These productivity hacks for entrepreneurs actually work because I use every single one of them myself to help me build a good passive income online.
This is the second part of my productivity tips series. Click here to read part 1, 30 Easy Productivity Tips For Entrepreneurs That Double Your Output.
These are tips that I actually do use myself to help me achieve massive amounts of work. I have built up these tips the last 7 years that I have been a professional blogger, and they helped me to reach six-figures in revenue, be financially free and totally change the quality of my life.
I hope you get as much value from these as I have.
32 Productivity Hacks For Entrepreneurs That Actually Work
Although we can’t technically manage time, it will carry on whether we like it or not, we can manage ourselves and how much we achieve in the time we’ve got. This is one of the areas that most entrepreneurs struggle with, so I’m sure these tips are going to really help you if you take the time to apply them.
1) Time How Long Tasks Take After You’ve Learned Them
This is something that really helps me manage my time. I like to record how long it takes me to complete each task and record that in a spreadsheet. I add all my most common tasks to the spreadsheet like creating blog posts, keyword research, creating images, sharing the blog post, writing emails and creating products. Then I can see how long I’ve got to work in a particular day and make realistic guesses about how much work I can achieve in that amount of time.
Most people completely underestimate the time it takes to complete tasks and think they can get about triple the amount of work done each day than they actually can.
When you only achieve a third of your to-do list every day, it can certainly make you demotivated to be productive at work.
It’s far better to be realistic and feel good about yourself when you actually achieve more than you planned, or better yet, finish work early. (One of the perks of having your own business!)
The only stipulation to this task is that you have to give yourself time to learn a new task first before you record the length of time it takes, because it will usually take you about three times as long to complete a task when you are first learning how to do it.
Every time you complete a task you’ll get faster and faster which will make you much more motivated to continue.
I like to open a new browser and use Google’s online timer to record the length of time it takes me to complete tasks.
I use the stopwatch for attempting to finish tasks within a particular amount of time once I know how long they should take.
When the bell goes off, if you find yourself on social media and you don’t know how you got there, this will help to bring you back to reality again.
2) Record Your Use Of Time On Your Computer
Most people waste a lot of their working day on unproductive tasks such as social media or online shopping. Are you one of them? This can severely limit your business results. The problem is most people are not even aware that they are wasting so much of their working day not actually working.
The solution to this problem is to use a free tool to automatically track where you are spending your working day.
I love to use Rescue Time as it allows you to categorize your websites into productive and unproductive. It also produces cool graphs at the end of the week and tracks the length of time you’ve spent working that week.
3) Don’t Context Switch
Context switching is similar to multi-tasking. With multi-tasking you are trying to do many things at the same time which will all know doesn’t work.
Context switching, however, is switching between multiple tasks, doing a little bit of each task and not finishing any of them.
So that might mean starting to write a blog post, then an email pings in, so you go and read that which takes you off to do a different task. By the time you finish that new task you forgot you were even working on a blog post so you start a new task.
Does that sound familiar?
That’s why it’s so important to set time blocks for each task so you know what you’re supposed to be focusing on, and you know you are going to have time to focus on other tasks at a different time. Also if you use an ideas list in Trello (I talked about that in this post), you can add new ideas to that as you get them so you don’t have to stop what you’re doing and start a new task.
4) Delegate Certain Tasks To Others
If you have a team, you should always be thinking about which tasks you can delegate to other people rather than doing it yourself. Even if you don’t have a regular team, you can hire people to do certain tasks on a project by project basis. A good rule of thumb is to calculate your own hourly wage and if you can hire someone to do a task for less than your hourly wage, you should definitely outsource it.
As a business owner, I prefer to learn how to do almost everything in my own business before I outsource it. I get the best results when I understand the best way to do a project, have an idea of the time it should take to do it and then I can analyze the work from an educated frame of mind.
Two great places to find people to help you with online business work are Upwork and Fiverr. I prefer Upwork as I set my own fee, and terms and people work on my terms and deadlines. When you choose a gig on Fiverr you work on their terms, but saying that, you can often get work delivered faster and cheaper on Fiverr, but often it’s not as good quality.
5) Batch Process Your Tasks
This is one of the biggest time-savers you can implement in your business. Do all tasks that are the same or similar at the same time. This saves you a lot of time as your brain gets faster at performing the same task over and over and you save time having to set up the task at the start. So for example, create all your images at the same time, make all your phone calls at the same time, and answer all your emails at the same time.
