30 Entrepreneurs Explain the CEO Hack They Use to be Effective and Efficient
As an entrepreneur, you have 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.
This roundup is powered CBNation's CEO Hacks. Throughout this roundup you will find valuable CEO Hacks to help you and your organization.
#1- Waking up at 5a!
As a CEO, it's no secret that a great morning routine is the best way to start your days. On top of that, waking up at 5AM has proven to help me in being successful! The reason: I have my mornings to meditate, clear my mind, and focus on planning out my to-do list before my workday starts. Having those several hours to truly organize and manifest what I want out of my day prior to beginning client work is what allows me to be so successful in what I do.
Thanks to Tori Kayla, Virtual Girlboss!
Check out this CEO Hack to help you with delegation: Morning Routine from Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferris
#2- Getting up early and going through my emails
One thing that has increased my productivity many-fold is the habit of getting up early in the morning and going through my emails. I respond to most of them before I go to office. When I go to office, I get time to look at my To Do in Jira (a task management app for tech startups) and have everything ready before my team is done with their emails. The extra half an hour makes a huge difference to my day. I wish I started doing this earlier.
Thanks to Dinesh Agarwal, Recur Post Inc.!
A tool I couldn't live without is Asana. Go back last year and I was using a simple to-do list, but as my team grew, I realized things were getting lost and forgotten about. Asana allows me and my team to see all the projects and things going on in the business. This has almost doubled our productivity and helped the business to grow much faster.
Thanks to Gavin Bell, Funnel Academy!
Check out this CEO Hack to help you with delegation: Asana
Well being is a big part of my success. To be more specific my physical and mental health has become a priority for me over the past year. I run 10 miles a day and read a book a month when my schedule allows me to. I try to keep track of it all as data is king but also trying to focus more on what makes us all human. So less likes and more connectivity with the people around me is a habit I think everyone should give a try.
Thanks to Elias Manolopoulos, Aeon Ads!
#5- Running slowly
My favorite CEO hack is to run, but run slowly. When you run slowly your mind has full power for business creativity and your thoughts can go down paths that you would otherwise never have time to. When running slowly for 60 minutes, I get ideas for optimization and new initiatives that are incomparable to any other idea generation method.
Thanks to Soren Rosenmeier, Onsiter!
#6- Keeping track of my time
Knowing how much time I'm spending on certain tasks is so important to me, not only in myself but my team too. If we're spending hours and hours on repetitive tasks that could be automated, I want to know. If I don't, then the time wasted on these specific tasks is just time wasted. So whether it's just manually tracking time spent on creating reports or the like, I'll take it on board and see if there is anything that we can do. For example, purchasing APIs that help us pull data and automatically curate a report and send it to a client.
Thanks to Seb Dean, Imaginaire!
#7- Incorporating power naps
I would have to say that my favourite hack thus far has been incorporating power naps at different points of the day. These naps help me recharge, help keep me focused, driven, and healthy. My best ideas or solutions have come after I have taken a 10-20 minute power nap, and that is why I schedule them into my day regardless of how busy I am.
Thanks to Joe Bailey, My Trading Skills!
#8- My monthly schedule for self-reflection or introspection
It's something I look forward to every month. Sometimes it's as simple as going out for a walk around the neighborhood or it could be a full day on a beach or on a hiking trail. Besides thinking about the progress of the company as a whole, I also have specific questions that I mull over. This monthly habit of introspection has often helped me see things in a different light. As a result, I've often found great insights and unique solutions to my problems which I wouldn't have gained if I was just thinking about them while sitting on my desk.
Thanks to Kenny Trinh, Netbooknews!
#9- Streamlining communications
Managing a number of remote teams has taught me to use short and convenient channels to get work done. I try to empathize with my employees who I value on the basis of their commitment and expertise. Staying in the loop helps me make quicker decisions and ensure that all sorts of information is factored in while doing so. Not only does it help save a lot of people a lot of trouble, it ensures that essential time is saved in planning, sorting and getting results. During my very thorough yet concise meetings, I tend to follow to-do lists containing key targets for the week or month. I make sure that efforts are made in the direction of departments and targets that need more handholding. In the end, my goal is to balance company vision with employee satisfaction. It's a complete win-win for me.
