Ahh. The ever-elusive perfect productivity system. There are a multitude of books that offer up suggestions, and thousands (true story) of products and apps dedicated to helping you be more productive and hack all of the things in your life. In the end, we think the best solution is to find what works for some of the most productive people, and try out what resonates most with you. Below, 10 entrepreneurs, investors, and authors share their productivity and habit change secrets. We hope reading these will help you make the most of your time; pick a few and create a system that works best for you.
What’s the weirdest thing you do that helps you be super productive? — Mike Coutermarsh
I observe the Jewish sabbath. It felt very weird when I started doing it, but now it feels impossible to live without. Sabbath means I don’t touch my phone or computer from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. I can no longer imagine how people survive without at least 24 hours of forced disconnection. I think “non-productive” time is essential to being “productive.”
— Joshua Foer, Author of Moonwalking With Einstein
What are some of your best techniques for building daily habits? — Troy Shu
For me, it’s knowing that I won’t succeed at anything at all in life that I want to succeed at (e.g. I won’t be able to help people) if I don’t write down 10 ideas a day, every day. And I can’t write down 10 ideas if I’m not eating right, sleeping right, moving right, having good relationships in my life, and being grateful for what I have. They all work together to create that magic cocktail of motivation. — James Altucher, Entrepreneur, podcaster, and bestselling author
How do you set goals in life, both long- and short-term? — Rohit Tirkey
One of my favorite pieces of goal setting advice isn’t about what to do but what not to do. I did a major “life audit” when I turned forty, and I realized how many projects I had committed to in my head — such as learning German, becoming a good skier, and learning to cook. Most remained unfinished, and many were not even started. Yet, these countless incomplete projects drained my energy and diffused my attention. As soon as the file was opened, each one took a little bit of me away. It was very liberating to realize that I could “complete” a project by simply dropping it — by eliminating it from my to-do list. Why carry around this unnecessary baggage?— Arianna Huffington, Co-founder and Editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post
Is there a certain mindset with which you approach your life and work that enables you to create at such high quality and velocity? — Melissa Joy Kong
My glib answer is that I don’t watch TV. (Our kids grew up without it.) But that is not fair since I watch A LOT of documentaries. A better answer is that I work a lot, but my “work” is usually the kind of thing that also gives me deep pleasure, so I could say I also play a lot. The best answer is simply that I have a lot of help. I hire people whenever I can. Mostly freelancers, not interns.
I always pay fair. It took me a long while, but hiring others was a breakthrough. I am a big do-it-yourself believer and I still do a lot my self, but more and more, I also hire the best expert or professional I can, as well. That really ups one’s productivity. — Kevin Kelly, Founding Executive Editor of Wired Magazine
What do you do every day to stay productive? — Mike Coutermarsh
I try to stay off of social media and email as much as possible between 9–5pm. I scan emails for important, time sensitive stuff. I often only check social media if I’m waiting between meetings on my mobile. Finally — I don’t feel I have to respond to each and every email, and that saves me tons of unproductive time. — Mark Suster, General Partner at Upfront Ventures
What system sets you up to win the day? — Thomas Ulibarri
This assumes I win the day, every day. :) I try to do great work every day, but sometimes I don’t.
I try to be a good friend / caring boyfriend / loving family member every day, but sometimes I’m not. Those are the two important things to me: loving relationships and work. What I’ve realized I really need in order to do great is play (for rejuvenation and creativity), sleep (for rest and repair), and feast (getting enough nutrients to function). Successful people have great friends and support. They’re surrounded by people smarter than them. No one does it alone. — Charlie Hoehn, author of Play It Away
What is your #1 piece of productivity advice? — Stephen Koller
My strategy is to try to focus on the things that matter. I think most startups work their asses off, but most do the wrong stuff. I try to really think hard about where I can get leverage from my time, and how to measure success. I am not the most hard working person I know, but I think it’s better to run 10mph towards the goal than 100mph in the wrong direction.
FWIW, this is 99% of the value I think I provide to startups I work with. I try to give them frameworks for making decisions about what to work on and where to focus. I don’t even presume to know the answers, because they, after all, are the domain experts.
Of course, working your ass off doesn’t hurt either. — Startup L. Jackson, Silicon Valley’s (no longer) anonymous, unfiltered tech pundit
What are your top 5 most important habits that you would advise entrepreneurs to adopt to live a thriving life? — Adelaide Goodeve
The five most important habits have to do with entrepreneurs recognizing that they need to put their own oxygen mask on first, and that the collective delusion that we succeed through burnout has been disproved both by science and by all the evidence of the proliferating casualties around us. The habit I’m most passionate about — because of the impact it’s had on my own life — consists of five steps, all geared toward creating a healthy transition to sleep that begins before you even step into your bedroom. I treat my own transition to sleep as a sacrosanct ritual.
