Q: How do you keep yourself on task/maintain productivity with a hectic work schedule?
The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC recently published #FixYoungAmerica: How to Rebuild Our Economy and Put Young Americans Back to Work (for Good), a book of 30+ proven solutions to help end youth unemployment.
1. Turn Off the Dopamine Drip
Let's face it — we're all addicted to email. If you want to get stuff done, turn off your email. Close your social media feeds and web browser too. You'll be amazed at what you get done without the biochemical surge of ping, tweet, ping!
– Michael Margolis, Get Storied
2. Make Yourself Accountable
The most influential changes I've made to my work habits and management style have been around accountability. I used to assume motivation was intrinsic, because internally, I'm a very motivated person. What I'd missed was that motivation isn't the only thing fueling productivity, and accountability measures have done wonders to increase and organize my (and my team's) output.
– Derek Shanahan, Foodtree
3. Segment Time Into Tasks
It took me years to understand that having a master task list was not good enough anymore. When looking at a long list of to-do's, it's easy to feel discouraged and not know where to start. It wasn't until recently that I started segmenting my days into time intervals filled with specific tasks positioned to drive my productivity. Now, I only spend a certain amount of time on a task everyday.
– Logan Lenz, Endagon
4. Keep Certain Rituals
I can get pretty scattered so if I don't create rituals and stick with them, it's tough for me to stay on task. Every night, I write out my to-do list for the next day. I get a good quick workout in the morning to get my mind clear and creative. Then I prioritize tasks and allot a certain amount of time for each task, and I'm ready to roll! Find what works for you and stick with it.
– Trevor Mauch, Automize, LLC
5. Manage Tasks With Any.Do
I use this task manager on my Android phone, and it keeps my important priorities in check. Without a task manager, I would be lost! I tend to put all my tasks in there, set reminders and priorities. It then breaks down what I need to do each day by importance.
– Justin Nowak, Mobile Business Advisors
6. Work Well With Wunderlist
It used to be really difficult for me to keep everything I had to do in front of me. It was all in my head, which made everything take much longer to complete. But now I use Wunderlist, which is a great application that allows me to constantly keep all of my daily tasks and goals in front of me, categorized by each client. What's even better is I can constantly sync it to my iPhone and iPad.
– Steven Le Vine, grapevine pr
7. Leave It All to Asana
My go-to online productivity app is Asana. It has served as a tremendous business tool by providing a high-level view of my projects in queue, as well as supporting tactical level needs and team integration. It is user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing, and it can help you refocus and prioritize a chaotic schedule.
– Erica Nicole, YFS Magazine: Young, Fabulous & Self Employed
8. Touch Base With the Team
Every day, our team has a 10-minute meeting during which each person shares what they accomplished in the last 24 hours, and what their top priority is for the next 24 hours. This creates a sense of accountability among team members. We all know each other's goals and whether or not we accomplished them.
– Bhavin Parikh, Magoosh
9. Learn to Reset Yourself
10. Stick to a Critical Triad
It's easy to mistake emails, meetings, and tweeting as critical work. Everyday I ask myself, "What three critical tasks must I get done today to move my company forward?" I then write these tasks on a piece of paper that I carry around with me. I cross out each task as I complete them and won't work on anything else until I complete them.
11. Multitasking Is Overrated
Multitasking is inevitable, but vastly overrated. Focus is where it's at. Focus on one thing at a time, and focus on completing one thing at a time. If you can cross something off your to-do list, from start to finish, do it. Do it now. Procrastination only makes room for excuses, and will ultimately lead to you feeling overwhelmed.
12. Stay in the Moment
If you're distracted by what's next, you'll never focus on what's now. Stay in the moment and do your best when accomplishing the task at hand. If you feel rushed or overwhelmed, remember to be quick — but don't hurry.
13. Set Ground Rules
I keep a long running to do list and before I start my work day I highlight the items that are most important to accomplish that day. As the leader of the business, the more time you carve out to spend on the most important strategic items the better. Once you've prioritized, set ground rules with your employees. Interruption comes in many forms and will suck the life out of your productivity.