About a year ago, I realized I wasn’t spending enough time doing the things I love: hanging out with my kids, surfing, traveling. Life started to feel lousy.
I’m a founder of a fast-growing contract management software company. We more than triples our revenue each year. When I first founded the business, I thought, “I’m going to work 14-hour shifts for two to three years.”
Like many startup founders, I planned to give myself more time once I “got things off the ground.” Well, three years later, things were well off the ground. And I realized I actually had less time than before. Something had to change.
Build a life and business you love
While we learn from our mistakes, sometimes the most efficient solution to a problem is following the footsteps of somebody who has been there, done that.
I learned some of the best productivity hacks from books, blogs and friends. Here’s a look at five solutions that I’ve found extremely helpful to boost my productivity and happiness.
In his book, Brain Rules, molecular biologist John Medina explains that our brain functions more effectively in the long-term and short-term if we exercise. Running every morning prevents me from burning out after lunch. This gives me enough energy to work from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Take 20 minutes to daily exercise and “charge” yourself.
2. Combine activities
There are many different tasks you can combine to save a tremendous amount of time without distracting you from other tasks. For example, reading and learning are perhaps two of the most important tasks of any CEO. So, I accompany every run and long commute with an audiobook. But I don’t stop there: I even listen to audiobooks while taking a lift on the ski slopes and watching my 3-year-old on the playground.
3. Stick to your calendar
Allocate time in your calendar to exercise, spend time with your loved ones. You don’t have to be specific about the activity, just set time aside for non-business related activities. Trust me, it won’t just make you more productive at work, it’ll give you a more well-rounded life – you’ll be happier for it.
4. Make time for silence
If you find yourself rushing around, overcome by a barrage of emails, Facebook notifications, you’re not alone. Some psychologists suggest that the internet is the cause behind a rise in ADHD. While the jury is still out on this, constant access to anything and everything certainly doesn’t help our attention spans.
Make time for silence. Log off of Facebook, silence email and SMS notifications, and schedule a time to respond to messages. Focus on what’s more important and get it done.
5. Narrow your focus
I recommend reading the book Scrum by Jeff Sutherland. While the methodology behind Scrum was created to help teams build software, I believe the main principles apply to our everyday lives.
The key is to narrow your focus down to a few items for a set period of time. At any given two week period, I try to focus on only one or two things in my professional life and one or two things in my personal life. That’s a maximum of four things I should be thinking of at any given time.
This provides fantastic relief for your brain. The Your brain “central computer” function takes up a lot of energy. When you limit the number of processes it helps to increase efficiency and output.
This article has been edited.
Mikita Mikado is a software engineer, entrepreneur, co-founder and CEO of PandaDoc, makers of all-in-one software for better quotes, proposals, and contracts.