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Ask the Entrepreneurs: 21 Systems to Boost Business Productivity for Good

Ask the Entrepreneurs: 21 Systems to Boost Business Productivity for Good


    Ask The Entrepreneurs is a regular series where members of those involved in the Young Entrepreneur Council are asked a single question that aims to help Lifehack readers level up their own lives, whether in a area of management, communication, business or life in general.

    Here’s the question posed in this edition of Ask The Entrepreneurs:

    What productivity system can you not live without as an entrepreneur?

    1. Manage Projects With Asana

      Although Asana is a project management tool it doubles as a productivity system by making our team and clients more efficient every day. By tracking, assigning and follow up on individual tasks, Asana allows us to eliminate the noise and focus on what action has to be taken today.

      Kelly Azevedo, She’s Got Systems

      2. Share Files Through Dropbox

      Annie Wang

        This must-have app is installed on all our laptops, tablets, and phones. Since we’re often traveling or working remotely, Dropbox is absolutely essential in helping the whole team stay literally in sync. In addition, it makes updating and distributing decks that need to stay extremely up-to-date, like our Media Kit, very simple and efficient.

        Annie Wang, Her Campus Media

        3. Check It Off on Ta-da List

          Ta-da List is the simplest way that I’ve found to create and share a checklist of action items for our team. Team members claim the items that they are working on by checking them off. We have staff ranging from Palo Alto to Senegal (an eight-hour time difference), and Ta-da List keeps us on the same page.

          Allie Siarto, Loudpixel

          4. Producteev Keeps Up Productivity

            Producteev is a cross-platform productivity application. It works online, on Desktop and across mobile applications to help streamline your personal or corporate activities. Producteev is ideal for small teams and we use it extensively in my businesses.

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            Doreen Bloch, Poshly Inc.

            5. Keep Track of Tasks on Any.DO

              I organize my life around “to-dos” and without a doubt the best app to organize these tasks is Any.DO. It’s simple and beautiful, which makes it a pleasure to use on a daily basis.

              Ben Lang, EpicLaunch

              6. Track the Noteworthy on Evernote

                Without a doubt, Evernote. I keep all meeting notes, client info and personal ideas in one place, and am able to access anything and everything from any of my devices on the go. I’ve used it religiously for the past couple years, and can’t help but wonder, “What the heck did I do before Evernote?”

                Matt Cheuvront, Proof Branding

                7. Get It Back With RescueTime

                Jennifer Vargas

                  RescueTime is a great app that runs in the background on your computer. It graphs your activity and breaks it down onto a scale from “very distracting” to “very productive.” It helps me to find the leaks in my productivity so that I can address them and get the most out of my time.

                  Jennifer Vargas, Accompl.sh

                  8. Stop Guessing With Wunderlist

                    Wunderlist has become a wonder for me. Not only is it very easy to input all of your projects, your clients and their associated priorities, but the accessibility of it constantly syncing to all of your portable devices, such as your smartphone, tablet and computer. It is unrivaled and has made my life that much easier, whether in the office or on-the-go.

                    Steven Le Vine, grapevine pr

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                    9. Root Back to BasecampHQ

                    Roger Bryan

                      I’ve used a ton of others and even tried to have my own built, but I always come back to BasecampHQ for project management.

                      Roger Bryan, RCBryan & Associates

                      10. Keep an Eye Out With Trello

                      Patrick Curtis

                        Trello allows me to easily keep track of our major tasks and the stage of development on each. It’s a simple and intuitive interface is perfect for web development teams. Best of all, it’s free.

                        Patrick Curtis, WallStreetOasis.com

                        11. Money Matters on Freshbooks

                        Susan Strayer

                          Client perception is important when you’re small. They need to see you have your act together, especially on the basics. If you can’t get that right, how can you handle their business? Invoicing and expensing with Freshbooks makes it easy for me to look good and work efficiently.

                          Susan Strayer, Exaqueo

                          12. Day-to-Day on Google Calendar

                          Bhavin Parikh

                            Without Google Calendar I’d never get anything done. Since the calendar is web-based, I always have access to it whether it’s on my laptop, iPad, or smartphone. I also use the calendar to block off times when I want to focus on a task for several hours straight.

                            Bhavin Parikh, Magoosh, Inc.

                            13. Capture Leads on Instant Customer

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                            Michael Margolis

                              This CRM system allows me to capture leads when public speaking or networking. From the audience, people can SMS to opt-in to my email list and special offer. Or they can give me a business card, and minutes after I scan it in, it sends them a series of pre-programmed emails with follow-up resources, and a promo offer.

