25-year-old founder of Creative80, says you should journal every single day no matter what.
“Writing is a way to help process things. It clears your mind of thoughts that would otherwise sap your energy and provides a sounding board for ideas. That’s important when you work alone. It also gives you a point of reference for when you fall on tough times and want to find your way back to good. When I write on a daily basis, I am much more productive and hold myself to much higher standards. Even when I am working a 14 hour day, I realize the necessity of writing.”
21. Set fun activities outside of work
Tim Halberg, 34-year-old founder of Tim Halberg Photography, says you should schedule fun activities outside work to motivate you to finish on time.
“Schedule activities outside of work, like a round of golf in the afternoon. I’ve found this forces me to get my work done in time to get out the door. It’s funny how much you can get done when presented with a hard deadline. I discovered this by taking a two week backpacking trip and realizing my business was caught up before I left and that nothing died while I was gone. I decided I needed to recreate this as a normal piece of my weekly schedule.”