The Small Business Times

Burning Out? Try These 6 Habits Of Productive, Successful Entrepreneurs

How do they do it?

It’s a fair question. We’ve all heard stories about entrepreneurs with truly superhuman productivity and wondered how they can possibly keep up the pace.

And while many such stories are exaggerated, it’s certainly true that some founders and business leaders operate on a higher level than the rest of us.

Can we match them? Maybe, maybe not — it’s complicated. But we can learn from their examples and up our own output in the process.

So if you’re burning out or just not feeling as productive as you’d like, try out these six simple habits of successful, highly productive people.

1. Don’t Dive Into The Workday Right Away

Getting out of bed and immediately getting down to business is easier than ever these days, at least for people who work from home most of the time.

It’s also a recipe for burnout. Hitting the ground running isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Chris Garland of Botswana, a successful wealth manager and business advisor, counsels fellow entrepreneurs to take it slow in the morning.

His routine includes a review of the day’s news and financial headlines, plus a peek ahead at his daily to-do list. When he’s done, it’s time to work — but not before.

2. Vary Your Work Setting And Position

Sitting all day is bad for you. So is standing all day, unfortunately. The answer — both for your physical and mental health — is to vary your work setting and position.

That might mean using a sitting-standing desk that’s easy to adjust when you want. Or it might mean moving from a standing desk to a huddle room to a bar-style counter to — well, you get the idea. 

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Varying your position varies your scenery too, which keeps things interesting and keeps you alert when work gets boring.

3. Stop Multitasking

Multitasking makes us feel like we’re getting more done, but it’s actually just the opposite,

Says Vinita Venkatesh, a vice president at SAP SuccessFactors. Even if we cross items off our to-do list faster when we’re doing two (or three) things at once, those items won’t get done well.

They may need to be done over or corrected later. Which adds time to your workday (or someone else’s) and can lead others to question your competence.

4. Keep Your Ears Occupied While You Work

Not everyone enjoys listening to music while they work. Some people prefer podcasts or talk radio, others white noise, still others ambient sound from an open window.

Whatever your auditory preference, it helps to keep your ears occupied while you work. Far from dividing your attention, listening to something other than your own heartbeat stimulates neural connections and energizes you to attack the workday. 

5. Plan Ahead (At Least One Day)

That’s what entrepreneur Peter Schoeman, formerly of CharityPaws, does. And he’s not alone. Many successful entrepreneurs know at 8 a.m. Monday exactly what they’ll be doing at 3 p.m. Friday (assuming they haven’t hit the beach yet).

Organize your plan however you see fit. Your system could be as simple as a paper calendar or electronic notes to yourself, or housed in a proper productivity management suite like Trello, Asana, or As long as it makes sense to you.

6. Trim Your Standing Meeting Count

Always ask: “Could this meeting be an email instead?”

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Eight times out of ten, the answer is “yes.” 

It’s especially important to keep your standing meeting count low as you scale your business. Otherwise, you’re liable to create an unwieldy bureaucracy without realizing it.

More immediately, of course, standing meetings take you away from more important things. Sometimes you really do need to talk face to face, but most of the time, email or asynchronous video gets it done.

Always Be Optimizing

“Optimization” is a buzzword these days. Or maybe a cliche. A certain type of entrepreneur takes it a little too far, that’s for sure.

There’s a grain of truth in the optimization craze though. By making simple changes to your routine, lifestyle, and outlook, you can become more productive, more fulfilled in your work, and maybe more successful (whatever that means to you).

These strategies can help. If you’re ready to make a change in your work life and beyond, start here.