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26 Entrepreneurs Explain the CEO Hack They Use to be Effective and Efficient

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As an entrepreneur, you that gadget, habit, app or a book that makes your work easier, motivates you to do more and that’s what we refer to as a CEO Hack. It helps you achieve maximum productivity and stick to your goals regardless of the hurdles we face as entrepreneurs. For instance, it could be a pro tip on managing employees to make the workplace a conducive environment for everyone. Maybe it’s an app that you have which helps you plan and execute tasks on time. It could also be a book that you read and it brings ideas your way on how to scale your business. The list goes on. You can check our CEO Hacks and different entrepreneurs’ CEO Hacks below where we have insightful responses.

#1- Time Management

Photo Credit: David Smith

One of the most important skills in becoming effective and efficient is time management. Not your everyday type, but real true effective time management. My most productive days are when I’m on it from the moment I’m at my desk. My bible for this is the book The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes, the first chapter of the book is Time Management Skills for Billionaires, it provides a clear structure for making the most of the time you have and it works! May not be for everyone, but for me, it has helped me become a much more effective and efficient manager.

Thanks to David Smith, BuyAnyPart!

#2- Three hacks

Photo Credit: Shiwali Varshney

Before I turned a Founder and CEO of a company, Conure Life, I was a CFO and a turnaround advisor that helped companies fixed operations, manage working capital and become more profitable. That work is always hectic and the emotions usually ran high. I also ran a non-profit Tribhang and was learning an Indian Classical Dance form on the personal front. Three things helped me get most out of the day and keep my sanity. 1) In difficult situation, ability to get out of myself and be an observer. This helped me to not react to what was happening, but focused me on the “why?” why was there a conflict, what behavior of mine will make the most impact. 2) Zenkit + Bullet Journal. I maintain my projects and all future tasks on Zenkit. I then open it up to the calendar view for all my tasks, and create a to-do list for the day early in the morning. And using pamodoro technique (25 min work 5 min break), I start crossing off tasks. 3) Exercise. Can’t say more about just going for a walk or dancing or running. Anything to move your body for 30 minutes at least. It makes all the difference in attitude, health and productivity.

Thanks to Shiwali Varshney, Conure, LLC!

#3- Setting Goals

Photo Credit: Peter Hartlen

Setting Goals is one of my most important priorities and something I do habitually. Usually, I set daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals. I spend a few moments each morning to plan all I’d like to achieve that day, as well as on every Monday morning I plan for that week ahead, and at the start of each month, the same is done for the month ahead too. Doing so I find I can achieve a lot more and stay focused on the key parts of my business. Another habit I have cultivated over many years is to read as many books as possible (or listen to podcasts), especially concerning topics that will benefit me personally and/or professionally, whether by improving my skills or knowledge on the said topic.

Thanks to Peter Hartlen, iCloth!

#4- Trello

Photo Credit: Yoni Pinhasov

One of the most challenging factors as a CEO is to be able to complete all the tasks that our company targets. Organization is the key to efficiency. I personally like to use a project management app called Trello to map out and prioritize important tasks. As a CEO, embracing technology to get things done is not only extremely helpful, but, most importantly, effective. It lets you understand that different employees carry different skillsets, and can sometimes do a better job than the CEO on a specific task. Easily matching employees with the appropriate tasks just makes everyone more productive. When you reach a moment where you’re not productive for various reasons, another small hack is to just take a break, have a snack, and watch or listen to something that isn’t related to work. It always helps me to get back to my tasks with a fresh mindset.

Thanks to Yoni Pinhasov, Variety Fun!

#5- The Lean Startup book

Photo Credit: Keval Baxi

When I started Codal, I had read The Lean Startup book. This book was truly life-changing, making me a much more effective entrepreneur. While this book sounds like it would be ideal for a startup, it is a great read for an entrepreneur of any size business. It was clear to me that the author uses many of his real-life experiences to explain his concepts, give business suggestions, and tell success (and failure!) stories. He shares ways to learn very quickly what works, and what doesn’t, and how to use each experience and experiment to better improve your business. A lot of the book is about the importance of customer/client feedback, collecting it and applying it to your business or product. The Lean Startup gave me the mindset that every effective and efficient entrepreneur should have!

Thanks to Keval Baxi, Codal!

#6- Truncating the training process

Photo Credit: Pablo Mendoza

The one hack that I’ve had the most success with in my startup is truncating the training process. My previous employer would train sales agents for two weeks. When I started my company, paying someone for two weeks before we discovered if they were cut out for the job wasn’t cost-efficient. So I’ve cut the training process down to three days. This gets potential sales agents on the phone faster and allows us to determine if they’re cut out for the job or not. We also save money because we’re not having to wait two weeks to see if they’ll be able to perform. This hack has allowed us to stay lean and simultaneously see which potential sales agents rise to the top of the pack.

