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13 Must-Try Productivity Hacks for Startup CEOs

Prioritize time management and plan for long-term success with expert productivity hacks for startup CEOs.

By Hannah Ross  •   January 30, 2023  •   7 min read

Growing an innovative startup is a massive challenge, with one of the most difficult hurdles being innovating in a space that no one has explored before. As a startup chief executive officer (CEO), you’re responsible for navigating uncharted waters and steering your team towards success. In addition, daily tasks and responsibilities include ensuring your startup has a positive cash flow, defining your product vision, creating a North Star for your team, building out a stellar team of hustlers and innovators, managing investments, managing brand ideation and development, and managing corporate development. 

As a result, startup CEOs need to prioritize productivity and learn how to manage their time accordingly. In this article, we’ll dive into 13 expert productivity hacks for startup CEOs so you can begin to prioritize time management, track goals, and plan for long-term success. 

13 must-try productivity hacks for startup CEOs

1Avoid multitasking

While multitasking works for some, it can be detrimental to others. If your brain is trying to manage several tasks at once, it may affect the way you work or hinder your ability to see a single task through to fruition. Quality also suffers when you multitask because your brain isn’t able to focus on completing a singular task, which can lead to poor quality or mistakes that could have easily been avoided. 

To avoid multitasking, you may want to consider time blocking. Time blocking is the opposite of multitasking and is a much more effective productivity hack that will help you increase focus and double down on your to-do list. 

Pro tip: Fellow’s Chrome extension helps avoid multitasking by bringing your meeting notes and agendas into Google Meet and Google Calendar. With this extension, you can access your meeting notes right inside of Google Meet calls and your Google Calendar to supercharge team meetings and 1-on-1 without leaving the tools that you are already using. Say goodbye to multiple, distracting tabs!

2Use a meeting management software 

Leveraging meeting management software ensures that you’ll have everything you need to run efficient, actionable meetings. Tools like Fellow make optimizing your time and streamlining processes a breeze by helping you and your teammates build great meeting habits through collaborative agendas, real-time note taking, and ready-made templates. 

As a startup CEO, you’re most likely strapped for time, which is why it’s important for you to source software that allows you to use all of your favorite tools and integrations within one easy-to-use platform. Fellow makes it possible for you to take meeting notes directly in your Google Meet or Zoom call in addition to making your meeting workflows even better by allowing you to integrate tools like Asana, Jira, and Zapier

Run efficient meetings, come to a decision, and get back to work

Level up your meeting habits to boost engagement and productivity with a collaborative meeting agenda. Try a tool like Fellow!

3Use the time-blocking method

It can be extremely difficult to navigate and prioritize pressing tasks as a startup CEO. You’re constantly being bombarded with new obstacles and always have a lengthy to-do list, so time blocking is a must. Time blocking is the opposite of multitasking, since you’re able to dedicate all of your brain power to one pressing task. Instead of struggling to balance multiple priorities, you can focus on getting one task or a series of similar tasks done and check off your to-do list during one specific block of time. Limiting the number of tasks you work on at once by prioritizing time blocking will help you limit distractions and boost attention to detail so you can make sure you’re always producing quality work. 

4Set and track OKRs

Setting and tracking objectives and key results (OKRs) is an essential practice that will help you gauge your own success in addition to the success of those around you. OKR tracking will help you ensure that all of your teammates and colleagues are sticking to their individual goals and not falling behind as your startup continues to scale. This system will help everyone in your startup including yourself focus on your most important tasks, while measuring performance and tracking success.  

5Delegate tasks

Being a successful startup CEO would be nearly impossible if you weren’t able to delegate tasks. Every great leader knows that the key to success is being able to rely on the strengths of those around them. Not only does delegating tasks free up time in your schedule for more important tasks, but it also empowers others in your organization to step up, builds trust, and assists with professional development. 

6Prioritize your well-being 

As a startup CEO, it can often be hard to prioritize your well-being. Numerous tasks pile up, and self-care often goes out the window. However, if you don’t take the time to prioritize your well-being, you may fail at being a successful leader. Taking care of yourself will help you become the best startup CEO you can be. 

7Reduce the number and length of meetings

There’s nothing worse than attending meeting after meeting, especially when there’s no end in sight. As a startup CEO, your time is precious. It’s important that you use every spare moment you have wisely. If you want to put time back in your calendar, the only way you can do it is by eliminating unnecessary meetings. Additionally, your meetings may be costing you more than you think. This meeting calculator makes it possible for you to calculate exactly how much it costs to bring your team together so you can begin to shorten or cut unnecessary meetings. 

8Automate processes 

Automating tasks that don’t require a human touch can save you tons of time and provide you with the bandwidth you need to thrive in other areas of your work by streamlining workflows and reducing the repetition of essential tasks. As a startup CEO, this will allow you to focus on other areas of your work while keeping up with demand and rapid growth. 

Here’s how you can get started: 

  • Identify areas within your workflow that can be automated.
  • Consult with a third party that specializes in creating workflows and streamlining business.
  • Reach out to a colleague or subject matter expert that may have more experience working with automation tools than you do.

9Create and follow a daily or weekly planner

You can’t maintain an effective schedule without making a daily or weekly planner. To stray on track and optimize your time, you’ll need to create and follow a daily planner. Luckily, tools like Fellow make organizing your day a breeze. With Fellow’s Streams tool, you can organize your ideas your way so you can devise a solid plan. Allowing you to keep track of everything from personal to-do lists to team OKRs, Streams are digital notepads where action items and ideas come together to inspire productivity.

For additional guidance, consider leveraging our weekly planner template to gain visibility of your weekly priorities so you can effectively manage your time throughout the week and knock important items off your to-do list!

10Use fewer tools

Using helpful tools can make a world of difference, especially when you have an endless list of tasks to handle. However, choosing your tools wisely is key. It’s more beneficial to have a couple exceptional tools with multiple features than to have multiple tools that are only good for one thing. Luckily, tools like Fellow have all the features you need to stay organized and on track so you can avoid having too many tools. 

To quote Etienne Talbot, the engineering Manager at Poka:

“After using Fellow for a couple of weeks, I noticed that I will always have this app open. I’ll use it to never forget anything that I need to do, and I’ll feed it with my own reminders. I realized I need to use this every day, every week.”

11Share your calendar with your team 

Sharing your calendar with your team is a great way to foster transparency and build trust. Sharing your calendar will not only aid in building trust, but it will also help streamline communication. If your teammates know when they can drop in and chat during office hours or when you’re busy in meetings, they’ll be able to make plans to chat or check in accordingly. 

12Surround yourself with the right people

You can’t run a startup without eager employees, so it’s important to choose your founding team carefully. To quote Keith Shields, the CEO at Designli:

“Selecting the right people to help you run your startup is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. Your team will help do all the things that need to get done in order to reach your goals. Get the right people on your bus, in the right seats. Train them well and share your values and vision. Then let them do their jobs.”

13Find an effective routine and follow it

Creating and sticking to a routine is an excellent way to set yourself up for success. Morning routines help prepare you for the day, boost your energy, help you focus, and put your mind at ease. The right morning routine will help set the stage for your entire day. 

Are you ready to put these productivity hacks for startup CEOs into action? 

Optimizing your time is one of the best things that you can do as a startup CEO. Taking advantage of the best practices listed above will ensure you’ve done everything in your power to lead your startup both productively and efficiently!

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