building productive habits

10 Habits of the Most Productive Entrepreneurs

The saying, “Time is money,” can apply to almost anyone. For entrepreneurs, it hits a bit closer to home. Mastering the top habits of successful entrepreneurs is the first step to being on a productive path. 

When you’re responsible for making your business profitable, your time is directly tied to how much money is rolling in. That means you need to be as productive and efficient with your time as possible.

I’ve known from a young age that time is my most valuable resource, so I try never to waste it. What I’ve learned over the years as CEO of Hubstaff is this:

You need to be selective with your time and focus on the highest priorities.

These productivity habits will help successful entrepreneur set up their days for success and analyze where their time is going so they can get more meaningful work done.

  1. Make the most of your morning

  2. Set clear and achievable goals

  3. Dig into the power of deep work

  4. Master the art of delegation

  5. Embrace continuous learning

  6. Schedule shallow work for when your focus will be split

  7. Optimize your tech stack

  8. Crush your productivity

  9. Know where your time is going

  10. End the day on a high note

Increase productivity with these 10 habits

1. Making the most of your morning

Not only are you more likely to maintain a few habits that benefit you if you stack them on top of one another, but for most of us, the morning is the only time we’re fully in control. 

Successful people use their mornings to work on their mental health and physical exercise before starting their day. By establishing mood-boosting, stress-reducing morning routines, you’re helping to stay focused and set yourself up for more productive workdays automatically.

Do something other than work before you start working

One of the easiest ways to aggravate stress is by rolling over and looking at your email first thing in the morning. Effective entrepreneurs must keep many balls in the air at once, and it’s tempting to want to turn on the second you wake up.

Do everything in your power not to.

Especially if you work from home, creating a distinction between your waking mind and your working mind is crucial. You’re more susceptible to negative snowballing first thing in the morning.

But, more importantly than that, your “morning mind” is wonderfully open to creative thinking and brainstorming. If you bombard yourself with minute details or go down any rabbit holes right away, you’re sacrificing whatever new ways of thinking or ideas you might have come up with if you’d just left it alone for 30 minutes.

Of course, it’s hard not to check in first thing in the morning. If you need to, allow yourself a few minutes to make sure there aren’t any fires to put out, and then dedicate your early morning to a workout or time with your family.

Get the task you’re dreading most out of the way first

Once you’re ready to start working, there will be one task — perhaps that’s been haunting you for weeks — that you won’t want to do. You know what it is. That’s the one you do first.

At the beginning of the workday, your resolve is highest, your mind is clearest, and you’re more likely to break through your procrastination barrier.

Even better, once it’s done and off your plate, the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel will carry you through the rest of your day.

2. Set clear and achievable goals

Setting clear, specific, and measurable future goals is a foundational habit for successful entrepreneurs. Goal setting is part of my daily, weekly, and monthly routine. By defining my objectives, I gain valuable insights on my direction and purpose. 

These goals act as motivational markers, providing a tangible roadmap for their efforts. With a well-defined destination, entrepreneurs can break down larger objectives into manageable tasks, making the path to business success more achievable. 

This practice fosters motivation in highly successful entrepreneurs and facilitates a strategic and focused approach to daily tasks, ensuring that each effort contributes directly to the overarching vision.

3. Digging into the power of deep work

Your focus is a finite resource. Like any critical asset, the more you spread it around, the faster it runs out and the less effective it is.

We now know that multitasking is one of the ultimate productivity killers. You might get a lot of smaller, less meaningful tasks done, but you won’t be tackling the complex, strategic ideas that drive business growth.

Knowing how to focus on the right work is a core tip to be more productive.

The Pareto Principle shows us that 80% of your results come from 20% of your work. That wants to ensure you’re proactively devoting your time meaningfully to that 20%.

I like to start every day by scanning my schedule to find where I can fit in deep work. If I have three or four meetings scheduled, then I don’t plan for any deep work.

The reality is that I won’t end up getting to it.

Being realistic about this helps me stay structured, and it helps me to realize what the meetings are costing me in terms of my focus.

Setting yourself up for productive deep work removes distractions, reduces work creep, and keeps you focused on urgent work that matters.

4. Master the art of delegation

The art of delegation is a hallmark of successful entrepreneurs who understand that their time is valuable. Over time, I have learned to master the art of delegation. 

Delegating tasks to competent team members allows entrepreneurs to leverage the skills of others, distributing workload effectively. This practice relieves the entrepreneur from micro-management and empowers team members, fostering a sense of responsibility and ownership. By delegating tasks, you are building relationships with your team members while narrowing down your to-do list. 

