You’ve read the articles on Techcrunch, followed Zuckerberg, Andreessen Horowitz and other visionary leaders on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Medium as well as attended weekly networking events. Schmoozing with players big and small is an almost-daily affair, as are 2 am drinking sessions with fellow entrepreneurs.
Armed with grit and (what you think are) killer ideas, you feel you’re ready to take on the mantle of Captain, Chieferooni, Head Honcho- the big CEO.
But there’s more to being a startup CEO, never mind a great one, than philosophies and passion. Not only does it entail managing a company that could go from three to 30 people, it requires full responsibility of an arguably more difficult challenge: yourself.
As part of a startup, hustling is an everyday reality, but channelling efforts into the wrong avenue creates more bustle than hustle.
For souls who are both brave and mad enough to head a company, we’ve collected seven simple tips from entrepreneurs on good habits startup CEOs should develop so you can become the very best, like no one ever was.
We used Quora as a source to write this feature.
1. Prioritize by doing fewer things
“The biggest mistake most CEOs make is that they try to do too much. The real winners are the ones that do fewer things… but do them great. Of course, this is not just true for CEOs — it is true for everyone.”- CEO of LiveRamp, Auren Hoffman
In overstretching to complete as many tasks as possible, key insights may be missed and a burn-out is inevitable. Streamlining your to-do list to just a few big and small tasks enables you to manage your attention and resources better is a more effective way of optimising your day. Learn to say “No” to the noise and “Yes” to the signals.
2.Write it all out
“[I] use a post-it note to record the three most important things I can do on that particular day. The post-it note [is] beneficial because it has a size constraint.”- Matt DeCelles, Co-Founder of William Painter
Every journey needs a map, physical or otherwise. Whether you’re using a Moleskine, Evernote, or a notebook you haven’t touched since college, prioritising what you need to do for the day keeps you focussed and on the ball.
3. Enlist the help of apps
“Use tools for anything you can: Bill.com for payment, electronic signatures software for digital signatures.”- Gadi Shamia, Co-founder and CEO, Magneto Inc
Your time and attention are limited, as CEO. Lessen the effort needed by getting your tech to do your work for you or help you focus. For keeping track of your tasks, apps like Jira, Asana and Trello help you organise your day.
Need help with tasks your teammates aren’t familiar with? Outsource it to sites like Fiver and Freelancer. Want to figure out if you’re spending your time effectively? Rescuetime comes to the rescue. Realise you’re not spending effectively and need help curbing your Reddit rage habits? Get SelfControl.
4. Cut the multitasking
“Be totally focussed on the thing you are doing while you are doing it. Do not multitask. If you find yourself reading emails in a meeting (or reading Quora), then you probably should not be in the meeting (or the meeting needs to be run better).” – CEO of LiveRamp, Auren Hoffman
So after you’ve narrowed down your tasks to three-five main things, don’t tackle them all at once. Allow yourself adequate time to complete each without interference from other tasks like checking your emails, replying to an ignorant comment on Facebook or ranting about Donald Trump’s latest antics on Twitter.
Which brings us to the next tip.
Also Read: What not to do: 4 CEOs who badly messed up
5. Block out the interference
“Calls, text messages, notifications – all these things take away that control. If someone calls you and you pick up, it means you are speaking with them when it’s convenient for them, not when it’s convenient for you. When you’re the CEO of a startup, that’s just not ok.”- Ivan Mazour, CEO and Founder of Ometria
Accessibility is important in client and customer lead generation but unnecessary calls/meetings/texts take time away from growing your business.
The solution? Unless you have scheduled calls, silence your phone and only reply to texts and answer calls during breaks or after you’ve completed a major or urgent task.
6. Take breaks when needed
“Recognise that you lose efficiency when you try to work too many hours. Take a break, take a nap, then go after it again.” – Eric Ivers, President of a Silicon Valley robotics company
Your passion may be limitless, but your body and mind’s energy levels need to be recharged throughout the day. Pay attention to when your attention starts dipping so you can take a breather instead of working in a lull. If you need a bit more structure, apps like Pomodairo help you organise your day into 25-minute blocks of work with accompanying breaks.
7. Get outta the office!
“Ask 10 people where they prefer to work. You’ll never get the “office” answer. Too many distractions and unproductive meetings. Instead it will be a room at home, a moving place (plane, train, etc.). Save time away to focus on what needs to get done.”- Greg Lefort, Startup lover
Offices facilitate communication and bonding (Who doesn’t enjoy hour-long conversations over who should sit on the Iron Throne?), but they can sometimes be a source of the greatest distraction.
If the office is getting too stifling and unproductive, work out an arrangement with your team and take some time to yourself at a location you feel most inspired and focussed at.
Every company requires different attributes from its CEO. What are some productivity hacks you think a CEO needs to have tucked in their arsenal? Let us know.