16 Productivity Hacks for Startup CEOs and Founders

If you're reading this article, chances are you want to become a more productive CEO and founder so that you can reach your goals and smash them into pieces. Well, if that's the case, then you're in the right place. In this article, I'm going to be dishing out tons of super effective and actionable productivity hacks that'll help you get more work done.

Also as a bonus, I'm going to be sharing with you some productivity hacks from well-known CEOs.

But before we dive into it, let's understand what productivity is.

What is Productivity?

Investopedia defines productivity as “a measure of output per unit of input”. The inputs are labor and capital while outputs include revenues obtained.

In simple words, productivity is the measure of the efficiency of production. This means that a productive CEO and founder would be able to get more work done in the time when he or she is working.

You’ll agree with me that it's not the easiest thing in the world to build a startup.

In fact, it may surprise you to know that 90% of startups fail.

As a CEO and a founder, you're saddled with the responsibility of building a product, fundraising, finance, sales, customer service, marketing, leading the business, and lots more.

If you fail to handle all these responsibilities effectively and efficiently, then you're going to suffer burnout, anxiety, stress and a feeling of being behind which will ultimately lead to a decrease in productivity.

But being a productive startup CEO and founder doesn't always have to be a struggle.

So, let's jump right into the productivity hacks that'll enable you to get more work done in a short time and also help you reach your goals.

Productivity Hacks for Startup CEOs and Founders

productivity hacks

Create To-Do Lists

To-do lists are mandatory for increasing productivity. They get you organized and allow you to see where your focus should go every day. And when you check off a task, you're going to feel motivated to complete other tasks on your list.

It's the best practice to create a to-do list each night for the upcoming day. This way you would know what needs to be done the next day.

Do not fall into the trap of writing a to-do list that has a lot of items that are not necessarily important. This is because a very long to-do list will make you either anxious in the morning or frustrated in the evening when only a few tasks have been checked off.

So here's what you can do to create an actionable to-do list:

  • Write down a maximum of three most important tasks that you have to accomplish the next day or throughout the week. When you accomplish these task, you can officially consider your day productive.
  • After doing these three tasks, only then can you attend to small tasks like checking emails, Social Media, etc.

Stop Multitasking

Yes! You read it right.

In simple words, multitasking is actually when your brain is switching from one task to another.

I know you may think that being able to multitask is a must-have skill that every CEO must possess in order to be successful.

Well, that couldn't be further away from the truth. The truth is that multitasking is a productivity killer.

In fact, studies have shown that multitasking slows down your brain and kills your productivity.

Focus on one task at a time and give it your 100%.

Minimize Distractions

This is one productivity hack for CEOs and co-founders that cannot be understated.

You don't need to answer all of your phone calls or emails right away (unless that's your job).

Turn off all those notifications. Stop checking Facebook and other social media accounts frequently. It's the best practice to put your phone on the ‘do not disturb’ mode while working.

Do this and you’d be amazed how much work you can get done when you're not distracted.

Inform your friends and family of this and tell them not to disrupt you until you've finished your task.

Track and Limit How Much Time You're Spending on Tasks

This productivity trick will help you optimize the time you spend on a task.

Do you spend too much time reading blog posts when conducting a research? Or maybe you visit your favorite social media platform every 30 minutes when you feel like taking a break and end up spending a whole hour scrolling through your news feed.

You need to keep an eye on the amount of time you spend on tasks in order to be productive.

Organize Your Working Space

It's much easier to focus on a task at hand when everything is in place and your work desk is organized. You won't feel the urge to arrange a pile of sheets or searching for a file not knowing where you left it.

working space

You should invest some quality time and money in your workspace by purchasing fast computers, quality pens, and desks. This will help you work faster and efficiently, thereby increasing your productivity.

But you don't need to break the bank to get a good and well-organized working space. Just stay within your budget.

Learn to Say ‘No’

Develop the habit of saying 'no’.

It's impossible for you to be a yes CEO or founder, please everyone else and still finish your projects on time.

You should get yourself used to saying no to friends or family members seeking for your attention because they interfere with your working habits. And guess what, this kills productivity.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't help anyone but make sure you do it after you have finished your own task. Make sense?

Whenever someone comes asking for a favor you don't have time for, just refuse politely or schedule it for a time when you're less busy. Practice this productivity trick and with time, you'll get used to it.

Choose Your Employees Wisely

As a CEO you're only as good as good are your employees. So choose them wisely.

Choose employees that share the same goals and ambitions with you. This way you can work together as a team, map out strategies and brainstorm ideas that would take you to the top of your game and increase your productivity.

This is an important productivity trick to apply so surround yourself with employees that would make you strive harder.

Improve Yourself Daily

As a startup CEO, you need to apply the principle of compound effect which states that little tasks that are practiced daily yield great results with time.