By entrusting routine or specialized tasks to capable hands, entrepreneurs can redirect their focus and prioritize tasks that help them move the needle.

5. Embrace continuous learning

At Hubstaff, we have committed to continuous learning. We offer our team a yearly development bonus that they can use to develop their skills and take courses to learn more about the industry. 

In dynamic and ever-evolving business landscapes, staying informed about industry trends, technological advancements, and best practices is paramount. Entrepreneurs who embrace lifelong learning remain adaptable, innovative, and well-positioned to make informed decisions. 

This habit involves regularly seeking out new knowledge, attending industry events, engaging in professional development, and cultivating a mindset that values curiosity and growth. By staying ahead of the curve, entrepreneurs ensure that the latest insights and emerging opportunities inform their strategies.

6. Scheduling shallow work for when your focus will be split

In an ideal business world, we’d be distraction-free and deep working all the time.

We don’t live in that world.

Knowing when to get your more mundane, low-focus tasks done is as important as knowing when to focus on deep work. Answering emails, filling out spreadsheets, and ordering supplies are all necessary odd jobs that need to get done.

The key, especially if you’re an entrepreneur, is to schedule them when you need less cognitive focus and will deal with more distractions. For most people, this means the late afternoon (especially if that’s when your kids come home).

7. Optimize your tech stack

Successful entrepreneurs are adept at harnessing the power of technology to enhance efficiency and streamline operations. At Hubstaff, we’re fixated on optimizing our technology and using integrations and AI to cut down on manual work.

By embracing cutting-edge technologies, entrepreneurs save time and stay competitive in fast-paced markets. Whether through project management software, communication tools, or data analytics platforms, technology optimization allows entrepreneurs to focus on strategic decision-making and value-adding activities while maintaining a lean and Agile operational framework. 

This habit ensures that their businesses are efficient and well-positioned for future growth and innovation.

8. Crushing your productivity killers

Checking email constantly

The average office worker gets 121 emails each day. For entrepreneurs, that number can be much higher.

Even if you only spend one minute reading each email, that adds up to two lost hours. Or, on the positive side, you could have two extra hours waiting for you with some effective email management.

This is where time blocking comes in. Schedule a time each day when you’ll respond to emails. Let your teams and key contacts know how to get ahold of you in an emergency. Turn on auto-replies if you’re worried about people expecting you to answer immediately.

For me, that time is around 8:30 am and noon. I encourage close customer contact, so responding to customer emails is a priority for me. I get a large part of these done first thing in the morning because many of our customers are in Europe, Asia, and Australia, and their emails have been sitting in my inbox for hours already.

Falling into social media holes

If you have easy access to social media and other time-sucking sites, you’ll use it. The more available a temptation feels, the easier it is to cave, potentially without even realizing it.

Put your phone in another room or turn it off. If you need your phone with you, remove social apps or, at the very least, turn off notifications.

Schedule breaks for later in the day so you’re not interrupting deep work with unnecessary notifications. If you follow your schedule for deep and shallow work and get a majority of tasks done, then feel free to scroll as a digital pat on the back to stick to your plan.

9. Knowing where your time is going

I hate to say it, but you’re probably less productive than you think.

Entrepreneurs need to be naturally confident, but the overconfidence effect can lead justifiably self-assured founders to believe they’re getting more done than they are.

To improve your productivity, you need data.

Whether you’re a solo entrepreneur or looking to manage your employees’ productivity, you need to know what you’re truly spending your time on now before you can make yourself more productive in the future.

Automation makes this easier. Manual time tracking might work initially, but in the long run, you want to make tracking as immediate and easy on yourself as possible.

10. Ending the day on a high note

In “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey, one of his key habits of successful people is to begin with the end in mind. If you’ve planned your day and committed to a certain number of tasks, and you can end your day feeling accomplished.

I spend the last part of the day answering questions, working on small tasks, doing admin work, checking metrics, accounting, and reviewing applications.

Save some less intense work for the end of the day, when you’re more likely to have distractions.

Getting some quick wins right before switching out of work mode wraps the day up nicely and sets you up for whatever (hopefully non-work-related) plans you’re heading to next.

It’s important to create success routines that fit your business model and time management priorities. 

These habits of highly productive people will help you get more out of each day, from beginning to end. As you add each of them to your routine, you’ll feel greater efficiency as you work. Best of all, you’ll know you’re setting yourself and your teams up for more productive days and significant success.

Bonus: Productivity tips infographics

productivity infographics