A few days ago one of our new employees asked me how I stay productive on a daily basis. Running a startup can be incredibly liberating. Startups are not 9-to-5 gigs, and typically require more energy balance than time management skills. Some love the autonomy, while others may loathe it. Either way, you still have to get the job done.
Here’s a quick digest on productivity tricks I use to keep things fresh and fuel me onward and upward throughout the week.
Get out there.
Whether it be a quick walk, jog, run, bike ride or trip to the gym, nothing makes me more productive than a good sweat. Studies show that exercising is proven to increase productivity, enhance your mood and even give you more energy throughout the day.
Sharpen the saw.
Take a 30-minute nap every day. I try to nap every day. By taking naps, I effectively break my work day into two full days. As Michael Hyatt explains in his article 5 Reasons You Should Take a Nap Everyday, “The National Sleep Foundation recommends a short nap of 20–30 minutes “for improved alertness and performance without leaving you feeling groggy or interfering with nighttime sleep.”
Manage your energy.
Create a schedule for yourself. I have found that I am most productive between 8:00 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. I try to work on the most important tasks during this time. I also have found that I am exhausted almost every day between 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m., so this is when I typically nap. Don’t forget to switch things up every once in a while. I personally enjoy writing everything down and crossing things out. It gives me peace of mind and a sense of satisfaction to know what I have accomplished.
Set attainable goals and deadlines.
Set goals by the day, week or month — as often as you think you need to. Studies have shown that setting goals and making progress towards them directly correlates with improvement in well-being, satisfaction and happiness. Measure your progress and take comfort knowing that you are getting things done! Use team performance tools like iDoneThis to get unprecedented visibility into your productivity and the areas where you need to improve.
Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize!
I can’t stress the importance of prioritization enough. I know it can be difficult. Prioritize based on deadlines and rank your to-do list based on importance. Is your whole team relying on Task A? Is Task B due next week? Does Task C require more attention and focus?
Identify strengths and weaknesses.
It’s important to recognize your sweet and weak spots. Acknowledging them can help you pivot towards better habits. If you’re not a morning person, make sure you have a solid couple of hours throughout the day or night to get things done. If you lack creativity, push yourself to produce a couple of creative ideas every month. Find out what gets your creative juices flowing and execute.
Find a “focus” space.
Find a space where you can tune in without any distractions. I enjoy working from coffee shops, not only because espresso is only a few steps within my reach, but because it’s nice to get some background noise. Seeing other people working also gets me in a productive mode.
Mingle, network and be social!
Working remotely means less social face-to-face interaction. This might be terrifying for some of us. But even if it’s not, make it a priority to meet with peers on a biweekly basis or go to an industry mixer event. It’s important to keep your social skills sharp and interact with other humans. Go to industry networking events, raise questions, prompt discussions, exchange ideas, meet with other thought leaders; these are all things that will fuel inspiration.
Make yourself accountable.
Sure! You are no longer an employee, chained to a cubicle for a straight 8-9 hours and your boss isn’t breathing down your neck, but you still have to be 150 percent accountable for all of your work. When a person is accountable to someone else for doing what they said they would do, they get things done. Make no excuses.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Dr. Gerald “Jerry” J. Wilmink is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of WiseWear® Corporation, a Texas-based digital health company that develops next generation wearable technology products for fitness and medical applications. Jerry is a high octane PhD-turned-entrepreneur that gets things done and never gives up. Jerry founded WiseWear Corporation with the goal of developing wearable technologies that empower people to live happy, healthy & productive lives. He has experience as a mad scientist, inventor, startup business consultant for Venture Capital firms, and a program manager for the Department of Defense’s $2 Billion Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. Connect with @WiseWearCorp on Twitter.
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