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Productivity starts with Coffee

12 Productivity Hacks I’ve used for 25 years as an Entrepreneur

As an entrepreneur and business owner, productivity was essential to my success at staying an entrepreneur for over 25 years. But it wasn’t easy, it can be hard to find the proper techniques to help you stay focused and get things done. That’s why I want to share some of the best productivity hacks I discovered that worked for me over the many years of running my businesses.

From setting simple goals to taking breaks effectively, these tips will help you get more done in less time. So read on for inspiration and start making the most of your day!

I have three areas of productivity, with 4 hacks for each area.  The first 2 sections are like everyday meat and potatoes, and the last 4 were critical to my success.  I suggest reading all 12 hacks, but you can skip to any section in this outline.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Section One:  Personal Habits

  1. Set simple, achievable goals
  2. Take breaks effectively
  3. Eliminate distractions
  4. Reward yourself

Section Two: Utilize tools and Technology

  1. Use these top five software tools that work for every business
  2. Digitize your business and Utilize cloud storage
  3. Outsource and use Virtual assistants
  4. Keep it Simple using Google Docs. NO FORMATTING ALLOWED

Section Three: Hacks to train your brain

  1. Create catchphrases – buzzwords for your business goals
  2. Write out your plans: NO FORMATTING ALLOWED
  3. Prioritize, Prioritize, Prioritize
  4. KEEP SCORE

4 HACKS RELATED TO YOUR PERSONAL HABITS 

Set simple, achievable goals

One of the best ways to stay productive is to set simple, achievable goals. Whether completing a project by a specific deadline or increasing your sales by a certain percentage, having particular targets in mind will help you focus and get things done.

For example: rather than saying, “I want to be more productive today,” set a goal like “I will work on this project for 2 hours.”

Rather than saying “I want to make more sales,” set a goal like “I will contact three potential clients today.”

Take the time to plan out your day, week, or even month in advance. By knowing what you need to do and when you’ll be able to focus on each task without getting overwhelmed.

For example: rather than looking at your to-do list and trying to figure out what to do first, try creating a schedule of tasks for each day

Take breaks effectively

It’s essential to take breaks throughout the day, but it’s also important to take them effectively. If you step away from your work for a few minutes every hour or so, you’ll lose focus and productivity.

Instead, try to take a break that’s long enough to get up and move around but short enough that you don’t lose focus. For example, you could take a 10-15 minute break every hour or so or take a complete 30-minute break once or twice a day.

One of the best ways to stay productive is to set a routine for yourself. Establish specific times for work and breaks and particular tasks that you will complete during each part of the day. By doing this, you’ll be able to focus better and get more done.

For example:

• Wake up at the same time each day and start your day with a cup of coffee. 

• Work on specific tasks for 1-2 hours, then take a break. 

• Work on another task for 1-2 hours, then take a lunch break. 

• Work on another task for 1-2 hours, then take a movement break. 

• Work on one final task for the day, then relax for the rest of the evening. 

Also set limits for yourself. For example, if you have a specific amount of time to complete a task, you’ll be more likely to focus and get it done quickly.

For example: rather than saying, “I want to work on this project all day,” set a deadline like “I will work on this project for 2 hours.”

Rather than saying “I want to finish this report by the end of the day,” set a limit like “I will only work on this report for 1 hour.”

Eliminate distractions

One of the biggest productivity killers is distractions. Whether it’s email, social media, or even just the general noise of your office, distractions can make it difficult to focus and get work done.

To eliminate distractions, try to create a distraction-free environment for yourself. For example: Work in a quiet room with the door closed, turn off your email notifications, or even unplug your phone.

If you’re working on a project, set a goal to complete it within a certain amount of time and then focus solely on that task until it’s done.

If you’re writing an email, turn off all distractions and focus solely on the task at hand.

Reward yourself

It’s important to reward yourself for a job well done. Rewards will help you stay motivated and focused on your goals.

For example:

• If you complete a project, take the rest of the day off. 

• If you finish all of your tasks for the day, treat yourself to a movie or dinner out. 