                              Michael Margolis, Get Storied

                              14. Top the To-Do on Google Tasks

                              Eric Bahn

                                I’m a very process-oriented person and I need to have a list of things to accomplish every day. Google Tasks, which is part of your Gmail, is a free task-list service. I update my tasks constantly and it keeps me focused each day.

                                Eric Bahn, Beat The GMAT

                                15. Mix Business With Pleasure on Yammer

                                Natalie MacNeil

                                  Yammer keeps my whole team organized, on track, and in-the-know on all important communication for a particular project. It’s where we share files, discuss goals, and most importantly, where my virtual team has an opportunity to build real relationships with their peers.

                                  Natalie MacNeilShe Takes on the World

                                  16. Stay Up-to-Date Through Glasscubes

                                  Heather Huhman

                                    My team and I use Glasscubes on a daily basis for managing documents, keeping track of tasks and organizing information. It’s great because it’s really cut down on the amount of emails we were sending back and forth — and helps keep track of content and its status.

                                    Heather Huhman, Come Recommended

                                    17. Keep It Clear

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                                    Derek Shanahan

                                      I’m finding a nice balance with Clear, a new iPhone app that’s gotten tons of attention because of the way the designers rethought the touch screen user interface. Underneath, it’s a very basic to-do system, but I’ve never been big on bells and whistles when it comes to productivity. The truly incredible UI is the kicker, and seems to fit well with how I prioritize in my head, so it’s stuck!

                                      Derek Shanahan, Foodtree

                                      18. Just Do It With Do.com

                                      Lucas Sommer

                                        I use Do.com to manage all of my various business projects. It helps me track who is doing what and what is left to be done on any given project. Track time, billable hours, share files, etc. — This site can do it all for free. When I discovered it, I knew I would never go back to emails or Excel for managing projects.

                                        Lucas Sommer, Audimated

                                        19. Hire a Remote Assistant

                                        Garrett Neiman

                                          As a startup social entrepreneur, there is absolutely no way that I could afford a traditional executive assistant. Through YourRemoteAssistant.com, I have a full-time assistant for just $1,099 per month. This serve has enabled me to delegate in an entirely different way at a cost that my organization can afford.

                                          Garrett Neiman, CollegeSpring

                                          20. Pomodoro Technique for Top Productivity

                                          Brenton Gieser

                                            Apps and project management tools can help you manage and prioritize tasks effectively, but when it comes to getting stuff done, use the Pomodoro Technique. Dedicate laser focus to one and only one task for 25 minutes — make sure to use a timer! Once the timer goes off, take a 5-minute break. I find that when I use this technique, I tend to not get distracted by small urgent things.

                                            Brenton Gieser, JoynIn

                                            21. Teux Deux

                                              Teux Deux is perfect for simple to-do lists and I love the accompanying iPhone app!

                                              Erin Blaskie, BSETC

                                              (Photo credit: Steve Jurvetson via Flickr – CC BY 2.0)

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                                              Last Updated on February 17, 2021

                                              50 Ways to Increase Productivity and Achieve More in Less Time

                                              50 Ways to Increase Productivity and Achieve More in Less Time

                                              If you feel like you don’t have enough time to do everything you want to do, maybe it’s time to check-in with your time management skills.

                                              No one is born to be very good at time management, so that’s okay if you think you’re bad in it. But everyone can learn to boost their productivity and achieve more!

                                              Here are 50 ways to increase productivity and add hours to your day.

                                              1. Set a Timer

                                              Estimate the time you need to tackle different tasks and set a timer for each of your tasks. How you go about this is up to you as there are many different ways. There is the Pomodoro technique where you focus on a task for 25 minutes followed by a five minute break afterwards.

                                              In the event that you have a task that will take much longer than that, you can consider one of the many timer-based apps. One that comes to mind is Clockify. It’s used for freelancers and entrepreneurs alike, however it’s a good way to be setting yourself a timer. It provides reports and you can serve as a project manager of sorts too. Best of all, it’s free.

                                              2. Eliminate All Distractions

                                              Distractions include the phone, email notifications and having multiple web browsers open on the desktop. Just as it’s important to be organized offline, it’s key to have things organized online as well. This free guide End Distractions And Find Your Focus is a good tool to help you. With this guide, you’ll learn how to get rid of distractions and boost productivity. Grab your free guide here.

                                              You can also learn more on how to get rid of all distractions in this guide: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

                                              3. Listen to Music That Boosts Productivity

                                              Distractions should be avoided, but sometimes a bit of music in the background can help you focus.

