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15 Startup Founders Share Their Productivity Habits

15 Startup Founders Share Their Productivity Habits

We are all guilty of wondering how some individuals seem to be able to get so much more done in a day then we do.

As someone who studies the routines and habits successful individuals use each day, I’ve noticed the individuals in Silicon Valley seem to be constantly pushing boundaries forward. Who else is going to get your burrito delivered to your front door via a drone?

Wondering what keeps these folks going to achieve such a high output, I simply decided to ask.

I’ve spent the past month interviewing 15 startup founders to dive into the habits, tips and hacks they use that keeps them productive and motivated each day. Some have sold companies for over eight figures and many have had their products and services featured in top tier publications.

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    The interviewees and links to the amazing things they are working on:

    Will Bunker –Co-Founder @ Match.com, GrowthX Academy

    Sam Parr – Founder @ The Hustle.

    Neil Patel – Forbes Top 10 Online Marketer. Founder @ Quicksprout, KISSMetrics

    Luke Williams – Founder @ Blue Sea Studios, 2 minute revolution

    Dennis Yu – #1 Facebook Ad Expert in the world. Founder @ Blitzmetrics

    UJ Ramdas – Co-Founder @ Intelligent Change. (5 minute Journal).

    Ameer Rosic – Co-Founder @ BlockGeeks.

    Mike Brcic – Founder @ Sacred Rides, The Social Entrepreneur

    Sol Orwell – Co-Founder @ Examine.com, SJO.com

    Dave Burns –  Co-Founder @ Singularity Growth Accelerator

    Josh Fraser – Founder @ Torbit (Acquired by Walmart), Din, EventVue

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    Lea Von Bidder – Founder @ Ava

    Floyd Marinescu – Founder @ InfoQ, QCon Conferences

    Josh Fechter – Head of Growth @ GrowthX Academy

    Kumar Thangudu – Founder @ LinkTexting, GrowAmp

    Name your top 1 to 3 habits you have that help you stay highly productive and motivated each day.

    I use three specific tactics each day to prepare my body and mind. These are sitting meditation, regularly moving my body through working out, walking and yoga along with Bulletproof tea for sustained energy.

    Dave Burns

    Proper sleep pattern is critical to me. Everything you do is impacted by the quality of your sleep, why would you mess around with this? I also ensure I keep an avid curiosity by reading stimulating things and expressing gratitude by spending time with my family.

    Ameer Rosic

    I start and end each day writing down what I am grateful for in the Five Minute Journal. This helps keep everything in perspective. I also use the Productivity Planner to plan out my entire day and meditate regularly.

    UJ Ramdas

     Regularly going for walks helps clear my mind and push out noise.

    Will Bunker                  

    I use conscious focus and then relaxation. I do a block of 30-90 minutes of heads down work, and then I take a break of roughly 30 minutes. REAL focused work is incredibly powerful, and most people just never do that. I’m not a big fan of grinding, as your throughput and quality just suffers greatly.

    Sol Orwell

     I distill all tasks into a top 10 ranking of importance for the day. I then start at top and do just that task till completion before going on to the next.

    I also regularly review tasks and push them to a later date if they are less urgent. I have folders of pushed tasks that I never look at until that date, which takes those tasks totally out of my consciousness till then. This allows total focus on current top action items.

    Creating this back log of less important tasks also allows your staff to know exactly what they should work on when their time frees up. The question of them asking “what do I do?” doesn’t come up. Instead they always come to me with multiple options, and their recommendation. This exercises their judgment, and leads eventually to them being able to handle all decisions independently without consulting me.

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    Luke Williams

     For me it is critical to get a good night’s sleep. I threw away my alarm clock! Along with this I also emphasize getting regular exercise (using running or climbing) and reading regularly to always be improving my mind.

    Josh Fraser

    Gratitude to start the day; exercise sometime during the day, having a full breakfast.

    Dennis Yu

     I optimize my nutrition intake each day to avoid the energy crash that can happen. For me, this means I avoid carbs most of the time. Serotonin is a hormone secreted by carb intake and generally one you want to avoid that when you are trying to get things done.

    I also avoid alcohol. In my younger days, I abused this a little too much. However, I’ve since given up alcohol (about three years ago) because the hangover and side effects impacted my entire week.  I simply just wasn’t able to perform as effectively as I do now.

    Sam Parr

    I use meditation and then map our One-Page Strategic Plan. This informs and breaks down my daily schedule down to 1/2 hour chunks.

    Mike Brcic

    I start each day prioritizing fitness and meditation. I work out in one form or other every morning as well as meditate daily. My workouts alternate between several options so each morning feels interesting: kettle bells, weights, kungfu, a 1 hr walk, ecstatic dance, or a qi gong + pranayama set (for lazy mornings).

