CEOs, business owners, and entrepreneurs often fall in love with the idea of productivity. And it’s clear why: running a company requires a seemingly endless time investment. There’s always another lead to close, or another fire to put out, or another client to serve.
In this article, I will share my thoughts on what productivity truly is, the importance of quality output, and the two elements that you need to control if you want to know how to get more out of every day.
“Are you productive –or are you just busy?”
Productivity is regularly misunderstood.
We all know someone that is extremely busy at all times, and it’s easy to think of them as hardworking, disciplined, or productive. But, are they really?
We have glorified that “grinding-hustling 24-7” culture, but the truth is, there’s a difference between being productive and just being, well…, busy. And don’t get me wrong, as the CEO of Jakt, there is an infinite stream of things I could be doing, and I’m sure you have them too.
If you are busy one day, or a week, or even a month, that’s all good. Maybe you have a truckload of work that requires your attention, maybe you have on-boarded a few new clients, or maybe you have to make up for all the work that you missed during your vacation in the Bahamas.
But, if you are busy at all times –chaotically running from one thing to another–, then you’re just not being productive, and there are deeper underlying issues you need to address: your time management, your priorities, your ability to delegate, etc. if you want to know how to get more out of every day.
So, protip from someone who was “buried in work” for years and is just moving from working “in the business” to “on the business.” If you often catch yourself saying “I can’t, I’m busy, I don’t have time, etc.” really audit how you are investing in your most valuable asset: your time.
“What’s productivity, then?”
In short, I understand the idea of “being productive” as, given the same unit of time, how much can you get done (aka, what output can you generate) –while maintaining or increasing the quality standards. When you want to know how to get more out of every day it’s important to keep in mind. We all have the same 24 hours (even billionaires.) But, somehow, some people end up getting more accomplished than others. To fully get whether you are being productive or not, you have to carefully measure it:
If you have an hour of time, you can either get X-much done, or you can get 3X-much done. Again, as long as the quality levels are the same, 3x-much done is being more prolific. Or you can calculate it the other way around. If you have a certain task to complete, it can take you one fruitful hour or two hours of less efficient work.
For example, let’s say I have to send a business proposal to a new client. If the output is the same –sending a high-quality proposal–, reducing the amount of time it takes me to accomplish it will reflect an increase in my productivity.
“But, how can you become more productive?”
And how can you get the most bang for your time?
There are two main elements to it –distractions, and systems, and I want to share with you how to use them to your advantage.
The differential factor that will help you how to get more out of every day and get more things done in less time is your focus level. But to really produce focused work, you need to eliminate all (or, at least, reduce) distractions that can potentially hurt your concentration.
First, you have to be self-aware enough to acknowledge physiological states such as whether you’re hungry or well-fed, energized or drained, and awake or sleep-deprived. These can all determine if your body and mind are ready to perform or not.
I’m no doctor, and I will touch on the importance of rest by the end of this article, but it’s clear to me that having solid habits –sleeping well, eating healthy, living an active lifestyle– is an investment with high ROI.
And I could obviously not discuss distractions without mentioning social media.
Look, social media is great: it allows you to connect with people you’d otherwise have no chance of meeting, you can share your content (how did you find this article?), and consume other people’s.
But, either you use it, or it uses you.
And if you want to be productive and deliver focused work, you have to –boldly put– shut that shit off.
I have all notifications turned off on my phone and my desktop. Even email –something that most CEOs and business owners seem to be addicted to (including myself)– is deleted from my phone.
I even have a second phone with a number that no one knows. It’s completely empty: no apps, or anything. I take it with me when I go to the gym or for a run so that I can’t be reached and I can entirely be focused on what I’m doing.
And I’d be lying if I told you that I don’t have a horrid vice of checking Twitter. But I do try to make an active effort to prevent that as much as possible. There’s a lot of things you can do to help improve your focus. One that I’ve picked up over the last six months is Transcendental Meditation. It has helped me increase my energy and concentration while also reducing the stress and anxiety that comes with leading a company. But it’s not a one size fits all, so make sure you test out different things. Find one that works for you.
In conclusion, productivity increases by reducing your distractions and having a laser-focused concentration on one single task.
The second element to increase your time’s ROI is to understand and manage systems effectively. But what do I mean when I say “systems?”
Systems give you leverage on your time –therefore increasing your output, and they are comprised of: tools, technology, processes, and people. These are all ways that can help you organize, structure, and use your time better so that you maximize your output in the same period of time.
It’s ironic: at Jakt, we build digital products for our clients. You’d expect me to tell you to use as much technology and virtual tools as you can. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I’m actually very old-school when it comes to productivity.
Laugh at me if you want, but I still use pen and paper for most of my daily systems like to-do lists. I personally think it’s better than software. If you haven’t yet, give it a try. there’s something about scratching things off that’s incredibly satisfying.
And I’m not saying don’t you ever use technology, just don’t drown on it. Only use it if there is no better way –and simply the minimum amount of technology you need. It should help you get from point A to point B faster –and get things done. But it often just adds a bunch of time and distraction, so be mindful of that when adding some new pieces of tech to your workflow.
Like many others, I also get excited when I find a new app or online tool that I think can help me streamline a process. But, most of the time, it’s just too much –too many features, options, variables. I end up going back to the most minimalistic option I can find.
Tech can help you become more productive, but don’t turn the vast ocean of apps, tools, and software into mental masturbation. Make sure you are always getting tangible results out of everything you use.
Doing more by doing less.
I have talked before about how difficult it is to disconnect from business-related stuff for many entrepreneurs and CEOs like myself –not that we want to do it either. But giving your mind a break and recharging is an important step towards being more productive on the long-term.
And how to get more out of every day, and boost your productivity?
Stepping away needs to become an intentional activity that you treat just like an investment. It’s hard to do nothing. I’ve found that purposed breaks help my minder wander, marinate on things, and subconsciously connect the dots.
That’s why I can spend three hours sunbathing in Miami and don’t feel bad about it. Because I know I am not just “chilling” there –this is definitely not about being lazy. Instead, I know it’s where a lot of my higher thinking happens (e.g. thoughts about the future of my companies, working out a meaty problem, etc.), and it’s part of my recovery and training –just like any athlete does.
How to get more out of every day:
A few things that you can apply right away to stop yourself from asking how to get more out of every day:
- Audit your time: are you always busy? If so, truly analyze where you are spending your time. Are there any wasteful areas? Cut them out.
- Distractions come from a lack of focus. Are you listening to what your body is telling you? And are you using social media, or is it using you?
- Technology, tools, and systems can help you plan and structure your time more efficiently. But make sure you don’t just fall in love with that idea: results matter.
- And finally, intentionally stepping away will not only improve your recovery and focus. But also can be a great time to creatively come up with new solutions to problems. But there’s a difference between purposed breaks and being lazy.
If you want to read more about the things I’ve learned (and continue to learn) throughout this journey as the CEO of a multimillion-dollar company, read the 5 Lessons I wish I’d Known That Would’ve Saved Me $100,000+