Many successful entrepreneurs, including founders of multi-billion dollar companies, got to where they are through a combination of unique idea generation and hard work. Naturally, most of us aspire to achieve something similar—even if we can’t hope to replicate that scale.
That’s one reason why I like to read and discover some of the unique productivity hacks, habits, and behaviors that helped those successful entrepreneurs achieve their status. I’ve listed some of my favorites below.
Productivity Hacks from Top Entrepreneurs
Try these interesting productivity hacks from some of the most successful entrepreneurs of our era:
1. Elon Musk: Schedule your day in 5-minute intervals
Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and SpaceX, uses time blocking to schedule his day in intervals as small as 5 minutes. In other words, he breaks his day down into 5-minute chunks, and schedules tasks, meetings, and events accordingly. You don’t have to think in 5-minute intervals, but any effort you make to block your time can be helpful. You can also improve your efficiency by “batching” similar tasks together; for example, you can block out 45 minutes to catch up on emails in the morning.
2. Jeff Bezos: Keep meetings small with the 2-pizza rule
Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and richest man in the world, uses the 2-pizza rule to estimate appropriate meeting attendance. He will only invite a number of people to a meeting who can be fed by a total of 2 pizzas. Obviously, this is not a precise calculation. The point is, you should be restricting your meetings to only the people who matter most. This will be helpful for facilitating better, more productive discussions; plus, you’ll cut down on the amount of total time wasted, since fewer people will be spending time.
3. Ray Dalio: Meditate on a daily basis
Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates, credits his success to daily meditation. He’s encouraged his employees to practice transcendental meditation, and has even written a book on the subject. There are many meditation practices you can experiment with, stemming from different philosophies and backgrounds, but most of them attempt to achieve a similar goal: clearing your mind and improving your focus. Give it a try, and make it a habit to see if it works for you.
4. Mark Zuckerberg: Minimize decision fatigue
It’s been a known secret for many years that Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, wears the same clothes to work every day. But why? Zuckerberg’s idea here is to eliminate (or at least reduce) decision fatigue, or the accumulation of stress and anxiety as you make decisions throughout the day. If you can eliminate some decisions from your daily schedule (like choosing what to wear), you’ll cut down on decision fatigue, power up your thought leadership, and make important decisions (like choosing a vendor) much less stressful.
5. Jack Dorsey: Rely on day theming
Jack Dorsey, founder of Twitter, assigns themes to each day of the workweek. This is useful for splitting up your priorities, and remaining focused on the work that matters most. For example, you could use Monday as a day for meetings and catching up communications. You could use Tuesday for heads-down, focused work, and Wednesday for high-level strategic planning. It becomes even more effective if you turn it into a consistent routine.
6. Dustin Moskowitz: Keep one day completely free
In line with this, Dustin Moskowitz, founder of Asana, always keeps one day of the week completely free of meetings and scheduled events. In the scenario we outlined above, this could be Tuesday—a day in which there are no meetings, whatsoever. Meetings aren’t necessarily bad, but they often distract you from your individual priorities.
7. Tim Ferriss: Apply the 80/20 rule
Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek, recommends using the Pareto principle (or the 80/20 rule) to be more selective about your work. The basic idea is that 80 percent of your results come from 20 percent of your inputs—in other words, 80 percent of your value in a day comes from 20 percent of your working hours. Which types of tasks matter most, and how can you prioritize them over others?
Uncovering Your Own Productivity Hacks
While I certainly enjoy reading and learning from some of history’s greatest entrepreneurs, I also think it’s important to avoid succumbing to hero worship or survivorship bias. Just because an entrepreneur found success doesn’t mean they’re good at everything, and just because a habit or trick worked well for one entrepreneur doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you.
Experiment with different tools, strategies, scheduling approaches, and time management techniques—and be sure to measure your results. Find a combination of strategies that best suits your personality and work style, and don’t be afraid to work new approaches into your rotation.
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