Thanks to Pablo Mendoza, Direct Call Solutions!

#7-Force Multiplier

Photo Credit: Dan Summers

A solid CEO needs to be a Master Puppeteer. Know your limitations, delegate and coordinate accordingly. Achieving 5 solutions simultaneously is an art not a science. Search for high-end (always) solution solvers to “concurrently” endeavor to generate the required outcome. Structured results help me achieve speed, accuracy and scalability.

Thanks to Dan Summers, eVest Technology!

#8- Weekly one-on-ones

Photo Credit: Brennan McEachran

Schedule regular one-on-one with all of your direct reports – and never (ever!) cancel them. Long before SoapBox was a one-on-one agenda app, I got obsessed with one-on-ones because of the book, *Startup CEO*. Every successful CEO I know does one-on-ones because they help you connect with your team and talk about the substantial topics that will keep them happy and motivated – and productive.

Thanks to Brennan McEachran, SoapBox!

#9- Playing chess to enhance vision and planning capacity

Photo Credit: Andrei Vasilescu

My favorite indoor sport is chess and I play at least one board each week with my computer and playing chess really helps me to successfully carry on my tasks as the CEO of my company. In chess, you have to guess all the possible moves of your opponent against your move and all your counter moves against that move of your opponent. If you want to win the battle on board, you have to think about so many numbers of moves and counter moves before commencing any move. In the chair of CEO of any running business, alike the chess board you need to plan how to move forward your business and what to do if any of your decisions fail. Playing chess helps me to keep my plan-B and plan-C ready if my first plan fails. Every CEO must play chess to sharpen their capacity to see the coming future and possible outcomes which will help them to plan accordingly to keep the business in the way of success.

Thanks to Andrei Vasilescu, DontPayFull!

#10-I use app Freedom

Photo Credit: Jeff fuzzy Wenzel

Turn off all communication for “focus time.” Communication is one of our biggest distractions as entrepreneurs, so when you really need to get something  done, turn off everything—your phone, your email, and any of your chat programs — and dedicate some time to focus. As I type this out, my phone is completely turned off. On top of the that, I use app Freedom to take my focus to the next level. Freedom is the app and website blocker used by over 750,000 people to reclaim focus and  produc­tivity. Experience the freedom to do what matters most.

Thanks to Jeff fuzzy Wenzel, Woodshed Agency!

#11- Automated marketing funnel

Photo Credit: Shaan Patel

The best CEO Hack that has helped my business flourish from a sales standpoint is the automated marketing funnel. Many, if not most, businesses today automate much of their marketing processes, but for an entrepreneur just starting out, this can seem counterintuitive. I’ve talked to teenagers  who’ve asked me ‘How can you build a business if it seems like you’re just letting software do all the work for you?’ That’s precisely the point; maximize your personal productivity by letting software eliminate tasks that would eat up time from prospecting, closing sales, product development, etc. Our own sales funnels are 99% managed by software alone, from email drip campaigns, online webinars, paid ads, etc. While we do produce our own in-house content, once a visitor enters the funnel, there’s little to no direct contact that’s necessary unless they have questions right before purchase. This process not only allowed me to better track sales but also split my time between being the CEO of a multimillion dollar company while also pursuing my medical degree full time

Thanks to Shaan Patel, Prep Expert!

#12- Two hacks

Photo Credit: Chris Hutchinson

On a weekly basis, I choose 1-2 successes to focus on in each of my roles. For example, deciding I want to really connect with my son during the week led me to pick a time we could watch an anime together that he liked, and then to be flexible when his schedule changed. These are known as big rocks – the things I want to make sure happen – and I put them in my calendar first alongside standing commitments. At the end of the week I reflect on how I did and adjust the next week accordingly. This hack fits neatly with…  Create a Someday Maybe list instead of a To-Do list. It used to be I would get depressed looking at my list because the more creative I got, the behinder I felt. Enter the Someday Maybe list – a place where I capture ideas and fixes without commitment. Each week when I look over my roles I scan this list to see what would be a good item – or a step on the way to an item – to take on that week.

Thanks to Chris Hutchinson, Trebuchet Group!

#13- Nimble

Photo Credit: Vicky Llerena

Hands down, my favourite hack tools to use is Nimble. This is a social media and email marketing tool. The simplicity of the tool makes it super efficient for any small business or solo practitioner to use. I upload all my contacts into this tool and the tool automatically connects the emails with my prospects social media accounts. I can also segment by industry and place them in a sales process cycle. If I wish to email a segmented list, the tool allows me to send an email campaign but removes any subscription links to make the email appear less spammy and more authentic. I receive 50% open rate and response when I send from Nimble.