• If you stick to your schedule for a week, give yourself a day off from work. 

One of the best ways to stay productive is to take care of yourself and stay positive. Eat healthy foods, exercise regularly, and get vacation time wherever possible.

By taking care of yourself, you’ll be able to focus better and get more done.

For example:

• Eat a healthy breakfast each morning to start your day off right. 

• Take a break in the middle of the day, and go for a walk. Move your body. 

• Use ergonomically friendly chairs, desks, and devices. 

It’s important to stay positive and have a good attitude. This outlook will help you stay motivated and focused on your goals.

By staying positive, you’ll be able to better deal with setbacks and remain productive throughout the day.

For example:

Instead of getting frustrated, take a break to calm down and then come back to the task at hand.

When you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a step back and evaluate your situation.

Get enough sleep

It’s important to get enough sleep to function at your best. Most adults need 7-8 hours of sleep per night, so ensure you’re getting enough rest.

If you’re having trouble sleeping, try establishing a bedtime routine and avoiding caffeine and electronics before lying down.

Tip: make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool, which can help you get a good night’s sleep.

Celebrate each accomplishment, no matter how small it may seem.

These are just a few of the many personal productivity hacks that can help you get more done. By using these tips, you’ll be able to focus and achieve your goals better.

4 HACKS UTILIZING TOOLS & TECHNOLOGY

Use these Top five software tools that work for any business 

Regardless of what kind of business you run—whether providing a service, selling products or even just brainstorming your next big idea—most entrepreneurs are dealing with the same problems. These include how to schedule, track sales leads and plan ahead when necessary.

As such, here are my top five productivity software tools that I use no matter what business I’m running; I use these tools over and over. 

  1. Google Docs. Google Docs is the best sharing and collaborative document software in my opinion. We use Office365 for many use cases, but we use Google Docs, Sheets and Drive for simple use and sharing of high level information. The sharing is live and amazing
  1. Calendly. This was a time saver. There is nothing worse than trying to schedule a meeting with someone over emails and having to hit reply 5 times saying, what ever works for you, let me know, or you suggest a time, and they’re busy.  Sign up for Calendly and add to your email signature and use it.
  1. Zoho CRM. Yes, there are many CRM platforms out there, but I discovered the simplicity of the Zoho software tools many years ago. They provide the simple features and are easy to setup and are one of the more competitive in terms of pricing. The best thing I like about Zoho is all their software tools integrate.
  1. Zoho Chat (SalesIQ). This is a chat bot tool.  This is easy to implement on any website and integrates nicely with the CRM tools. So you can have your team use this and close more sales and view the results in your CRM
  1. AI Writing tools. If you havent tried AI writing tools, please give them a try. There are many AI software writing providers out there and most give you a certain number of words you can generate each month on free subscriptions. 

So here’s my hack for you on AI writing software. Sign up for several of them and combine the number of free words you get to give you a large number of free word inventory.  Most of them give you 1 or 2 thousand free words per month, so if you sign up for five free accounts, thats about 5 or 10 thousand free words you’ll have each month across the providers. That could be enough that you need.  So that’s my secret hack for you, so you cant tell anyone.

Aside from these 5 software tools that we use to run our business, check out some more productivity tools on our web page here.  

Things like Virtual phone numbers, legal document providers and new company formation services.  All great productivity tools we recommend here…  https://theprofile.ca/productivity-tools/

Digitize your business and Utilize cloud storage

Do you want to know what the least productive task is in your business in my opinion? The biggest time waster? Its looking for papers.  You’ve filed it somewhere, it’s in your office? Or your house, or in your laptop bag?  You have to walk across the office to the big metal filing cabinets, you get distracted on the way.  When you get there,  you find something else you lost last week and forget what you were looking for this time.  I read somewhere looking for stuff takes up to 30% of your time each day.  I would verify this fact if I were you,  but I’m thinking its pretty accurate based on my experience before we went 100% Digital. 

It takes some initial work to get this right. But if you learn how to implement a naming convention and a file folder strategy, and if you store your digitized documents in Google Drive, you can use the powerful search capabilities of Google search to find any file or document you’ve stored in seconds. Then share or send from Google Drive.