    Floyd Marinescu

     I walk 2-3 hours every day, write four hundred words each day and tell two people I appreciate them.

    Josh Fechter

     I use a ton of digital tools to stay hyper productive when I’m at the keyboard. My three favorite tools are Instapage.com for making marketing pages, TextExpander for speeding up any actions on the keyboard, and lastly FoxType for making sure I send emails that are polite.

    Kumar Thangudu

     I wake up in the morning, check my schedule for the day and make a specific to-do list of what I want to achieve that day. It ensures I stay focused.  I don’t only do this for each day but also for weeks and months. This is so I always have targets for a given week and a given month and work towards fulfilling them.

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    Sometimes stepping out of the office and working from a different place helps. A change of scenery keeps things fresh. I like sitting down in a nearby coffee shop to prepare for important meetings.

    Lea Von Bidder

     I approach the day with massive organization, knowing what myself and my assistant need to get accomplished. I work out every single morning before starting my day and then spend some time getting dressed up. We all feel more confident when we look good and it’s noticeable in how you approach the day.  I spend a large chunk of my day calling (actually calling with a phone) and connecting with other entrepreneurs and business partners. This helps me provide value where need be and build potential deals. I’ve made many close friends this way and I find it keeps things interesting and worthwhile.

    Neil Patel

      

    Do you have any specific morning routine you follow to prep you for your day?

    Hell yes. I wake up, make myself Bulletproof tea, meditate, do various weirdly effective journaling practices, and meet with my team. Dave Burns

    I wake up and drink 1 litter of filtered water to re-hydrate and kick start my digestion. I then turn on my espresso and sit underneath my infrared light while doing my Five Minute Journal. Ameer Rosic

    Here is the exact routine I follow each morning. Wake up. Five Minute Journal. Make bed. Cold shower. Supplements. Brush teeth. Do pullups. Stretch. Meditate. Plan out flow of the day. Eat breakfast. Head out to get some work done! UJ Ramdas

    Yes, it’s about 90-120 minutes starting at 5/5:30 am. In order: Vivid Vision review/affirmation, yoga, meditation, journaling, set daily schedule, read 20 pages, do 1/2 hour on a passion project. Mike Brcic

    Wake up, meditate in bed a bit, work out, shower, eat a healthy breakfast, read for 10-20 min and then go to work. Floyd Marinescu

    Check emails and Facebook mastermind groups I manage, eat oatmeal and peanut butter, drink coffee, and then walk for an hour and a half. Josh Fechter

    I do a serious of active stretches on my bed for a period of time. Can’t start a day with loose hips! Sam Parr

    I have a set routine to start the day. I read my favorite politics site (www.electoral-vote.com), then take a two-minute cold shower while blasting some Skrillex, take my meds (yay genetic disorders), and go for a little walk while sipping my can of coke zero. I get home, do the 5 Minute Journal, and am just rearing to crush it by then. Sol Orwell

    Setting my priorities for 20 minutes at start of day so I know exactly what to do. Dennis Yu

    I have a boot-up and shutdown list. Boot-up includes reflecting on the top item to move my company forward now or what’s been causing the most stress. The plan is then to address this immediately. I practice inbox zero and empty my inbox from top-to-bottom; clear any residual notes from yesterday; quick checks of Asana task system and Slack messages and pull top items from task folders and organize them. After this I turn on Do Not Disturb for Slack and my phone and start my focus block.  I prefer four continuous hours uninterrupted. Luke Williams

    Every morning, I wake up and do workouts with the Freeletics app on iPhone. Kumar Thangudu

     

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    Name one thing you couldn’t get through each day without.

     

    Mindfulness. Dave Burns

    Seeing my family. Ameer Rosic

    Meditation & Journaling. UJ Ramdas

    Reading. Mike Brcic

    Meditation. Floyd Marinescu

    Walking for at least 30 minutes. Josh Fechter

    Diet Root Beer. The Hustle

    The 5 Minute Journal. Sol Orwell

    Proper sleep. Dennis Yu

    Boomerang Extension for Gmail. Luke Williams

    1Pass – A tool for managing all my login info. Kumar Thangudu

    Chocolate. Ava

    Monster Energy. Will Bunker

    Purpose. Josh Fraser

    A Green juice. Neil Patel

     

    A number of tools were mentioned throughout the interview. To make it easy here they all are.

    Featured photo credit: Shutterstock 197404370 via shutterstock.com

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    Paul Milano

    Helping others build a powerfully productive life

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    Last Updated on January 14, 2019

    The Key to Finding Job Satisfaction and Having a Successful Career

    The Key to Finding Job Satisfaction and Having a Successful Career

    Regardless of whether you hold an entry-level administration role or regularly travel to the ends of the Earth as a hot-shot senior executive, you can still find yourself harboring an emptiness… a feeling that something is missing. A popular assumption that experiencing job satisfaction and a successful career should be underpinned by a well-rounded suite of tangible benefits, no longer holds true for many of us.

