Productivity Tips + Habits

Productivity tips for Entrepreneurs

March 14, 2024

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I'm a Marketing Coach. Here, I'll be sharing marketing tips, social media hacks, and ways that you can be more productive in your business! 

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I’m diving into productivity tips for entrepreneurs that are easy to start and even easier to keep. I’m always looking for ways to better organize my business, and I’m excited to share my favorite tips with you.

My favorite productivity tips for entrepreneurs

I am a huge fan of the book Atomic Habits by James Clear. It’s one of my favorite books, and I recommend it to anyone.

In one chapter, James explains how to make bad habits unattractive so that we don’t fall prey to our vices.

One bad habit James talked about that he broke was watching too much TV. He tended to lose himself for hours every day, mindlessly watching sitcoms. To make that habit unattractive, he either unplugged the TV or placed the remote in another room.

We tend to want to conserve our energy and “take the easy way out,” right? Adding that extra step not only made it harder for him to watch TV, but it also gave him a minute to think about what he’s actually doing. Do I even want to watch TV or am I just procrastinating? Is there a particular show I have in mind to watch or am I just trying to fill the hours consuming content?

How does this apply to us as entrepreneurs? If we want to be productive, then we need to figure out what distracts us the most and make it unattractive.

For me, it’s my phone. I could spend hours on Instagram reels or on Goodreads (nerd alert) and not even realize it. That definitely does not foster an environment where I can manage my time well. I’ve tried lots of different approaches such as putting my phone in “Do Not Disturb” mode and even not wearing my watch so I don’t know when I get new notifications.

Those approaches worked fine, but even in “Do Not Disturb” mode, my phone was still close by so I could get on it whenever I felt “stuck” with work. Plus, I hated not wearing my watch.

In Atomic Habits, James mentioned that he also falls victim to the power of his phone. He actually asked his assistant to change his phone password every day and not tell him the code until he finished his work. Seeing as how I don’t have an assistant, that approach didn’t work with me either.

What I did instead was put my phone in another room for several hours.

This is not an earth-shattering revelation and it actually seems stupidly simple, but it works. And before you panic and think, “But what if a client calls me?” “What if I need to look something up really quick and my phone isn’t right there? Won’t I waste more time getting it?” There are lots of solutions.

I still wear my watch, but I put my phone in “Do Not Disturb” mode where I don’t get anything except texts and calls. That way, I still get notified if a client needs me, but my phone isn’t an arm’s length away to steal my focus. As for the other objections or concerns, I either use my laptop or I just go get my phone. It’s good for me to move my body anyway.

Another solution: My most productive time of day is between 7am and 10am—I get a lot done. It’s the optimal time to eliminate distractions and stay on task. Nothing terrible happens if I’m not glued to my phone for a few hours every day.

If you’re a business owner (and really, even if you’re not), then this productivity tip is a no-brainer.

(I also recently discovered a new phone hack that is GENIUS, but I’m saving that for an upcoming post where I share my favorite technology hacks for productivity. I can’t wait to share that one with you!)

What distracts you? Is it your phone? Watching YouTube videos on your laptop as you work on it? Snacking? The nosy neighbor?

There are lots of ways to combat distractions. Just ask yourself, How can I make this unattractive?” You might even just have to get a little creative!

If you’re an entrepreneur, chances are, you have new ideas popping into your head every few minutes. I think most (if not all) entrepreneurs are a just a little ADD.

That’s why it’s so important to write everything down.

Again, it seems like a simple tip. I’m sure you’ve heard this argument used for years—starting with the case your high school teachers built for using pen and paper instead of laptop or tablet—but you’re more likely to remember something when it’s written down.

And, like I said earlier, because entrepreneurs have so many thoughts, they’re hard-pressed to remember the idea they had just hours before, let alone flesh it out.

Here’s a productivity trick I recently started doing that’s helped me write everything down as soon as I think of it: I use index cards. I make sure to always have a few index cards with me, whether it’s at my desk, in my purse, stuck in my planner, or on my nightstand. Then, I write down every thought I want to remember, from “get milk at store” to “want to read: 10x is Better Than 2x” to even mapping out a course launch strategy.

I know someone who uses this method, and she bought an index card case to carry her cards in. I like that idea a lot, but I usually just use a binder clip.

Not only does this productivity tip help my mind feel less cluttered, but it lets me revisit these ideas at the end of the day. The key is to go through each card and either assign, discard, ignore, or delegate.

Here’s what I mean: Assign it to a place in your planner if needed. Discard if you’ve completed that task. Ignore it if it isn’t urgent at the moment. Or delegate it to another person if possible.

