Processes and productivity hacks for entrepreneurs

The following answers are provided by members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.

What is your top “hack” for making more impact on your business faster?

Liam Martin1. Taking Shorter Meetings
I’m constantly surprised by employees who are allowed to set up several-hour-long meetings. Next time you’re in a meeting, ask yourself how much money is going down the tube every minute the team sits there. Instead, we switched everything to email and project management software and have online meetings that anyone can jump in or out of at any time.
Liam Martin,


Tim Jahn2. Maintaining Accountability

What is your best productivity or process hack? What’s the most “out there” tactic you’ve tried?

Far too often, your team will have a meeting that produces next-step action items. But then nobody actually executes on those action items, and you’re back at square one. Ensure everyone is accountable for those action items, and keep the progress written down somewhere with a tool such as Trello or a Google Doc spreadsheet.
Tim Jahn, matchist


Ryan Buckley3. Attending Retreats

Retreats sound counterintuitive, but there’s no substitute for getting your team on the same page. This usually requires food and a change of scenery. It’s a relatively inexpensive way to think creatively and get inspired. It’s true what they say: your environment fosters habit.
Ryan Buckley, Scripted, Inc.


Andrew Schrage4. Avoiding Multitasking

Unless you’re knocking out two relatively mundane tasks at the same time, you’re better off concentrating on projects individually, completing them without any interruptions whatsoever and then moving on to the next item. Multitasking is overrated, and it can easily lead to you becoming less productive.
Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance


Matt Murphy5. Using a Freelance Team

Establish a “follow the sun” model by using freelancers. If your business is operating from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., you’re only utilizing a third of the day. Overseas freelancers are available to continue projects as you sleep, which moves things along two to three times faster.
Matt Murphy, Global Citizens Travel


Alexandra Levit 26. Using Sophisticated Apps

In particular, If This Then That connects up to Google Apps and allows them to talk to each other without your intervention. Basically, you create your own recipes so that if a particular trigger is present, an action is generated. One example of a recipe: “If I am endorsed on LinkedIn, publish a tweet on Twitter.” It’s the Holy Grail of automation.
Alexandra Levit, Inspiration at Work


Cody McKibben7. Creating More Systems

If you want to really scale and grow, your primary job is never to continue doing the work. Your job is to continue building processes. Spend your time learning about systems, turning business processes into clear step-by-step procedures and creating thorough standard operating documents. Then, find reliable people to whom you can delegate those processes. Work on your business, not in it.
Cody McKibben, Digital Nomad Academy


Derek Flanzraich8. Investing in Faster Internet

It’s stunning how often faster Internet is overlooked, but we basically invest as much as people will allow us to on our Internet speed. We’re on it all the time, so nothing relieves stress and improves efficiency like blazing fast Internet.
Derek Flanzraich, Greatist


Robert-J.-Moore9. Displaying Performance Data

We have wall-mounted TV screens that display up-to-the-minute company performance data. This keeps everyone on the same page about what’s important and motivates everyone to make as big an impact as possible.
Robert J. Moore, RJMetrics

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About YEC
Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
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  • I really enjoyed this post! I took away some very valuable information about online business operations. I liked the simplicity yet very insightful knowledge. I really honed in maintaining accountability, avoiding multitasking, and creating more systems (planning) topics. As a society, our world is full of distractions. Our minds do best on focusing on one idea at a time. We need a process and hold each team member and our ourselves accountable. Again, great stuff here!

    • Billy McAllister

      Multi-tasking is not productivity. It’s a difficult concept to…hold on (checks phone, changes song, send email)…. wrap my head around.

  • mileszs

    Nice list. For me:

    1) Shut down Twitter, etc. … Sometimes I go so far as to temporarily block Reddit and the like. (Admitting you have a problem is the first step, right?)
    2) Put on my headphones, volume low.
    3) Listen to something moderate-to-fast tempo with a beat. I am neither a hip-hop fan nor an electronic music fan, but music w/ beats inspired from those genres works for me.

    Truth time: coffee is my usual answer, but that one was obvious. Haha.

  • Elizabeth Steward

    Tune in to one of the podcasts that I like, put the headphones on, and dive into my work. Whether the podcast is 15, 30, or 60 min long, I find I can get a lot done in that time while I’m listening.

    • Hunckler


    • Hunckler

      I can’t seem to listen to anything with words in it and still get work done. Wish I could do this.

      • Elizabeth Steward

        It works for me when I’m doing visual design or wireframing. When I’m writing or coding – not so much.

  • Megha Patel

    Great post! Myself…besides coffee/tea: listen to upbeat music while working but my favorite: Push my limits in the gym/running and then align that energy with career motivations at work – ultimately leading to productive measures.

  • Billy McAllister

    1. When the temperatures aren’t sub-zero, I just go outside and take a 5-10 minute walk. The 5-10 minutes away from the screen and keyboard are easily justified by the increased productivity thereafter.

    2. Jazz music always seems to help out a lot too. Some Otis Redding does the brain well.

    • Tim Hickle

      I’m big on going outside. Another trick I’ve learned in the same vein is mixing up my “creative inputs.” Try to take in new sights, sounds, and people every day… Even if this is just a new route to work or stopping at a new coffee shop.

      • Billy McAllister

        The hustle-and-bustle sounds of a coffee shop is relaxing.