    We’d never deny health care benefits, appropriate and fair remuneration, bonuses and travel perks in a job package. However, even if served to us on a silver platter, those features can only satiate us to a certain point.

    You might wonder what governs entrepreneurs and start-up business owners to quit their lucrative jobs, essentially look the gift horse in the mouth and kiss such benefits goodbye! There can be an irresistible pull to mastermind a business with products and/or services that serve the greater good of community wider than that constituting their daily existence.

    Even with research showing entrepreneurship to pose greater threats to their mental and physical health, this unique breed of individuals choose to go against the grain in chasing their dreams of being their own boss. Why? Why would anyone risk this type of career suicide?

    Whether you’re an employee, have recently taken the leap to being a business owner or been in business for a while, the commonality is a congenital condition we all share as human beings; to feel a sense of purpose, value and contribution to our community. Despite it being harder to find this for ourselves in today’s world, these approaches will help you achieve ultimate satisfaction through the twists, turns and joyrides that are essential features of shaping a successful career.

    1. Search for Opportunities That Feed Your Passion, Not Temporary Excitement

    Even though well-intended, the ‘feel good now’ compass that career coaches and consultants often recommend you use to create career satisfaction can actually do you more harm than good. Excitement is transient. It doesn’t last. Passion is the compass you need.

    Passion and excitement are two different things. The resounding career legacy that still draws you to turn up on the job regardless of the sunshine or storm that awaits you…that’s passion. It’s like a mental and/or emotional itch you can’t shrug off. Staying attuned to that calling will breed success for you sooner or later. Patience is key.

    You’re also likely to have more than one key passion. Beware of getting caught in the notion you have to find your one true purpose. In fact, run immediately from any coach who tells you there is only one. There isn’t.

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    Your passion is a journey that can take multiple forms so forget thinking there is the single dream job out there that will give you satisfaction in every way you can imagine. It simply doesn’t exist.

    Consider embracing different roles and projects to help you fuel your passion or fuel your pursuits in finding it. Job satisfaction and your career success will be all the more sweeter from a wider range of enriching experiences.

    2. Don’t Position Job and Career Satisfaction Assessments as Pivotal Guides to Your Success

    Despite their popular use for vocational guidance, assessment tools such as Gallup’s Clifton Strengths and the Myers Briggs Type Indicator have come under fire[1] as being limited to the amount of true value and direction they can offer partakers.[2] These and many other guidance assessment tools (e.g. VIA Character Strengths , DISC ) are self-report questionnaires that don’t have normative population data against which to compare your results.

    Simply remember these tools help you develop a stronger sense of what you identify as strengths and weaknesses within yourself, not in comparison with other people. They will still add insight around what sorts of career opportunities, tasks and projects are going to light your fire, what ones are going to extinguish it and what will prod and keep the coals steadily smoldering.

    3. Be Clear on Your Personal Values, Ethics and Principles and Choose Relationships That Support You Honoring Them

    Teamwork, collaboration, open communication and trust are commonplace for any flourishing work environment. However, whether or not your personal values can be honored in your work can make or break your job satisfaction.

    How committed do you want to be to an organization that expects an average of 10 unpaid overtime hours every week under the guise of ‘reasonable overtime’? Are you willing to accept their construing this expectation as ‘strong commitment’ at the expense of your partner and children waiting at home for you? What are your boundaries concerning when you clock on to their time and when you clock off to yours?

    Being very in tune with what your personal values, principles and ethics are will bid you well in the job satisfaction stakes. Spending time to reflect on experiences and working relationships you’ve had – the good, the bad and the ugly – will help you make well-informed searches and grounded decisions that will propel your career success.

    Finding and nurturing relationships with associates and colleagues who share similar values doesn’t just make your day-to-day pursuits more enjoyable. You become fortunate to work with like-minded people who will support, understand and appreciate you like a second family.

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    Being able to honor your personal values in your work means you will still be able to sleep at night when you have to tread where others fear to, and make extremely difficult decisions others would never ever dream of having to make as you forge success in your career.

    4. Be Clear on Your Own Definition of What Having a Successful Career Means for You

    It’s tempting to get caught up in the ideals and projections of success expressed by those we love, admire and respect. Underneath, we all want on some level to belong to a successful club of some sort.

    With research reporting how much money we feel we need to be truly happy,[3] many of us try to subscribe to the notion that having the car of our dreams or taking a European holiday annually will not bring us happiness. The truth, however, for many of us is these tangible rewards are congratulatory reminders of our persistent efforts to chase our career pursuits.

    If those are things you aspire to, don’t let anyone steal your desire and want to feel deserving of these things, that those are some parameters by which you define your career success.

