10 Productivity Tips Every Entrepreneur Should Know

Entrepreneur productivity

We all need a watch like this. Photo by sleepyjeanie








How productive are you?

A holy grail for entrepreneurs, yet what is easy in theory it is very difficult in practice. Primarily because most of us have some form of entrepreneurial A.D.D. (I know I have) and the internet is built to be the world’s most effective distraction.

Here’s 9 productivity tips that have increased my productivity enormously:

1.  Zero Inbox

There’s nothing that stresses me out more than knowing I’ve 100+ emails waiting for me. Infact when I look back on times that I felt stressed about my workload, it usually correlates with my inbox being fuller than a German at Oktoberfest.

The only way to take control of your inbox (and your life) is to operate a zero inbox. That means having an empty inbox everyday.


It’s possible, and when you do it, prepare yourself for a feeling of control you probably haven’t felt in years.

Time to accomplish: 2 hours

Want to know more: Check out my post: 5 Steps to a Zero Inbox 

2.  Working out

Ever heard the story about Sharpening the Saw? Hop on my knee and let me tell you…

A man was struggling in the woods to saw down a tree. An old farmer came by, watched for a while, then quietly said, “What are you doing?”

“Can’t you see?” the man impatiently replied, “I’m sawing down this tree.”

“You look exhausted,” said the farmer. “How long have you been at it?”

“Over five hours, and I’m beat,” replied the man. “This is hard work.”

“That saw looks pretty blunt,” said the farmer. “Why don’t you take a break for a few minutes and sharpen it? I’m sure it would go a lot faster.”

“I don’t have time to sharpen the saw,” the man says emphatically. “I’m too busy sawing!”

Working out is the best saw sharpener I know. But don’t take my word for it:

A conversation between Richard Branson and Tim Ferris:

Tim: “How do you become more productive?”

Sir Richard Branson leaned back and thought for a moment before answering.

“Work out.”

He went on to elaborate that working out gave him at least four additional hours of productive time every day.

If you were to get one takeaway from this list to make you more effective, it’d be to work out. When I work out in the morning I get more done without fail.

Time to accomplish: 40 mins a day

Want to know more? You know what to do

 3.  Get it out of your head

Ever suffer from idea paralysis or things to do overwhelm? Hell I know I do – these days it’s not a case of lack of opportunities – but knowing what the next most important thing to do is

There are 2 major problems when we’ve got 50 ideas/things to do swimming around our head

-          We forget some of them (yes, my girlfriend will agree with this one)

-          Our brain is clogged up with stuff, this stifles our ability to think creatively

Solution: Write it down! Have a place you write down all your ideas and things to do as they come into your head (I use a mix of one of these and the notepad on my iphone). You’ll feel better

However that’s only half the solution as this only works if you review your ‘idea places’ regularly (say, every Sunday), otherwise your notebooks become a virtual filing cabinet that never gets looked at.

Time to accomplish: 1 hour initially, then 30 minutes once a week to review your notes

Want to know more? Read David Allen’s Getting Things Done for the world’s best ‘get it out of your head’ exercise

4.  Roboform

How many passwords do you have? Ever forget any? How much time every year do you think you lose by just by trying to type in correct passwords and remember passwords?

If it was anything like me it was a lot. And time is money.

So I use this great little piece of software called Roboform  – it stores all my passwords and just logs me into any site I want to visit. Nice.

 Check this video of me using Roboform:

Time to accomplish: 10 minutes setup

Want to know more? Try the free trial first.  Click here to get Roboform (affiliate link)

 5.  Focused Pompodoros

A few years back I got addicted to To-do lists. The feeling of accomplishment when you strike off each task is seriously rewarding. But as we get more stuff to do and begin juggling multiple projects, standard To-Do lists just don’t cut it anymore.

After trying many different attempts of improving this I’ve recently found a system that is rocking my To-Do list world. It’s from the Pompodoro technique and involves listing the items you need to achieve in the day and working through them in uninterrupted, uber-focussed 25 minute segments.

The benefits – you get more done, you know what you’ve achieved and you get better at predicting the length of work.

