These entrepreneurs have found that with a few simple tricks, they can accomplish the same amount of work in much less time.
Q. What’s the smartest thing you’ve done in the last six months to improve your overall productivity?
I am not a morning person — but after returning to the U.S. from Europe with jet lag, I was shocked at how much I could get done in the morning with an extra hour or so. Now I get up, work out, read and plan for the day ahead. That extra hour to ease into the day means I am less rushed, stressed out and way more productive for the rest of the day.
– Laura Pepper Wu, 30 Day Books
Keeping my inbox under control ensures I reply to all pertinent emails and stay on top of pressing issues without anything getting lost in the shuffle. At least one day a week I make sure to block out time to devote to emails, and with folders and programs such as Boomerang, it’s easier than ever.
– Alexis Wolfer, The Beauty Bean
It’s difficult to say “no,” and I think it can oftentimes be a bigger challenge for women. I’ve begun to learn to better set boundaries and say “no” to people and things that are not a good use of my time. I used to be afraid to say that, but now I know that if I don’t respect my time, no one will.
– Darrah Brustein, Finance Whiz Kids | Equitable Payments
Women have a lot of trouble asking for help. I finally decided to force myself to get a business support group. I have a personal board of directors made up of other business and entrepreneurial women. We meet once a month to help each other solve problems and share networks. It’s awesome.
– Vanessa Van Edwards, Science of People
As an entrepreneur I found myself constantly working — emailing while watching TV, reading at the gym or having conference calls while making dinner. I was getting work done, but in a drawn out and inefficient way. I now set aside “no-working hours” during certain weeknights and weekends, which forces me to work more effectively and efficiently during my active working hours.
– Kim Kaupe, ZinePak
It’s easy for entrepreneurs to let their companies dominate their lives 24/7. There is no “off” switch when you’re the one responsible for keeping a company afloat. To force myself to stop thinking about ZinePak for at least a few hours a day, I’ve started practicing a new hobby: songwriting! It’s an excellent creative outlet and gives me an opportunity to take a break and recharge my energy.
– Brittany Hodak, ZinePak
Bundling tasks has saved me a ton of time and helped me feel more in control of my time and activities. Instead of taking a call here and there and bouncing between task types, I bundle all calls, invoices, client emails, etc. It’s led to an increase in productivity and has virtually eliminated the mental lag of switching between task types.
– Leah Neaderthal, Start Somewhere
I took a digital sabbatical in the fall and spent the majority of my time offline for almost a month. It totally refocused my business, and I was very productive doing “bigger picture” work. Since then, I’ve been spending my mornings offline, and it has boosted my productivity to spend my mornings doing yoga, meditating, writing, planning and doing other things that bring me joy.
– Natalie MacNeil, She Takes on the World
As a mother, wife and business owner, it is very easy to become overwhelmed. In the past six months I have learned to let go of perfection. Don’t waste time stressing that your daughter went to school mismatched and who cares if the dishes need to sit in the sink one more day. By removing all the time spent stressing over the small things, I have more time to be productive.
– Laura Land, Accessory Export, LLC
I spend a lot of time on the phone with clients and co-workers, and I recently had an epiphany: there’s no real reason I need to be sitting at a desk staring at a laptop when I do this. Instead, I’ve been experimenting with taking certain types of calls while walking around the lakes near my home. It helps me fit a little more activity into my day and gives me a break from staring at the screen.
– Mary Ellen Slayter, Reputation Capital
Instead of just writing down a to-do list task, I started to include an estimated duration that it would take to complete the task. This small adjustment has made a big difference in how I plan my days. Rather than seeing the list of items I needed to complete, I’m now able to also get a picture of how quickly I can reasonably finish them.
– Doreen Bloch, Poshly Inc.
I’ve read so much on productivity, from “Inbox Zero” to “Getting Things Done.” Although the concepts work in theory, the practice is usually hard to maintain. I’ve loved Mailbox because it allows me to quickly move through emails and assign them to myself with one swipe in ways that prompt me to take specific actions or consume information when I need it.
– Tynesia Boyea-Robinson, Reliance Methods
I realized I was coming home exhausted and tuning out to television, which wasn’t relaxing as much as mind-numbing. We decided to cancel our cable as a test run, and it turned out to be the best decision. I now use that “off time” to do projects that relax me, but still let me feel productive. I focused on dance and painting and taught myself to crochet. The next day at work I felt better for it.
– Benish Shah, Before the Label