The Guide to Mastering Time Management & Productivity

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If you’re seeking a guide on time management to boost your productivity and performance you’ve come to the right place. I’ve put together a guide filled with valuable insights that will help enhance or even skyrocket your productivity. So if that’s what you’re interested in, then keep reading!

As an entrepreneur or startup founder your time and energy are valuable resources. Besides money and relationships, time and energy are among the important assets at your disposal. It’s no surprise that improving your productivity and effectively managing your time are pivotal in becoming a top tier founder and reaching your full potential. These techniques have greatly assisted me on my journey towards increased productivity. And I’m confident they will benefit you as well.


Did you know that according to one study the average employee is productive for 2 hours and 53 minutes per day? That amounts to 31% of an average 8 hour workday. It’s even worse than I anticipated! 😬 This indicates that as a society we need to strive for better productivity.

While it may not be possible to implement every tip mentioned here due, to competing methodologies and numerous ideas presented there is plenty of valuable advice worth considering.

To maximize your chances of success it is advisable to focus on a strategies and tactics that complement each other well. I suggest jotting down the ones you believe will be most effective for you and proceeding from that point.

Okay lets begin!

1. Time Management, Productivity, and Performance Tips

Productivity is the foundation of entrepreneurial success. Implementing effective productivity tips will help you accomplish more in less time, maintain focus, and achieve your goals.

guide to time management and how to be productive
Courtesy of Adioma


a) Leverage the Power of Automation, AI, and Virtual Assistants

Streamline repetitive tasks by leveraging virtual assistants, AI, and by using automation tools and software. Automating processes like email management, social media scheduling, and data analysis frees up time for more strategic and creative endeavors. You can now achieve so much more productivity and save lots of energy by using AI like Chat GPT to perform tasks for you.

b) Learning When to Say No

Be disciplined. Set boundaries for yourself and recognize when to prioritize yourself over other’s needs. Avoid taking on too much work if you can’t reasonably handle the load.

c) Manage Your Productivity by Managing Your Energy

Everyone has energy spikes and energy dips. Make sure that you’re doing your most intensive activities when you have the most energy and do the monotonous low brain-power tasks during your energy lulls.

You can give yourself energy spikes during low energy times by doing some stretching and exercises and eating a snack afterwards.

In addition, if you just can’t get out of your tired funk, then try taking a nap if you’re somewhere where it’s feasible, of course.

NASA did a study to find that the ideal nap length is 10-20 minutes. If you factor in the 15 minutes it can take to fall asleep, then hit the hay and rest your eyes for up to 35 minutes. And don’t forget to set an alarm! Any more than 20 minutes may leave you feeling groggy after you wake up because you’ll have started another sleep stage in your sleep cycle.

It’s important to give your body enough sleep at night too. Our sleep cycles are about 90 minutes long. Learn more about how to get an optimal amount of sleep for yourself with the preceding link in the prior sentence.

d) Make Time for Planning

In my opinion, the best way to plan is by:

  1. First reviewing your short term and long term work goals or projects.
  2. Then assess the different repeatable activities that you do and sort them into categories. Examples of categories for someone who’s a social media manager:
    1. Meetings/office hours
    2. Internal communications
    3. Email (reading, replies, and outreach)
    4. Planning
    5. Social media marketing
    6. Content creation
    7. Marketing campaign performance analysis
    8. Learning
  3. Once you have your categories, then list out all of the things that you do within each of them.
  4. Decide how much time you’re going to put into each activity

As a solopreneur and startup founder, I have a lot of different activities that don’t necessarily fit a “regular” job description. Regardless, take a look how I structure my time based on an 8-hour day.

This is only one of my schedules, but here’s an example of one of my daily schedules on Evernote:

personal schedule for time management optimization and productivity

The last items (end of day review and planning, and learning) are additional items and don’t add into the eight hour schedule. I look at them more like additional activities that I need to do on top of the rest of the day’s activities.

Sometimes I swap one activity for another activity, like swapping product development for web development. Or I don’t do an activity to make more room for another activity.

I try to look at my goals holistically in the long term, mid term, and short term and reverse engineer what I need to do to achieve them.

e) Track Your Productivity

By tracking each task you complete by entering it into a personal daily log of work accomplishments. Then at the end of each day, you can review what you’ve done and weren’t able to get done from your daily plan.

This gives you the opportunity to discover what worked and what kind of inefficiencies you might have experienced. Write down those thoughts and adjust your plan for the following day(s) accordingly.

