When you manage a startup, days can fill up fast. And as the company changes, so will your role as CEO. Your work responsibilities can shift from dealing directly with deliveries and customers, to dealing with investors and delegating tasks to hundreds of employees. No matter what your role entails, it’s important to be aware of the daily habits, work systems and mindsets that keep you productive, as well as the things that threaten your efficiency.
We asked a range of founders and CEOs from companies featured in the Entrepreneur360™ Performance Index their top method for staying productive. Whether it’s a strategy for conquering a long-term objective or a quick morning lifehack, check out whether their top productivity tips can help you stay on point and boost your own work rate.
Responses were edited for clarity and length.
1. Focus on achieving one thing at a time.
People always talk about multi-tasking, but if you want to get something done well, you need to give it your full attention. I typically bucket my day into tasks and I try not to move on to the next project until the first one is complete. Always see things through completion.
-- Olga Vidisheva, founder and CEO of Shoptiques, an e-commerce destination that sells goods from local boutiques.
2. Get up early.
I’m usually at the office by 6:30 or 7 every morning, and it’s amazing how much I can accomplish before the “9-to-5 hectic-ness” sets in.
-- Gautam Gupta, co-founder and CEO of NatureBox, a monthly subscription service that delivers healthy snacks.
3. Outline long and short-term goals to stay focused.
Each quarter, I write my five biggest objectives for both the company and myself, and I share them company-wide. Then, I start each Monday with an executive management meeting, where we focus on the biggest priorities for the week. Finally, each morning on my long commute, I put together a daily to-do list.
-- Matt Straz, founder and CEO of Namely, a cloud-based platform that helps businesses manage payroll, benefits and other HR needs.
4. Don’t micromanage.
Invest the time to hire smart, talented, and driven people, and then trust them to do their job. It’s a hard transition because in the early days of founding a company you know exactly what every single person is doing--most of the time they’re sitting right next to you. Contently is about to be 100 employees, and you just can’t know what everyone does, and if it’s done exactly how you’d want it. But that’s okay. As a manager, you need to focus on the long-term vision of the company and trust the team.
-- Joe Coleman, co-founder and CEO of Contently, a software business that helps companies build audiences by managing the workflow of premium marketing content at scale.
5. Constantly remind yourself of your mission.
This makes it easy to recognize what's important and drop what's not. That way, we can be more productive when it comes to taking on the tasks and challenges that really matter.
-- Jamie Siminoff, CEO and chief inventor of Ring, the maker of the Ring Video Doorbell which allows users to answer the door from anywhere via smartphone.
6. Have an outside hobby.
It's important to put as much effort into your work as possible, but you can't allow yourself to get burnt out. The first day you don't enjoy going to work is the first day you stop being productive to you and your company. For me, I try to make art as much as I can. I realized at one point that while I was working at an arts-minded company, I was rarely making art of my own. It’s therapeutic.
-- Aaron Firestein, co-founder and chief artist of BucketFeet, an online retailer that collaborates with artists to design and create footwear.
7. Be specific about the goal you’re trying to reach.
Don't do anything that isn't on that critical path, and continually assess what is on it, as it changes often based on market and other feedback.
-- Gabriel Weinberg, founder and CEO of DuckDuckGo, a search engine that focuses on user privacy and doesn’t track your searches.
8. Stay on top of scheduling.
As a working parent, I always keep my early mornings open because I never know if I must go to a parent-teacher conference or take a kid to the doctor. Our office uses a shared Google calendar and instant messaging, so that we can quickly adjust on the fly.
-- Jayson Rapaport, co-founder and co-owner of Birds Barbershop, a brand of salons that markets affordable, high-quality cuts and color services. The company recently launched a line of hair care products.
9. Choose five things to get done.
I put five things on my list at the beginning of each day that have to absolutely get done that day. When other things inevitably come up and distract me, I can look at my “Top 5” list and see if I need to reorganize my day's priorities.
-- David Simnick, co-founder and CEO of SoapBox Soaps, a maker of all natural, handmade soaps that donates soap products to children in need.
10. Stop and listen.
It’s surprising how much giving your full attention can boost your efficiency. Too often, we try to start solving problems before collecting all the available information. Also, whenever I speak to my team, I focus on being understood fully, rather than just saying the right thing. It's a small distinction that makes a big difference.
-- Ian Siegel, co-founder and CEO of ZipRecruiter, which lets employers post jobs to hundreds of job boards with one submission and sends job seekers postings via tailored email alerts.