32 Productivity Tips from the World’s Top Creatives
Most marketers, especially those that run their own businesses, juggle dozens of different tasks throughout the day. From meeting with prospective clients to managing current accounts to building your own brand, many marketers find themselves overwhelmed by the sheer number of things they have to accomplish during working hours.
The key to achieving real, lasting success as a marketer isn’t spending 16 hours a day plowing through your to-do list in a panic. The real trick is learning how to work productively so that you can manage your workload while still finding time to have and enjoy a real, outside-of-the-office life. But how to be productive?
The world’s leading creatives know this well; the most successful business owners are the ones who have figured out how to most productively manage their time. Today, we’re taking a look at 32 tips from some of the most skilled people in different fields.
#1: Implement a Morning Routine
Everyone from Casey Neistat to Barack Obama has extolled the virtue of creating a morning routine. According to Hal Elrod, author of The Miracle Morning, the morning is the most important part of the day for many people – it’s when you set the tone for your day.
Decide what makes a great morning for you and then do that every single day. Don’t waver. Be vigilant in protecting your time and setting yourself up for success.
#2: Don’t Check Your Email First Thing In The Morning
Most of us wake up in the morning and immediately check our phones to see what happened over night. According to entrepreneur Alex Charfen, this is one of the worst things you can do.
Emails have a tendency of throwing us off our game – you may find a fire that you suddenly need to put out or you may get sidetracked from your planned activities. Wait to check your email until after you’ve completed your morning routine so that you’re in the right frame of mind to attack the rest of the day.
#3: Find Your Best Hours
If you’re often asking yourself how to be productive at work, this tip might help. Everyone has different hours that they are most productive, as Carrie Dorr of Pure BarreI, notes for instance, work very well early in the morning but almost always slump off after lunch. The same task that takes me ten minutes at 8:00 AM will take me 30 at 3:00 PM. Find the times that you work best and use those as your work hours.
#4: Encourage Collaboration
Julia Hartz, co-founder of EventBrite, swears by using Asana for collaboration. According to Hartz, having a central place to keep track of short and long term projects helps her team collaborate more productively.
#5: Learn the Power of “No”
David Bladow of BloomThat has no problem telling people “no”. He has set his routine and sticks to it, no matter what other people ask of him. Bladow says that doing so prioritizes his health and productivity over others’.
#6: Try Out a Bullet Journal
Lifestyle and fitness influencer Jo Encarnacion swears by her bullet journal. Encarnacion says the clean and simple format of the bullet journal helps her keep track of what she needs to do and easily see her progress towards different tasks. Similarly, the flexibility of the bullet journal allows her to do everything from note-take to budget, all in one place.
#7: A Clean Workspace Is a Happy Workspace
Basecamp co-founder David Heinemeier Hansson says that the key to her daily productivity is creating an environment he can be productive in. Another creative, Remi Ishizuka always makes sure that her desk and workspace are clear and clean before she starts a project. Starting the day with a true tabula rasa is a great way to ensure that your day feels manageable. A chaotic desk
Sometimes you need to step away, says Lisa Forde of Dotty About Paper. Completely away. Take time away from your phone, your computer, and your tablet to go sit outside for awhile. Your brain, and your eyes, will thank you.
#9: Do an 80/20 Analysis
Entrepreneur Tim Ferriss often talks about doing an 80/20 analysis of your work to find what’s bringing you the most success. According to Ferris, 20% of our activities often bring us 80% of our results. Find that 20% and focus on that. When you prioritize your work this way, you’ll be getting more results for less effort. Who doesn’t like that?
#10: Find a Partner
“Work can be lonely. Facing a daunting to-do list without help can be incredibly intimidating and frustrating,” explains the team at BookMint. Getting a partner can help energize you and make you excited to tackle projects again. You don’t necessarily need to find a business partner, either – a friend in the office or a buddy to go make some coffee (here’s my favorite way) will do the trick, too.
#11: Set an Artificial Deadline
Many people have trouble with projects that don’t have deadlines, notes the ace marketers at Aprimo. I’m one of them. I’ll think about them, but I won’t necessarily make any forward progress until I know that they’re actually coming due. In order to be most productive, consider setting artificial deadlines or goals for your projects. This practice will help you keep on track and avoid a last-minute freak out that takes you out of your routine.
Alexa von Tobel of LearnVest automates everything, from her food subscriptions to what she wears. According to von Tobel, the more automation, the better. After all, wouldn’t you rather spend your time focusing on the tasks that matter, rather than remembering to get toilet paper? However, use a bit of caution and don’t go too far with it. Authenticity still trumps automation every time so finding a balance is key.
#13: Track Your Time
Many entrepreneurs and business owners swear by the Pomodoro Technique, like John Sonmez of Simple Programmer, which involves 25 minutes of no-nonsense, focused work-time, followed by five minutes of a break or relaxation. If this regimented style isn’t quite for you, don’t worry. There are many ways to track the time you spend working. When you track your time, you’ll get a good idea of where your energy is going, so that you can get better prioritize in the future.
#14: Move Your Body
Supermodel Karlie Kloss moves her body each day. And while working out may seem like a luxury that’s just for supermodels, it’s actually a great way to increase your productivity. When you exercise, you help stimulate blood flow throughout your body, which can make decision-making easier.