6) Say No To Almost Everything
Saying no is something I find very easy, but I know that most people struggle with it, especially people-pleasers. I notice that saying yes to everything is one of the biggest factors in not growing your business. If you say yes to other people, you are saying no to your own goals, as you won’t have time to do both. And the thing about saying yes to other people is, once you’ve said yes once, they’ll come back with more requests as they know you are someone who can get things done for them.
It can be hard to learn how to be assertive if it doesn’t come naturally to you, but just remember that you can say no in a polite and friendly way. Try saying this. ‘That’s a great idea! I’m sure that is going to work out really well for you and you’ll make a success of it. Right now I’m focused on my business model which is to only do X, but I wish you all the luck for the future’.
7) Focus On The Single Most Important Thing First
What task should you do when you first start work for the day? There are 3 schools of thought here which are the next 3 tips. They kind of contradict each other. There is a good reason for this. You’ve got to choose which strategy works best for you and your personality so I suggest you try them all and see which one makes you the most productive.
This first strategy is to start with the most important task first. If you are someone who procrastinates and spends all day on your email, then this is a good tip for you. For me personally, I was the other way around. I don’t actually enjoy checking my emails as I’ve trained my brain not to enjoy that task as it’s not productive. So I was finding that I could go days without even checking my emails if I didn’t make a dedicated time slot for it. I tried leaving it to the end of the day but as I hate doing it so much, I’d often accidentally on purpose continue with my fun project work and run out of time to check my emails.
So what did I do about it? Read on to the next tip.
8) Eat The Frog First
If you have a task that you really put off doing and find yourself dreading and procrastinating, yet it is something that is fairly important, not necessarily the most important task, it can be worth doing that task first in the day.
The dreaded task is the frog.
That’s what I’ve had to do with my email inbox. I give myself a short window of time to check my emails, get the dreaded task out of the way and then reward myself with a fun project after I’ve done that. I can relax and enjoy the rest of the day feeling proud of myself that I’m actually on top of my emails for the first time in my life.
Email was my frog. What is your frog? This tip comes from the book called Eat That Frog which is a great book to read if you want to delve into this a bit deeper.
9) Do The Easy Things First
This tip is the exact opposite of the previous eat the frog tip where you do the easiest things first. If you are the type of person who really struggles to get any work done at all and the though of starting your day with something hard is enough to put you off getting anything done at all, it’s often best to do the easiest task first.
This is something that the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg does and it obvious works well for him. But it doesn’t work well for me, as I find it easy to get motivated to get to work and I’m the kind of person who gets stressed with hard tasks hanging over me, so I relax when they are done. You might not work the same way so choose the strategy that is best for you.
10) Get Up 1-2 Hours Earlier
Who said you couldn’t create more time? OK so technically you are robbing from Peter to pay Paul with this strategy, but it certainly works to give you more time to work each day. If you get up 1-2 hours earlier then that either means you are going to lose sleep which isn’t ideal, or you are going to have to go to bed earlier, which might mean you just lose some TV watching time. I sacrifice TV Monday to Thursday and go to bed earlier so I can get up earlier in the morning. Then I look forward to watching some TV at the weekend as I’ve earned it by working hard during the week.
Getting a business off the ground can take sacrifices and I think this is a good one to start with as you’ll see the most impact from this.
This is almost essential if you work a job during the day as you’ll need to work on your business either before or after work, or perhaps both.
And if your brain doesn’t function at 5am for work, you could always do other chores at this time and work longer on your business later in the day, for example you could use that time to make your meals for the day, do your washing or go to the gym.
I choose to go to the gym as my health is my number one priority and I like to feel good that I’ve achieved that first thing in the morning, then I have the whole day to dedicate to my business.
11) Block Out No-Meeting Time Slots
If you run the kind of business where you have a lot of meetings, it is easy to get carried away and make too many meetings which doesn’t leave you any time to do your own work and other admin tasks. That’s why it’s important to block time slots in your diary where you are going to work on projects and therefore can’t schedule meetings.
Manage Your Energy And Concentration
The next set of tips are not necessarily just related to a business, but they are just good for your overall health. When you are healthy, you are more productive at work. This is a proven fact. So here’s what you need to do to get yourself healthy and stay healthy.
12) Take Regular Short Breaks
Looking at a screen all day is not good for your health. It strains your eyes and tires you out. You also won’t be as productive if you are forcing yourself to work constantly all day long. Taking regular breaks is critical to stay productive.