When you spend an hour daily to learn about your industry, by the end of the week you'll have spent 7 hours improving yourself and 365 hours in a year.

And guess what, in 3-5 years, you can become an expert and an authority in that industry by spending just one hour a day learning about it.

self improvement

The best way to start is to pick up a book or magazine and start reading or listen to audiobooks and podcasts. You can do this while commuting.

A healthy work-life balance would help you have more time for self-improvement.

Automate the Management

Do you feel that you spend too much time managing instead of doing things that matter? Well, then you need to automate all of the management in order to free yourself up.

The optimal way to automate management would be like this:

  • Define and create (once!) your standard processes for your most recurring projects
  • Calculate and assign the deadlines for the tasks to make sure that work is done on time
  • Decide who should do what and assign the right people to the right tasks
  • Track the progress

By automating management you make sure that your team members know exactly what is required of them and when they need to finish assigned tasks. While you, in the meantime, can concentrate on doing other things.

Thankfully these days there are lots of automation tools that help with the management automation.

One such tool is Metatask - a workflow automation software for small and mid-sized businesses to automate and manage their internal processes such as employee onboarding, purchase orders, vacation requests, approving expenses, etc.

Exercise Regularly

Your body and mind work hand in hand to keep you productive throughout the day. A healthy body results in a healthy mind. In order to keep both your body and the mind functioning at their peak, you need to exercise regularly.


In fact, regular exercise improves memory and thinking skills. It helps you stay focused, improves blood flow throughout the body, keeps you motivated, and also cause your body to produce endorphins which help relieve stress.

Find a workout routine that works best for you and follow it religiously.

Get Enough Sleep

Getting an optimal amount of sleep doesn't just make you feel revitalized and energized, it can also help you prevent burnout.

According to the national sleep foundation, adults require at least 7 hours of sleep per night. This will help you think clearly, recover from distractions faster and help you stay focused which will improve your overall productivity.

But when you're sleep deprived, you're at the risk of having health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, sleepiness etc.

And trust me, this is not good for your overall productivity.

Productivity Hacks From Some Successful CEOs

Now let's look at productivity hacks from some successful CEOs so that you have the tools necessary to enable you to get more work done and reach your goals quickly.

Dustin Moskovitz - Co-founder of Facebook and Asana: Keep One Day a Week Meeting-free

This is a productivity trick that Dustin borrowed from Facebook. He ensures that everyone in his company keeps one day a week completely meeting-free. No member of his company schedules any meeting on this day.

empty office

Dustin personally uses this one day a week to work on some codes and get more tasks done. This is indeed an invaluable hack that enables CEOs, founders, and even employees to work without distractions and get more tasks checked off, thus increasing productivity.

Auren Hoffman- CEO of SafeGraph: Do Fewer Things, Say No to Almost Everything

You'll agree with me that being a CEO comes with lots of interesting opportunities seeking for your attention. Do not say yes to everything. Say no to 90% of opportunities that comes your way such as going for parties, hanging out with friends, conference speaking engagement and lots more.

Be absolutely ruthless with your time and utilize it wisely. By doing this, you'll be able to have more time to complete important tasks.

Elon Musk - The Founder and CEO of Tesla, SpaceX, and Neuralink: Start With ‘Critical Emails’

Elon Musk begins his day at 7 a.m and spends half an hour addressing ‘critical emails’. Musk filters out any email or communication that isn't critical.

This allows him to focus on useful information over the noise. That half an hour helps him structure his priorities and sets him up for a productive day.

Brian Halligan - The CEO and Co-founder of Hubspot: Try Taking One Work-From-Home Day a Week

This is one of Brian Halligan’s favorite hacks. He keeps Wednesday open and uses that day to think, brainstorm ideas and get more work done.

If you are the kind of CEO that is always working and has little or no time to think and brainstorm ideas, then apply this productivity hack. It will increase your productivity a great deal.

Matt DeCelles - Co-founder of William Painter Design: Delegate Like A Boss

Matt DeCelles keeps himself productive by delegating like a boss.

It's much easier to be productive when you performing a task that you are good at. But when a task is beyond your skillset, then you should delegate that task to professionals out there. There are tons of professionals on sites like Fiverr, and Upwork who can help you out with these tasks for as low as five dollars an hour.

Do not waste your valuable time doing any task that is beyond your skillset. This is one of the business productivity hacks that Matt DeCelle uses to supercharge his productivity, you should implement it too.


If you find yourself getting overwhelmed by the responsibilities that come with being a CEO and founder, then give these productivity hacks a try and you’ll find yourself on top of your game in no time.

Feel free to experiment a bit and find what works best for you, though it may take some time to find the perfect formula. A well-optimized work schedule is going to make you happy and productive.

Alexander Vasev

A content strategist at Metatask

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