There are always those successful entrepreneurs and small business owners who check so many tasks off of their to-do list, it seems they must have extra hours in the day. But since they’re only human, there must be something they’re doing to get so much done, right? There must be habits and hacks they have to increase productivity while encouraging inspiration to strike and creativity to flow.
In Tim Ferriss’ 2016 book, “Tools of Titans,” he gathered the habits of major field leaders and some of the most popular answers were daily mindfulness and—of all things—cooling pads for mattresses, which relax the body and help you sleep. Interesting, right?
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We took note and asked several entrepreneurs and business owners what habits they have to keep themselves motivated and increase productivity. Their responses are below.
They embrace their body clocks
Contrary to popular belief, not every productive person wakes up at dawn. You just have to tap into the rhythm that works best for you.
“I wake up at 9:30 a.m. and work until 2 a.m.,” Brandon Crossley, CEO of Poindexter, said. “Because no one bothers you at 2 a.m.”
Ben Taylor, consultant and founder of Homeworking Club, makes the most of his sleep troubles, saying, “I embrace my insomnia and messy sleep patterns and try to make myself productive at unusual times.”
They keep themselves moving
It’s no secret that exercise gives you a hit of energizing endorphins and is a tool to recharge for many. Sometimes even switching up your routine provides some much needed perspective change during a busy day.
Shyam K. Iyer, founder of SKI Charities, does this by utilizing multiple workspaces throughout the workday, something he says keeps him energized and on his toes. Zachary Weiner, CEO of Emerging Insider Communications, shares that he closes his office door and does a headstand in his office every few hours to keep the blood flowing.
Sydney Liu, co-founder of Commaful, has a nice energy-jolting habit, too. “Every time I leave the room, I have to do five pull-ups,” he shares. “After doing pull-ups, I drink a lot of water. So the cycle repeats itself!”
They get unique with their to-do lists
Andrew Elliot of Go Designer Go changes up the normal to-do list to keep his mind engaged, and he keeps track of his daily accomplishments as encouragement, too. His secret to beating monotony?
“I change the format of how my lists are written each day,” he said. “Some days I write in a spiral, or I change the spatial relation of the two lists. It makes you focus more on what you are writing and less on the dread of a long, boring list.”
Graciela Tiscareño-Sato of Gracefully Global Group does her to-do list on large pieces of butcher paper, one for the larger goals for her corporation, and one just for her.
Marketing consultant Nicole Royer separates her list of tasks into four categories: keep, give away, throw away and later. “I try to spend as little time on unnecessary tasks as possible,” she said. “Being very clear about what’s most important and time relevant really helps with that.”
They design their own kind of mindfulness
Many super successful people use mindfulness as a technique to find their centers and give their mind a much needed break.
Diane Elizabeth, founder of Skin Care Ox, uses sound to get in her flow. “I have a habit of listening to subliminal music whenever I’m having trouble getting things done…after a few minutes of listening to what is essentially ‘productivity hypnosis music,’ I find myself easing into my work effortlessly.”
They take multitasking to another level
Many entrepreneurs we spoke to noted how they try to put their commute and their workouts to extra use by checking emails, scheduling and brainstorming during that time. But some had even more unique multitasking tips.
Antonia Townsend, founder and CEO of [Enclosed], a lingerie subscription service, took a tip from a friend to use her morning routine to be productive. Her pal studied for her MBA at a makeshift work station while she straightened her very difficult to tame hair—now Townsend does something similar. She also notes that she makes her commute specifically a time to connect to other business women who inspire her.
Alan Ilyaich, founder of Eco Choice Windows & Doors, carries his laptop everywhere, so he can do work at the drop of a hat. “This includes bringing my laptop to family gatherings and the gym,” he added. “Just to name a few.”
They get their art on
Sometimes you just have to get the brain working outside your box. How about doing a little doodle or singing a tune?
Sam Olmsted, director of search and content at Online Optimism, said she’s found a great creative practice in drawing political cartoons, something she started during the hectic political news cycle.
“I wake up, read the news and draw a cartoon,” she shared. “It helps me to stay relevant, interpret information and be creative and artistic enough to get my thoughts onto a one-panel cartoon format. Not only have I gotten a jump on the day waking up one and a half hours earlier than I used to, but I stimulate my brain in a way that helps me execute my daily tasks in a creative way.”
They make brainstorming bizarre
“When brainstorming sock designs, we gather around a whiteboard and blurt out absurd ideas,” Sergey Sapelnyk of Society Socks, a sock subscription service, said. “The goal is to to think (of) radical and nonsensical ideas, and what we find time and time again is that no idea is too crazy.”
Repeat that last part, friends: no idea is too crazy.
They recognize their most creative moments in the day
Some people feel most creative in the morning, others right before they go to bed.
Scott Kalwei, founder and operator of the innovative self pouring pub, Ruins Pub, takes tiny breaks throughout the day to shake it up and keep his mind engaged and fresh. And what does he do during those little breaks? “I like to spin around in my computer chair.” While it may seem dumb, he says, those moments get his head clear and right where it needs to be.
They work less
Not overworking can be a major key to both success and that other elusive goal: happiness.
“It sounds counterintuitive, but working less has enabled me to be much more productive. In the past after working long hours, I found myself avoiding difficult tasks, learning little, remembering less and making mistakes,” Brad M. Shaw, president and CEO of Dallas Web Design Inc., said.
So don’t forget to work a daily wind-down into your habits, as well.