Thanks to Victor Fredung, Shufti Pro!
#10- Disabling all phone notifications
I really believe phone notifications tend to be quite distracting and can tamper my flow of work. I've disabled all notifications from my phone so I don't constantly get distracted by email or text pings, but the calls still come through. And, it worked wonders- the increase in my productivity has been manifold.
Thanks to Shriya Garg, ContentNinja!
#11- The CEO date
The CEO date – it's how I start every week. This dedicated time on your calendar helps to plan and prioritize your week by design. It’s an opportunity to track progress against your bigger plan for the year, determine if you’re on or off track, and make the adjustments needed to reach your goals. I always schedule my CEO date for Monday
morning, so I am efficient and productive in my tasks the rest of the week.
Thanks to Racheal Cook
#12-A mantra of mine – Fly at all altitudes
We've found that our team performs best when each member finds satisfaction in engaging in work at all levels, from managing complex projects to helping clean up data in a spreadsheet. No work is beneath anyone here because of their title. In fact, we encourage people to participate in work at all levels since we’ve found the best product ideas come from colleagues who pair a high-level understanding of the macro trends in the industry with the nitty-gritty details of how the job gets done every day.
Thanks to Michael Lagoni, Stackline!
#13- Google Calendar
Apart from the meetings, Google calendar helps me pre plan my time, block thinking time for myself and also put all the next actionable steps in it to keep me accountable. Being a CEO, you have to be careful about what things you are saying no to and to what things you are committing to and as you have a fixed number of hours, having everything on your calendar gives you an honest feedback of how much time you have and what kind of things you can commit to. At the starting of the month, I make my goals and break them down into actionables, and put everything on calendar. I make sure after every meeting, follow-ups are added on the calendar. I use color labeling to see how much of my time is going where, what things are getting neglected and what is the bottleneck, this way I am in control of my time and can prioritize the work important for the organization.
Thanks to Rahul Vij, WebSpero Solutions!
Check out this CEO Hack to help you with calendar: GSuite.
My number one favorite tool is actually a tool marketplace called AppSumo. This is basically a seed funding site where small and obscure app developers present lifetime licenses of full versions of their SAAS products for a small fee. They keep the equity, we get a lifetime license, and they use our money to further develop their product without giving up any equity. Everybody wins. There's no risk either, you have 60 days to decide whether or not you use the products. As an entrepreneur with less than ten employees, it's been a game-changer in terms of automation. They say you don't know what you don't know — this is the solutions the big box SAAS companies don't want you to know about.
Thanks to Jason Littrell
#15- Organizing my inbox
At one time, I remember having 8,194 emails in my inbox. Then I started working for Manny, CEO of a New York-based tech company. He was fanatic about Inbox Zero. He created 15 different folders in my Outlook including Helpful Information, To-Do, Client Compliments, etc. Every time I checked my email, I immediately responded to it, deleted it, or moved it. The result? Clients received much faster responses. But most of all, I never had that frantic, can't find what I need feeling, and things never piled up which lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. We get so caught up in using expensive tools, but some of the best strategies don't cost a thing and can be implemented by anyone today. Now, while working on my own business, I still remember and follow his great
Thanks to Valerie Bowden, My SEO People!
#16- An hour of free-thinking
Ever since adding an hour of free thinking to my calendar, nothing's been the same. In this time, I journal over questions like: If this task were easy, how would it get completed? If I was forced to grow to $100 million in 6 months, what would I do? How can I attract the best talent to my company without spending a fortune? This daily exercise has added insane results to my clarity, performance, and peace. By giving myself this blocked off hour to think deeply, I come up with brilliant thoughts to start executing. Any CEO can do this. It doesn't take extravagant money or resources, simply time and discipline.
Thanks to Brian Robben, Robben Media!