                                              Of course, it doesn’t need to be heavy rock music, but a bit of Beethoven may do you some good.

                                              Here’s a complete guide to help you pick the right music for better productivity: How To Maximize Your Productivity With Music: A Complete Guide

                                              4. Find Meaning in What You Do (And Love What You Do)

                                              Enjoying what you do is the ultimate way to increase your productivity.

                                              If you aren’t sure what you love doing yet, don’t worry. Leo Babauta has some unique ways to help you: How to Find Your Passion

                                              5. Prioritize your tasks ahead of time.

                                              By listing your tasks in order of importance, you can make sure that you finish all of your most important tasks during the day.

                                              Learn a unique technique to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster.

                                              6. Batch Similar Tasks into a Single Batch.

                                              Tasks like blog writing, phone calls, email and errands can be grouped into a single batch. You will save time by completing similar tasks in one session. One way to help you with organizing all of those things is through the app Todoist. It’s an easy and simple way for you to plan out your day, set reminders, and group all of your most important tasks in a convenient spot.

                                              7. Complete Your Most Dreaded Tasks First Thing in the Morning.

                                              Whichever activity you are dreading the most is probably the one you need to complete first thing in the morning.

                                              Many people tend to check emails in the morning because after checking a list of emails, they feel fulfilled. But that’s just an illusion of having achieved more.

                                              Doing simple tasks like checking emails first in the morning is bad for you. Instead, do the difficult tasks because you have more energy in the morning to tackle them!

                                              8. Reward Yourself for Finishing a Big Task

                                              To stay motivated for whatever you do, reward yourself every now and then.

                                              Keep track of your small wins and milestones and celebrate them. So whenever you struggle about your progress, you see how far you’ve come!

                                              Find out more about this 2-Step Approach to Self-Motivation: Track Small Wins and Reward Yourself.

                                              9. Don’t Multitask

                                              Research has shown that multitasking is not productive. If you think you can multitask, think again.

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                                              For optimum productivity, focus on one thing at a time.

                                              10. Step Away from the Computer

                                              The Internet has become one of the number one distraction. To increase your productivity, try to do as much of your work offline as possible.

                                              I do this a lot when I try to brainstom new ideas and have found it to be very beneficial to simply unplug.

                                              11. Use Focus Tools

                                              Make good use of apps and technology to help you remove distractions.

                                              Here’re 18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools to help you stay focused. This way, you’re not distracted by the web, e-mail, or IM.

                                              Also, join the free Fast-Track Class – Overcoming Distraction, and you’ll learn the one simple method to work even when you’re surrounded by distractions. Join the free session now!

                                              12. Just Start

                                              Often times, starting is the hardest part. People tend to wait for the perfect time with perfect condition to start. But there’s no perfect condition.

                                              Once you get going, you will quickly get into a rhythm that could last for hours.

                                              13. Find out Your Productive Hours

                                              Everyone has a certain time of the day in which they are more productive than others. For me, it’s the morning.

                                              Find out when your prime time is for productivity and optimize your work schedule accordingly.

                                              14. Keep a Notebook and Pen on Hand at All Times

                                              This way, you can write down your thoughts, to-dos and ideas at any time. The key is to get everything out of your head and onto paper. Your subconscious mind won’t be reminding you about it every other second. Another consideration is getting the app Evernote. Not only does this save you on ink and paper, Evernote is a convenient place for you to jot down notes and thoughts and then share them with the team. In certain circumstances, this can prove useful if you’re the type of person that has a lot of ideas that you want to share.

                                              15. Write a Blog to Chronicle Your Own Personal Development and Achievements

                                              The blog keeps you accountable and always working towards self improvement and personal growth.

                                              When you write down all the small achievements you’ve been having, you’re also more motivated to move forward.

                                              And you know what, this is how I started Lifehack too! What also helped me in starting Lifehack is WordPress, which allows people to set up a website for free. WordPress has simplified a lot of the process of building a site to the point that virtually anyone can build a website now.

                                              16. Write out a To-Do-List Each Day

                                              I like to plan my day the night before. This way, I can get started on my most important tasks as soon as I wake up. The Full Life Planner is a nice tool to help you organize your days and get things that matter done. Check out the planner here and start to plan your day ahead easily!

                                              Make sure you don’t make any of these common to-do-list mistakes!

                                              17. Write Your Most Important Tasks and To-Dos on a Calendar.

                                              The key to good time management is knowing where to be and what to be doing there at any given time. Effective calendar management goes hand in hand with good task list management.

                                              Learn here How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space.