The breaks don’t have to be long. The best thing to do is to move away from your computer and walk into a different room, maybe go and get some water, take a cup to the sink, or better yet do a few sets of exercises such as some push ups, sit ups or jumping jacks.
This really helps to wake you up and get your brain going again. Plus it’s surprising how much exericse you can squeeze into your day when you do this. You can literally get an entire workout in if you do 5 minutes of a workout every hour. I do this myself and that’s why I spend the day in my gym kit as I walk on my treadmill desk while I work and then do some other type of exercise as a short break.
13) Get Enough Sleep
It goes without saying that we need enough sleep to be on top of our game the next day, but for some reason most people just can’t draw themselves away from Netflix to get to bed early. This is another reason I don’t recommend watching TV during the week as it can be too addictive.
14) Get Daily Exercise
Another no-brainer, but most people don’t get enough exercise. I think it’s important to get fresh air every day so a short walk or run can do wonders for your health. Some sort of resistance training will also keep your body in top shape and stop you getting the normal work-related aches and pains that everyone else gets by working a desk job.
15) Fuel Your Brain
This might surprise you, but did you know your brain actually runs on sugar? Most people are trying to cut sugar out of their diet, and this is the one thing the brain needs more than anything else. Not all sugar is created equal though. Refined sugar and refined carbs that are ingredients in most processed foods such as bagels and muffins will send you to sleep. This is not the kind of sugar the brain or the body needs.
What the body actually needs is the nutrient-rich sugars that are naturally occurring in fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. So starting your day with a smoothie is one of the best things you can do for your body. This is my favorite recipe and it will fill you up from breakfast to lunch and help you lose weight. A baked potato and a salad or a soup for lunch also contains all the natural sugars that the brain needs to stay sharp.
16) Switch Off From Work And Relax
Working all day and night is not good for your productivity levels. Do you know that most people get their best ideas when they are in the shower? This has nothing to do with the magical power or running water, but more to do with the fact that this was the only time of the day where the brain was allowed to rest and wasn’t forced into doing something else.
That’s why going for a short walk can really help you generate new ideas for your business. It is especially good if you are stuck with a problem. See tip number 21 below.
17) Improve Your Environment
Your working environment really affects your productivity. Ideally, you’d work in a space that allows you to concentrate, stay focused, helps you be creative and also helps you stay healthy.
I know a lot of people get more creative working in coffee shops and prefer the background noise there. But I find busy environments far too distracting and find myself looking up every time a person walks past me or overhearing people’s conversations.
I prefer to work at home in my own office. I like my space to be light, bright and airy with lots of greenery and plants.
Plants are very good for concentration as they create oxygen in the air, which we are severely lacking in.
This plant balances the air moisture in your home or office, which is great for those with dry skin. It is also effective for removing harmful pollutants from the air.
I also have a daylight light bulb in my office as the white light is better for keeping you awake than the normal orange lights in most rooms in your home. Orange is a color that sends you to sleep.
I also love my diffuser in my office.
You also need to think about whether you might work better with some concentration music or not. I prefer silence but I know most people like some kind of background noise.
18) Schedule Creative Work When You Are Most Productive
Are you a morning person or a night owl? Plan to get your creative work done during your most productive time of day. For me that is morning.
19) Practice Intermittent Fasting
As long as you don’t have health problems, intermittent fasting is a great way to improve your concentration first thing in the morning. A lot of people feel sluggish after their meals (especially if they are eating fatty foods) so what you can do is just delay eating breakfast for a couple of hours and see if this makes you more productive.
It definitely works for me.
A word of warning though, it takes a while to get used to. Your body is used to sending hunger signals to you at breakfast time as that’s when you normally feed it. If you can ignore it for a couple of days, you’ll find the hunger switches off.
Intermittent fasting also works much better if you eat a healthy diet free from refined sugar and refined carbs which can crash your blood sugar levels so badly that you feel ill if you don’t eat the second you get hungry. That’s why eating healthy is a must when it comes to running a successful business, otherwise, you just won’t be as productive.
Are you struggling to motivate yourself to get working on your business? Thankfully this is not something I struggle with. If I want to achieve something, I set to work and make it happen. But I know a lot of people struggle with this. If you are finding yourself unmotivated to work on your own business most of the time, you’ve got to ask yourself whether this is the right business for you, or perhaps you’d be happier with a job? Maybe you should think about outsourcing the parts of your business that you don’t enjoy or even selling your business?