Thanks to Vicky Llerena, Social Vibes Media!

#14- Email templates

Photo Credit: Jennifer Way

I hired a consultant one time to analyze my efficiency. When they analyzed my email specifically they found that my inbox required an average of 80 touches per day and that I would spend 8 hours per day managing email alone. I had to move toward templates if I was going to get anything in my business accomplished. We now have over 150 email templates that we use on a daily basis for everything from networking, sales, marketing, introductions, etc. We have them sorted into folders and sub-folders to cover as many scenarios as possible. When an email comes in, I’m able to respond quickly and efficiently by pulling a template, making quick changes to personalize it, and sending it off.

Thanks to Jennifer Way, Way Solutions!

#15- Post-it notes

Photo Credit: Deborah Sweeney

My greatest hack as a CEO are Post-it notes! I use them for making to-do lists each day and cross off each item I accomplish on my list. There’s a sense of accomplishment that comes with being able to physically cross these items off and know that I was able to get so much finished throughout any given day.

Thanks to Deborah Sweeney, MyCorporation.com!

#16- Two apps

Photo Credit: Ketan Kapoor

Cultivating mindfulness and living in the moment has helped me a lot to become more effective and efficient. Earlier I used to move from one task to the other without any spaces in between that triggered stress and frustration in my life. Thanks to mindful meditation; that’s not the case anymore. I have learnt to work more and panic less while performing day to day tasks as an entrepreneur. The constant thought bombardment is also in check now. Zen Habits and the Headspace app has immensely helped me learn the basics of meditation that not only helped in clearing my mind, but also provided a significant boost to my physical energy levels. No matter how busy a workday gets, I make it a point to open the headspace app and enter silent contemplation for at least 5 minutes a day. Having done that for a few months now, I have found solitude and stillness in my own mind that has skyrocketed my effectiveness and efficiency levels for good.

Thanks to Ketan Kapoor, Mettl!

#17- Daily planner/journal

Photo Credit: James Dimovski

My daily planner/journal is so important to me that I don’t go anywhere without it. I write out my daily tasks on one page first thing in the morning, together with the day’s 2-3 Most Important Tasks that are the highest priority. On the other side, I write out my current goals and when I plan to have achieved them, also outlining what are the 90 day action steps that I need to take to achieve these goals. Finally, I review how I did that day once I’m starting to wind down, making notes of anything that could be improved upon the next day and rewriting my goals before bed.

Thanks to James Dimovski, Gallant State!

#18- Ego is the Enemy book

Photo Credit: Steph Taylor

The book Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday has helped me to be more effective as a leader and when working with clients. The book teaches you to stop listening to your ego, which allows for better decision-making, better leadership and a better feeling of alignment within business. It’s a definite must-read for all entrepreneurs, CEOs and leaders.

Thanks to Steph Taylor

#19-Hootsuite

Photo Credit: Edward Corona

As the CEO of FinTech Merchant Accounts, I work with LinkedIn extensively. The best hack for me has been Hootsuite, It gives me the ability to auto-post and I also utilize the RSS feed to constantly share new and relevant content, saving me a considerable amount of time on a mundane task. The basic plan is free and works perfect for me. It has been a great tool for my business.

Thanks to Edward Corona, Fintechmerchantaccounts.com!

#20- My Watch

Photo Credit: Nicholas Smith

My hack is really simple, it’s my watch. I’m a stickler for time keeping and every minute of every working day is accounted for. At the start of every working day I’ll get up and spend 30 minutes looking at the list of tasks I have and the time I have available that day. I’ll prioritise them and make a list of tasks for the day allocating each an amount of time. As the day goes on, if I don’t finish the task in the time I allocated, I’ll stop and move on to the next task. This does two things. For you, it makes you realise how precious your time is, it encourages you to prioritise and more importantly it makes you look at the tasks and ask Do I really need to do that? Can I either bin the task off, or delegate it. For those that work for you or with you, it shows them that they need to be concise and to the point, but it also encourages them to think for themselves, often solving problems before they get anywhere near your desk.

Thanks to Nicholas Smith, CompareNewTyres.com!