2. 17 Time Management Techniques

Effective time management empowers entrepreneurs to make the most of their limited time, ensuring tasks are completed efficiently and deadlines are met. Try these techniques to optimize your time management:

1. Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique, developed by Francesco Cirillo, is a time management method that involves working in 25-minute intervals (known as “Pomodoros”) followed by a short break up to 5 minutes. After four Pomodoros, take a longer break. This technique helps improve focus and productivity by breaking work into manageable chunks. In an eight to ten hour day, you’ll typically have 14-20 Pomodoro blocks.

This approach promotes concentration and prevents burnout by breaking tasks into manageable segments.

With so many small blocks of time, ensure that you’re time boxing them based on your needs. Whether that’s a sprint or switching to completely different categories of work, you’ll want to have maximum concentration in each activity and make the most of your time.

2. Getting Things Done (GTD)

The GTD method, popularized by David Allen and his book, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, emphasizes capturing and organizing tasks. Write down all your tasks and break them down into smaller actionable items on separate notecards. Group related tasks together and start working on each task systematically.

3. Important-Urgent Matrix / Eisenhower Decision Matrix

The Important-Urgent Matrix, also known as the Eisenhower Decision Matrix, helps prioritize tasks based on their importance and urgency. Categorize tasks as important and urgent, important but not urgent, urgent but not important, or not urgent and not important. This matrix enables you to focus on high-priority tasks and minimize time spent on less significant ones.

4. The Pareto Principle (80/20 Rule)

The Pareto Principle, or the 80/20 Rule, states that 20% of your efforts will generate 80% of your results. Identify the tasks that contribute the most value to your goals and focus on them. Additionally, apply the principle to project planning, where 80% of the work is preparation and development, while the remaining 20% is execution.

5. Rapid Planning Method (RPM)

The RPM method, developed by Tony Robbins, emphasizes results-oriented and purpose-driven planning. It involves creating a plan that aligns with your desired outcomes and taking massive action to achieve them. RPM focuses on creating a fulfilling life while maintaining a proactive approach to time management.

6. The 168 Hour Week

The 168 Hour Week philosophy, introduced by Laura Vanderkam, encourages viewing your schedule within the context of 168 hours in a week. By examining how you allocate your time, you can identify opportunities for prioritizing your activities and effectively managing your priorities.

7. Do it Now and Do it Tomorrow

“Do it Now” and “Do it Tomorrow” are two contrasting approaches to task management.

The “Do it Now” technique encourages tackling important tasks promptly, reducing mental clutter and allowing better focus.

Implement the Two-Minute Rule While “Doing it Now”

If a task takes less than two minutes to complete, do it immediately. This rule prevents small tasks from piling up and becoming time-consuming later.

Do it Tomorrow

On the other hand, “Do it Tomorrow” prioritizes commitments and tasks related to current priorities, deferring unrelated tasks to another day.

8. Eat the Frog

The “Eat the Frog” principle, coined by Mark Twain, suggests tackling the most challenging or daunting task first thing in the morning. By addressing the most difficult task early on, you gain a sense of accomplishment and motivation to tackle the rest of your responsibilities.

9. 4D System

The 4D System provides a framework for prioritizing tasks: Do, Defer (Delay), Delegate, and Delete. Evaluate tasks and assign them to the appropriate category based on their urgency, importance, and whether they can be delegated or eliminated. This system helps ensure you focus on tasks that align with your goals and values.

10. The Glass Jar Categorization

The Glass Jar Categorization technique involves dividing tasks into three categories: Rocks, Pebbles, and Sand. Rocks represent the most important strategic projects, pebbles are important but less critical tasks, and sand represents smaller, less significant tasks. Prioritize tackling the “rocks” first to ensure you focus on the most essential and impactful work.

11. Goal Prioritization

Goal prioritization involves identifying your most important goals and aligning your time and efforts accordingly. By focusing on your top priorities, you can allocate your time more effectively and work towards accomplishing what matters most to you.

12. Task Prioritization

Prioritizing tasks is essential for efficient time management. Identify high-value activities and tackle them first. Consider using the Eisenhower Matrix to categorize tasks based on urgency and importance. However, you can also knock out extremely quick activities first so you can get on a roll and get into the zone, as long as they’re relevant.

13. Ceasing Multitasking

Multitasking can negatively impact productivity and focus. Instead, focus on one task at a time to ensure full attention and higher-quality work. By avoiding split attention, you can complete tasks more efficiently and maintain a higher level of concentration.