If all your receipts are scanned its easy to send to your book keeper. In fact, digitize and just share the folders.

With a digitized document,  you can now annotate and add comments, create versions and share with anyone. With DocuSign you can digitally sign and execute agreements. 

If its stored on the cloud, you can be assured now all your data is backed up and secure.  

If your business is run using online software as a service, and data is digitized and stored on the cloud, you no longer have to worry about losing a laptop or a hard drive failure.  

I’ve done many travel trips where at my destination,  I simply borrow someone’s laptop and login to my entire business.  In fact our company today can be run entirely using our mobile phones. Actually I wrote half of this blog using my phone,  using dictation software writing in a Google doc. This hack is no secret.  You can tell everyone I run my businesses using only my phone.

This simple strategy of digitizing your business and storing on Google Docs, may be your biggest productivity gain.

So please, think about this hack.

Outsource, use Virtual assistants and join a Coworking community 

As a small business owner, it’s important to delegate tasks. Give some of your work to other people to free up more time for yourself.  Try a Virtual Assistant Service

For example: rather than doing all the bookkeeping for your business, delegate to a bookkeeper.

Rather than answering all customer service calls, delegate to a customer service representative

Take advantage of technology

There are many great ways you can Outsource or use a Virtual Assistant to increase your productivity. For example:

  • Use a virtual assistant to manage your calendar or planner to keep track of your schedule. 
  • Use a virtual assistant to go through your data and transcribe this to your simple KPI document 

As an entrepreneur its sometimes tempting to do everything yourself. And you may say, “well I’m a solopreneur so there is only me.” 

But here is your one hack in this section.   

If your a solopreneur, find some of the above ideas to Outsource,  and use some of the freelance websites like, Peopleperhour or TopTal or Upwork.. and delegate some small tasks. 

But here is your hack. 

Get to know your outsourcing providers, do zoom calls with them and try to work closely with them. 

Like I said, it can be very small things you Outsource,  but now you suddenly have a team. Your no longer a solopreneur. 

Don’t go alone. There are many ways to do things with other people including where you work.  I definitely suggest work at a coworking space once a week and join a community. 

Keep it Simple using Google Docs. NO FORMATTING ALLOWED

I have a Google docs file I store in Drive called “TO DO”.  And basically, i write out my high level plans, my goals, my projects in very simple text. I look at this everyday, often times, staring at it for a great deal of time. These are my high level notes for everything.

I have “NO FORMATTING ALLOWED” in caps, because it is important you leave all your text unformated to leave it up to your brain and imagination for what is important or what to do. 

You don’t have to highlight tasks in yellow, others in rouge, and bold and bullet, etc.. This is nothing but a distraction.  What is easier to read?

My TASKS TODAY

  1. Write blog
  2. do invoicing
  3. Go Shopping
Use the mind mapping software to get more ideas on …in progress

or this same list with no formatting?

My tasks Today

  1. Write blog
  2. do invoicing
  3. Go Shopping

Use the mind mapping software to get more ideas on … (in progress)

Formatting is fun, but that’s about it.  When I see point 2 about invoicing, i dont need to format this in purple colored text to get my attention. I can quickly imagine in my brain the invoicing software we use, the lists we have to export and prepare. 

And i know when we need to do this. No purple text is needed 🙂. Just kidding.

4 HACKS TO TRAIN YOUR BRAIN. 

In the opening paragraphs of this article, I mention the first sections of hacks are meat and potatoes and the last 4 hacks are critical.

These final 4 hacks were and still are critical for me maintaining success in my entrepreneur career. This is all about how you think and how you train your brain to stay focused by using your words carefully. 

Here are my 4 most important hacks.

Create catchphrases – buzzwords for your business goals

You’re familiar with your local politician talking about their mandate or platform policies. They want to help develop an area of the city, so they are pushing to build a bridge to allow easier access. So they come up with a phrase like “Build that bridge for success”

And they say this over and over and repeat at every event. Let’s “Build that bridge for success”. The detail comes later. When people begin to agree that a bridge is needed, they begin asking about how, or what are the details.  And that’s fine. Find the details and work on them, but don’t stop burning the phrase in peoples brains. “Build that bridge for success”, the detailed plan could be to hire locally and create jobs.  

