CEO Hack

24 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.

#1- Writing down a list of tasks before going to bed

Photo Credit: Jamie Anderson

I can’t remember what book I read it in, but someone recommended writing down a detailed list of tasks you need to complete on a piece of paper for the next day before going to bed. The point of this is to keep you on track and focus on exactly what you have to do as the day goes on. I do it slightly differently as I just use a Google Calendar event and delete each task as I complete it. I would say that just by implementing this one simple habit it has transformed how focussed and productive I am each day. On the odd day when I don’t write a list, or I forget to do it the night before, my productivity and focus suffers massively for the entire day. I would recommend every CEO to give it a try for a week and see how it affects them.

Thanks to Jamie Anderson


#2-Blinkist

Photo Credit: Joya Dass

My favorite CEO hack is Blinkist, which summates leadership and self help business books. In a perfect world, I would read a book a week like Bill Gates. And I completely value learning. But saying I would read an entire book isn’t plausible. I even tried Audible, but I don’t have a lengthy enough commute to blaze through books that way either.  I have a membership-based organization and I’m perennially recommending books and resources. I film videos each day, to share helpful tips on leadership. The books listed on Blinkist and the feature at the end of each book summary prompting you to new books to consider on the same topic is genius for busy people.

Thanks to Joya Dass, LadyDrinks!


#3-Bullet Journal to create daily task list

Photo Credit: Nick Flint

The best habit I’ve added into my routine is a daily task list. It’s so easy to get sidetracked throughout the day, and forget what I had planned. So each morning I sit down, and write down the things I need to get done that day. I always start with the one I’m least looking forward to so I don’t dread it all day. At the end of the day anything that didn’t get completed gets rolled over to the next day. You can do this with any journal or notebook, but I use the Bullet Journal.

Thanks to Nick Flint, Pure Cut Supplements!


#4- Breakfast matters

Photo Credit: Joyce Shulman

I don’t know if it is the “most important meal of the day” or not, but I know that it matters. Starting my day with crap sets me up for a day of up and down energy, bad cravings and poor choices. Breakfast needs some protein, some greens, and some whole grains. And as little sugar as possible. I like to throw it all in a smoothie: almond milk, vegan protein powder, kale, spinach, whatever fruit I have fresh or frozen (really, anything works: bananas, apples, strawberries, mango, blueberries), an eighth of an avocado (essential to make your smoothie, well, smooth and to give you the good fats you need to get your day started), chia seeds, ground flax seeds and three ice cubes.

Thanks to Joyce Shulman, 99 Walks!


#5-Growth Engines by Sean Ellis & Morgan Brown

Photo Credit: Kevin Miller

I really enjoyed this book because it provides a ton of actionable tips and advice on growth marketing. The book features a bunch of amazing case studies from top-tier companies like Uber, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and many more. If you want to see specific strategies that these companies used to grow their business, then this book is for you. It offers strategies for both the early stages and later in development.

Thanks to Kevin Miller, The Word Counter!


#6- Living by the principle of self-reliance

Photo Credit: Amanosi Adeniyi

The principle of Self Reliance simply encourages that individuals become self-sufficient free thinkers who can make decisions from personal conviction rather than based on social expectations. Following this philosophy will enable businesses particularly service-based businesses to easily differentiate their businesses in the marketplace, create highly valuable offers in a way that’s unconventional and allow such a business to truly be distinctive without conforming to norms or common practices.

Thanks to Amanosi Adeniyi, Amanosi LLC!


#7- Hiring to my weaknesses

Photo Credit: Michelle Lyng

As CEOs, we’d like to think we’re invincible, but truthfully, we all have strengths and weaknesses, As a CEO for 12 years, I’ve learned to hire to my weaknesses, especially when I hire. This does two things: 1) It allows me to have a team of experts in areas different than mine and different from each other, which I really value. Secondly, it creates diversity across my workforce. If we are serious about diversity among our workforce, and I hope we are, assembling a team of people who are different from you – most importantly, who think differently from you – is critically important. We serve our clients better by bringing a more holistic perspective, which
ultimately leads to greater success.

Thanks to Michelle Lyng, Novitas Communications!


#8-Rework by Jason Fried

Photo Credit: Michael Lowe

Rework by Jason Fried is a book I read at least twice a year to refresh my memory and reinvigorate my efforts. It’s such a refreshing, contrary look on business and how to break the mould without breaking your back. Working hard isn’t working smart, working smart beats all comers. He teaches you not to sweat a lot of the big things as well as the small things, as when you really boil it down it doesn’t really matter. Teaching you to look at statistics as just that – for example – the amount of startups that don’t last 5 years, but tells you that it isn’t your startup, with your experience and your idea, so don’t base your chances of success on other peoples failures.

