Top 10 Productivity Tools for Entrepeneurs, Business Owners & Freelancers

If there is one thing that entrepreneurs are short of, its time.  That’s because most entrepreneurs are busy people who deal with many phone calls, business meetings, and emails each day.  When faced with so many tasks, it is easy to become overwhelmed or distracted.

That is why successful entrepreneurs often use productivity tools to stay organized.  Productivity tools can help you focus your attention on the things that matter and maximize the work you get done each day.

This guide will share the top 10 productivity tools for entrepreneurs.  These tools can completely transform the way you work and increase your chances of success.  Let’s check them out.

#1 — Autofocus

Autofocus is a time management system developed by Mark Forster, an author and productivity expert.  Unlike many other time management systems, Autofocus focuses on the tasks that you enjoy doing first.  Because you enjoy these tasks, you are less likely to procrastinate and you will complete the task efficiently.

Once you complete the current task or become bored with it, you simply move on to the next task that excites you.  This approach reduces the amount of stress you will experience and ensures you are constantly working throughout the day.  Even though you may be tackling the easiest tasks first, you will be working with a high level of productivity.

How it works:

  • Write down your todo list
  • Scan through the items on the list
  • Scan the items once more, but do it slowly. Pick an item that stands out.
  • Work on this item as long as you want. If you complete it, cross it off the list.  If it is not completed, re-add it to the end of your todo list.
  • Continue by selecting another item from the list. Don’t move on to the next page of your todo list until the current page is complete.
  • If you go to a page and none of the items stand out on your first read through, dismiss them by putting a line through each item. Do not re-add them to the end of your todo list.

This system greatly increases the volume of work you produce each day, helps you focus on what is important, and reduces stress.  It is also useful for the fast processing of routine actions.

#2 — The Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique is one of the simplest yet most effective productivity techniques available.  It is an easy-to-use technique eliminates the most common barriers to productivity — procrastination, distractions, and burnout.

How it works:

  • Look at your current todo list and choose an item that needs to be done immediately
  • Work on the item for 25 minutes with no interruptions. Use a timer to precisely measure the time.
  • If an interruption occurs, write it down
  • When the timer goes off, have a five minute break
  • After performing four 25-minute Pomodoros, have a longer break. This break can be anywhere between 15 to 30 minutes.  This longer break helps you avoid burnout.

This system is quite useful if you are working for clients and need to track your time precisely.  There are many Pomodoro apps available for smart phones and computers.  Some of these apps let you block out distractions including Internet websites and incoming phone calls.

#3 — Iceberg method

The Iceberg Method is a productivity technique developed by Ramit Sethi, the author of I Will Teach You to be Rich.  Using this technique makes it easier to store and retrieve any useful information that you find.

How it works:

  • Use an electronic system to store any articles, notes, or emails that are useful
  • Categorize all of the information that you receive into folders and by using tags
  • Review your information every four to six weeks to see if any of the information applies to your current project.

There are many apps that can be used for storing and retrieving your data, including Evernote, Dropbox Paper, Microsoft OneNote, and Google Keep.

#4 — Don’t break the chain

Don't Break the Chain is another simple productivity technique that can be useful for entrepreneurs with long-term goals.  This technique was shared by computer programmer and aspiring comedian Brad Isaac.  Brad approached Jerry Seinfeld at an open mic night and asked for advice on succeeding as a comic.  Jerry simply told him “Don’t break the chain” — keep writing jokes each day, without taking breaks.  Jerry suggested this approach because taking breaks make it harder to remain productive and creative. 

How it works:

  • Pick a long-term goal
  • Purchase a wall calendar
  • Each day you continually work towards your goal, place a red X on the calendar
  • Try to work towards your goal each day, using the calendar as a source of motivation

This simple technique is perfect for entrepreneurs who have long-term goals that they are working towards.  It also works well when you are attempting to develop a new skill or attempting to improve yourself in some way.

#5 — Kanban
Kanban is a useful productivity technique for people who prefer to visualize their work.  Using this process makes it easier to identify the tasks that are most important and how to efficiently complete them.

