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14 Awesome Hacks Shared By A Startup CEO That Will Super Boost Your Productivity

14 Awesome Hacks Shared By A Startup CEO That Will Super Boost Your Productivity

Want to super boost your productivity? Read on to find out what Matt DeCelles, the co-founder/partner of William Painter, has shared his favorite productivity hacks and tools in Quora.

First off, it’s a 2 step process – prioritization stage and execution stage.

Prioritization Stage

1. Prioritize the most important tasks

Prioritize the most important tasks you need to get done (often the one you are putting off). It is critical to set objectives before working. A great book on this topic is Eat That Frog.

2. Use Trello.com to map out all of the tasks of the company

This gives a macro view of what’s going on and allows you to delegate tasks that may better be completed by another person. AgileZen.comAsana.com and kanbanflow.com are other great Task Management options. Delegation can be one of your best productivity tools!

trello

    3. Delegate (LIKE A BOSS)

    When you enjoy what you do, you will find yourself being much more productive. If you really suck at doing something, chances are there is someone out there that can probably do it for less than $5/hr. Check out Fiverr.comUpwork and ODesk.com etc etc… Slow clap it out for globalization.

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    fiverr

      4. Use a whiteboard to list all of the tasks that are yours to accomplish

      After looking at Trello and delegating out tasks, I put mine on a white board. Usually this is 10-15 tasks.

      *You could also use Evernote or a notepad, but i prefer the whiteboard.

      whiteboard

        5. Use a post-it note to record the 3 most important things

        Use a post-it note to record the 3 most important things you can do on that particular day. The post-it note is beneficial because it has a size constraint.

        post it

          Okay now it comes the fun part.

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          Execution Stage

          6. Set iPhone in Do Not Disturb Mode

          It’s a new feature in iOS 6 that turns off vibrate and all sounds.

          iphone

            6.5 Set Mac in Do Not Disturb Mode (OSX Mountain Lion)

            Pull out the Notification Center on the Mac and scroll up. There is a hidden switch that allows you to shut off Alerts and Banners.

            *Notifications resume automatically the next day in case you forget to turn it back on.

            alert

              7. Remove temptations with Self Control

              SelfControl is a tool that blocks websites you have listed as distracting for a set period of time. Once you set it, there is no way to shut it off until the time expires…which makes you feel like an addict going through withdrawals.  As you notice distractions, be sure to add them to your blacklist.

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              selfcontrol1
                self control

                  8. Use Rescue Time to track your productivity

                  Install RescueTime on your computer and it measures how much time you spend doing particular activities. You then designate whether those activities are productive or not.  It also emails you with a productivity summary for the week.  This will show how much time you spend on Facebook or Youtube per week.

                  *This only needs to be installed once.

                  rescue time

                    9. Use Toggl to track individual task time

                    Start a task and start the timer. It’s shocking to look back on your day and see that it took 10 minutes to send one email etc.
                    *Note* I am not recommending using Toggl all day everyday as it requires too much work and dedication. Use it occasionally to get a picture of where your day goes, both online and offline. It will be eye opening…I promise.

                    toggl

                      10. Take a break when you are not being productive anymore

                      For me I have a really short attention span, and I notice a significant fall off in productivity after about an hour or so of work. Take a break. Go for a walk, do something else. etc…. then get back to work!

                      take a break

                        11. Listen to music

                        Not all music is the same when it comes to being productive. Try out different genres of music and see what works for you. *For me I like music with very few lyrics and has a repetitive beat that gets me almost in a productive trance.

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                        music

                          12. Use VIP Inbox on iOS 6

                          Set up your VIPs (be very selective) and only check those emails. Batch the rest.

                          mailbox

                            13. Batch Your Email (When people are unlikely to respond right away)

                            Email is one of the biggest time wasters. Stay away unless it is absolutely critical to your previously set objectives.

                            Remember that the more emails you send throughout the day, the more you receive. It’s a vicious cycle. 

                            *I batch emails at night or early in the morning when people are less likely to respond right away. It is amazing how fast you can blow through a few hundred emails when you are not replying to instant responses and can move on to other tasks.

                            cycle

                              14. Add “sent from my iPhone” to all email accounts signatures.

                              This way people don’t get upset with you for keeping your emails brief and getting right to the point.