#15: Get Rid of Unnecessary Things
Clear out the clutter, says Greg McKeown, author of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. Just like a clear desk is a happy desk, a clear mind is a happy ind. Get rid of your distractions so you can drill down to what really matters.
#16: Pre-plan Your Meals
Many busy people find themselves forgetting one important part of their day: meal times. Chicago entrepreneur Candy Scott of Mood Design + Build knows this well. When you’re trying to manage a never-ending to-do list, it can be easy to forget that you have to function as a human and feed yourself, too. BY pre-planning your meals, you’re saving your time and your wallet. You’ll be able to roll into lunch break and actually eat, rather than waste ten minutes of precious downtime trying to figure out where the closest burrito is.
#17: Reward Yourself
Don’t underestimate the power of an incentive, both for your team and for yourself, as Signal’s team notes. If you want to watch the latest episode of your favorite trashy television show, let yourself do it as a reward, after you’ve crossed off a certain number of tasks from your list. Working towards a reward will help you work faster, thereby increasing your productivity.
#18: Move While You Work
Andy from Ticketlab has found a unique hack for making the most of his meetings: he conducts a lot of them while walking. According to Andy, when you walk and talk, you’ll clear your head and have the added bonus of taking care of your body.
#19: Drop the Guilt
Sometimes, you’ll miss a deadline, says Joanna Strober of Kurbo Health. Sometimes, you’ll forget a task. Sometimes, you’ll have to say no to a project that you really want to work on. Those are all okay. Give yourself permission to make mistakes and love your fate. Give yourself permission to mess up now and then. It’s not the end of the world.
#20: Take Notes
There are tons of apps that you can use to take notes, from the built-in Notes app on an iPhone to apps like EverNote. Randi Zuckerberg of Zuckerberg Media is a huge proponent of this tip. Constantly taking notes can help you remember important or exciting ideas, so that you don’t waste time wondering, “What was I thinking?” when it comes time to sit down and get to work. Another option for taking notes is to use some sort of records management software to organize everything you’ve done in the past. Google Drive and Dropbox have limitations, especially if you work in a paper-heavy industry.
#21: Turn Off the Notifications
Danielle Yacobovsky of BaubleBar, has an unconventional tip for productivity: turn off your phone. While that may seem groundbreaking (not to mention impossible), it’s actually a good insight. Your phone has almost limitless distractions – mute them, and you’ll be surprised what you can do.
A rested brain is a productive brain, as BloomThat’s David Bladow knows. While everyone needs to pull the occasional all-nighter, you should aim to get seven to eight hours of good, consistent sleep each night.
#23: Check Off Some Small Things
When you don’t know where to start, it’s best to start small, says Baked by Melissa’s Melissa Ben-Ishay. Checking off something, anything, from your to-do list will help you feel like you’re making forward progress. When I have a lot to do but no idea what to do first, I’ll often start with the easiest task, like responding to emails or checking responses on a social media account. While these small tasks may seem like low-hanging fruit, they help me get into a mindset of accomplishment, rather than panic.
#24: Change Up Your Environment
Angie Hicks, of Angie’s List, likes to move her workspace around. According to Angie, when you get into a new space, you also get a new mindset, one that helps you prioritize what comes next.
#25: Nix the Meetings
Lyft co-founder John Zimmer has a hard and fast rule: three hours per day with no meetings. While working your partners and co-workers can be great, it can also be a big time suck. Set aside time where no one can bother you (really!) and you’ll be surprised how much you can accomplish.
#26: Remember Your “Why”
It’s easy to lose track of the “why” when you’re burdened with the day-to-day slog of getting things done, acknowledges author Jill Farmer. When your to-do list is overwhelming or when the doubt starts to creep in, go back to your “why.” It’ll help you ground yourself to complete your work.
#27: Stop Multitasking
Put the phone down while you’re on your computer, says Jennifer Hyman of Rent the Runway. Don’t try to do everything at once. Turn off the television while you’re reading. In general, just stop multitasking. Focus on one thing, and one thing only. Then move on when it’s time.
#28: Re-prioritize When You Need To
Digital marketing expert Leslie Gilmour of Cube Digital practices what he calls “relentless list-building.” Gilmour is a big fan of making sure you’re checking off the most important tasks that need to get done, so he’ll take a break several times a day to make sure that he’s on the right track.
#29: Make a “Done” List
Christine Barberich of Refinery29 swears by creating a “done list.” In fact, according to Barberich, your “done list” is just as important as your “to-do list”. For Barberich, the done list helps you remember the effort you’ve already put in, which is great for building confidence if you’re facing a seemingly insurmountable challenge.
#30: Schedule Everything
When you’re busy, things won’t get done unless you schedule them, Jason Zook of Wandering Aimfully. To be productive, you need to monitor everything – from your emails to your meetings. When you have a schedule, you’ll know what to do at different intervals. You’ll also make sure that you don’t forget important things, like eating dinner or taking a much-needed mind break.
#31: Trust Others
Business mastermind expert Ken Wallace knows that it’s important to delegate, especially bootstrapping a company of one. And he knows that the key to delegating is to actually trust other people. Wallace says that letting other people complete tasks frees up your time so that you can focus on the things you’re best at.
#32: Do Your Best
Get up. Get dressed. Show up. This is what Bea Fishel-Bock of Hutch suggests. Every minute you’re showing up, you’re getting ahead of someone else who isn’t.
What About You?
What helps you stay productive and get more done? Let us know!