The startup world is known for its fast-paced, high-pressure environment, and as such, getting things done efficiently is arguably the highest-valued trait for a startup founder.
Here are several productivity practices popular in the tech startup world that can help you get more done in less time:
1. Prioritize Ruthlessly
When you are juggling multiple projects, deadlines, and stakeholders, you have to make tough decisions about what to focus on at any given time.
To prioritize efficiently, make a list of all your tasks and projects and mark them by priority. Focus on the most important tasks first and delegate or defer the rest.
Even more importantly, you need to be comfortable leaving projects in the backlog so that lower-importance stuff doesn’t crowd out high-impact projects and tasks.
“I learned that if you work hard and creatively, you can have just about anything you want, but not everything you want. Maturity is the ability to reject good alternatives in order to pursue even better ones.” ― Ray Dalio, Principles: Life and Work
2. Use The Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique is a time-management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. It involves breaking work into 25-minute intervals, separated by short 5-minute breaks.
This technique is very efficient for people who struggle to stay focused for long periods of time. Bunching up your distractions (e.g. social media browsing) in a short time period – the break, and having a timer to signal when it is time to go back to work makes it easier to control yourself and waste as little time as possible.
3. Block Out Distractions
Distractions are the enemy of productivity, and tech startup founders know this all too well.
They often use tools like noise-canceling headphones or browser extensions to block out distractions and stay focused on their work. To block out distractions, identify what distracts you the most (e.g. social media, email notifications) and then take steps to eliminate or minimize them.
4. Practice Time-Blocking
The problem with distractions is that sometimes they come from work. At the same time, if you constantly answer communications by chat apps or emails, it’s hard to get in the flow and do complex work that requires concentration.
Time-blocking is a productivity technique that involves scheduling specific blocks of time for different tasks or activities. Tech startup founders often use this technique to ensure they are making progress on their most important projects while still leaving time for other commitments like meetings or networking events.
To practice time-blocking, create a schedule for your day or week that includes specific blocks of time for different tasks or activities, and make sure not to break up your deep work blocks with meetings or other distractions. For example, you can block out 4 hours of your work day for deep work and another 4 hours for meetings and communication.
5. Automate Repetitive Tasks
Try to streamline your workflow and save time. Try out automation tools to take care of repetitive tasks like data entry, social media posting, or email management.
If the task can’t be automated, try to delegate it. It’s easy to get swamped by operational tasks that in reality don’t require your input. If you allow this to happen, you wouldn’t have time for the tasks where you add real value which other people can’t.
6. Set Goals And Deadlines
A crucial part of being productive is to judge accurately how productive you have been. At the end of the day, results are what matters, not how much you worked. To see if you are on the right track, use KPIs to measure your progress objectively and try to evaluate if your expectations were met. If your results are poor, consider pivoting and changing up what you are concentrating on.
7. Practice Self-Care
Last but not least, take care not to get burned out. Startup success is a marathon, not a sprint. Being insanely productive for short periods of time at the cost of being unproductive in the long term is a bad strategy.