The way I see it is the reason I have a business and not a job is so I get to do what I enjoy. If you’re not enjoying your business, why force it? There are easier ways to earn a living as businesses can be hard work.
Saying that, if you’re just having an off day or a blip with your motivation, the following strategies can really help.
20) Use Accountability
Tell your goals to someone else and ask them to ask you about your goals on a regular basis. You can formalize this relationship with a coach or a mutual free coaching arrangement. Mastermind groups are also a great way to do this and learn from other people.
Some people like to use apps such as Stickk where you will donate so much money to charity if you don’t get a business goal complete.
21) Walk Away From Problems
If you are struggling with a problem at work or are deep in tech hell a good strategy is to just walk away from it. I’m not talking about walking away forever, but just simply going for a walk. You’d be surprised at how often this actually helps you find a solution to the problem as you can take a broader overview of the problem. Ask yourself, ‘who can help me with this?’, ‘can I outsource this’, ‘is this essential that I get this working right now?’, and other questions that I will get to in tip number 32.
22) The 5 Whys
Ask yourself why you are doing your business. Think of as many reasons as you can. Think of reasons that benefit you and benefit others. Then ask the why behind the why. This gets you to think deeper about your business and it really motivates you to get out of bed at 5am every morning if you have a solid purpose for working on your business.
Try and ask why 5 times and you will really get a reason that motivates you more than anything else. If you can’t answer the question why, perhaps you don’t need this business?
For example, this was my own thought process behind my business.
Why are you working on your health business?
So I can help people improve their health and lose weight, and also so I can make more money.
Why do you want to make more money?
So I can retire my husband.
Why do you want to retire your husband?
So I get to see him more often and we can have more fun as a family.
Why do you want to spend more time with your family?
This will make me happy.
Why do you want to be happy?
Life is so much easier when you feel happy.
Do you see how you can keep digging down deeper and deeper to get a better reason for doing your business? If I was only motivated by money alone without a reason behind it, I wouldn’t be motivated to get up at 5am as we already have enough money to pay our bills. So I needed extra motivation.
23) Reward Yourself For Productivity
I like to reward myself every day for a hard day at work. I used to reward myself with food but that led to weight gain, so now I reward myself with some pampering. I have a sauna in my home and I have a daily sauna and sometimes do some other pampering type activities. Here’s my story about why this is so important to me.
24) Create Habits And Routines
When you start a new task for the first time it is going to feel hard and your brain will resist it. But if you force yourself to keep doing it every day, eventually it will become a habit and become easy. So this is motivation to push through new challenges and keep going as they will become part of your life and just who you are and what you do without question.
For example, I just know that I go to the gym every day without fail. I don’t have to decide in the morning if I’m going. I just get up and go. Sometimes I am more tired and don’t have as good of a workout, but I don’t even question if I’m going to go or not as it’s a habit.
25) Finish 1 Task Before Moving To The Next
If you complete 10% of 10 tasks during 1 day, at the end of the day you’ve completed nothing. You’ve made no impact on your business at all and nothing to show for your efforts.
If you work all day and complete 100% of 1 task, you have finished 1 thing which can now be used to help your business.
For example, if you publish 1 blog post every day, the first blog post can start the process of being ranked by Google straight away.
But if you take 10 days to complete 10 blog posts, you’ve wasted 10 days where 9 of your blog posts could have been ranking and weren’t.
26) Make A ‘Done’ List
Whatever you use to create your to-do lists, create a ‘done’ list where you write what you’ve achieved in there. I use Trello and I create a list called ‘Done’ so that when I complete tasks I move them to this list. It helps you feel good that you’re actually making progress. Which leads me to the next point.
27) Have A Weekly Review Of Your Progress
Once a week, on a Friday afternoon, or even at the weekend, have a review of your work that you’ve achieved that week. You can feel unmotivated if you don’t feel like you’re getting much work done but when you look back over the course of the week, you’ve actually achieved more than you think.
This is why it is important to break projects into small tasks so you can tick them off your to-do list and feel good about yourself.
28) Work According To Your Own Mission Statement
Mission statements aren’t just for big businesses, everyone should use them on a personal level. You can write down the type of person you are, the type of business you have. What you stand for, and what you stand against. This really helps you to make decisions about future work. Does it align with your mission statement?
29) Focus On The Action Rather Than The Outcome
Goal setting is important for deciding what work to plan for the future. But on a day to day basis it is far better to focus on achieving particular tasks, on the action you’re taking rather than when you’ve achieved the big goal or not.
