Do you feel like you’ve tried every productivity trick in the book? Whether it’s waking up earlier, reducing distractions, or leveraging technology to better manage your time, nothing seems to help. If that’s the case, don’t give up; there are always more strategies worth exploring.
One easy way to find new productivity techniques? Look to established entrepreneurs who’ve found a recipe for success and who aren’t afraid to think outside the box.
From Forbes, here are 7 proven productivity strategies from successful entrepreneurs:
Create artificial deadlines
Business expert and author of The Startup Coach Carl Reader uses a clever technique of creating artificial deadlines to guarantee a productive finish.
“One of my favourite tricks is the ‘train journey to nowhere,” he said. “I book a return train ticket, don’t take my mobile phone, and set a completion target for the journey. With a clear deadline and no distractions, I find that I often produce more than I would in the office in a whole day. It’s great if you can tie this around meetings that you need to travel to, but if not, the productivity boost is well worth the cost of a train ticket.”
Ditch the smartphone
Whether it’s checking the latest football news or reading through the BBC, the biggest distraction for Rob Hill founder of The Stag Company, was his smartphone.
“I found I was checking it on average once every 15 minutes,” he said. “So I switched my modern phone for my old Nokia 3310 that I still had in a drawer at home. Without access to the internet or any modern apps, my productivity has gone through the roof. It’s been five months since the switch, and while the first month was difficult, now I don’t miss the modern phone at all.”
Work with your body clock
Working on between seven and 10 projects at any given time, as Haddy Folivi, founder of Clarity Media, often is, she has to she stay focused.
She said: “I work in complete silence, as I hate distractions, and I divide my tasks into 30 minute slots throughout the day, with a five minute breather in between. I plan all my calls between 9am and 10.30am, which leaves me the rest of the day to completely focus.
“My body starts to have a natural lull around 3pm, so I don’t plan anything too taxing after this time, which is mainly research. I do most of the work that requires a high level of concentration first thing in the morning. I find this routine increases my productivity greatly, and I can get a lot of work done.”
Think in binary
Tim Fung is CEO and founder of Airtasker, an online marketplace that connects consumers and people offering a variety of services, and his top productivity booster is binary thinking.
He says: “In a startup, I believe it increases productivity if you’re periodically binary with your decision making; i.e., acquire the necessary data, make a decision and then commit to that decision for an agreed period of time. Don’t assess and re-assess everyday. That way, you’ll ensure that every activity that you’re driving will be pushing in the same direction, which is the key for increasing overall output.
Take a hike
When Lisa Forde, owner of event stationery company Dotty About Paper, feels in need of a productivity boost she leaves the office. “Just removing yourself from your working environment and walking outdoors for half an hour or so helps you to gather your thoughts. I don’t even think about work, but when I get back my mind is a clear and I’m ready to continue working. Time out allows you readjust and prioritise what needs doing, and so increases positivity.”
Delegate tactical tasks
Delegation is a skill that entrepreneurs need in order to grow their business and that has a positive impact on their personal output. Trenton Moss founder of experience design agency Webcredible is a prolific delegator of tasks, and will hire in people as necessary if they don’t have anyone to do certain things.
He said: “I need to spend as much time as possible steering us towards business success and our long-term vision. Doing tactical tasks can be rewarding for the short-term satisfaction of achieving something tangible, but this is the worst possible use of my time as there are always other people that can do them. I have a leadership team, external advisory board and a coach to hold me to account and make sure I don’t fall into the trap of spending my time achieving short-term gains.
Theme your time
One of the biggest tips that Mike Vardy, founder of Productivityist, uses and shares with his clients is the idea of ‘theming’ your time. This includes setting daily themes, for example, training, planning and optimisation etc., triggering an overarching focus for that particular day of the week.
He says: “That doesn’t mean I only do things related to that theme on that day, but those activities or types of work get my overarching focus. It really allows you to define your day and funnel your focus. It’s be a real game changer once it is put in place and has time to sink in.”
It may take some trial and error to find the perfect formula, but the more you optimise your workflow, the more productive you’ll feel.
For more business tips, head to Forbes.com.