#17- 2 Second Lean
My favorite CEO hack/resource is following the guidance in the book by Paul Akers, “2 Second Lean.” In his book, Akers teaches the importance of turning your staff into a strong team of world-class problem solvers by developing a culture that learns to take quick, short steps to “fix what bugs you.” As the book teaches, this becomes a reality by making small improvements that fit into your company’s business plan and goals. It also
requires working with your team daily to help them build the habit of looking for small ways to improve our processes. People, processes, and products are the three key elements that contribute to a company’s quality and success. By improving my company’s people and processes, we will, in turn, be providing a better product.
Thanks to Sergei Belous, UpFlip!
#18- Letting go
For years, I’ve worked in traditional corporate environments and I was used to the office hierarchy and micromanagement. When I launched my own company, I wanted it to be “serious” and feel like a real company, so I did the same with my own employees. Just a few months down the line I realized that I should create the kind of company that I wanted to work in. I got rid of the working schedule and rigid deadlines and I introduced one rule. We set goals and estimate deadlines. As long as the task gets done well and it gets done on time, I don’t care when it’s done. Some of my employees work best in the morning, others do their finest work around midnight. People can structure their lives around work, not the other way around. This has been a massively successful “hack” for me because my employees are much happier. They no longer have to spend 8 hours behind their screens, 5 of which is browsing cat memes on Facebook. When they’re happier, they do better work, we get more customers and everybody wins.
Thanks to Adam Hempenstall, Better Proposals!
One of my favorite recent books is titled Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. The book really looks at a variety of areas that can help or hurt the decision-making process. For example, one aspect that can hurt a CEO is being overconfident. The book gives practical ways to create distance in your decision making to overcome short-term emotions. I also like the idea of setting up tripwires that help you spot when things aren't working that may be indicative of bigger problems that may be deep below the surface.
Thanks to Antonio Civitella, Transfinder Corporation!
#20-Talking to employees on a daily basis
Oftentimes CEOs get caught up in the work and make themselves unapproachable to their employees. However, if there is one thing I’ve learned it’s that my success depends directly on the people that work for me. For that reason, I make sure to have constant communication with my employees about their impressions, ideas, and suggestions for improvement. This can take some time, but I’ve come up with amazing solutions thanks to the conversations over lunch I’ve had.
Thanks to Jovan Milenkovic, Kommando Tech!
#21- Eating the frog
I have a habit of mine that I think has made me successful. In any case, it’s my favorite habit that I think contributes to my efficiency – it’s called “eating the frog” and it comes from Mark Twain. The basic premise is that if you eat a live frog as the first thing in the morning, the rest of your days can only get better. Translated in today’s English, it means that you should do your worst, most difficult, most-dreaded task as the first thing in the morning. For me, that’s handling emails. It’s boring, it takes too much time and they never stop coming in. I respond to all of my emails in the first hour that I start working. Otherwise, I’ll just leave them for the end of the day and keep thinking about the weight of the task. When I finish everything early on, I can go about my day without worrying – I know that my most difficult task is behind me.
Thanks to Cassy Aite, Hoppier!
#22- Prioritizing one highly visible, highly impactful task
My favorite CEO hack is to force myself to prioritize one highly visible, highly impactful task for the day. All too often, it's easy to get swept up in an endless inbox or day to day tasks, but these things won't really propel us forward, they will merely help to tread water and keep our heads afloat. Chances are, you're a C-level professional because of the big things you've done – so why limit that to when you ‘have time'? Focus on one thing each day will make a lasting impact that others can see.
Thanks to Marissa Ryan, VisualFizz!
Check out this CEO Hack on focus: The One Thing
Before getting Calm, I used to listen to guided meditation tracks. The problem with them is that they are too long, and they require you to remember to take some time off. Calm brilliantly offers to remind you to take a five-minute break and offers short guided meditation, some of which are consisting only of the counted breathing. I often have no time for myself. Attending a class or devoting even half an hour before bedtime sounds impossible to me. Having Calm in your phone means you can take a short break anywhere. I often start my lunch break with this app. It means a lot to be able to take the quick escape from a hectic thought process that accompanies my work. Calm offers guided meditations spanning from 2 minutes to 35 minutes, and you can set different goals that will better tailor your experience. For such a useful accompaniment, I think that the yearly subscription price of around $70 isn’t too much.