Time to accomplish: 5 mins setup each morning

Want to know more?   Check out the Pomodoro Technique Free EBook here

(Thanks to Gary from Paperbag for tipping me off to this one)

6.  Focused Recovery

Top athletes now that the rest period in-between work outs are as important as the work outs themselves.

This means both taking time off (at least 1 day a week) from work and getting recovery breaks during the day (I try to take 5 mins every 25 mins, when working with the Pompodoro Technique (see number 5 above)

Sports psychologists Jim Loehr, Ed.D., and Tony Schwartz say:

“Managing energy, not time, is the key to enduring high performance as well as to health, happiness, and life balance…We must learn to live our lives as a series of sprints – fully engaged for periods of time – and then fully disengaged and seeking renewal…”

Time to accomplish: 10 minutes every hour

Want to know more?    Check out the book The Power of Full Engagement 

7.  Mindmaps

I began using mindmaps approx 1 year ago after reading Bill Liao’s inspiring book Stone Soup

Now I’m hooked.

I use mindmaps to plan out every sizeable piece of work I do before I begin. It not only allows you to think of better ideas but also gives you a structure to follow when completing the work. The few minutes it takes to plans out your mindmap is returned x10 in total time saved for writing the article, and the quality is always better.

It’s another example of ‘Sharpening the Saw’ (see above)

Time to accomplish: 10 minutes before you begin a sizeable piece of work

Want to know more?  I use Mindmeister (affiliate link) – it’s great.

 8.  Leverage your time

Leverage your time by hiring a virtual assistant (VA). You can hire great VA’s starting from $1.50 an hour and they can do everything from web design, SEO and social media to design, web research and data entry stuff. If it’s in anyway repetitive, you really should have a VA doing it.

Leaves you more time to focus on other things

Time to accomplish: Depends on the task, but it’s always a timesaver

Want to know more?  Watch this space for a post on hiring a VA

 9.  Leverage your reach

Most of us have multiple profiles across different web 2.0 sites (blogs, video sites, social networks). To take advantage of these you really should be posting to all of them. Ah but this takes time.

Unless of course you can post to one site, and it automatically posts to all your other profiles for you.

Sites that do this include:

  • Ping.fm (social media)
  • Tubemogul (Video)

Time to accomplish: 1 hour setup for each

Want to know more?  Will follow this post with video examples of how I use both of these sites for leverage – stay tuned!

Any productivity tips you’d like to add? I’d love to hear them – please add them to the comments below

About Howard

Howard is a Startup Marketer, Blogger & founder of 3 startups. Currently working with a London based Social Gaming startup.

View all posts by Howard

19 Responses to “10 Productivity Tips Every Entrepreneur Should Know”

  1. howard Says:

    Has anyone noticed that there’s only 9 tips yet? :)


    • Hugo Menino Aguiar Says:

      What’s the 10th Howard? ;)


    • Tina Says:

      Hi Howard,great job! Cannot wait to subscribe to it. I noticed there is one missing, and am very curious to know what’s the last one? Thanks!


    • Perry Says:

      Good stuff. Others:
      * Stop caring what other think of you or if they LIKE you. Doesn’t really matter (unless you’re a politician, and even then, most people don’t like you already just for that reason alone.) People should be able to RESPECT and TRUST you and your business though. Different topics.
      * Identify yours and your business’s vision/mission, or at least things that are acceptable and not acceptable to you/it. Gauge everything you do every day around that. Cut out the ones that don’t matter.
      * Just tell people “NO” when their request/task doesn’t fit your vision/mission.
      * Get rid of people from your life who sap your energy. You know who they are already in your guy, but you never call them out on it, do you? One day just put it all out on the table with your vision/mission. If they care about you then they will try to make it work. If they don’t then their true colors will show and they will be gone anyway. You did NOT need them around in the first place so cut your losses short immediately before continuing to waste your precious resources.

      BTW – The 10th step was cut in order to save time and be more productive… *smiling*


      • Perry Says:

        Typo, sorry. “You know who they are already in your GUT”, not “guy”.


