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The Tools That 5 Highly Productive Entrepreneurs Use

Slack. Tripit. Dropir. SproutSocial: Is your head spinning yet? Here are recommendations for the best productivity tools to use.

Han-Gwon Lung

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When I graduated from college, I had no work experience. And that didn’t sit too well with the real life that followed. The result? I repeatedly messed up at work or fell behind schedule because I lacked good productivity habits. Before long, I realised I needed help.

So I turned to productivity apps for answers. In the years since, I’ve tried everything from Asana to ZipSchedules, and I’ve progressed from being basically unhire-able to running my own successful business.

Which got me thinking: There are so many productivity tools out there today that it’s nearly impossible to decide which ones to choose. That’s why I rounded up some of the most productive people I know and asked them what tools they use, on a daily basis, to stay productive. Here are their surprising answers.

1. Andres Moran

andres-moran

Moran is the co-founder of Fundera, a reputable small business loan startup, and Vestable, a marketplace for small businesses. He’s often in touch with other business owners, and his favourite productivity tools are email-related.

Related: Can productivity tools help me?

According to some studies, U.S. workers spend as much as 6.3 hours a day compulsively checking and responding to email. Lowering this number by whatever means necessary should be high on everyone’s priority list.

  • Yesware“This email extension allows you to see whenever someone opens an email you sent. It also shows you their location and whether they viewed your email on mobile or desktop. Beyond that, Yesware allows you to store email templates and schedule emails to be sent at a later time.”
  • Rapportive“Rapportive allows you to see the social media profiles of recipients. The most utility I get out of it is to test different possible email address variations of a person I’d like to cold email.”

2. Preston Pesek

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Pesek started his career in real estate on Wall Street but has since turned to running Spacious, the world’s first “time-share” co-working solution. Pesek says he spends a lot of time managing his remote team of employees and responding to emails.

According to surveys, up to 49 percent of millennials support better social tools for workplace collaboration, while 86 percent of employees and executives think a lack of communication leads to workplace failures. Being able to keep in constant touch with decision-makers and team members is key to a healthy organisation.

  • Slack“Can’t live without it. Our team is distributed, mobile, and we work in multiple locations throughout the day. Slack is where we can always find each other, and Slack calls have replaced conference-call UX, video, voice and file-sharing.”
  • Mail“There are lots of slick new apps out there for email, but nothing beats the clean and intuitive interface of Apple Mail. I ride the subway and draft underground. I send and forget, and don’t get that message “failed to send” [as I do with apps] like Slack and SMS. Apple Mail just sends when I’m back online.”

Related: 7 Tools To Increase Productivity And Efficiency

3. Jay Baer

jay-baer

Baer has advised hundreds of blue chip companies on everything marketing related. By the time he started Convince & Convert in 2008, he was well on his way to becoming one of the biggest names in digital marketing. Unsurprisingly, Baer does a lot of traveling and speaking.

In the United States alone, people go on more than 488 million business trips annually to meet with clients and prospects. At the same time, over $213 billion per year (or 1 percent of the 2014 U.S. GDP) is wasted on unnecessary meetings. Streamlining both travel booking and appointment setting can go a long way to cutting costs.

  • Tripit“This keeps all of my travel plans and documents in one place, and easily accessible via laptop, phone or tablet. I travel 180 days per year, and couldn’t survive without TripIt. I’d be wandering around downtown trying to figure out what hotel I booked.”
  • Amy.io“It’s the magic, human-like robot that schedules meetings and conference calls automatically. It offers the best of artificial intelligence, installed to your inbox and calendar. An amazing time-saver.”

4. Eric Siu

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Siu is the CEO of Single Grain, a digital marketing agency based in San Francisco. He co-hosts the Marketing School podcast with Neil Patel, and is also the founder of Growth Everywhere, a podcast on startup growth. Siu spends a lot of his time sharing files, and has figured out how to do it as efficiently as possible.

Not counting time spent on TV, radio or video games, the average American consumes over 3.5 hours of online media every day. Every second, over 2.3 million people Google something. That’s a lot of clicking, liking and sharing. Knowing how to share things even faster and with a higher degree of automation is the secret to social media mastery.

  • Droplr“You can take screenshots of things and annotate them quickly. After Dropir takes the screenshot, it copies it to the clipboard and you can share with people. There’s a lot less clicking around and it saves a lot of time each day.”
  • Alfred“A search bar that lets you find any file very quickly or do calculations on the fly. This will allow me to find something very quickly and drag it into Mac to send to somebody. It can even launch apps, run searches in Wikipedia, etc.”