                              sent from iphone

                                Featured photo credit: Businessman adjusting his tie – closeup shot via shutterstock.com

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                                Anna Chui

                                Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the editor of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

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                                1 How to Set Stretch Goals and Keep Your Team Motivated 2 How Self Care Can Help You Live Your Best Life 3 How to Develop Mental Toughness to Help You Stay Strong 4 How to Calm Down When You’re Stressed and Anxious 5 How to Reinvent Yourself And Redefine Your Future

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                                Last Updated on April 23, 2019

                                How to Set Stretch Goals and Keep Your Team Motivated

                                How to Set Stretch Goals and Keep Your Team Motivated

                                Stretch goals are a lot like physical fitness. When you adopt a physical sport such as running, continual practice leads to increased stamina, growth and progress.

                                While commitment to the sport improves performance, true growth happens when you are stretched beyond your comfort zone. I know this from personal experience.

                                For years, I was an avid runner. I ran with a variety of running groups in the Washington, D.C., area and in Columbus, Ohio, where I lived prior to moving to the nation’s capital in 2011.

                                While I was initially fearful about slacking off on my exercise habit when I moved to D.C., running enthusiasts in the area provided continual motivation, inspiring me to lace up my shoes day after day. Much to my surprise, many of the area’s running stores (including Pacers and Potomac River Running) boasted running groups that met in the mornings and evenings. So, it was relatively easy for a newcomer like me to connect with like-minded peers.

                                I was never a particularly fast runner, but I enjoyed the afterglow of the sport: being completely drained but feeling a sense of accomplishment; setting and reaching goals; buying and wearing out new tennis shoes. The sound of throngs of feet pounding the pavement in semi-unison is still enough to bring tears to my eyes. Yes, I sometimes tear up at the start of races.

                                Of all the groups I ran with, the Pacers Store group that met on Monday nights in Logan Circle boasted the fastest runners. I met up with the group week after week only to be the slowest runner. It was difficult to muster the courage to get up every week and meet the group knowing what was waiting for me: sweating and watching the backs of fellow runners.

                                Each time I joined the group, I was stretching myself without even realizing it. Instead of feeling like I was transitioning into a better running, for a long time I felt I was torturing myself.

                                Then something remarkable happened. I went for a run with a different set of runners and noticed my time had improved. I was running at a faster pace and doing so with ease. What was once uncomfortable for me I now handled with ease.

                                The reason I was becoming a better runner was because I was taking myself out of my comfort zone and challenging myself physically and mentally. This example illustrates the process of growth.

                                Fortunately, we can create situations that stretch us in our personal and professional lives.

                                What Is a Stretch Goal?

                                A stretch goal – as authors Sim B. Sitkin, C. Chet Miller and Kelly E. See detail an article “The Stretch Goal Paradox” in Harvard Business Review[1] – is something that is extremely difficult and novel. It is something that not everyone does, and it’s sometimes considered impossible.

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                                In general, you establish stretch goals by doing things that are difficult or temporarily challenging.

                                For instance, when I was first promoted to a senior communications management role, I knew I needed to beef up my relationships with media personalities. I set a goal to once a month book a day of media interviews in New York City – which is home to many media outlets, including SiriusXM radio, CNN, NBC News, HuffPost, VIBE.

                                This was a huge goal because it meant not only identifying the right people to meet with but convincing them to meet with me and my team. While I didn’t end up meeting the goal of doing a full day of media interviews in New York City, I met more people than I would have met had I not established the goal and instead stayed in the comfort of my D.C. office.

                                It is important to note that just because you establish a stretch goal doesn’t mean you’ll achieve the goal each time. However, the process of trying is guaranteed to provide some level of growth.

                                The Importance of Creating Stretch Goals

                                The beginning of the year is a perfect time to assess where you are excelling and where there is room for you to grow. I typically start the year by creating a yearlong strategic plan for myself.

                                I think about the things that are necessary to do and things that would be cool to do. I assess the people I should know and think through how to meet them. Then I ask myself if the goals are realistic and what would need to happen for me to achieve them.

                                Over time, I have learned that there are five things I can do to set stretch goals:

                                1. Get Outside of Your Head

                                If I exist within the confines of my imagination, I imperil my own growth and creativity.

                                If I examine my accomplishments and celebrate them in isolation of others’ accomplishments, my vantage point is limited.

                                I want to be comfortable with what I accomplish, but I also want to be motivated by watching others. In some respects, stretching is about expanding your network of friends, associates and mentors. These are the people who will propel or slow your growth and development.

                                Since two are better than one, I always value being able to share my progress with others, seek feedback and then map a plan for success.

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                                2. Focus on a Couple Areas at a Time

                                When setting goals, it is important to focus on a couple of areas at a time. Most of us are only able to focus on a few things at a time, and if you feel you are unable to tackle all that is before you, you may simply disengage.

                                I see this in so many areas of life:

                                When people get in debt, if they believe the debt is insurmountable, they refuse to look at incoming bills for fear of facing down the debt. Unfortunately, many businesses go awry when setting stretch goals.