You need to find your buzzwords for your company and repeat this to your staff and team over and over. Like “Let’s go Digital”.  Or “Always be Closing”

When you’re concluding your meetings, end it with saying okay folks, remember “Let’s go Digital”  It means 30% more time for everyone. And don’t forget, “Always be Closing”. It’s like in hockey, you can’t score unless you send pucks to the net. But it’s the catch phrase that you burn into the athletes brains. “Send pucks to the net”

Come up with your catch phrases, then next step is write them out.

Write out your plans: NO FORMATTING ALLOWED

This is a repeat for one of the hacks using productivity software tools. But i would like to stress this point again. 

Keep your plans simple. Write them out in a Google Docs  And don’t format the text. Read your plans often.

So add a quick URL link or shortcut on your PC or phone and open the simple doc often. It could look like this;

OUR COMPANY GOALS

  • Let’s Go Digital
  • Delegate to be free

MY STRATEGY

  • Always be Closing
  • Dress for Success

Prioritize, Prioritize, Prioritize

Know what is important to do next in your business. What is important? cleaning up the mess of a leaking roof, or having your roof replaced and repaired? Well, that is up to you to decide and prioritize. Your time may be better spent cleaning up the small water issues and focus on keeping your tenants happy and paying rent, versus moving them out to replace the roof.  Or you have to weigh the risk of losing the tenant for the inconveniences. 

You have to prioritize and that’s how you maintain your simple list.  You write them out and move them around based on your prioritizing.

Learn and know what’s important in your business to bring in the most results. Prioritize and then execute.

KEEP SCORE

Do you keep KPI data of your business? Or key performance indicators? In other words, your score data.  These are the numbers that tell how healthy your company is and if you’re doing well or not. And they’ll help you see if anything needs to change or get fixed in order for everything to work right again. Every business has their own KPIs because every industry is different. So it’s important to choose which ones are best for yours!

No one size fits all approach will ever work in business. 

So instead of trying to find the perfect measurement, focus on finding ones that align well with what matters most to you, such as your goals and industry. 

This means understanding why you’re taking these measurements, who they’ll affect when they’re out of whack, and how often they need to change (daily or monthly). 

As such, here are a few blogs that provide some indicators every small business needs to give you some ideas.

Some KPI’s that have always been important to me over time is the cost of acquiring a customer (CAC) and the life time value of that customer (LTV). These are important ones to figure out in your business, because it will provide you with a marketing budget.  

If you know what it costs to acquire a customer, say $500. Then what is the life time value of that customer? I know, simple math, but the LTV needs to be more than your CAC. 

In my experience I’ve met alot of entrepreneurs who do not know these two KPI’s that should be on the tip of their tongue or easily discussed in any conversation without having to refer to notes or files.

So decide with your team which KPIs you want to track together and record this data in a simple Google sheet. Remember,  keep the data simple, and NO FORMATTING. 

CONCLUSION

As an entrepreneur and business owner, productivity was essential to my success at staying an entrepreneur for over 25 years. But it wasn’t easy, it can be hard to find the proper techniques to help you stay focused and get things done. 

I hope some of these hacks can work for you and save you some time, money and happiness.

These hacks are real and I really do use these hacks in my life and business.  This is not just content filler and I didn’t use an AI writer for this. Ok I admit I did use an AI writer for a little bit, but just to check my grammar and some sentence structure,  why wouldn’t I?. Why wouldn’t you?

If you have some favorite productivity hacks, please let me know.  You can email me anytime. I would love to hear from you. 

Happy hacking for productivity!

Kevin Penstock
Kevin is the founder of The Profile, a Coworking Business Club. His role is leadership, visionary, seeker of cool spaces and he loves technology. Kevin is watching how the office share industry (Coworking) is rapidly expanding around the world and is committed to being a part of social innovation and the change of how people will work in the future.

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