When you run a business, you wear a lot of different hats. You're in charge of the day-to-day operations, the long-term strategies and everything in between. With so many things on your plate, getting everything done may seem daunting, but with the right strategies, you can tackle every task on your to-do list and then some. Entrepreneurs shared their top tips for staying productive.
Define your purpose for the day. "I have a very specific routine that I follow to keep my productivity up every day. Each morning, I say to myself, 'Today, my purpose is to ...' and then I fill in the blank. Each night, I say, 'Today, I accomplished ...' and I fill in the blank. It keeps me focused on my ultimate goals and ensures that I follow through with each purpose I set for myself daily." – Lee Barnes, president of Family Fare
Follow an hourly schedule. "People tend to tackle tasks first that they think are the quickest, and put off the big, important ones, leaving less time for the stuff that really matters. Have a plan for how you are going to spend your hours, and treat it like a doctor's appointment that took months to book." – Heather Kauffman, co-founder of Full Circle Home
Write it all down. "If you write your daily goals list on paper, you're more than likely to complete that list by the end of the day. If you concentrate on completing tasks and checking them off, you will make way more progress than just simply going by memory." – Marc Abrams, president of Stretch Zone
Prioritize to account for the unexpected. "It's important to prioritize what must be done today and [not what] can wait until tomorrow. Unexpected things outside of my control might happen that will require my immediate attention. When things don't go as efficiently as expected, it is my job to figure out why, so I can make the necessary adjustments for next time." – Mark Werpney, owner of a Window Genie franchise
Don't let email consume your time. "When running a business, you can receive thousands of emails a day from clients and employees combined. In order to make sure I stay on top of my to-do list and really get things done, I only read my emails at certain hours in the day, and in time blocks." – Lina Hu, founder and CEO of Clipper Corporation
"I always include in my email signature who to reach if I am unavailable, so rather than people getting frustrated they have someone else to contact right away." – Chris Drucquer, owner of a CertaPro Painters franchise
Give your brain a break from business. "One of the most efficient ways to boost productivity during the workday is to truly unplug at night so you can recharge for the day ahead. When you're a business owner, it's very hard to disconnect from your phone and laptop and give your brain a rest. I invest myself fully in DIY projects around the house like redoing our kitchen or building a desk, because it takes my full attention and forces me to get out of work mode. I find that my mind is completely refreshed the next day in the office." – Mike Rotondo, CEO of Tropical Smoothie Café
Reduce clutter. "While the saying, 'a messy desk is a sign of a creative mind' might be true, it also reduces productivity and increases stress. Even in this digital age, people need to keep certain papers handy, but odds are most people print out and save a lot more things than they really need to. Invest in a desktop scanner and use it daily." – Jennifer Adams, CEO and founder of Jennifer Adams Worldwide
Ditch the conference room. "Every morning, I postpone, shorten or cancel meetings to free up time for higher-priority projects. Most of the time, meetings can be replaced by quick conversations, so pick up the phone or walk across the room rather than living in the conference room." – Mike Del Ponte, founder and CEO of Soma
Stay positive and have fun with your work. "We all need to be serious about our work, but no one needs to be somber. Serious work should still be fun, and remaining positive in tough situations can greatly affect your productivity." – Joe Schumacher, CEO of Goddard Systems, Inc.
"Even when I'm extremely frustrated, angry or annoyed, I think about the joys and positive components of running my own business. I no longer have to deal with the tedious commute to work, the strict dress code, shady office politics or constantly worrying about job stability." – Lance Jensen, CEO of Global Garage Flooring and Design
Learn to bounce back quickly from failure. "Failure ... is really there to be a call to action. It's always about trial-and-error experiences to see what works and what doesn't. You make an assessment from your learnings — some things do not work, and it's absolutely OK. It's about applying that lesson to the next thing in order to go through the process, and embracing the realization that you are making progress. Taking forward steps with each day is the key to productivity." – Teddy Shalon, CEO of ThinOptics