How it works:

  • Start by visualizing your work by creating a to-do list. Highlight the most important items and make a note of how long each task will take.
  • Avoid placing too many items on the list or having many tasks that are still in progress to avoid burnout.
  • Make a Kanban board. It will have three vertical columns titled Backlog, Doing, Done. Sort the items on your todo list into these columns.  Limit the number of items in the Doing column to three.

Having your to-do list structured in this way makes it much easier to focus on the tasks at hand.  It works particularly well for visual learners, which is why many designers and artists use this technique.  There are some useful software tools based on this technique, including Kanban Flow and Kanban Note, which integrates with EverNote.

#6 — Time Blocking
This is another great technique for visual learners.  You use a graphical tool to assign tasks to time blocks throughout the day.  It is very easy to see what task you should currently be working on and what tasks are next.  It can help you avoid procrastination and improve overall productivity levels.

How it works:

  • Divide a piece of lined paper into two column
  • Each two horizontal lines is an hour block. On the left hand side, add your tasks that you are going to do the next day, specifying how many hours they will take.
  • On the right hand side of the vertical line, describe the task.

You can also use software applications for time blocking.  The two best apps for this technique are Google Calendar and the OS X Calendar app.

#7 — The 1-3-5 Rule
This is a simple productivity technique that can help you get more done and avoid burnout.  It is also useful for prioritizing your tasks correctly.  You will complete a big task followed by three medium tasks, followed by five small tasks.

How it works:
1) Write a to-do list

2) Evaluate the time that each task will take

3) Sort the list into a big task, followed by three medium tasks, followed by five small tasks

#8 — Bullet Journal
Bullet Journal is an organizational method that helps you remain in tight control of your work day.  It is also useful for storing and accessing any useful information that you discover.

How it works:

  • Use a pen to number each page of a notebook
  • Add the name of a topic on the top outer corner of the page.
  • Create bullet point tasks on the page.
  • When you complete a task, mark it with an X. If you discover the task must be schedule for another time, mark it with a <.  If you have migrated the task into another project, mark it with a >.
  • Designate events with a O shaped bullet and mark notes with a — character
  • Use stars to mark a task as being important, an exclamation point for information that is very useful and an eye icon to highlight a note that needs more research.
  • Create modules that collect specific kinds of entries
  • Review your entries regularly

While this system may seem complex at first, you will find it simple to use after an hour or two.  This system is perfect for people who are detailed orientated and like to make notes on their projects.  HUSTLE Co. have recently launched a brilliant A5 Dotted Journal that is perfect for Bullet Journalling - check it out!

#9 — 52/17
This productivity technique is based on a research project that found the most productive people tend to work for about 52 minutes, then take 17 minutes off.  The highly productive participants would work in a very focused way for 52 minutes, then use a short break to recharge their batteries and avoid burnout.  It’s a very simple technique, but it works!

How it works:

  • Organize your todo list using the method you prefer.
  • Work for 52 minutes without a break.
  • Take a 17 minute break. Stand up, walk around, have a conversation, grab a snack.  Avoid any tasks that are intellectually demanding.

This technique works well for any task that requires a great deal of focus.  It is also a useful technique for preventing procrastination.

#10 — Getting Things Done

Getting Things Done was developed by David Allen, a well known author and productivity specialist.  He details the method in his best selling book.  Using this method will help you remain focused, productive, and relaxed.

How it works:

  • Capture your tasks
    Start by capturing the items you need to do. Write, record, or type your task list
  • Clarify you tasks
    Look at the list and priorities the items on it. Separate the items that need to be acted on immediately.  Other items need to be deleted, delegated, or archived.
  • Organize the list
    Organize your list into categories or use one of the productivity tools mentioned above. It can be combined with methods like the 1-3-5 Rule or Time Blocking.
  • Reflect
    Regularly look at the items on your lists to ensure they rein the right spot.
  • Engage
    Get working! Now that you are organized, you will find your work day to be less stressful and more productive.

Combining productivity tools
The best part of the systems listed in our guide is that they can easily be combined with one another.  You can use the 1-3-5 rule with the Pomodoro technique and tack on Don’t Break The Chain.  In fact, the more of these tools you use the more productive you will become.  Experiment with the different tools to find a solution that works for you!

Thanks for reading The Hustle Co. Cheat Sheet for the TOP Productivity Tools!  For more productivity articles, subscribe to the blog or follow us on social media. 

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