    Despite consistently being the top revenue earner for two years running, you may not wish to become the sales manager. You may not wish to step out into running your own business even though you consistently excel as an employee, delighting clients and repeatedly receiving glowing testimonials.

    Your definition of career success might be enjoying the predictability of a regular workplace routine. You get to leave – without feeling guilty – at the same time each day, love the people you work with and get to spend a good, uninterrupted amount of work-stress free quality time with your family. That picture is also blissful job satisfaction and complete career success.

    5. Identify the Sorts of Challenges and Problems You Want to Learn to Overcome

    Standard advice you might receive from a career coach might be to look for opportunities where you get to capitalize on exercising your strengths and career-related activities you enjoy.

    However, to become a success at anything involves improvement. To excel at anything often involves stepping outside boundaries and comfort zones where others wouldn’t. This means dedicating focus and attention to things you’re not so good at and things you don’t like.

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    Here’s where working with a coach can be particularly helpful. Map out the experiences that were unsavory in your working history. Were there challenges you opted out of, projects you failed at or toxic relationships that blasted your sense of purpose and self-worth into oblivion? It’s within these experiences that you might just find the most valuable lessons and guiding lights for your trajectory to achieve greater job satisfaction.

    If your natural leadership style is to be a collaborator, finding opportunities that require you to apply a more dictatorial style might be needed. Discussing a secondment or short-term project where you get to develop and test your skills can be a step further in earning contention to lead a larger project down the track.

    With several of the company’s boldest personality types penciled to roll out the operation, you’ll not only develop skills that earn your right to throw your hat in the ring; those key players have an opportunity to see your competence. You can then work on building relationships with those stakeholders before you need to hit the ground running should you win the lead.

    Greater job satisfaction comes with planning and choosing the lessons and opportunities you want to learn, not desperately flailing, floundering and hoping for the best.

    6. Keep Reviewing Your Goal Posts and Be Amenable to Change

    The word ‘career’ is indicative of a longer-term pathway of change, growth and development. The journey is dynamic.

    You will accumulate new skills and let those you no longer need, become rusty. Your intrigue will be stimulated by new experiences, knowledge and people you meet. Your thinking will continue to expand, not shrink. As a result, your goalposts are likely to change.

    A major part of enjoying a successful career is not just setting goals effectively, but regularly reviewing and readjusting them where necessary. However, moving the posts or the target still needs to take place by applying the same processes by which you originally created them. The strength of your emotional connection to those revised goals needs to be the same, if not stronger.

    By asking yourself the following questions, you can assure your developmental and growth trajectory is still on course:

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    • Would working toward these goals still allow me to honor my personal values, principles and ethics at the same capacity if not greater?
    • Do the activities I need to undertake to meet these goals honor my highest priorities?
    • Does this feel right for me and those who are nearest and dearest to me?
    • Is this aligned with my passion?
    • Is chasing this goal a right step for me to take now or is this a detour or distraction which could delay my greater plan?

    Each of your career goals should have different review periods. Whatever you do, stick to the review schedule you set. It will not only keep you focused but help you see your progress (or lack thereof) and allow you to timely re-chart your course before you get too far down the track. You don’t want to waste time haphazardly heading in the wrong direction.

    7. Be Prepared to Let Go

    It can be unfathomable to us as to why others risk leaping into the unknown when everything truly appears fine and dandy in the career realm. The company provided stability, recognition, financial success, interesting projects and the promise of a promotion…what was wrong? Why now jump sideways to run a café or train in another field altogether?

    Nothing may have been wrong at all. It was all going right. It was just the end of a chapter. Perhaps the yearning for the next step is actually taking a different trajectory entirely. You may want to simply experience a different rhythm. Perhaps it’s time to pursue a different passion.

    If you have leaped from employee-land to freelancing or have made the reverse-jump (or you know someone who has), you will have quickly grown a different appreciation for pros and cons each work lifestyle brings. Working for yourself can bring the greater realization of your creativity, whether or not it can be monetized to earn you a living.

    When your customers are buying you or a product you designed and fashioned, there is a direct level of appreciation and gratitude that can elevate your confidence in the way you have never experienced as an employee, regardless of your rank.

    Similarly, there are times where we need to recognize our business ventures were adventures, not long-term life-changing empires. There are times we need to recognize that time is what provides the clearest limitation of how long we persist for in such pursuits.

    We have to recognize the absence of enough financial, mental, emotional and physical breadcrumbs that tells us we’re no longer meant to push in that direction. At least, not for the present time.

    The Bottom Line

    Above all, keep the momentum. As long as you remain committed to pursuing work opportunities that allow you to honor your highest priorities, the truth of who you are and what you stand for, achieving ultimate job satisfaction and a successful career will never be too far away.

    More Resources to Help Advance Your Career

    Featured photo credit: Csaba Balazs via unsplash.com

    Reference

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