                                              18. Reflect on Your Productivity Constantly

                                              As you go throughout your day, repeatedly ask yourself:

                                              “Am I currently making the best possible use of my time?”

                                              This one simple question can be an excellent boost to your productivity.

                                              19. Get up Early Before Anyone Else

                                              I know it could be difficult for some to wake up early in the morning but nothing beats a quiet house!

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                                              Here’s How to Start Your Day at 5:00 AM and some Simple Things Early Risers Do to make waking up early easier.

                                              20. Get Plenty of Sleep

                                              When you work online, sleep can become a long lost memory. However, it’s important to get plenty of sleep so that your working hours can be as productive as possible.

                                              Try out this night routine which I highly recommend for productivity: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide: Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

                                              21. Exercise

                                              Research has shown that midday exercise boosts productivity and morale in the workplace.

                                              Take a short walk at lunch or do some simple stretches during your break to maximize your productivity.

                                              Here I have some exercises recommendations for you:

                                              22. Outsource as Much as Possible

                                              If you want to achieve more in less time, learn to delegate or outsource work. Here are just a few of the companies that will help you outsource your everyday tasks:

                                              Also, read this guide to learn how to delegate effectively: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

                                              23. Set Some Exciting Goals

                                              Without worthy goals, you will never be motivated to get things done.

                                              Set goals that are challenging and achievable. The best goal setting framework is a SMART goal. That said, there are other tools that can help you out as well. For example, The Dreamers’ Guide To Reaching Your Goal is a great guide to help you set and reach goals effectively. Grab your free guide and learn how to make your goals happen this year!

                                              24. Tell Other People About Your Goals

                                              When you tell others about your goals, you will instantly be held accountable.

                                              25. Listen to Podcasts

                                              Listen to educational podcasts or audio books while you’re driving to work, cleaning the house, exercising, or cooking dinner.

                                              Audio learning has the power to add hours to your day. Not to mention, your cranium is sure to thank you for it.

                                              Some recommendations for you: 11 Podcasts To Inspire Yourself

                                              26. Read David Allen’s best-selling book Getting Things Done

                                              This is one of the most important productivity books you will ever read. Read it, apply the tips in your daily lives and get more things done.

                                              Here’re more great books about productivity too: 35 Books on Productivity and Organizational Skills for an Effective Life

                                              27. Learn to Speed Read

                                              When you can read faster, you will read and learn more! Check out these 10 Ways to Increase Your Reading Speed.

                                              You can also make use of the app OutRead to help speed up your reading speed!

                                              28. Learn to Skip When You Read

                                              When you’re reading a book, just read the parts that you need and skip the rest. But you have to read with a purpose.

                                              Learn how to make it work here: How to Read 10X Faster and Retain More

                                              29. Focus on Result-Oriented Activities

                                              Pareto’s law (also known as the 80 20 rule) states that 80% of the outputs result from 20% of the inputs. This means that 20% of our actions result in 80% of the results.

                                              We must find the 20% that is creating the 80% of our desired outcomes and focus solely on those activities.

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                                              30. Take a Break

                                              You can’t always be working at optimum productivity. Instead, you should shoot for working in short bursts at your most productive times.

                                              31. Start a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule

                                              What is polyphasic sleep?

                                              Polyphasic sleep is a sleep pattern specification intended to compress sleep time to 2-5 hours daily.[1] This is achieved by spreading out sleep into short (around 20-45 minute) naps throughout the day. This allows for more waking hours with relatively high alertness.

                                              While you can learn more about it here, you’re recommended to take some naps during the day to recharge your energy too.

                                              32. Learn to Say “No”.

                                              We can’t do everything and therefore we must learn when to say no in order to save our sanity.

                                              Learn the Gentle Art of Saying No from Leo Babauta.

                                              33. Go on an Information Diet

                                              Most of the world lives on information overload. We must eliminate mindless Internet surfing.

                                              Stop reading three different newspapers a day and checking your RSS feeds multiple times a day. Otherwise, you’ll never get anything done.

                                              The key is to limit yourself only to information that you can immediately take action on. Here’re some simple tips you can try: 10 Simple Productivity Tricks To Manage Overloaded Information

                                              34. Organize Your Office

                                              The piles of paper around your desk can be a huge barrier on your productivity. Optimize your time by organizing your office, setting up a system and dumping the junk.

                                              Check out these 21 Tips to Organize Your Office and Get More Done and 20 Easy Home Office Organization Ideas to Boost Your Productivity.

                                              35. Find a Mentor

                                              By modeling after those who have already achieved success, you will save yourself a lot of time and energy.