#21- Delegation by inaction

Photo Credit: Courtney Barbee

Since our business grew quickly and I had trouble adjusting to letting my staff take care of things, I was very bad about immediately jumping on any client email on which I was copied, or dropping everything to take every client call that came in. Often, these were issues which employees could handle, but I thought, Oh, this will only take me a few minutes, then I won’t have to worry about it. After running myself ragged with this behavior, and constantly interrupting my own workflow, I made a vow to give every client request which didn’t require my personal, immediate attention, one hour’s wait. What I found was that the staff often handled problems before I ever needed to address them, allowing me to focus on the tasks that only I could handle. It made my life easier, it showed the staff I trust them, and clients seem to enjoy having a larger team of people they can reach out to.

Thanks to Courtney Barbee, The Bookkeeper!

#22- Combination of time constraint and self-respect

Photo Credit: Nikola Roza

I work until 4 pm every day. I have an online business and work for myself. I can be busy all day long if I wanted to. But I don’t do it.  And why? Because, and this is what makes me effective/productive, when my brain knows it has a set amount of hours to get things done, and that no a minute longer will be allotted to it, – it gets the job done. Nine out of ten times I finish everything I wanted to do for the day, and then I have this rest of the day off. Here’s a tip for your readers who’re intrigued and want to try it for themselves. It doesn’t come easy. No one is going to be super productive right of the bat. It takes work, and you practice by staying true to your word, no matter what. If you don’t finish today, get up and go home; and start anew tomorrow. Do it a couple of times and your brain will learn to focus- and that’s key. With focus comes progress- it’s simple. The other part of my hack is self-respect- I know that life is not work and I love myself too much to chip away from my play time. By enjoying life after work, I’m happier; more relaxed; stress can’t touch me; and I fell like I have it all in my control. The funny thing is: If I were to work longer hours at the expense of my freedom, it would show. But not in a good way. I’d be cranky, angry, stressed out and I’d feel like my world is out of joint.  And what do you think: can an angry person’s output be positive. Can such a person be productive and efficient? Exactly.

Thanks to Nikola Roza

#23- Time blocks

Photo Credit: Jeff Skipper

Critical to my own success and the executives I coach are these essential non-negotiable time blocks: Time to think big thoughts: Are we ‘on strategy’, ‘on mission’? What’s changing that we need to factor in? Time to take the pulse: 15 minute coffee dates with employees throughout the org to gauge mood and collect ideas. Time to work: Staying on top of tasks means blocking time to get it done. Time not allocated is easily lost.

Thanks to Jeff Skipper, Jeff Skipper Consulting!

#24- Airtable

Photo Credit: Sean Newman Maroni

One of the most useful things I’ve done for my personal productivity is to track my tasks in Airtable. Each week, I drag this list of things I need to get done into a ‘This Week’ list. Then, throughout the week I move completed items into a ‘Done’ list, and tag how long that task took to complete. On the weekends I take an hour or so to do an Audit of my week and how it went. I add up the tasks completed, hours spent, and how many tasks remain on my list (if any) at the end of the week. Then, I ask myself what I should start doing, stop doing, and continue doing in order to be better the next week. The only person you can compare yourself to is who you were yesterday.

Thanks to Sean Newman Maroni, Betabox!

#25- Analytics, Analytics and more Analytics

Photo Credit: Adrian Berry

Google Analytics may seem like a rabbit hole at times but it’s key to growing your business. If you don’t spend time in your analytics account you won’t be able to make those informed decisions that you need to make for your business. If you’re unsure about Analytics take the Google Analytics course to get a better understanding. Trust me you won’t regret it. You’ll be able to understand your customers much better, which pages and categories within your site are working and those that aren’t. It will help you to understand a multitude of data including what are your most popular products and how you can target visitors at specific times of day. It’s essential to growing your business.

Thanks to Adrian Berry, CTI Digital!

#26- SaneBox

Photo Credit: Daniel Nyiri

As a CEO your inbox can be pretty full each day so I was about to hire an assistant who could take over my email when someone recommended SaneBox to me. It allows me to save 7 hours per week on my mailbox! How do I know? It is a AI/smart assistant that picks up on your habits, moves email around and literally keeps your email organized and clean and at the end of each day it will give you a report. I highly recommend it!

Thanks to Daniel Nyiri, 4U Fitness!

What’s the CEO Hack (app, book or habit) that you use to be effective and efficient? Tell us in the comments below. Don’t forget to join our #IamCEO Community.

About Mercy - CBNation

This is a post from a CEO Blog Nation writer. CEO Blog Nation is a community of blogs for entrepreneurs and business owners. Started in much the same way as most small businesses, CEO Blog Nation captures the essence of entrepreneurship by allowing entrepreneurs and business owners to have a voice. CEO Blog Nation provides news, information, events and even startup business tips for entrepreneurs, startups and business owners to succeed.

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