                                In “The Stretch Goal Paradox,” Sitkin, Miller and See note:

                                “Our research suggests that though the use of stretch goals is quite common, successful use is not. And many executives set far too many stretch goals. In the past five years, for example, Tesla failed to meet more than 20 of founder Elon Musk’s ambitious projections and missed half of them by nearly a year, according to the Wall Street Journal.”

                                Goal-setting is like a marathon, not a sprint. It doesn’t all need to happen at the same time, and pacing is extremely important if you want to get to the finish line. It is better to focus on a couple goals at a time, master them and then move on to the next thing.

                                3. Set Aside Time Each Year to Focus on Goal-Setting

                                When I was a managing director for communications for the Advancement Project, I spent the first part of every year facilitating a communications planning meeting.

                                The planning meeting began with the team members assessing the goals the team had established in the preceding year, and whether those goals were realistic or not. If we failed to meet certain goals, we broke down why that happened. From there, we brainstormed about possibilities for the current year.

                                For instance, one year we set a goal of pitching and getting 24 opinion essays published. This was audacious because no one on the eight-person team had the luxury of focusing exclusively on editing and pitching opinion essays to publications around the world. We would need to focus on pitching in between the rest of our work.

                                We hit this goal within the first eight months of the year. Remarkably, in total, we ended up getting 40 opinion essays published that year, which was an indication that our original goal was too low. We upped the goal to 41 the next year, and amazingly, we hit 42 published opinion essays or guest columns.

                                From this experience, we not only learned what was feasible, we also learned the power of focus.

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                                When we focused as a team on getting the commentary on our issues out in the public domain, we were successful. The key in all of this is that there was a ton of discussion around which goal we’d pursue and why.

                                Equally important, as a manager, I didn’t set the goals alone; the team members and I established the goals collaboratively. This ensured buy-in from each individual.

                                4. Use the S.M.A.R.T. Goal Model to Set Realistic Goals

                                S.M.A.R.T.

                                is a synonym for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. For the sake of this article, the realistic portion of the acronym is most important.

                                While you want to set audacious goals, you want to ensure that they are realistic as well. No one is served by setting a goal that is impossible to accomplish.

                                Failing to meet goals can be demoralizing for teams, so it’s important to be sober-eyed about what is possible. Additionally, the purpose of setting goals is to advance and grow, not depress morale.

                                For instance, my team would have been discouraged had I begun the year asking it to pitch and place 40 opinion essays if we didn’t already have a track record of placing close to two dozen essays.

                                By using the S.M.A.R.T. formula, we were able to achieve all that we set out to do.

                                5. Break the Goal up into Small Digestible Parts

                                I am a recovering perfectionist. As a writer, being a perfectionist can be counterproductive because I can fail to start if I don’t see a clear pathway to victory.

                                The same is true with goal-setting. That’s why I join Lifehack’s fellow contributor Deb Knobelman, Ph.D., in noting that it is critically important to break goals into bite-sized chunks.

                                When I had a goal of doing daylong media meetings in New York City, I had to think through all the barriers to achieving that goal and all the steps required to meet the goal.

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                                One step was identifying which reporters, producers and hosts to engage. Another step was writing a pitch or meeting invitation that would capture their attention. Another step was thinking through the program areas I wanted to highlight and the new angles I could offer to different reporters.

                                Since reporters want to cover stories that no one else has written, I needed to come up with fresh angles for each of the reporters I was engaging. An additional step was thinking through who from my team I’d take with me to the various meetings.

                                I was clear that, as a talking head, as public relations reps are sometimes called, I needed the right spokesperson in order to land repeated meetings with different outlets.

                                A final step was thinking through what I needed to bring to each meeting and which reports, videos and testimonials would buttress our claims and be of interest to media figures.

                                As I walked through what was needed to bring my goal of doing daylong meetings to reality, I realized that not only was the idea within reach, but I was excited to tackle the challenge.

                                From that point until now, I have learned to break down goals into smaller parts and tackle the smaller parts on the path to knocking the goal out of the park.

                                The Bottom Line

                                These are my recommendations for setting stretch goals, and there are a ton of other resources to support you in the workplace and in your community.

                                For instance, LinkedIn’s Lynda.com platform has a wonderful suite of leadership development videos, including ones on establishing stretch goals. This is a paid resource but may be worth the investment if you lead a team or want to invest in tools for your own growth and development.

                                Featured photo credit: Avatar of user Isaac Smith Isaac Smith @isaacmsmith Isaac Smith via unsplash.com

                                Reference

                                [1] Harvard Business Review: The Stretch Goal Paradox

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