                                              A good mentor is hard to find, so here’s a guide to help you: What to Look for in a Mentor

                                              36. Learn Keyboard Shortcuts

                                              With technology’s help, you can double your work efficiency. Even better, you learn all the shortcuts when using technology, for example keyboard shortcuts.

                                              When you use keyboard shortcut, you gain 64 hours every year!

                                              Not sure what shortcuts to lear? Check out these 22 Tricks That Can Make Anyone A Keyboard Ninja.

                                              Besides learning the shortcuts, you can also create keyboard shortcuts with AutoHotKey.

                                              37. Improve Your Typing Speed to Save Time

                                              Do you know you can save 21 days per year just by typing fast?

                                              You don’t really need to take some serious courses to type faster, try these typing games online:

                                              38. Work from Home and Avoid the Daily Commute

                                              If your job is a flexible one, consider working from home. This saves you the commute time and you’ll find yourself more energetic throughout the day as you have saved the long ride.

                                              Take a look at these tips to help you stay productive while working from home:

                                              How to Work from Home and Stay Ultra-Productive

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                                              39. Get Rid of Time Wasters

                                              Common time wasters include Instant Messenger, video games, Flickr, checking your stats 10 times a day, television and extraneous Internet surfing.

                                              Don’t rely on your willpower, make use of some of these useful tools to help you stay focus: 10 Online Apps for Better Focus

                                              40. Plan Your Meals in Advance

                                              Plan out all of your meals a week ahead and make your grocery list accordingly. This allows you to focus on the necessary – saving you time and money. You can also save yourself even more time through a wide variety of apps. One app that I find helpful is Mealime. It’s an app that provides you with a wide selection of recipes and also a convenient spot for your grocery list as well.

                                              Considering the fact that over 4 million users have this app, it goes to show that there is a good selection of meal plans that you can follow and that the app is friendly to use.

                                              41. Cook Your Meals in Bulk

                                              When you cook your meals in bulk, you will have plenty of leftovers. This can avoid having to cook everyday.

                                              Find out more about how to make cooking in bulk works: Once a Month Cooking: Productivity Hack or Overrated Time Suck?

                                              42. Protect Yourself from Unnecessary Phone Time with Caller ID

                                              The minutes you spend on picking up unnecessary phone calls are time wasted. You can prevent that from happening.

                                              Check out this detailed guide how you can deal with those unnecessary phone calls: How To Lose the Useless Items that Weigh Down Your Day – Cellphone Calls

                                              43. Take Shorter Showers

                                              This one may sound silly but it’s actually something I struggle with. I spend up to 30 minutes in the shower. Think of the time I could save simply by speeding up a bit.

                                              44. Save the Trips to Bank by Taking Direct Deposit

                                              Many employers now offer direct deposit. If yours does, then be sure and take advantage of it and save yourself from a number of trips to the bank.

                                              45. Auto Pay Your Bills

                                              How many times have you been worried about whether you missed the bills deadline?

                                              Auto paying your bills will save you time and eliminate late fees and increased interest rates.

                                              46. Shop Online

                                              Whenever possible, avoid going to the store. When you shop online, you can be more focus about what you’re getting.

                                              47. Speed up your Internet With a Broadband Connection

                                              Many people are aware of the slow speed of internet but aren’t doing anything about it. In fact, this is the number one Internet time-saver!

                                              If you must use dial-up, then you can use accelerators like Propel and SlipStream to double or even triple your speed.

                                              48. Keep up the Speed of Your Computer

                                              If you’re a Windows user, use Windows hibernation feature to avoid the slowdown of exiting and restarting Windows.

                                              Or maybe, consider switching to Mac as there’re plenty of Advantages You Probably Don’t Know About Switching To Mac From PC.

                                              49. Turn off the TV

                                              The average American watches more than 4 hours of television every day. Over a 65-year life, that’s 9 years glued to the tube.

                                              For better health and productivity, turn off the TV. Here’re 11 more reasons to tell you to stop watching TV so often.

                                              Turn off the TV and you are sure to get more out of life.

                                              50. Use a Tivo or DVR

                                              This can help you cut an hour-long television show down to just 40 minutes. You can save time while not missing the fun.

                                              So, here’s the ultimate list of techniques you should learn to boost productivity. Pick the techniques that work for you and make them your daily habits. As time goes, you’ll find yourself being a lot more productive.

                                              More Time Management Tips

                                              Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

                                              Reference

                                              [1] Medical News Today: What is biphasic and polyphasic sleep?

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