      • howard Says:

        Awesome stuff Perry – thanks for the input

        the tips you mention are all 100% on the money – I must say I find these harder to keep to i.e. getting rid of people that sap your energy: Easy in theory, harder in practice (especially if that person is a loved one)

        Maybe I’m too soft :)


  2. Mozart Says:

    My big one is working out and turning it into a ritual. I’ve been going 5 days straight around the same time every day and it is truly game-changing. My other two productivity tips would be visualizing your best day in the mind first then executing and having an accountability partner or coach?


    • howard Says:

      Hey Mozart – great to hear. Sounds you’ve got some great routines going.

      Good advice on the accountability partner and visualisations. I must admit I always have the best intentions with visualisations but don’t do them as regularly as I should.

      Any tips on getting them into my schedule more consistently?


  3. Adam | Internet Marketing Tips Says:

    Hey Howard!
    Thanks for the list.
    I loved your tips, especially the #1: Zero Inbox and the #5: Pomodoro Technique. As for the Zero Inbox, every new year the blogosphere is flooded with tips on how to get to Inbox Zero as well as people’s resolutions regarding that. I actually follow a tip I got from Liz Tomey, a well-known Internet marketer. She suggests to create a ‘sacred inbox’ where you keep only emails that make you money or are business-related. What you do is you check this email once a day and naturally it’s going to be quick. The other email(s) where everything else goes, you check only once a week. Works a treat for me!

    As for Pomodoro, I’ve just started reading it and seemed really cool. I’m using another list system which may have some similarities. I’ve learn it from Erica Duglass here: http://www.erica.biz/2010/getting-things-done/
    It’s pretty simple and involves writing your tasks for the next day every evening, and writing weekly and monthly tasks as well. Actually, the Pomodoro ‘power sessions’ approach reminds me of Allen’s GTD a little bit. Power sessions work really well for me. Especially when I really need to get into the swing of things, get into the right mood, for creative tasks like writing for example.

    Rock on!


    • howard Says:

      Hi Adam
      Yeah these are 2 of my favourites too.
      I like the idea of the ‘check once a week’ idea but do you not have hundreds by that stage? Man – that would stress me out! And I feel bad not responding to people. I guess I do something similar though – any useful content i.e. weekly mailout from bloggers I follow, I have it auto filter into a ‘useful blog’ file in gmail and check once a week (if at all). I’ll include a video of this in a post I’m doing on zero inbox’s.

      That’s a great tip – thanks for the link will check it out. Yeah I’m a big GTD fan too – but find it a little intense, Pomporo is a good middle ground.

      Will check out Erica’s link – might have a new string to my bow. Thanks for the tips. Rock on too :)


  4. Matt Connelly Says:

    I’m easily distracted so I leave the office to get away from colleagues and the phone and go to the coffee shop (that doesn’t have wifi) over the road.

    Some good ones from Lucidica on Windows 7 productivity http://t.co/yZUJX6V

    I love all the productivity tips but the best thing is to do something you love, are passionate about and good at. Makes everything much easier!


  5. Andrea Lucas Says:

    Great productivity tips to help you stay on top. Setting time to “sharpen the saw” is a good idea.


  6. angie Says:

    Cleaning my workspace helps me a lot! Sort of along the lines of clearing out the email inbox. Taking 30 min to organize paperwork and clean out the inbox helps clear my mind. And I feel extra inspired when I add flowers and coffee to the desk!


  7. chandankumar.v Says:

    Thanks for the list. I think you had missed about ‘Managing RSS Feed’. I stay more connected with feed reader than with my Email as every feed i subscribe (including yours) serves as a source of new energy and leaves a feel good effect on our brain. I personally use http://feedly.com for managing my RSS Feed. The beauty of feedly is that it integrates with google reader and makes sharing a breeze. I personally recommend using feedly for managing my RSS feed.


  8. Ryan Says:

    Jotting things down works well for me. I forget to review the stuff though! I should do that more. Thanks for writing about stuff like this. It’s extremely important and needs a lot more attention.


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