Thanks to Michael Lowe, Car Passionate!


#9-Steven Covey’s book

Photo Credit: Ishani DePillo

More than anything else in Steven Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, the Begin with the End in Mind has stuck with me and helped me better manage my time. Thinking and planning through a project in advance allows you to better manage your workflow and delegate (if applicable) in advance. Without this, you’ll find yourself constantly running into unforeseen hurdles.

Thanks to Ishani DePillo, Your Marketing People!


#10- Waking up at the crack of dawn!

Photo Credit: Rajiv Lamba

I do have a morning routine that I practice religiously. Attacking the day on your own terms, exercising and planning the day ahead, makes you feel like you have a head start on the rest of the world. It sets the tone for the day! Meditation helps me clear my mind before distractions arise. I like to spend my commute catching up on daily news and using the Blinkist App for a daily dose of motivation.

Thanks to Rajiv Lamba, NeuroSensum!


#11-Showing gratitude

Photo Credit: Ignacio Torterola

Every day I make a point to acknowledge and show appreciation for the uniqueness in those around me. I believe that focusing on the best of everyone and celebrating our differences is the secret to keeping people happy and engaged. Showing gratitude for every individual’s unique efforts has opened countless doors, both personally and professionally.

Thanks to Ignacio Torterola, GST LLP!


#12- Notification minimization

Photo Credit: Ty Stewart

With all of the incoming messages I receive on a daily basis, I’ve found it’s imperative to manage the notifications I receive. I ditched the inbox zero ideal for notification minimization a while ago, and it’s changed how I work. The thing I’ve found most effective is using a VIP email address. All of my emails are still collected in one place, but I only receive notifications for emails sent to my VIP address. I never use that address to make purchases, as a login for services, or to request more information, so it doesn’t get spammed. Since I’ve put it in place, I’ve caught so many messages in time that I might have missed if I was still receiving all of my email notifications. I’ve also started checking my email less frequently because I know pressing matters stand out when they hit my inbox.

Thanks to Ty Stewart, Simple Life Insure!


#13- Two books

Photo Credit: Giedrius Zakaitis
I’ve two book recommendations that were fundamental to cementing and improving my experience. Start with Ray Dalio – Principles and Kim Malone Scott – Radical Candor. I think that every CEO or employee working at an international company can learn plenty from these resources. Not only do they help center and keep your mind on goals without losing track of the peripherals, but also help better understand your subordinates, and what keeps them motivated.

Thanks to Giedrius Zakaitis, Zyro!


#14- Some little tweaks

Photo Credit: Isaiah Goodman

I’m not quite sure where I learned it, but I picked it up in college over 15 years ago. I have a daily routine from basically 5 PM until 10 AM the next day. (Sleep is in there). I started learning that certain habits and routines worked best all together, and I had to spend less mental energy running through everything. For example, I moved my vitamins up to my bathroom instead of my kitchen. I take vitamins, floss, brush my teeth and head to bed. A little thing, but if my vitamins were in the kitchen I wouldn’t feel like going down there and I’d skip em. Those little tweaks over weeks, months, and years have allowed me to get things done and attain some level of success!

Thanks to Isaiah Goodman, Becoming Financial!


#15- Taking breaks

Photo Credit: Eric Nerhood

I take a break when I’m not being productive anymore. Just because you work more hours, doesn’t mean you’re doing more productive work. I have a short attention span, and I notice a significant fall off in productivity after about an hour or two of work so I take a break. Go for a walk, work out, stretch, clear your mind, do something else and then get back to work. Taking a break gives you an opportunity to refresh your brain. Being a successful CEO is not about putting in more time, it’s about putting in productive time.

Thanks to Eric Nerhood, Premier Property Buyers!


#16- Communicating

Photo Credit: Paige Arnof-Fenn

Communication is key to all of our community and employee engagement. I try to set the tone upfront with one rule, when in doubt over-communicate. Especially now that everyone is working remotely it is key to set up regular e-mails, video and conference calls. If the lines of communication are open and everyone makes an effort to listen and be heard then collaboration will happen naturally and the information will flow. The biggest change for me, my team and my clients from the virus is the shutdown of all networking events, travel and conferences. Spring is typically a very busy time with many events, trade shows, business meetings on the road, etc. And now everyone is staying put and meeting virtually instead. I have had more Zoom and Skype calls with clients and colleagues in the past 15 days than the prior 6 months! Online meetings, webinars, etc. are a smart and productive way companies can continue to have conversations that educate and inform, build relationships and move forward during this crisis period. Maybe the silver lining is that this crisis reminded us that technology does not have to be isolating it can be used to build our real-world communities and relationships too!

Thanks to Paige Arnof-Fenn, Mavens & Moguls!


