Maximizing productivity is a goal often discussed but rarely reached. As a result, while entrepreneurs actively strive to make the most of their time–reading books, exploring productivity hacks, testing project management tools–too often they feel like they’ve fallen short. Meanwhile, the to-do list gets longer.
But a new year is a great time to start fresh. We asked a panel of successful startup founders from YEC what simple, low- or no-cost resolutions they were going to make for 2015 to keep themselves on track and free of distractions. Their best answers are below.
1. Plan out each day.
I once heard the quote “those who fail to plan, plan to fail” and it really resonated with me. I find that my productivity soars if each night I take 10 minutes to write out a list of five accomplishments that I aim to complete the following day. In 2015, I resolve to do this each working day.–Justin Bailie, FR8nex.com
2. Keep meetings to 15 minutes, max.
My goal is to limit meetings to a maximum of 15 minutes. This is something I’ve sent out companywide: Meetings shouldn’t be longer than 15 minutes. We tried standing last year for the whole meeting and that worked well, but being even more productive during meetings couldn’t hurt!–John Rampton, Host
3. Focus on my weak areas.
Focusing on building on your strengths seems logical. After all, those skills are why your business is where it is today, and doing what we’re good at makes us feel good. But the areas where we can improve the most are the areas where we are the weakest. By focusing on my weak areas, I hope to induce the most improvement in my overall productivity with the smallest investment of time.–Brian Honigman,BrianHonigman.com
4. Invest in better technology.
I tend to stay with what’s working for me instead of wasting time constantly switching technology. However, I believe it’s time for an upgrade and that by getting better technology in place, I can be faster and more efficient.–Elizabeth Saunders,Real Life E
5. Book smarter business travel.
I want to get to NYC and San Francisco more often. It’s so efficient to spend a few days a year, multiple times a year, in each of those cities. There are so many great companies, partners and members of the media to meet with.–Luke Skurman,Niche.com
6. Set up systems that increase efficiency.
My number one productivity resolution is to set up systems and processes that will help increase efficiency. As a small business with big clients and a lot of responsibilities, time is usually of the essence. In order to help streamline everything and expand, everything needs to run efficiently.–Stanley Meytin,True Film Production
7. Catch up in the mornings.
Due to a hectic travel schedule, it’s easy to get behind on email. Over the years, I have learned to take time each morning to catch up on email before business hours. For 2015, I will delegate half of my time in the air as an opportunity to work and the remaining time as a chance to rest. This resolution will ensure that upon landing, I am caught up on work elements and feeling refreshed. —Sean Marszalek, SDC Nutrition, Inc.
8. Improve your workspace.
It sounds small, but I need to buy a double monitor! Working on a laptop means that I’m constantly bent over a tiny screen, which hurts my productivity (and my eyes). With a double monitor, I can view more information, organize and focus my work day and not lose track of all of my documents and windows. –Abby Ross, ThinkCERCA
9. Take time to stop working and reflect.
10. Create a better work environment.
As the CEO of a mattress company, it’s easy for me to think about sleeping on the job. To combat that thought process, I’ve been playing around with different setups around the office to improve the look and feel of the space. Ultimately, I know that fewer distractions and more physical activity will revolutionize my workflow.–Firas Kittaneh, Amerisleep
11. Stop multitasking.
Often we think that by multitasking we are being more productive. But I’ve found that it’s hard to do many things really well if you are doing them at the same time. You have to focus on one thing at a time. –Randy Rayess, VenturePact
12. Quit time wasters (including Fantasy Football).
I’m in the process of identifying everything in my life that I could eliminate or change in order to spend more time on important things. I’m currently writing a list and trying to come up with 50 things. Number 27 is even “create shorter lists.”–Adam Stillman, SparkReel
13. Spend less time responding to email.
14. Unplug and unwind.
The Tao Te Ching says that “High winds do not last all morning/ Heavy rain does not last all day.” This means that if you want to work intensively and productively, it’s vital to unplug and take time to recharge every day, even if it’s only for a little bit. Start by giving yourself 15 minutes with no Internet or cell phone–whatever it is, it can wait for you to come back relaxed and ready. —Jared Brown, Hubstaff