Related: 5 Time-Management Tools for Small Businesses to Improve Productivity

5. Joseph Warwick

blast-analytics-logo

Warwick, a content marketing consultant, is the former digital marketing director of Xerox and is currently a content marketing strategist at Blast Analytics. He’s a data-driven social media expert obsessed with tracking how he spends his own time.

Most of us think that we’re being as productive as possible at work. But when the average American worker wastes a median 2.5 hours each day, knowing how to keep better track of your time can be career-changing.

  • SproutSocial“It can be a challenge to respond to social media mentions and requests in a timely fashion, particularly when they’re spread across five or more social channels. Sprout has helped me consolidate all of my social into one place and better manage community engagement.”
  • Harvest“Harvest is a time-tracking tool that’s been a lifesaver and helps me understand whether I am scoping my client projects appropriately and staying profitable with my time.

Productivity is a deeply personal habit

Did you notice that no two people listed the same tool? Perhaps productivity isn’t something that you can just copy and paste from productive people. Maybe it’s more like a culture fit, a way of life that needs to be adapted to each person’s unique personality, work style and needs.

My personal favourite “productivity app” is Google Drive. Not only does it make sharing and real-time collaboration a snap, I also keep my daily to-do list in a Google Doc. Whenever I’m done with tasks, I cross them out. Any tasks that are left unfinished by the end of the day are simply pushed into the next day. It’s simple, but it gets the job done.

Related: 3 Sure Fire Ways To Improve Efficiency And Find Your Business’s Productivity Sweet Spot

If you’re still struggling to be productive, try out some of these apps. Just remember: You shouldn’t use a productivity tool simply because other people do. Figure out what works best for you and stick with it. Sometimes the simplest productivity hacks are the most valuable.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Han-Gwon Lung is the award-winning CEO and proud co-founder of Tailored Ink, a boutique writing agency for businesses that want language that sells. He was the first hire at Prose Media, and got his agency chops at places such as The Writer and The Economist. His ghostwriting has been published in Content Marketing Institute, Convince & Convert, Kissmetrics and Moz.

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6 Steps To Go From Procrastinating To Productive

As an entrepreneur, practice saying to yourself, “I will not do the work of my smart, very talented and motivated team.”

Jeffrey Hayzlett

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Procrastinating To Productive

As entrepreneurs and business owners, we have tasks on our list that we’d rather not do. So, we keep moving the goal post farther down the field and do almost anything we can to avoid those distasteful jobs.

Personally, I don’t like to get involved in extra paperwork or monthly expense reports. Other founders have their own least favorite activities.

But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing because there’s an obvious solution: delegation. As a matter of fact, I created a motto along these lines: I will not do the work of my smart, very talented and motivated team.

My job, after all, is to concentrate on the bigger parts of the business, like generating revenue. And while there are other such tasks that are necessary to operating a business, I might be avoiding them too because they slow me down. So, I again delegate them to the team.

I guess in a way, we’re all capable of being procrastinators.

According to a 2013 survey by salary.com, 69 percent of survey respondents said they wasted time at work on a daily basis – a 5 percent increase from the previous year. Thirty-four percent of respondents estimated they routinely wasted 30 minutes or less each day; 24 percent said they wasted between 30 and 60 minutes; and 11 percent said they wasted hours every day.

As a business owner, I could see how those numbers might send my fellow owners’ blood pressure through the roof, but my own response would be more practical: I’d pursue tools, tricks and techniques to minimise procrastination and maximize productivity.

Related: Deepak Chopra Has 3 Simple And Surprising Productivity Secrets For You

Here are a few of those techniques:

Don’t overwhelm yourself

It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work on your plate, meetings and deadlines. Lately, I’ve been focusing on launching new avenues for C-Suite TV, and it can be overwhelming sometimes.

When tasks seem insurmountable, here’s one way to lessen that burden: Get out your “to-do” list. Then, instead of writing down that big task as one huge thing, break it down. Breaking a big task into multiple line items makes it more manageable. You have your end goal, but by reducing it to its smaller components, you get a clearer picture of what you need to do.

Crossing off the smaller parts of the larger task gives you a sense of accomplishment you wouldn’t have if you tackled the massive task all at once.

Flip the script

I don’t care who you are: Whether you’re a worker, a manager or a CEO, you’re just like everyone – and we all hate doing certain tasks. So why not flip the script?

Bite the bullet, kiss the frog – whatever you want to call it: Put that task at the top of your to-do list that day. You’ll eliminate the task quickly and move on to the rest of your day. Not to mention, you’ll have a bigger sense of accomplishment knowing that you’ve steam-rolled the largest obstacle you had awaiting you.