14. Time Blocking

Time blocking is a powerful technique that involves allocating specific blocks of time in your calendar for dedicated focus on important tasks. By scheduling focused time for specific activities, you can enhance productivity and ensure that your highest-priority work receives the attention it deserves.

Some examples are blocks for: Marketing, networking, team meetings, OKR reviews, planning, strategy sessions, content creation, etc.

15. Work Session Recording

Recording your work sessions can help you track your productivity and identify areas for improvement. Use a stopwatch timer and record every task you complete along with the time it takes. This practice enhances self-awareness and allows you to analyze your time usage effectively.

16. Kanban

Kanban is a visual project management system that utilizes boards divided into columns representing different stages of work (e.g., To Do, In Progress, Done). Use sticky notes or cards to represent tasks and move them across the board as progress is made.

Kanban tools such as Trello, KanbanFlow, Kanbanize, and Kanban Tool can assist in implementing this method.

In addition to these techniques, remember to incorporate regular breaks, snacks, and hydration to maintain energy levels and prevent burnout.

By covering these various time management techniques and their applications, entrepreneurs and startup founders can choose the methods that resonate with them and adapt them to their specific needs. Each technique offers unique benefits and approaches to enhancing productivity and managing time effectively. Experiment with different techniques and find the ones that work best for you and your business. Remember, productivity is a continuous journey of improvement and refinement.

17. Delegate and Outsource

Recognize tasks that can be delegated to team members or outsourced to external professionals. Delegating responsibilities allows you to focus on core business activities that require your expertise.

3. Boosting Performance at Work

Enhancing your performance directly impacts your entrepreneurial journey. Implement these strategies to unlock your full potential:

a) Set Clear Goals

Establish specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals. Clearly defined objectives provide direction, motivation, and a roadmap for success.

b) Continual Learning and Skill Development

Invest in your personal and professional growth through continuous learning. Stay updated with industry trends, attend workshops or conferences, and acquire new skills that align with your business objectives.

c) Cultivate Healthy Habits

Physical and mental well-being significantly impact performance. Prioritize self-care by maintaining a balanced diet, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and practicing mindfulness techniques like meditation or journaling.

4. Increasing Productivity Levels

Productivity is not solely about working harder but working smarter. Here are some additional techniques to increase your productivity levels:

a) Minimize Distractions

Identify and eliminate distractions in your work environment. Consider using website blockers, turning off notifications, or designating specific times for checking emails and messages.

b) Practice the 80/20 Rule

The 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, states that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts. Identify the most impactful tasks that yield the greatest results and prioritize them.

c) Foster a Positive Work Environment

Create a workspace that inspires creativity and productivity. Ensure it is well-organized, comfortable, and free from clutter. Surround yourself with motivational quotes, plants, or artwork that uplifts your mood.

5. Effective Task Management

Managing tasks efficiently ensures that you stay on track and meet your deadlines. Consider these approaches for effective task management:

a) Use Task Management Tools

Leverage task management tools and apps to organize, assign, and track tasks. Popular options include Trello, Asana, or Todoist. These tools allow you to collaborate with your team, set reminders, and monitor progress.

b) Break Tasks into Smaller Steps

Large projects can be overwhelming. Break them down into smaller, manageable tasks or milestones. This approach provides a clear roadmap and a sense of accomplishment as you tick off completed tasks.

c) Adopt Agile Methodologies

Agile methodologies like Kanban or Scrum can enhance task management by promoting transparency, adaptability, and iterative progress. These frameworks are particularly beneficial for teams working on complex projects.

6. Work-Life Balance Tips

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is essential for sustainable productivity and overall well-being. Consider these tips to strike a harmonious balance:

a) Set Boundaries

Establish clear boundaries between work and personal life. Define specific work hours and dedicate time for family, hobbies, and relaxation. Avoid checking work-related emails or messages during non-work hours.

Remember, moderation is key for everything!

b) Prioritize Self-Care

Make self-care a priority. Engage in activities that rejuvenate your mind and body, such as exercise, spending time in nature, reading, or pursuing hobbies. Taking care of yourself enhances focus, creativity, and overall happiness.

Daily exercise has been proven to increase productivity

c) Outsource Non-Essential Tasks

Delegate or outsource tasks that are not within your expertise or do not require your direct involvement. This allows you to free up time for activities that matter most to you personally and professionally.

