As a startup CEO, what is your favorite productivity hack?

Answer by Auren Hoffman:

Focus.  Do not multitask.  Do fewer things.

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.

Do not to multitask — do tasks in series, not parallel
Be totally focused 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). 

If you are working on a task (like reading a legal document), mentally allocate time to only devote to that task (like 20 minutes).  During that block, do not do anything else.  If you finish early, you can reward yourself with doing something else but only if you finish early.

Do fewer things — say "no" to almost everything
When you are a CEO, you often have lots of interesting opportunities.  As you become more successful, the opportunities become more and more interesting.  Do not fall into the trap of of saying "yes" to most things.  Ruthlessly decide whether an you should attend a meeting you were invited to.  Same with parties, conferences, speaking engagements, internal presentations, and more.  

A good CEO is probably saying "no" to 90% of the opportunities that she is presented with.  Yes, 90%.  And these are likely all things that seem interesting and fun.  But you need to be ruthless with your time.

As a startup CEO, what is your favorite productivity hack?


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