CF Saskatchewan Blog

10 Productivity-Boosting Tools & Time Hacks for Entrepreneurs

  • April 8, 2017
  • Written by Community Futures Saskatchewan

If you have ever felt like there just aren’t enough hours in the day, you’re not alone. Many entrepreneurs struggle to accomplish everything on their to-do lists, and 79% of them believe that they are working too much, according to The Alternative Board. The good news is that you can get some of those hours back by making your time more efficient.

Experiment with the following scheduling tools, productivity hacks, and time management habits that other entrepreneurs and professionals swear by. You might discover that 24 hours per day is more than enough after all.

Productivity-Boosting Tools for Busy Business Owners

1. For Scheduling Appointments: Assistant.to

Avoid the back and forth of “what time works for you?” Streamline appointment scheduling with an online tool like Assistant.to, which integrates with your email and calendar. With the free scheduling app, you can easily offer available meeting times via email so recipients can choose a slot that works for them… and when they do, the meeting automatically pops onto your calendar.

2. For Reducing Distractions: Freedom.to

Do you find yourself getting sucked into Facebook or YouTube several times a week? Salvage your most productive hours using Freedom, an app designed to block distraction and promote focus. After installing the software, you can set it to block any website (like social media platforms or online news sites) at specified times. That means no more Facebook notifications taking your attention away from work, and a more industrious workday.

3. For Project Management: Asana

Make juggling tasks a little easier with Asana, a project management app that allows you to break larger projects into smaller tasks and track their progress via a comprehensive dashboard. It’s great for solopreneurs, but it’s also perfect for small business owners who manage teams since Asana allows you to assign tasks to others, attach due dates, and even chat about projects without ever leaving the program.

4. For Virtual Assistance: Upwork

The Pareto Principle, or the 80/20 Rule, suggests that 20% of your efforts yield 80% of your results. Therefore, handle the most important 20% of tasks on your own and then delegate the remaining 80% using Upwork, a site for hiring freelancers. Whether you need administrative support or assistance with accounting, Upwork can find the right people for the job so you have time for your most essential responsibilities.

Time Management Hacks and Habits for Successful Entrepreneurs

1. Use your first 30 minutes wisely

Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek and Tools of Titans, uses his morning to get into the right mindset for work; he ruminates on what he would like to accomplish, meditates, and exercises. Take a page from Tim’s playbook by spending your first 30 minutes every morning planning your day and enjoying a little “me” time, which sets a positive tone for the following hours.

2. Schedule time between tasks

Nathan Kleitman, a sleep researcher, determined that the average person undergoes rest-activity cycles throughout the day. Translation: you’ll only be able to focus for 90-120 minutes at a time before needing a break. Leave room for these breaks on your calendar in order to mentally unwind and stay productive over the long run.

3. Avoid inbox overload

Email can be a huge time sucker. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, employees spend an average of 13 hours a week reading and replying to email. Don’t get sucked into the black hole—try checking email only at designated times throughout the day rather than keeping constant watch (unless you have to be available for customer service, of course).

4. Tackle fewer choices

The more decisions you must make every day, the greater your odds of making poorer choices (this is known as decision fatigue). The solution is to minimize the number of daily decisions on your plate, from small scale decisions like wardrobe choices to larger choices like which business strategy to pursue.

If you can’t remove these decisions from your life, at least try being more proactive about them. For instance, choose what you’re going to wear the night before or spend Sunday preparing your meals for the upcoming week.

5. Minimize meetings

A study conducted by Atlassian determined that the average professional wastes roughly 31 hours per month in unproductive meetings. The Wall Street Journal determined that CEOs typically spend 18 hours of a 55-hour workweek on meetings—nearly 33% of their time! That’s a lot of hours at stake.

Minimize the number of meetings you host/join every week, or try cutting the average meeting from 60 to 30 minutes. The shorter length will force everyone to be more concise and only address the most important issues rather than straying off course.

6. Write down three top to-dos

An ever-growing to-do list is enough to give any entrepreneur anxiety. Overcome the overwhelm by tackling just a handful of top priorities every day—three at most. This smaller scope will keep you focused, motivated, and on course toward achieving your short- and long-term objectives.

Learn the simple 6-step system to achieving your business goals on a busy schedule.

Download The Ultimate Goal-Setting Guide for Entrepreneurs!