First, I turn off all my electronic devices and gently escort them out of my bedroom. Second, I take a hot bath with epsom salts and a candle flickering nearby — a bath that I prolong if I’m feeling anxious or worried about something. Third, I don’t sleep in my workout clothes as I used to (think of the mixed message that sends to our brains) but have pajamas, nightdresses, and even T-shirts dedicated to sleep. Fourth, sometimes I have a cup of chamomile or lavender tea if I want something warm and comforting before going to bed. Fifth, I love reading real, physical books — especially poetry, novels, and books that have nothing to do with work. And a bonus sixth is a practice that my older daughter, Christina, has been using, and that I’ve borrowed: making a gratitude list part of our bedtime routine. I find that it focuses my mind on the blessings in my life — large and small — rather than on the running list of unresolved problems.
For all of us, every day has its blessings and its setbacks, but it’s the setbacks and stresses that seem to take center stage in our minds once our head hits the pillow. They are the preening, attention-seeking, spotlight-hogging divas of our bedtime hours, ignoring the stage manager begging them to exit. And if we don’t stop them, they’ll drag the whole production down with them. A gratitude list — whether written in a notebook, spoken aloud, or just recited silently — is a great way to knock them down a peg, shift the spotlight, and make sure our blessings get the closing scene of the night. — Arianna Huffington, Co-founder and Editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post
What’s your take on goal setting and planning? — Steven De Blieck
Set extremely large goals (way higher than you should be able to reasonably achieve), but make sure you have backstops in case you don’t achieve them. Have a fundamental mission that can last 5–10 years, have a rough product and strategic north star that looks out around 2–3 years, and have specific quarterly goals (that will change every quarter, likely) and tactics that lead you in the right direction. — Aaron Levie, CEO and Co-founder of Box
With all the careful planning, scheduling, and organization we do in order to make better use of our time, what are some useful practices or mindsets you use to actually buckle down and work? — Chris Lines
When conducting deep work: (1) have clarity about exactly what you are trying to accomplish and for how long you’ll be working on it; (2) have some sort of ritual you do to initiate such depth sessions (signaling your brain it’s time to concentrate); and (3) get up and move as needed to rest your mind, but do not expose yourself to unrelated work or obligations (e.g., inbox glances).
— Cal Newport, Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Georgetown University & Author of So Good They Can’t Ignore You
How do you stay motivated and focused on your goals? — Matt Lugo
I wrote down a mission statement a while ago about what I believe I’m here to do, my purpose right now, and why that matters to me (i.e. what the world will look like if I do versus if I don’t).
I typically start each day meditating for a few minutes, and visualizing the effect I’ll have — what that world looks like if I do that work. Then each night, I write down a list of the few things I want to get done the next day. Apart from that, I focus on getting adequate nutrition, 8–9 hours of sleep, and taking breaks to play with friends (recreation is re-creation). — Charlie Hoehn, author of Play It Away
You have a lot of great things going on. How to keep on top of it all? — Jonathan Shariat
I actually embrace the chaos. It works for me, even though it might be difficult for people who work with me sometimes, I admit that. But otherwise, I always do the things that are burning the most. These are either the things that need immediate attention, or things that I believe will provide the most value for whoever I design/create for.
Otherwise, I’m just jumping between projects having a little bit of progress on all of them everyday. If I’m close to finished on some of them, I plan a little sprint and finish it off. — Tobias Van Schneider, Former Design Lead at Spotify
It’s no surprise that so many Product Hunt LIVE Chat guests have touched on the topic of productivity and habit change. The topic is something many of us are thinking about every day as we try to juggle what often feels like a thousand different things. If you want even more great productivity advice, join us for a future LIVE Chat and ask one yourself—you can check out the upcoming (and past) schedule on Product Hunt.
Don’t forget our elders can suffer in silence too: suicide prevention
Many people think that mental health and suicide are not topics that impact our elders but they could not be more wrong. The data tells us there continues to be an emerging trend when it comes to peop...
Wherever you look these days, not matter the developed country, whole population groups and peoples struggle with the daily grind of life. From children in state care to mental health, from affordable housing to the primary health system and from education to employmen...
For the last few years I have been fortunate to have been involved in the aged care sector and have seen both the lows and highs. Today we live in a world where most of us are living longer thank to more awareness around healthy living, the advancement of better medica...
You can’t go past a news paper, radio show or television news story these days without being flooded by all things Bitcoin or Crypto Currency. Some say it’s the new world of money while others suggest its all just a passing fad. Whatever your position or preference of...
The New Zealand Maori Council has called on the Government to step in and ensure the recommendations made by the Children’s Commissioner in respect of youth detention facilities be implemented without delay. The Report released to the previous Government carried a seri...