Wooden blocks set up as a staircase with light bulb on the top, in front of black stone board.
Image: © PiyawatNandeenoparit/Stock.adobe.com

15 lessons in productivity to set you up for success

23 Aug 2019

Resume.io looked at what makes the world’s most successful founders productive, giving us a list of top tips that anyone can apply.

One of the greatest challenges we can be faced with at work is keeping our productivity levels afloat. Naturally, there are certain times of the day when your focus can drop or you feel as though you’re not giving 100pc.

Thankfully, Resume.io has pulled together a list of top tips from the world’s most successful founders, so that we can rethink our daily work routines for the better.

1. Minimise interruptions

To facilitate critical thinking in the office, make it a rule that when someone is speaking, they shouldn’t be interrupted. Ensuring everyone is on the same page here creates an all-hands-on-deck environment that fosters teamwork and critical thinking during meetings.

2. Do the most difficult tasks first

It’s important to remember not to prioritise immediate satisfaction over long-term rewards, such as responding to an email instead of writing a report. Identifying the best use of your time ultimately maximises your productivity. Author Brian Tracy argues that if you do your difficult tasks first, your other tasks won’t seem so bad.

3. Incorporate meetings realistically

According to a Harvard Business School survey, 71pc of senior managers said their meetings were inefficient and 65pc believed that meetings kept them from completing their own work. A useful way to minimise disruptions is to create discrete meeting-free periods that everyone is aware of, marked down as scheduled blocks in the working day, to allow for deep-thinking work.

4. Set decision deadlines

The longer you wait to make a decision, the riskier it becomes. When you wait you miss opportunities, meaning your competition can catch up or even pass you out. Setting a deadline to make a decision will motivate you to act earlier.

5. Achieve productivity through punctuality

Being punctual maximises the time you can spend on a task. The power of 10 extra minutes per morning is demonstrated by the fact that being 10 minutes late each day is the equivalent of a week’s paid leave over a year.

6. Dedicate space if working from home

A Stanford study showed that working from home increases productivity by 13pc as a result of saved energy from commuting, the greater comfort of one’s surroundings and flexibility in choosing when to work. To improve your productivity when working from home, set up a dedicated workspace like a home office or desk.

7. Delegate

Blocking off time in your schedule away from other people and distractions gives you the space to focus on deeper thought rather than simply reacting to immediate issues. Delegating takes less important but more time-consuming tasks off your plate, freeing up your time.

8. Don’t ruminate on mistakes

Dwelling on mistakes is unproductive and keeps you from accomplishing more important tasks. Research shows that dwelling on shortcomings and mistakes increases the risk of mental health problems. Think about why the mistake happened, what you can do differently next time, and what you can learn from it, then let it go.

9. Learn to say ‘no’

That simple two-letter word can help relieve stress, burnout and even depression, allowing you to minimise your obligations and give them greater focus. Try talking to your manager about your capacity and priorities or suggest another person who could pick up on the task.

10. Pare down information

Put effort into considering an issue from all angles before rushing into a decision. The extra time spent will ensure less time is wasted on future readjustments. As co-founder of Microsoft Bill Gates advised: “Don’t make the same decision twice. Spend time and thought to make a solid decision the first time so that you don’t revisit the issue unnecessarily.”

11. Be clear about response times

Being clear about response times means that at a single glance you can order the priority of your communications and quickly focus on projects that require immediate attention.

12. Sleep your way to success

A Harvard report showed that the effects of a lack of sleep include reduced efficiency and productivity, and more errors and accidents. For a good night’s sleep, minimise external noise, light and artificial lights from devices. Keeping a regular schedule around meal times, exercise and work can help too.

13. Embrace automation

Utilising automation means you can concentrate on more important tasks and combat decision fatigue, which is a deterioration of our decision-making ability. Put your chores on autopilot by creating a weekly list that breaks them down into small segments, making the tasks seem less daunting.

14. Switch off notifications

Turning off notifications is proven to improve focus and increase productivity. The average person touches their phone 2,617 times a day, checks email 74 times and receives 46 notifications.

15. Reward yourself

Choose a daunting task and set a reward, such as a nice dinner, a new video game or tickets to a gig, to give you something to focus on and an immediate benefit for completing it.

For more ideas, check out this infographic Resume.io has pulled together, with tips from some of the most successful tech founders. You can view the infographic in full here.

founder advice infographic

Infographic: Resume.io

Want stories like this and more direct to your inbox? Sign up for Tech Trends, Silicon Republic’s weekly digest of need-to-know tech news.

Lisa Ardill
By Lisa Ardill

Lisa Ardill joined Silicon Republic as senior careers reporter in July 2019. She has a BA in neuroscience and a master’s degree in science communication. She is also a semi-published poet and a big fan of doggos. Lisa briefly served as Careers Editor at Silicon Republic before leaving the company in June 2021.

Loading now, one moment please! Loading