Related: How To Make Better Business Decisions That Drive Productivity And Profits

Forget perfection

Everyone wants to make a good impression and put his or her best foot forward at work. Procrastination comes not from the inability to get the job done, but from fear and insecurity. Being unsure how to perform a specific task makes us fear failure and being seen in a negative light by the boss.

I always tell my team that, “No one’s going to die.” What’s the worst thing that can happen if a specific task isn’t perfect? I might get mad if the task is not completed within the given deadline, but not if it merely needs to be tweaked. Many times, the worst conversations happen inside our own heads and we let that imaginary conversation rule our other decisions. That’s when we make mistakes.

If you’re worried about your work quality, allocate a set amount of time each day to complete (or revise) parts of the project. It’s possible to perfect a task without obsessing over it and losing focus. That’s when you know it’s time to let go of the project and focus on other things. Say it with me: No one will die.

Kill the squirrels (or distractions)

squirrels

It’s easy to procrastinate with the million distractions we have every day. According to a survey by Stop Procrastinating, 68 percent of Americans surveyed said they’d been distracted from their work duties by checking their emails, browsing the web or engaging in social media. And that was a 9 percent increase from a year before. Of that 68 percent, 39 percent said distractions cost them a whole hour a day.

Sure, it’s tempting to constantly check your Facebook or Twitter feeds, but here’s a radical concept: Log out of your social media accounts for a few hours every day.

Instead, focus on your tasks and nothing else. Do whatever it takes to get into the “zone,” to accomplish your goal. Some people at my office use headphones to muffle outside noise. I block out time on my calendar, which my employees have access to, and dedicate that time to a specific task I need to accomplish. I may even specify “no phone calls” to ensure I stay in my zone.

Be a good time manager

To transition from procrastinator to proactive leader requires organization on your part, from your mindset to your schedule. It’s hard to be organized when you feel you’re juggling multiple things, but to succeed, you must learn to juggle. Deciding how much time to dedicate to each task makes you more efficient.

For some of us busy executives, even our down time needs to be scheduled.

Related: 5 Ways That Coffee Affects Productivity

Recently, I attended the Rocky Mountain Economic Summit, where I mingled with top economists, business leaders and policymakers. I had a busy schedule, interviewing a top CEO. But I also managed to schedule down time. Being from South Dakota, I enjoy the outdoors so I scheduled some fly fishing time – away from technology, emails and phone calls.

If you’re a good time manager, you’ll have time for everything, including play time. It takes some dedication and discipline, but it’s not impossible.

Remember that the early bird gets the worm

I operate on little sleep. As any workaholic will tell you, when you go to bed at night, you can’t wait to start your day the next morning. Indeed, dawn is the most productive part of the day, according to this Wall Street Journal article. That hour of the morning brings minimal distractions, no email and hardly anyone on social media.

Apple CEO Tim Cook, starts his day at 3:45 a.m.. Richard Branson likes to “sleep in” until 5 a.m., and even my friend and fellow entrepreneur Peter Shankman gets up before it’s light out. As a business owner, entrepreneur and keynote speaker, I’ve done my fair share of early mornings; You’d be surprised how much you can get done by the time everyone else walks in the office.

The one takeaway here is that in order to make a successful transition from procrastinating to productive, you have to be disciplined, motivated and focused: disciplined enough to curb distractions, motivated enough to want to reach your end goal and focused enough to execute a plan that works for you.

We’re all different, so there’s no magic bullet solution for procrastination. But if you can build a plan that works for you, work the plan.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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(Infographic) The Organisational Tactics, Work Habits And Routines Of The Most Successful People

Take a look at how some of the most successful people set up their workspace.

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How your workspace is set up can help or hinder your productivity. So what makes for a great workspace?

For inspiration, see how people such as Elon Musk and Oprah Winfrey organise their desks and surroundings. Of course, different tactics work for different people. So to maximise productivity, find what best suits you.

While many people believe a clean desk will provide clarity and decrease stress, that’s not what Albert Einstein thought. In fact, Einstein was a supporter of the messy desk, having once said:

“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, then what are we to think of an empty desk?”

Related: 5 Habits You Should Steal From Other Entrepreneurs’ Morning Routines

Mark Zuckerberg prefers to have the same desk as every other Facebook employee. Studies have shown that open floor plans can encourage creativity and productivity – especially if you’re rubbing elbows with the CEO.

