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How do you maximize your productivity?

I am interested in learning how founders maximize their productivity when time is limited. (I'm a sole founder.) What do you use to manage that process - basic to do lists, email reminders, Asana? Have you ever measured your productivity with programs like RescueTime?


9 Replies

Amy Weicker
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Amy Weicker Entrepreneur
Director of Marketing, Marketing Consultant, Social Media Strategist, Customer Experience Enthusiast
I've used Asana and just recently started experimenting with Centrallo. Centrallo's reminder alerts have been helpful, and it lets you prioritize your tasks very easily. As part of a 2-person founding team, the list sharing is helpful to us as well.
Eleanor Carman
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Eleanor Carman Entrepreneur • Advisor
Incoming BLP Sales Associate at LinkedIn
Hey Jennifer - great question. We've had a few previous discussion around this topic that I think might be helpful. Here is one about email productivity hacks. And another about overcoming entrepreneurial challenges. Hope these are helpful! There are a few other discussions you can find if you search "productivity" in the search bar.
Dan Dascalescu
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Dan Dascalescu Entrepreneur
Developer Advocate at Google
I've evaluated tens of project management tools and found that overall, software helps less than attitudes, motivation and sheer will power. Sure, there are useful tools, such as bookmarks managers to store and tag resources, or Evernote, but if you don't feel motivated to be productive, they won't help.

Here are my top productivity and motivation hacks that I've collected over the past ~6 years.


Anyway, the productivity topic is wide enough to generate countless self-help books, as well as a StackExchange Q&A site -productivity.stackexchange.com.
Jay Feitlinger
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Jay Feitlinger Advisor
Digital Strategist | Entrepreneur | Digital Strategy Agency CEO | Speaker | Business Consultant
Hi Jennifer, all good feedback already suggested. To add my two cents, as this is a topic I've struggled with for many years, I suggest to get laser focused on the top priorities vs a massive to do list. I've tried a ton of tools and I found myself getting frustrated that I was never able to check off enough tasks each day. It's so easy to get distracted and multi tasking has proven not to be effective. Start with something very simple such as Google Tasks if you leverage Gmail for your business email and slowly build from there. I gave one of my favorite tips on Inc.com along with a few other entrepreneur's tips that I bet you would find of value where I try to get my #1 items done before I even leave the house.
John Van Dinther
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John Van Dinther Entrepreneur
Business Consultant
I use Asana, it's a useful application. Fundamentally it's about having consistent external drivers. This allows you to allocate your resources towards actual production rather than towards getting yourself into gear or figuring out your priorities. I recently led a mastermind workshop exploring time management processes. you can check it out here

Dominic Head
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Dominic Head Entrepreneur
Chief Executive Officer & Founder at ABi
I feel that when time is limited you probably already know what are the priorities you'll need to address.

However, to avoid any possibility of things becoming overwhelming, and instead of using any particular software, I always feel it is better to give yourself 15 minutes to write down everything you feel you need to get done and quickly break that down into 'absolute musts' in a given time frame.

If you have the capacity to give others the tasks you cannot do then allow them to share the load. Unless you're an avid user of applications like RescueTime, I wouldn't bother with any productivity tools that in themselves can become time-wasters.
Karl Schulmeisters
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Karl Schulmeisters Entrepreneur
CTO ClearRoadmap

Paper. Actuallya notebook Besides the advantages of not crashing and portability and no battery issues etc. There are some recent studies out now that show that both reading and note taking from and on paper, seats the idea more solidly in our brains. One study had the same mystery story read by a group of readers evenly and randomly divided between eReaders and the paper book

Both groups scored equally on reading enjoyment and speed of reading. But the paper book one outperformed the eReader in terms of event sequencing within the plot

Similarly there have been some studies done of note-taking in the classsrom. And folks who take laptop and tablet based notes had more verbatim notes, but the ones that did paper notes had more accurate emphasis on the issues the professor was seeking to highlight.


So to me, it means sitting down at the start of each day with my daily log

  1. writing down everything that I have on my mind that needs doing today
  2. going back to previous days and identifying things I missed and adding those
  3. writing down the appts from my calendar and their times
  4. Then prioritizing the items numerically and assigning a guestimate of how long it will take

This is all done along the left hand side of the verso (left hand) page

Then I transcribe to the left side of the recto (right hand) page in the order they are going to be done assigning a start time to each item - that way I can identify what fits where in between meetings etc.

Then as I get stuff done, I strike it out. If I make only partial progress - I tick mark it and make a note to the right as to how far I got and next steps.

I rarely finish everything on a page, and I find that the things that sit at the bottom of a page for 2-3 weeks eventually don't need to get done and probably weren't important anyway

Scott Wittrock
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Scott Wittrock Entrepreneur
Head of Product at Dolist
Hello Jennifer,

I've used almost every tool out there. From paper and pen, to asana, to reminders. The biggest issue I found is that when you have fragmented lists for every part of your life, i.e. work stuff on asana, list of errands on your phone, sticky notes reminding you to respond to an email, etc, it's really tough to know where to start when you are ready to get things done.

I think one of the core concepts of being productive is to understand what really matters most, at work, in your life, etc. This is why I started working on a side project called Dolist. I'm trying to solve the problem of understanding what is the most important thing you could be doing right now.

As a sole founder your time isn't locked into a 9-5 work day, and sometimes picking up your laundry is more important then finishing that presentation, because you have to have a balanced life to succeed both in business and in life. The goal with Dolist is to allow you to feed it ever task in your life. It will analyze and learn from your productivity patterns, then present you with the most important tasks you should be focusing on.

At least that is the goal. If you are up for giving it a shot I'm looking for early adopters to test out the platform. Request an invite at dolist.io.

P.S. While RescueTime is kind of creepy, it's a great way to get a baseline of how you spend your day!

Good luck!
Aiborlang Andrew Chyne
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Aiborlang Andrew Chyne Entrepreneur
Bass Guitarist at Klevoans
Jennifer, this is very simple. One just need to check his or her official email twice a day. The first one needs to be done as soon as you entered office and the other one needs to be done in the evening between 4 to 5 p.m before leaving from the office. One can be productive if the modes of communication are being controlled. Frequent messages and chats are very destructive and needs to be avoided ASAP. If we can't stay away from such activities, our carrier would go on TOS.
Good Luck.
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