If you don’t like the index cards idea or they’re too much to keep up with, you can write everything you think of throughout the day in a notebook instead. Then, at the end of the day before your workday shutdown, you go through each thing you jotted down and use the assign, discard, ignore, or delegate method I just mentioned.

One of the best lessons I learned in my former office job was how to prioritize tasks at work. There’s nothing worse than overlooking something urgent, and then your boss asking if it’s done.

Now as a business owner and entrepreneur, I still must to prioritize the important tasks. While the details are very important, we also need to zoom out and ask, “What needs to be done first?”

In my Full Focus planner, there are three big blanks on the daily spread that say “Daily Big 3.” This is where you write out your three most important tasks for the day. These must be done; they take priority. This is one way to stay on track.

Alternatively, you can write out a list of tasks you need to accomplish and then go through them all one by one and number them. The most urgent task that needs to be completed as soon as possible gets the special spot of #1. The next urgent task is #2, and so on. When you finish numbering off each task, you have a manual that tells you what to do.

If there are other tasks that pop up throughout the day, no worries! Just add them to the list. You might have to rearrange some things, bump a few tasks up or down, but that’s okay.

Just remember: don’t get lost in the weeds—remember the big picture!

When it comes to motivation, what works best for you? What gives you an encouraging push early in the morning? Is it getting a few easy wins and checking them off your to-do list first thing, or is it accomplishing one big task during that same time?

For me, it’s checking off a few easy items on my to-do list. These are smaller tasks that don’t take up a lot of time, such as “reply to emails” or “text so-and-so client” or “read 20 pages in business book.” Because I’ve done these early in the day, it makes me feel accomplished and gives me the motivation to keep going.

On the other hand, some entrepreneurs do best if they can check one major task off their to-do list in the morning. Maybe it’s “record a new podcast episode” or “interview new employee.” They feel less stressed because even though they have lots of other tasks they need to complete that day, at least this important one has been crossed off.

Pick which method you think will work for you and try it out! This productivity tip for entrepreneurs works based on how you’re best motivated.

Want more productivity hacks for entrepreneurs? Planning out your week on Sundays is a HUGE time-saver and actually helps you get more done. Don’t believe me? Check out this post about How to Plan Out Your Week in Advance.

Entrepreneurs and business owners tend to overwork themselves.

Here’s the problem with overworking: you get burned out. And then you’re not as productive. Womp womp.

Resting or doing something that helps you recharge seems counterintuitive. (Believe me, as an enneagram 1, it can be hard for me to prioritize myself over my endless to-do list). But in the long run, you have more energy, more ideas, and more joy doing what you love.

Here are a few quick tips I have for avoiding burnout:

  • If you have trouble clocking off at the same time each day, set an alarm an hour before you’d like to stop work. Then, in that hour, work on the most urgent tasks. For the tasks or projects that are less urgent, put them on tomorrow’s to-do list.

  • Buy a large water bottle to carry with you throughout the day. I love my 40-ounce Owala and drink so much more water because I’m not stopping every hour to refill it (I’m lazy, I know).

  • Get enough sleep. Good grief, the number of entrepreneurs I see who don’t sleep enough is staggering. Maybe it’s because their brain won’t turn off (my index card method I mentioned earlier helps with this!) or maybe it’s because they worked late and want more down-time (go back and see my tip about how to clock off work at the same time each day). Whatever the case, it’s important to prioritize sleep. A few pros to this are: you won’t get sick as often so that’s fewer sick days for you, you have more energy, and you’re more creative.

  • Exercise. I know you’re thinking, “Not this again!” But exercise plays a vital role in productivity and motivation. Try to move your body in some way each day, even if it’s just walking outside for a few minutes. If you’d like to kill two birds with one stone, you can buy a standing desk and a walking treadmill and work while you walk. Or, if you prefer thirty minutes to an hour of an intense workout, check out my favorite workout channel, Sydney Cummings Houdyshell, on YouTube.

  • Prioritize the important stuff. Many entrepreneurs put work ahead of their family or friends. Sometimes, it is important to make sacrifices and say “no” to things. But what I’m talking about is the constant neglect of the people most important to you. Be sure to prioritize the people you love. For example, when you’re planning out your week on Sunday and you see that your kids have a ballet recital you need to attend, write that in your planner first. All the other less important tasks and meetings are scheduled around that.

So now that you have these productivity hacks, how do you apply them?

My advice to you would be: start small. Pick one section from this post that you want to focus on and then try to improve by 1% each day.

I don’t have all the answers, and I’ve had to learn much of this the hard way. But I’m always looking for ways I can better manage my time and build good habits.

These are some of my favorite productivity tips for entrepreneurs that I’ve had success with, and I hope they help you in your business, too!

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