As an entrepreneur, it can often feel like your To Do List grows much more quickly than you’re able to check things off of it. If only we all had 50-hour days, right?!
But, of course, we have a finite amount of time each day to work with, so the trick is finding ways to make the most of that. Whether you’re a solopreneur or part of a team, creating systems to boost productivity in your workday can make a huge impact on your overall business performance and growth.
Productivity tips for entrepreneurs
Here are our top five tried-and-tested ways to boost workday productivity to get more done in your business:
1. Daily Big Three
How many items are on your To Do list each day? More than three? 😅
Don’t worry—if you’re swimming in a pages-long list of “urgent tasks,” simplifying your focus each day will actually help you achieve more of what’s most important.
When our To Do list is too long, it becomes harder to prioritize, and thus harder to focus and finish the most important tasks on hand. And, too often, a lengthy list of “high priority” tasks leads to many entrepreneurs spending time on tasks that are not making a significant impact on the bottom line of our businesses.
Start each day by making a list of your Big Three—the top three tasks you’ll focus on that day to make a direct impact on your business’ growth and profits.
By narrowing down your list to these key areas, you’ll be better able to focus your energy on the tasks that will ultimately grow and enhance your business.
2. Batch scheduling
Our brains are much more efficient at completing several of the same task repeatedly than completing the same set of tasks on a sporadic schedule. This is because each time we change our focus to a different task (and thus a different type of thinking), there’s a bit of a ramp-up delay. (Not to mention any delay associated with physically getting started with each task—whether that’s getting out the supplies needed or opening the necessary documents or software on your computer.)
For repeated, non-urgent tasks in your business, it’s most efficient to batch them together rather than completing them individually as they come up. For example, we’ve shared before about our process of using batching for curating Pinterest content and growing website traffic through Tailwind Tribes.
Think of the tasks you complete in your business—can any of them be grouped together and done once per day/week/month (or whichever schedule makes sense for your purposes)?
Here’s one our favorite ways to use batch scheduling to boost workday productivity:
Create an email schedule
One of the most common drains on an entrepreneur’s time is email communication.
We have an entire post on good email etiquette, but it primarily covers best practices as it relates to providing service to others. To boost workday productivity, we also need to have good email etiquette for ourselves.
For many entrepreneurs, a healthy relationship with email means not being chained to your inbox in a way that distracts and detracts from other projects and productivity throughout the day.
There are few different approaches to batching your email correspondence, and different strategies will work best for different people or business types. Some of the most common email batching schedules are:
Set specific days of the week you’ll read and respond to email
Set specific hours of the day you’ll read and respond to email
Note: Some people choose to set up an auto-reply to let senders know of their email schedule and manage expectations about the response timeline. While this may be necessary in certain circumstances, we don’t recommend it for most people, because a) it teaches colleagues and customers that you’ll be available to them at a specific time (and you may not always be), b) it clutters the sender’s inbox each time they email you, and c) it’s not necessary if you’ll be replying within a reasonable window of time anyway (usually about two business days).
3. Time blocking
Time blocking goes hand-in-hand with the daily Big Three and Batching strategies above. Once you have your daily Big Three and have set timelines for any batched work, you can schedule your workdays with the method of time blocking.
We’ve all experienced a simple project that ends up taking 5x as long as we had planned for it to, right?
Time blocking helps with productivity because it builds in a system for keeping us on track. By setting time limits we’re actually better able to accomplish what’s most important. (A good example of this is that you could spend all day thoroughly cleaning and organizing your home, but if you have five minutes to quickly clean up before someone comes over, you’re able to prioritize and focus on what’s most important—and get it done in those five minutes.)
The Pomodoro Technique is one of the most popular time blocking methods, and it’s used by people around the globe, in many different industries. It’s based on using a timer to break work into 25-minute intervals separated by short breaks. Here’s how it works:
Choose your task
Set a timer for 25 minutes
Work on the task
Stop working with the timer goes off
Take a short 3-5 minute break and start the process again
After four rounds, take a longer 15–30 minute break and start the process again
Whether you follow the Pomodoro Technique or choose to work in different intervals of time, the process is essentially the same: choose your task and time limit, set your timer, and go!
4. Intentional notifications
Most of us receive the default notifications on our smartphone or computer, simply because we haven’t elected to change our apps’ default notification settings.
Intentionally choosing and adjusting the notifications you receive throughout the workday can greatly alleviate unnecessary distractions while you’re working. (And, of course, removing distractions helps boost productivity!)
There may be some notifications you can’t completely turn off, such as any that your line of work requires you respond to immediately. But the trick here is to consciously distinguish between alerts that do need to be responded to quickly, and those that don’t need our urgent attention (though we may have accidentally been telling ourselves that they do).
Look through your phone and computer settings for the notifications you receive and turn off those that aren’t needed during work hours. (An easy way to do this if you don’t want any notifications during work time is to set your phone on Do Not Disturb during those hours.)
5. Productivity software & apps
Boosting business productivity is all about working smarter, not harder!
We use several strategic business tools to boost workday capacity and productivity. We’ve shared a full list of our recommended business tools (perfect for small businesses and entrepreneurs!), but here are a few of our favorites that can make a huge impact on productivity:
Note: these are affiliate links, through which Five Design Co. may earn a small commission on your purchase, at no additional cost to you. We only share products or services we personally use and love.
We’ve talked lots before about using Pinterest and Tailwind to promote your website (and blog) content and grow your website traffic. It’s our favorite strategy for website growth, and Tailwind is our favorite tool to streamline and automate it. (See our full strategy for setting up and using Tailwind.)
Bonsai is an all-in-one productivity solution for freelancers and small businesses, automating the client process from proposals to contracts to time tracking, invoicing and payments, all the way to taxes and accounting. In streamlining all of these steps of the freelancing process, and linking them under “one roof,” this tool dramatically cuts down the time manually re-creating each step of the process for each new client.
Though it takes some back-end work to set up, ConvertKit is one of the most robust email marketing tools available and does amazing work behind-the-scenes to grow your email list and segment it for strategic email marketing.
Airtable is a powerful content-based spreadsheet that can be used to organize allll sorts of information. Because of its flexibility in organizing and managing many different types of data, we use it for a wide range of business information and planning. It’s one of our favorite tools for planning content calendars, marketing plans and launch timelines, as well as storing and organizing lists and ideas.