#17- The Pomodoro technique

Photo Credit: Casper Ohm

It’s a great way to work more efficiently and squeeze out your most productive hours every day, for those that prefer working in short bursts. It works by splitting up your shift by working nonstop for 25 minutes, followed by resting for 5 to 10 minutes. The Pomodoro technique helps you unwind and recharge, similar to a power nap, so you can come back fully refreshed for the next round. You could say it’s a way of turning procrastination into actual resting breaks and maximizing your more productive moments. I would recommend it for anyone that wants to increase their productivity by simply re-thinking their daily work routine.

Thanks to Casper Ohm, Water-Pollution!


#18-The 4-hour Workweek

Photo Credit: Philip Weiss

I would have to go with The 4-hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss, hands-down, as one of those books that shifted my entire perspective on entrepreneurship many years ago. It’s regarded by millennials as one of the fundamental pieces of literature, unleashing a new generation of freelancers and digital nomads. The book takes you into the author’s life journey of quitting his 9 to 5 job and becoming a full-fledged entrepreneur, leveraging technology to literally create a 4-hour workweek for himself. His book still inspires me today and has helped me learn to develop the mindset of an entrepreneur over the years It’s an easy read, and even hysterically funny at times as the author goes in-depth into his thought processes and daily life routines. I would recommend it to any aspiring entrepreneurs and future business owners as a foundational book to help understand what it takes to become an entrepreneur.

Thanks to Philip Weiss


#19- 10 at 10 meetings

Photo Credit: Jaime-Lee Fraser

One day we counted that our C-Suite was interrupted over 79 times in a day with team questions and that really slowed down everyone’s performance and getting things done. A couple of ways to combat that, we set up a 10 at 10 meeting each day to quickly address where everyone is at and the support they needed. That’s 10 minutes a day at 10am. We also set some boundaries in place, that if team units needed help and they could not solve the matter within their group, they can knock on our door when they have 3 items to address and each one with a solution or two. If they didn’t have three things or an urgent matter it would bounce to the 10 at 10 meeting to finalize. We have an open door and collaborative culture, and applying this 10 at 10 model really helped with time management and internal problem solving, along with making everyone more resourceful, solution-driven and productive.

Thanks to Jaime-Lee Fraser


#20- Weekly “Champagne Moments”

Photo Credit: Katie Kimball

I have a weekly accountability meeting with a colleague who also runs her own business. We share a champagne moment with each other, the big hairy task that will move the needle the most for us that week and which would be worth of popping a cork by Friday if we get it done. We keep in touch and encourage each other via Voxer during the week and break down how we did the following Monday morning. It’s so helpful to have accountability to dial in on what’s most important as well as a set time to look back at the previous week and how I did.

Thanks to Katie Kimball, Kitchen Stewardship!


#21- Letting go

Photo Credit: Malte Scholz

When I hire someone new, I hire the best people I can so that I no longer have to worry about a certain task. I don’t like to micromanage so this is the best way for me to do things. I hand off a task to an employee and give them a goal to accomplish. I don’t care how or when it gets done, as long as it gets done. It gives me peace of mind because I work with great people and it gives them peace of mind because they can work in a way that suits them the best.

Thanks to Malte Scholz, Airfocus!


#22- Trello

Photo Credit: Alexander Ronzino

I started using an app called Trello when I was working at another start-up and it’s changed my life. It’s essentially a way to organize the thousand sticky notes that you’d otherwise have when going about your day. As CEO I manage multiple departments, each with their own unique challenges and requirements. Trello enables both collaboration and organization and has been a great project management tool for us at Coalition.

Thanks to Alexander Ronzino, Coalition Recovery!


#23-Google Calendar

Photo Credit: Desirene Neo

One of my favorite CEO resources is Google Calendar because it is so versatile. I use Google Calendar to set up meetings with both clients and employees, as well as to schedule in any habits that I like to practice on a daily basis. Whenever I adopt a new habit, I first have to make it stick, and scheduling it into my daily schedule keeps me accountable. Through doing this, I learned how to code a new language and run consistently. Time is one of the most valuable assets for a CEO, therefore having a good calendar app is crucial for effective time management.

Thanks to Desirene Neo, Workstream!


#24- Labelling the emotion

Photo Credit: Sandip Sekhon

A basic tenant of mindfulness, rather than becoming engrossed in an emotion such as fear, anxiety or tension, I label the emotion as specifically as I can. I then take a deep breath and make progress. Doing this gives me a sense of perspective on the situation. It helps me to involve the logical part of my brain as opposed to reacting to situations in unhealthy ways.

Thanks to Sandip Sekhon, Pathways Pain Relief!


 What’s your favorite CEO hack/resource (app, book or habit) that makes you successful? Tell us in the comments below. Don’t forget to join our #IamCEO Community

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