We asked 10 business moguls and Advisors in The Oracles for their No. 1 productivity tips. Here’s what these extremely successful businesspeople, including the head of a $750 million real estate empire, a Shark on “Shark Tank,” and a CEO who grew a company to $3.6 billion in five years had to say.
1. Reevaluate where you spend your time.
Being productive comes down to managing your time wisely. That means assessing everything you’re involved in, including where you put your money. For instance, once a year I audit all my equities in different ventures. Many require an investment of my time, even though I may not be making a profit. I consider how much time each requires compared to the upside. If the business growth and opportunities have flatlined, with no foreseeable exit strategy, it’s not a good investment for me.
I usually end up giving several equities back to company owners — even if I’ve invested substantially in them. While I hate to disappoint those who call on me for advice, it’s important to purge deals that don’t make sense for me or my portfolio. I need to move on to protect my time. — Kevin Harrington, original shark on “Shark Tank,” pioneer of “As Seen on TV,” and co-founder of theEntrepreneurs’ Organization; follow Kevin on Medium
2. Keep adding fuel to the fire.
Staying productive is about adding fuel to your fire, even when you’ve already got one going. When you think you have too much going on, figure out what you can add to it. I remove all white space on my calendar.
It seems completely contrary to what you would do. The tendency is to pull back and slow down when you have too much going on. Don’t! Productive people keep adding things when others become overwhelmed and stop. To stay productive, make sure you have no white space on your calendar, and to do that — keep adding wood to your fire! —Grant Cardone, sales expert, who has built a $750 million real estate empire, and NYT best-selling author; follow Grant on Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube
3. Don’t try to do everything.
It’s easy to create a pattern of overwhelm as an entrepreneur and common for high-achieving leaders to run ourselves into the ground and then wonder why we lose our productivity and fulfillment. But here’s a hard truth: giving away your time means giving away your purpose. Purpose is your internal endorsement that you and your contribution to the world matter. So, ask yourself: Do you believe you are necessary?
Those who believe they’re necessary don’t compromise their time or energy. They stay focused on the highest-revenue-producing activities that only they can do, which are often the driving forces for cash flow, team production, and client satisfaction. To break old patterns and inspire new realities, ask yourself: Does the answer to “who” always have to be you? This question forced me to unlearn being the bottleneck in my organization. You must stay productive — not busy — to maintain the vision’s integrity and leave room for the unknowns. Fill the space with someone on your team, even if it means hiring a contractor for a project. The answer to “who” doesn’t have to be you. —Allyson Byrd, top sales trainer, who generated $13 million-plus in sales revenue for clients in 2018; author of “Leave Your Mark” and founder of The Church of Profit Acceleration; connect with Allyson on Instagram and Facebook
4. Optimize your endocannabinoid system.
To maximize productivity, we need a healthy endocannabinoid system, which was only discovered in the 1990s. If our body is a symphony of parts, this system is like the conductor. It regulates and balances the entire body. One of the ways it does this is by buffering oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can keep us in fight-or-flight mode, which zaps productivity and keeps us out of flow.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, helps optimize the endocannabinoid system. Our ancestors consumed high amounts of it by eating animals and products from animals that were fed hemp. With more constant stress than ever before, data shows our bodies need more CBD. That’s why I take it every morning. Then I list five things I appreciate, which primes me to set my top five targets for the day. When your endocannabinoid system is optimized, it’s much easier to do this and then execute in flow. It helps every system of the body run smoothly, which allows for peak productivity and performance. —Will Kleidon, founder of Ojai Energetics, which produces cannabidiol (CBD) supplements; connect with Will on LinkedIn
5. Wake up three hours early.
My secret sauce is really simple: wake up three hours before the “start” of your day. It’s a really hard habit to begin, but it pays off 10X once it becomes a routine. I get 99 percent of my critical tasks completed between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m. It’s quiet, there are no interruptions, and no one has thrown any monkey wrenches in the day. If you can habitually win the day before most of your staff and competitors are even awake, you will leave your competition in the dust! —Josh Steinberger, founder and CEO of NextGen Restoration; principal in Driven Acquisitions, a holding company that owns and operates apartment buildings in Ohio; connect with Josh on Facebook
6. Use technology to your advantage.
Technology enables us to work smarter, not harder, than ever before. Find apps and other products that work to your advantage, not your disadvantage. Turn off social media notifications and use task management and collaboration tools.
There are only 24 hours in a day, so make the most of them. Meetings can consume too much time, especially with remote workers. Find ways to improve your communication to make your day more productive. Do you need to travel to meetings? Consider a virtual meeting instead to save time and money. With whiteboarding, screen sharing, and other technologies, virtual meetings can become much more effective. —Simon Grabowski, founder and CEO of ClickMeeting
7. Work from your calendar, not your to-do list.
I’ve discovered a universal truth that skyrocketed my productivity and reduced my stress: we need to stop working from a to-do list. To-do lists are good “capture” tools. But there is a universal constraint that can only be represented on a calendar: the 24-hour day.
It doesn’t matter how many items are on your list; you need time to work on them. The challenge is to prioritize each task and give it a place on your calendar as a symbol of your commitment to getting it done. If your top project for the day doesn’t have designated space on the calendar, you’re setting yourself up for failure. This list-calendar disconnect is why we have never-ending to-do lists and continuous emotional weight from not making meaningful progress. —Sharran Srivatsaa, angel investor and CEO of Kingston Lane, a push-button technology execution platform for real estate; grew Teles Properties 10X to $3.6 billion in five years; follow Sharran on Instagram
8. Ask yourself three questions about each task.
When it comes to maximizing my personal productivity, I make sure that I am only doing the things that I have to do. Then I delegate the rest.
I organize all tasks into three categories. First: Am I good at it or not? Second: Does it energize or drain me? Third: Do I enjoy it or not? Then I only do the tasks that I’m good at, that energize me, and that I enjoy. I delegate the rest to my team. —Jeff Sherman, founder and CEO of Tech Sweat; serial entrepreneur, who has launched five businesses and impacted over 5,000 fitness businesses in six countries
9. Block off time and add notes.
Time blocking makes my day flow seamlessly. I schedule my time off first, then my recurring appointments. I use a labeling process for each appointment so I can easily search for them in my Google calendar. Then I add notes: the origin of the appointment, what we discussed, and any relevant details.
When I transitioned my task list to a calendar, I saw a real jump in efficiency. Having a designated time for each task gets them done faster and alleviates all the dread and anxiety from my never-ending task list. Carving out that time, not just making the list, was the key to productivity. —Glennda Baker LeBlanc, associate broker of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices; top 1 percent of all agents nationwide, with more than half a billion in career sales; connect with Glennda on Facebook and Twitter
10. Find a capable assistant and establish a system.
My executive assistant has been the greatest influence on my productivity. You need someone who’s skilled, self-motivated, and outcome-driven, with a positive attitude. Find a go-getter who asks questions like, “What more can I do?” and “How can we do this even better?”
Every Sunday, I plan my week in an online task board. Early in the week, my assistant and I review the list, prioritize, address questions, and define deliverables to avoid unnecessary back-and-forth. We communicate regularly through the week, minimizing email correspondence. At the end of the week, we review progress, discuss pending items, and transfer any incomplete tasks to the following week. We mark those tasks with an asterisk. Anything with more than four asterisks either isn’t important or needs to be split into more achievable tasks. Now I have time for thinking and high-level strategic planning, so that we constantly improve and grow. — Tom Shieh, CEO of Crimcheck; connect with Tom on Facebook
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