7. Time-Saving Hacks

Time-saving hacks can help you reclaim precious minutes throughout your day. Consider implementing these strategies:

a) Use Keyboard Shortcuts

Learn and utilize keyboard shortcuts for commonly used applications and tasks. This can significantly speed up your workflow and save time in the long run.

b) Batch Similar Tasks

Group similar tasks together and tackle them in one go. For example, respond to emails or make phone calls during dedicated time blocks rather than interrupting your workflow throughout the day.

c) Avoid Multitasking

Contrary to popular belief, multitasking can actually decrease productivity. Focus on one task at a time to maintain concentration and produce higher-quality work.

8. Goal Setting and Achievement

Setting and achieving goals is crucial for entrepreneurial success. Implement these strategies to set effective goals and increase your chances of achieving them:

a) Define Specific and Measurable Goals

Set clear and measurable goals that provide a clear vision of what you want to achieve. Break them down into smaller milestones to track progress and maintain motivation.

b) Create an Action Plan

Develop a well-defined action plan outlining the steps required to achieve your goals. Set deadlines for each milestone and hold yourself accountable to stay on track.

c) Regularly Review and Adjust Goals

Periodically review your goals to assess progress and make necessary adjustments. Stay adaptable and be willing to modify your goals as circumstances change or new opportunities arise.

9. Prioritization and Task Management

Effective prioritization and task management are vital for entrepreneurs dealing with multiple responsibilities. Consider these techniques to improve prioritization and manage tasks efficiently:

a) Urgency-Importance Matrix

Use the urgency-importance matrix to categorize tasks based on their urgency and importance. Focus on tasks that are both urgent and important, and delegate or eliminate tasks that are neither.

Urgent Important Eisenhower Matrix for time management guide

b) Focus on High-Value Activities

Identify high-value activities that align with your business objectives and have a significant impact on your success. Dedicate the majority of your time and energy to these activities.

c) Time Audit

Conduct a time audit to analyze how you spend your time. Identify time-consuming tasks or activities that do not contribute to your goals. Eliminate or streamline these activities to reclaim valuable time.

10. Procrastination Solutions

Procrastination can be a productivity killer. Overcome this challenge with these effective solutions:

a) Break Tasks into Smaller Chunks

When facing a daunting task, break it down into smaller, more manageable subtasks. This makes the task feel less overwhelming and increases the likelihood of starting and completing it.

b) Set Deadlines and Accountability

Establish specific deadlines for tasks and hold yourself accountable. Share your goals and deadlines with a trusted colleague or mentor who can provide support and accountability.

c) Use Time-Boxing Technique

Implement the time-boxing technique, where you allocate a specific amount of time for a task and commit to completing it within that time frame. This creates a sense of urgency and helps overcome procrastination.

11. Stress Management in the Workplace

Entrepreneurship often comes with high levels of stress. Effectively managing stress is essential for maintaining productivity and well-being. Consider these stress management techniques:

a) Practice Mindfulness and Meditation

Engage in mindfulness exercises or meditation to reduce stress and improve focus. Dedicate a few minutes each day to breathing exercises or guided meditation to calm your mind and increase resilience.

Meditation improves anxiety levels approximately 60% of the time. What’s even better is that meditation can increase employees’ productivity by 120%.

One of my favorite apps for meditation is Smiling Mind on Android and iOS. It’s completely free, has no ads, and it’s great at explaining the roots to feelings of stress. What more can you ask for?!

meditation at work and school stats
Via THRIVE myway

b) Take Regular Breaks

Schedule regular breaks throughout your workday. Step away from your workspace, stretch, or engage in relaxation techniques to recharge and prevent burnout.

c) Seek Support and Delegate

Recognize when you need support and reach out to your team or professionals who can help with specific tasks. Delegate responsibilities to lighten your workload and reduce stress.

12. Streamlining Workflows for Better Productivity

Streamlining workflows allows you to optimize efficiency and productivity. Consider these strategies to streamline your work processes:

a) Identify Bottlenecks and Inefficiencies

Analyze your workflow to identify bottlenecks or areas where inefficiencies occur. Look for tasks that can be automated, simplified, or eliminated to streamline your processes.

b) Implement Project Management Software

Utilize project management software to streamline collaboration, task assignment, and tracking. These tools centralize communication and ensure everyone is aligned on project goals and progress.

c) Continuous Process Improvement

Regularly evaluate and improve your processes. Encourage feedback from your team and explore new tools or technologies that can enhance efficiency and productivity.

13. Improving Focus and Concentration

Courtesy of Adioma

Maintaining focus and concentration is essential for accomplishing tasks effectively.