For example, once I set myself a rather lofty goal of moving from six figures to seven figures in my business. I didn’t really know exactly how I was going to achieve this so I just carried on doing the same tasks I’d always done, hoping that time would make things more successful.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that way. Have you ever heard the saying ‘what got you here won’t get you there?’ and often a more radical approach is needed which might actually mean starting a new business.
Anyway, every day I’d wake up and check my sales for the day before and find that my income wasn’t rising. I started to get demotivated that I wasn’t achieving my goals and gave up.
Instead what I should have done was decide on a new course of action and focus on the daily tasks that would help me work towards those goals. Then I could feel good that I was completing the actions every day that were working towards achieving my new goal, not focusing on the goal on a daily basis as this is very demotivating.
30) Work In A Happy Mood
When you work in a good mood, everything flows and you can get things working easily and creativity springs forth from your brain. Have you ever noticed that when you’re working in a bad mood, everything goes wrong, people are irritating you and things are breaking?
The best thing to do is to get yourself in a happy mood before you start your work. To do this you can:
- Do a workout or dance
- Go for a walk
- Listen to upbeat music while you are getting ready and during a commute
- Look at your goals again
- Visualize your future when you’ve achieved your goals
- Look at a photo of someone you love
- Inhale a beautiful scent of an essential oil you love such as rose.
- Say affirmations that get you in a good mood. Say them out loud in front of the mirror for the biggest impact.
31) Don’t Be Busy Or Rushed
We are all so busy these days. Nobody has time for anything and it is the biggest excuse we use to not get things done. But did you know that when you affirm all day long that you are too busy, and you don’t have enough time, then you end up feeling even more rushed and time seems to speed up.
Something I’ve been doing for a while now is to affirm statements such as ‘I have all the time in the world. I have time for everything in my life that’s important to me. I have so much free time for working on my business. My days are so long and I get so much done’.
Believe it or not, it really works!
For 7 years I was too busy to cope with everything I needed to get done for 1 business even though I worked 10 hour days.
But now I’m able to work on 4 businesses and still feel like I have so much free time. It’s like magic!
32) Ask Questions About Solutions Rather Than Problems
Speaking of magic, this tip might be a little woo-woo but hear me out as there’s so much we don’t yet know about how the brain and our lives work.
This is something that works amazingly well for me when I remember to do it, and I’m getting better at it but it does take time.
When most people have problems, what they do is ask questions about those problems all day long such as ‘Why do I always get clients that mess me around’ or ‘Why won’t people pay me what I’m worth’?
Instead, try flipping this on it’s head and make it more positive like this. ‘Why are people willing to pay me exactly what I’m worth’. ‘How do I always manage to find my dread clients so easily?’ and ‘How can it get any better than this?’.
If you are intrigued about this and want to know more, here are 2 books that delve more into this subject in more detail.
Afformations®: The Miracle of Positive Self-Talk by Noah St.John
AFFORMATIONS® isn’t just another book on getting what you want. It’s a proven step-by-step guidebook to living the life of your dreams. INSIDE THIS BOOK, YOU’LL DISCOVER . . . •4 simple steps to reach your goals faster than you ever thought possible (page 35) •How an unhappy employee went from chronic debt to a six-figure income using this method (page 94) •The 5-word phrase that will attract your desires on complete autopilot (page 53) •The 10 words that will help you lose 10 pounds—and keep it off! (page 88) •How to think like a millionaire in less than 5 minutes a day (page 197)AND THAT’S JUST THE BEGINNING . . .
Being You, Changing the World
This is a very different book. It is written for the dreamers of this world-the people who know that something different is possible-but who have never had the tools before., What if I told you that the tools exist? The possibilities you’ve always dreamed of are possible! This book will provide you with a set of practical and dynamic tools and processes that empowers you to know what is true for you and who you truly BE. What if you, being you, can change everything-your life, relationships, body, money situation. . .and the world?
Now that you’ve got everything you need to ramp up your productivity, you might be wondering what to use all that precious time for?
Why not use a blog to create a passive income that will give you the freedom you are craving.
I have a free gift for you that will give you all the tools that I used to create a six-figure blog.
Related Resources You Will Love
This post was originally going to be one long post with 62 points, but the blog post got far too long, so I split it up into 2 separate blog posts. You can read part 1 by clicking the link below:
- 30 Easy Productivity Tips For Entrepreneurs That Double Your Output
- 150 Productivity Affirmations To Make You Sharper And Faster
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