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10 Best Productivity Hacks For Startup Founders

This post is also available in: esEspañol (Spanish)

Contxto – Time is every founder’s best friend and worst enemy at the same time. Always trying to make the most out of it, but still feeling like there’s just not enough.

Productivity is not only a buzzword for entrepreneurs, it’s a mantra.

As a startup founder, sometimes your employees and colleagues
think you have everything sorted out and that you have the answer
for everything when, in reality, you might be drowning in a sea of ​​bad
habits.

We want to share a couple of hacks in the hopes of helping you reduce the burden on your shoulders, and above all, help you check off your to-do list quickly and effectively.

Follow these productivity hacks and sooner than later, you’ll start to see how much more you can accomplish within you startup!

1. Start With the Most Difficult Task First Thing in the Morning

I always think to myself: Should I go to the gym in the evening or in the morning? Well, turns out there’s no generic answer.

Ask yourself, what’s the hardest task you need to do during the day? And then, start with that.

If your job is to eat a live frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.

Mark Twain

It’s that simple. Once the heavy duties are over, the rest of the day will feel like a walk in the park.

2. Work Effectively with the Pomodoro Technique

You might have used this technique while in high school or in college. The famous tool is widely used for studying effectively, and here’s why:

Our maximum attention span ranges from 20 to 45 minutes before it starts to decay. After that, we just need a short break to clear the mind and go back into it refreshed.

Make sure you check out Thomas Frank’s Pomodoro study guide. It’s basically a video of him studying for 25 minutes. Weirdly enough, it works.

Want to try it? Here’s how:

  1. Pick a task you need to get done
  2. Set a timer for 25 minutes
  3. Work! – Avoid peeking the stopwatch
  4. When the time is up, take a 5-minute break outside of your work area. Breathe, stretch, nap or whatever seems best to invest your 5 minutes.
  5. Every time you finish 4 work cycles, take a 20 minutes break.
  6. Repeat

3. Keep One Day a Week Completely Meeting Free

Meeting fever is a common thing in the startup world, especially when, as a founder you need to be aware of everything that is happening in your environment.

There are always topics to address, details to fine-tune and reports to present or read.


By giving yourself one meeting-free day per week, you reduce the context-switching that can slow down dedicated project work.


Elizabeth Saunders

Meetings can drastically reduce the productivity of your team.

Preparing for a meeting requires 10 to 15 minutes, and the same time is needed to resume your activities.

Keep one day a week free of meetings and you will be surprised by how effective and productive your day becomes.

4. Use Music To Your Advantage

Adding music to your workflow is a great idea. But as with any good
idea, you have to know how to execute it correctly in order to
maximize results.

There’s always this debate on what type of music is the best for concentration. Here are some “science-backed suggestions“:

  1. Calm and harmonious music (ie. Classic music).
  2. Meditation and environmental music (rain, sea, forest) are also great options.
  3. Work is always the priority, not jamming to NSYNC, so remember to keep it low volume and as background music.
  4. Avoid songs with lyrics.
  5. Select your playlist in advance to avoid getting distracted every 4 minutes. Remember that everything is oriented to improve your work performance.
  6. Create long playlists – at least 2 hours . Complement this with the Pomodoro technique and have the song pattern dictate your breaks.

That’s what science says in theory, but at the end of the day it comes down to what works best for you. It’s all trial and error.

Check out the playlist some of us at Contxto listen to produce the amazing content you’re reading right now.

5. Delegate

We get it, if you want things to be done right, you have to do them yourself.

It sounds easy to assign work to your subordinates, but one of the most common mistakes is trying to micromanage every single thing your team does.

Remember that you are all a team and everyone is rowing in the same direction, so try to loosen up and delegate some work to your subordinates. That way you will have more time to do activities that only you can do.

Your subordinates will notice their importance in the team, there will be someone who can meet those responsibilities in case you are not available, you will reinforce teamwork and, above all, you’re all going to grow together.

6. Mindfulness and Meditation

You know it, we know it, your day does not start or end in office hours. You have so many things to do that 24 hours a day doesn’t seem like much. This can create anxiety and worry, thus decreasing productive time.

That’s where mindfulness comes in, and it basically means to be present in the moment.

Don’t lose your concentration thinking about the things you need to
do or those you already took care of. Concentrate completely on
what you are doing right now.

Meditation really helps when trying to become more mindful. It takes the idea from concept to practice.

Try meditating at least 10 minutes a day, be it right after waking up of before sleep. Use tools like Headspace to get started.

7. Listen to Podcasts During your Commute

Again, time is precious. And if you’re already wasting a lot of time in traffic jams, or commuting to the office, it would be better to take advantage of it by learning something new.

Listening to podcasts is a great way to make better use of your time during your commute.

It really doesn’t matter if it’s a general business podcast or
something that specifically addresses a problem you’re experiencing in your startup, at the end of the day, it’s way better then listening to the same song over and over again.

Here are some of the podcasts we love:

1. Masters of Scale by Reid Hoffman

2. Equity by TechCrunch

3. Business Wars by Wondery

*Update: We just launched our latest podcast for Latin Amercain startup founders, Entre Titanes. Feel free to check it out – and send us your honest feedback – below.

8. Eat Healthily

This one is a no-brainer, yet so many people dismiss it or just skip it.

I’m not going to go into the whole cliché “you are what you eat” or “food is the fuel and you are a Ferrari”.

But they are true to some degree, you’re not going to perform at your best if you eat at your worst.

Be it Paleo, Keto, Vegetarian, Vegan, or whatever diet you’re into, try to keep it as balanced as possible.

Talk to your nutritionist, drink plenty of water, and please avoid soda and fast-food. Do I even have to mention these things to you?

9. Write Down Distracting Thoughts

Write it down, and let it go.

Forgetting distracting thoughts is way easier once you’ve written them down. If you have a huge to-do list and you’re trying to keep it all in your head while focusing on your priorities is nearly impossible.

Once you finish your current activity, you can go back to them and spend the time to determine if they are really worth it or not.

10. Develop a Killer Routine

Contrary to what many people think, having a routine is not an issue.

Having a bad routine is.

Starting your day with a proper morning ritual that sets up a positive mood for the rest of the day is something that certainly will give you an edge over your competitors.

Not only in the morning but throughout the day, keep your healthy habits in order to stay on top of your game. Stay hydrated, sleep well, eat well and exercise.

Going back to the cliché quotes, think of it like taking care of a car. If
you do not treat it well, it will eventually stop working.

Bonus Point: Choose Your Outfit The Night Before

Every night before you go to bed – you need to go to bed, by the way – make sure you choose your whole outfit for the next day. This saves enormous amounts of time and mental energy.

Yes, Mark Zuckerberg’s and Steve Jobs’ method of wearing the
same outfit every day saves time but unless you’re willing to wear a
black t-shirt, blue jeans, and white New-Balance sneakers every
single day, we suggest you follow our advice and just choose it the
night before.

Conclusion

Productivity is attainable.

A small bad habit can really affect productivity and time-management. If you’re not able – or willing – to do these all, try them one by one and see how they work for you.

Eventually, you’ll start to add more of these habits and without even realizing the sudden change, you’ll start to notice how much more energy you have, and how much you can accomplish within a few hours.

Do you know of any productivity hack that we might’ve missed? Let us know in the comments!

And remember, sharing is caring.

-CM

César Miramontes
Communications and digital media professional. Content creator at Contxto and proud producer of our podcast "Entre Titanes". I'm also the one with the Wi-Fi password here.

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