Guest Post: Best Productivity Hacks for Startup CEOs

Originally posted as an answer in Quora, Matt DeCelles, the CEO of Liquid Shades, shares his most effective productivity hacks for CEOs of startups. These of course can be translated into any working situation for anyone requiring excellent task management. Here, in the Todoist Blog’s first guest post, he shares with us these hacks that make him  blast through his todo list:

First off, it’s a 2 step process.

Prioritization Stage

  1. Prioritize the most important task you need to get done (often the one you are putting off) » It is critical to set objectives before working. (Todoist Hack: Priorities can be set in Todoist either by right-clicking on a task and choosing the priority from the context menu or simply by typing !p1, !p2 or !p3 within the task name.)

Todoist Task Manager - Task priorities

  1. Map out all of the tasks of the company » This gives a macro view of whats going on and allows you to delegate tasks that may better be completed by another person. (Todoist Hack: Adding tasks is super-fast in Todoist. Enter a project, hit the “a” key and you can start adding multiple tasks. Using the ENTER key will add a task and allow you to add another one right away.)

Todoist Task Manager - Adding tasks

  1. Delegate (LIKE A BOSS) » When you enjoy what you do you will find yourself being much more productive. If you really suck at doing something, chances are there is someone out there that can probably do it for less than $5/hr. Delegation can be one of your best productivity tools! (Todoist Hack: label your colleagues/employees just by typing @John (for example) within the task name (you’ll be able to see all tasks delegated for that person) or simply create a project or sub-projects for each person and once you’ve typet the whole set of tasks, add them to the appropriate project using drag & drop.)

Todoist Task Manager - Delegate tasks

Todoist Task Manager - Add labels to tasks

  1. Use a whiteboard to list all of the tasks that are mine to accomplish » After mapping out and delegating tasks, I put mine on a white board. Usually this is 10-15 tasks.
  2. Use a post-it note to record the 3 most important things I can do on that particular day » The post-it note beneficial because it has a size constraint.

Execution Stage

  1. Set iPhone in Do Not Disturb Mode » New feature in iOS 6 that turns off vibrate and all sounds.
  2. Remove temptations with Self Control » Self Control is a tool that blocks websites you have listed as distracting for a set period of time. Once you set it, there is no way to shut it off until the time expires…which makes you feel like an addict going through withdrawals.  As you notice distractions, be sure to add them to your blacklist.
  3. Take a break when you are not being productive anymore » For me I have a really short attention span, and I notice a significant fall off in productivity after about an hour or so of work. Take a break. Go for a walk, do something else. etc…. then get back to work!
  4. Listen to music » Not all music is the same when it comes to being productive. Try out different genres of music and see what works for you. *For me I like music with very few lyrics and has a repetitive beat that gets me almost in a productive trance like Deadmau5 and house music.
  5. Batch Your Email (when people are unlikely to respond right away) » Email is one of the biggest time wasters. Stay away unless it is absolutely critical to your previously set objectives. Remember that the more emails you send throughout the day, the more you receive. It’s a vicious cycle. *I batch emails at night or early in the morning when people are less likely to respond right away. It is amazing how fast you can blow through a few hundred emails when you are not replying to instant responses and can move on to other tasks.  (Todoist Hack: In such case, if you prefer to follow the “zero inbox policy,” forward a mail to your Todoist project to add it as a task, or link to it if you use any of Todoist’s convenient plugins.)

Todoist Task Manager - Add emails as tasks

  1. Add “sent from my iPhone” to all email accounts signatures » This way people don’t get upset with you for keeping your emails brief and getting right to the point.

What productivity hacks would you add?

Matt DeCelles

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