Another option is the standing desk. According to research, productivity can get a 10 percent boost when using a standing desk. An avid user of the standing desk was author Ernest Hemingway, who put his typewriter on top of a bookshelf in his bedroom.

Check out National Pen’s infographic below to see the desk styles of some of the most famous people history to today.

national-pen-famous-desks-infographic

Related: 3 Daily Routines For Becoming Happier And More Successful

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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11 Ways To Maximise Every Part Of Your Day

From their morning routine to being productive at the office, entrepreneurs share how to get the most out of your time all day.

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How to maximise the day

Sometimes it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything today. However, you might be happy to know, there are some simple things you can do to maximise your time and productivity. For starters, have a set routine – that could be a specific time to get coffee in the morning, a brief workout or a process for catching up on emails.

As part of Entrepreneur‘s “Guide to Getting More Done Every Day,” check out these 11 productivity secrets from successful entrepreneurs.

Have a routine

expresso-coffee

Drink up!

“I have a set routine I never break: Get up, walk to a coffee shop, have an espresso. It gets my brain ready to prepare for everything I am doing that day. When I’m home, I take my son, and when I’m traveling, I get to explore a new place.” – Patrick Quinlan, CEO, compliance management software company Convercent

Exercise in the morning

morning-routine

Get your day off to a great start

“At 6 a.m., five days a week, I ride for an hour on a stationary trainer. The meditative state I achieve while working out always sparks new ideas, so I’ve started capturing those thoughts after my rides, either with Siri notes or old-fashioned pen and paper.” – Neil Grimmer, founder and CEO, personalised nutrition brand Habit 

Get ready in the morning

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Morning routine is important too

“The Keurig is set to go on at 5:30. I like to have my coffee and check emails before I wake up my children for school. I use this precious time to organise orders, plan warehouse priorities for the day and check in on production. This allows me to go into my day feeling proactive and ready.” – Sara Stein, founder, gift brand Sisters of Los Angeles 

Have Wi-Fi everywhere you go

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… but also remember why you need it

“Great wi-fi is key – I’ve even brought my Eeros with me on trips where I’m staying in Airbnbs. If I’m in a hotel, I make sure there’s a decent gym and a great café nearby. Having a small routine on the road helps it feel less foreign.” – Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit and Initialized Capital

Wear headphones

headphones

What are you listening to?

“Fake [listening to] headphones. I have these obnoxiously large, white-and-red headphones that go over my entire ear and can be spotted from miles away. Sometimes I just put them on even if there is no music playing as a signal to leave me alone. Works like a charm. Until my team reads this!”– Scott Tannen, co-founder and CEO, bedding company Boll & Branch

Block ‘work time’

time-blocking

Leave some time for yourself

“Block ‘work time.’ My co-founder Alex and I both carve out 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. on our schedules every day and protect it as best we can, so we can get through pressing items and avoid being a bottleneck to the team on outstanding questions.” – Jordana Kier, cofounder and co-CEO, natural tampon company LOLA

Communicate

communication

There is not I in TEAM

“Everyone steps out of their office at 9 a.m. and shares a piece of good news. It can be professional or personal, as long as it’s office-appropriate. It gets team members into a shared space and allows us to start the day on a high note while getting to know each other and talk about successes.” – Monica Guzman, COO, public relations firm Konnect Agency

Create fun office rituals

office-lunch

Lunch on you!

“For our internal executive meetings, if one or more people arrive late, they have to buy lunch for the next meeting. This keeps people on time and gamifies the meeting. We laugh about it with each other every time.”  – John Rubey, CEO, content provider Fathom Events

Take advantage of your commute

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That’s if you take the train or someone else is driving

“If you commute to work on a train, with limited connectivity, as I do, think of one meaty email you’ve been avoiding writing and give yourself the length of the commute to really dig in. It makes the trip go faster and lets you start your day with a great sense of accomplishment.” – James Hirschfeld, co-founder and CEO, stationery brand Paperless Post

Schedule short meetings

short-meetings

Timing is everything

“We schedule regular 20-minute walking meetings with our colleagues. The limited window forces function and encourages both parties to be efficient in their communications. It’s surprising how many issues can be resolved or clarified in that tight timeframe.” – Evelyn Rusli, co-founder, baby food brand Yumi

Workout at your desk

desk-exercise

Stretch it out

Sometimes you simply can’t get out. “In the office, there’s nothing wrong with doing sets in between calls and meetings. Do 20 squats, 20 jumping jacks.” Bonus points if you break a sweat. (Sorry, work clothes.) – Martellus Bennett, founder of creative firm The Imagination Agency

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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