Try these techniques to improve your focus and therefore productivity:

a) Create a Distraction-Free Environment

Minimize distractions in your workspace by turning off notifications, closing unnecessary tabs or apps, and creating physical or digital barriers to limit interruptions.

b) Practice Time-Boxing and Deep Work

Implement time-boxing techniques, dedicating specific periods of uninterrupted time to deep, focused work. During these blocks, eliminate distractions and immerse yourself in the task at hand.

c) Enhance Mental and Physical Well-being

Prioritize your mental and physical well-being to improve focus. Get enough sleep, maintain a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and practice techniques like deep breathing or meditation to sharpen your focus.

14. Time Blocking and Scheduling Techniques

Time blocking and scheduling are effective methods to manage your time efficiently. Consider these techniques:

a) Time Blocking

Divide your day into blocks of time dedicated to specific tasks, projects, or activities. This method allows you to allocate focused time for each task and prevents time wastage.

b) Schedule Buffer Time

Include buffer time between tasks or appointments to account for unexpected interruptions or delays. This buffer time ensures you have flexibility and can maintain your schedule even when unexpected events occur.

c) Batch Similar Tasks

Grouping similar tasks together allows you to streamline your workflow and reduce transition time between different types of activities. For example, dedicate a specific time block for responding to emails or making phone calls.

15. Continuous Learning and Skill Development

Entrepreneurship requires ongoing learning and skill development. Stay ahead of the curve with these strategies:

a) Read and Stay Informed

Read books, industry publications, blogs, and news relevant to your field. Stay updated on emerging trends, best practices, and new technologies that can enhance your skills and keep you competitive.

b) Attend Workshops and Conferences

Participate in workshops, conferences, and seminars to expand your knowledge and network with industry professionals. These events offer valuable learning opportunities and can inspire new ideas.

c) Seek Mentorship and Coaching

Engage with mentors and coaches who can provide guidance, support, and valuable insights. Learning from experienced individuals can accelerate your growth and help you navigate challenges more effectively.

16. Time Management, Project Management, and Productivity Tools

This isn’t an exhaustive list of all apps in these categories. You’d be reading through hundreds of descriptions otherwise. These are some of the top tools.

  1. Todoist: This is a versatile task management tool that allows you to create to-do lists, set deadlines, and organize tasks into projects. It offers cross-platform support, integrations with other apps, and productivity features like labels and filters.
  2. Trello: A visual project management tool that uses boards, lists, and cards to help you organize and prioritize tasks and projects. It’s great for collaboration and can be used for personal or team-based productivity.
  3. Asana: A powerful project management platform that enables teams to plan, track, and manage their work. It includes features like task assignment, due dates, progress tracking, and project timelines.
  4. ClickUp: ClickUp is an app that allows you to do all of your work in one place, with tasks, whiteboards, dashboards, chat, goals, docs, templates, and is augmented with AI to make your experience even more seamless. It’s said that it can replace Asana, Monday, and Jira, too.
  5. Evernote: A note-taking app that allows you to capture ideas, create to-do lists, and store documents. Its versatility makes it suitable for personal organization and collaborative team efforts.
  6. Microsoft To Do: A simple and intuitive task management tool that integrates with Microsoft 365 products. It allows you to create lists, set reminders, and sync tasks across devices.
  7. Notion: Notion is versatile all-in-one workspace that combines note-taking, task management, and project planning. It’s highly customizable and adaptable to various workflows. It now includes AI to make tasks easier.
  8. RescueTime: This is a time-tracking and productivity tool that provides insights into how you spend your time on various apps and websites. It helps you identify productivity pitfalls and make informed changes to your daily habits.
  9. Focus@Will: Focus@Will is a music service designed to boost focus and productivity. It offers a variety of instrumental music tracks scientifically engineered to enhance concentration.
  10. Forest: A gamified app that helps you stay focused and avoid distractions. When you set a timer to concentrate, a virtual tree grows. If you leave the app, the tree dies, encouraging you to stay on task.
  11. Pomodone: Pomodone is a time tracking and task management tool specifically designed for users of the Pomodoro Technique. It integrates with popular task management platforms like Trello and Todoist.
  12. Motion: Motion increases productivity by 137% with automation and AI that intelligently plan your day, schedule meetings, and builds the perfect to-do list.


Mastering productivity, time management, and performance is a continuous journey for entrepreneurs and startup founders. By implementing the strategies and techniques discussed in this guide, you can optimize your workflow, enhance productivity, and achieve long-term success.

Remember, productivity is not just about working harder but working smarter, finding balance, and constantly improving your skills. Embrace these principles, adapt them to your unique needs, and unlock your entrepreneurial potential.

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