Most productivity advice is complete rubbish and if you’re working in a startup like me, you’re probably laser-focused right now on a bunch of “super important” things like growing traffic, driving sales or optimizing landing pages.
But in the past few years, I’ve found myself going through periods in which I was working hard for long hours, but not necessarily being smart or moving as quickly as possible towards my actual goals. Productivity for a startup guy (or girl) is like fitness for a golf player or a chess master – it’s not going to directly improve each stroke or move, but it’s 100% proven to be critical to performance over a given period.
With that in mind, here are 10 genuine tips that will help you to get the most out of yourself and your startup this year.
1. Set goals you can smash
Don’t be tempted to construct a huge plan to conquer the world every day and then get frustrated when you can’t tick anything off. When you first get in every morning, write down five to-dos and then get them done. Repeat tomorrow.
2. Take startup news with a pinch of salt
Just like your Facebook feed, listening to what’s going on in startup land by reading Tech Crunch or speaking to founders that are “smashing it” all the time, can make you falsely believe that everyone is winning everyday. Maintain your perspective.
3. Take time to get in shape
When you’re at your desk punching out copy, code or emails, taking a break to eat a proper lunch or go for a run seems like the last thing that will help your startup. But having the “discipline” to take a break and maintain yourself will make sure you’ve got the energy and drive to do more important stuff later.
4. Spot your goal post, then sprint hard
Set a dedicated time to assess your goals and define a key metric that you want to grow. Then set your plan and run at it hard – focus and don’t think about the bigger picture again until the next assessment time – whether fortnightly, monthly or quarterly.
5. Keep looking up
Concentrate on what success looks like and how you’re going to get there, not what the possible steps to failure are. When you find yourself looking down at the ground, snap yourself out of it – there’s always a route up!
6. Spring out of bed
In the morning, try to jump out of bed as quickly as possible and run in to a cold shower. It’s good for discipline, routine and does a way better job of keeping you alert than coffee.
7. Use smart outsourcing tools
Don’t let people power, skills or your location stop your growth plans. Whether it’s product testing or promotional staff hired via Airtasker, content creators found on Freelancer or a professional recruiter engaged on Recruitloop, use trusted platforms to connect with the people you need to get the job done faster, cheaper and better.
8. Don’t ride every wave
Keeping your eyes fixated on your hour-by-hour performance statistics can be another big distraction from being productive. Every business goes through ebbs and flows that can affect your mindset so set a schedule for checking traffic/sales/downloads and stick to it.
9. Find a passion
Find something that you really enjoy doing that isn’t working on your startup. This will help you escape the grind every now and balance out your life – you should be able to completely let go of business for at least an hour a day. These are the times that you will come up with your best ideas.
10. Let your team mates fail
Startup teams are small which means everyone needs to specialise and be responsible for their own area. Don’t be a control freak and try to get everything done in a certain way – trust your team mates to get things done and make their own mistakes.
If you’ve got questions, or want to accuse me of “fluffiness”, let me know in the comments below.