Thanks to Luka Arezina, DataProt!
Check out this other CEO Hack on meditation: Insight Timer
#24- Weekly goal setting
I decide what I want to get done in the span of the next week, and break each day down to individual tasks that will help me accomplish my weekly goals. This gives me a great look at what I am going to accomplish in the future, and keeps me following a schedule. When you have the week planned in advance, it is also easier to identify your free time and make plans that don’t involve your business. I advise anyone that has a hectic schedule to plan their work out by weeks, rather than day by day.
Thanks to Darryl Smith, Florida Car Accident Lawyer Team!
#25-When I Work app
I use the When I Work app to schedule my employees. The app saves me a ton of time with scheduling shifts, and my employees know to check the app regularly so communicating with them is easy. The app also allows my employees to pick up shifts, and drop shifts with approval from me. The When I Work app takes the headache out of scheduling, and saves me the effort of doing everything the old fashioned way. I would recommend anyone who has scheduling conflicts to give the app a try!
Thanks to Michael Nemeroff, RushOrderTees!
#26- Having systems and rules
It's very easy to get bogged down with over a hundred emails in a day. To stay on top of my inbox, I've found it essential to put systems and rules into place to organize myself. I've started archiving emails that have gone unresponded within 14 days to make sure nothing lingers. I also Snooze emails that I can't respond to right away, so they show up as a new email after the designated set time. I also try to set specific hours every day
to barrel through emails and bring that inbox down to zero by the end of each week.
Thanks to Graeme Barlow, Iversoft!
Check out this CEO Hack on focus: E-Myth
Without question, my favorite hack is constructing custom dashboards across every element of our business using Cyfe. This tool enables me to view our work production, marketing programs, sales activity, and financial data in a single sign-on and via one URL. It's perfect for a quick review of the business across all areas via mobile device when I am on the road (which seems to be all the time!).
Thanks to Craig Smith, Trinity!
#28- Destroying my TV (yes, literally)
I had a really bad habit of doing my work in my office at home (which had a TV), I noticed that I’d be doing something, and then subconsciously, my hand would reach for the remote and put the football on, or some catch-up TV. I also noticed that whilst I did that, my productivity plummeted (a decrease of over 90%!). So, I took my TV and placed it in my bedroom, to which my wife “helpfully” put back in my office- same result again. I then put it in my garage- again, my wife put it back in my office, so unplugged it- so my wife plugged it in again. So I did the rational thing- take it outside, grab a hammer, and vent my anger out on it (for reference, me trying to remove my TV from my office had been happening for over 6 months, plus it was old, and didn’t work very well either (so I wouldn’t have gotten any money for it, even if I’d sold it!). Since then, my productivity has increased over 120% and I’ve never been more productive!
Thanks to Gareth Seagull, Finance Friday!
I set a fixed maximum time for each activity in advance and then complete that activity within that time frame (time box). My timeboxing technique involves also doing certain activities on certain days only. For example, all finance-related tasks are done on Friday. Timeboxing helps to spend less time on unpleasant tasks and be more productive without being a perfectionist. Timeboxing costs nothing to implement and has the potential to transform the way you and your organization approaches project management. All you need are simple tools like Clockify, Trello or Google Calendar. And also ensure you have the right length of time for your timeboxes.
Thanks to Artash Arakelyan, Incredo!
Call me old-fashioned (in the digital age), but LinkedIn excellently brings together the whole ecosystem of people I work with, from our executive leaders and advisory board members to our staff and client institutions around the world. It's a straightforward method for lead generation, where I connect with like-minded executives in the higher education sector. With a staff of more than 250 located in 17 countries, a global network of 4,500 agents, and 40 partner colleges and universities, it can be difficult for me to keep up with everyone in real-time. With LinkedIn, it becomes doable and even seamless, and each of us can create and share content with a community of people in our organization and our current industry – no frills, no unwarranted invites, and driven by our common industry goals.
Thanks to Sanjay Laul, M Square Media (MSM)!