As an entrepreneur, your productivity directly impacts your income. The impact is exponential. If you double your productivity, you don’t just double your income – you easily multiply your earnings by 5 times, 10 times or even more. Mastering productivity is one of the highest leverage skills you could learn.
Here are five simple yet powerful ways to boost your productivity:
#1: Identify Your Time Leaks
Programs like Time Doctor allow you to track exactly what you do with your time. Do you spend most of your time productively working on your projects? Or do you spend your time on emails, Facebook, YouTube or Reddit?
Record your time data for a week, then take a good hard look at your habits. Set concrete goals for cutting down on the most intensive time sinks.
#2: Zero Inbox
Introduced in David Allen’s “Getting Things Done,” Zero Inbox is a seemingly simple idea: get your inbox down to zero, regularly. Simple as it may seem, implementing this habit alone can have a profound impact on your output and efficiency.
An unsorted item in your inbox takes up psychological space. It’s an open loop. Your mind doesn’t know exactly how much time or energy that loop will take to close, so it adds a tiny fraction of stress. Email after email adds up to more and more stress. Having a dozens of unsorted emails quickly creates a cloud of stress that slows down productivity.
If you have a ton of unsorted emails, start by archiving everything older than 2 weeks. Then look at each email and ask yourself: “what’s the next action on this email?” File items that have due dates into a calendar system. File concrete tasks into a task list. File resources into a resource folder. Anything that takes less than 2 minutes, do it on the spot.
Hitting Zero Inbox is incredibly liberating. When your inbox is empty, you know for a fact that you have no outstanding obligations.
#3: The Pomodoro System
A Pomodoro is a unit of time. It’s exactly 25 minutes long. It’s 25 minutes of uninterrupted work on a single task. Before you begin, you choose what you’ll be working on for the Pomodoro. If you get interrupted for any reason, the Pomodoro doesn’t count. No phone calls, emails, bathroom breaks, no distractions of any sort.
Using the Pomodoro system makes it far, far easier to focus. Instead of bouncing from task to task, you work on one task for a set period of time. At first, this might seem limiting. In reality, it’s very freeing. Your mind knows that for 25 minutes, you have only one thing you need to think about. Concentration and productivity goes up drastically.
#4: Chunk Down Large Projects
If a project seems indigestibly large to your mind, it often leads to procrastination. For example, “write a 50 page paper” can seem quite intimidating. Yet if the paper is due in 90 days, that’s really about half a page per day.
Break large tasks into bite-sized chunks, then schedule those chunks into your task list. Instead of “50 page paper due,” schedule half pages or full pages each day. This frees up mental space, reduces stress and makes your task list much easier to manage.
#5: Use Email for Collection and Reminders
Never, ever try to hold tasks in your mind. Your mind can only hold 2-4 items at a time. If your mind is your default task storage mechanism, you’ll very quickly start dropping balls. If you sometimes drop balls, some part of your mind will always have to wonder if there’s something you’re forgetting. This mental loop becomes very stressful and unproductive.
Whenever you come across something you need to handle later, send yourself an email. Do it on the go from your smartphone. Then, later as you’re working your emails down to Zero Inbox, file that task in the appropriate place.
Use Boomerang to send yourself reminders or delayed emails so they end up on your inbox at the right time. For example, if an employee told you they’d get you a design draft by Monday, Boomerang that email to Tuesday morning. If you haven’t received it by then, the email will be a great reminder to follow up.
These five system together can increase your productivity by at least 300%. Start by cutting your time sinks. Build the Zero Inbox habit to clear your mind and eliminate dropped tasks. Use the Pomodoro system to boost concentration and use chunk sizing to erase procrastination. Finally, use emails to remind yourself of tasks that come up while on the go and use Boomerang to send yourself reminders. Do all this and your productivity will skyrocket.