10 Practical Productive Tips for Entrepreneurs

Follow your dreams, go the extra mile, Just Do It™, etc. These are all important ideas for entrepreneurs, but to bring it down to earth for the everyday, here are some super practical tips to help you accomplish those lofty goals.

1. Sit down when you put on your socks and shoes
Hopping around on one foot is really not much faster than taking the time to sit down on a bench, your bed, or even the floor. And they’ll be tied-up just right, so you can put your best foot forward.

My small desk in Brooklyn

2. A Small Desk
On a big desk, there’s always another corner to shove more crap to—business cards, tools, books, papers, etc.—but eventually you run out of space, and it takes a chunk of time to sort everything out (and then vainly tell yourself that it’ll never get that messy again). A smaller work surface/area forces you to be much more tidy, period.

My shoe bench

3. Text > Voicemail
To check your voicemail it takes time to input your password, listen to some computer tell you how many unheard messages you have, and then listen to whoever left a message ramble on. And if you’re in a meeting or anywhere else where it might be inappropriate or too loud to stick your phone to your face, text messaging kills those birds. It’s quiet, straightforward, convenient, and written down for you. However, it does take a little more time than does leaving a message, and you shouldn’t be driving, and the occasional phone plan doesn’t have texting, so there’s that against text. Some voicemail systems have a better interface than others, and there are some voice-to-text converters out there, but they always seem a bit off to me. For now, I lead by example, and if I reach someone’s voicemail, I hang up and text.

4. WW_D?
Identify your role model(s), and ask yourself, ‘What Would they Do?’ It is important to apply this question on a situation by situation basis. E.g., for my artistic performances, I like to ask myself ‘What Would James Brown Do?’ He was often called the hardest working man in show business. But now if I’m in the powdered sugar aisle, I’d ask Martha Stewart, and not the funk master. Would Chuck Norris read another important and relevant article, or go eat a cheeseburger? Trick question—Chuck Norris can read and eat at the same time.

5. Drink Water
If you get a cup of water instead of a sweet 64 ounce soda pop, your body, teeth, and wallet will like you better. And drinking water throughout the day helps with all sorts of stuff I’m sure, including headaches and energy.

6. Acronyms to Remember
If you can’t write something down for some reason, there are a bunch of memorization techniques. I usually try to make an acronym or some sort of catchy phrase. For example, if my list says ‘groceries, email that photo, run to the bank, call Joe,’ I’ll say in my head, ‘Gro Pho Bank Joe.’ …It works for me.

7. Always Carry Pen and Paper
You never know when you might get a great idea or need to share contact info (though you should also always be carrying a business card or two). Of course, the comedian Mitch Hedberg had a solution, “…I think of something that’s  funny. Then I go get a pen and I write it down. Or, if the pen’s too far away, I have to convince myself that what I thought of ain’t funny.”

I also keep track of the money I spend, and my to-do list all on the same sheet. A carefully folded piece of paper, a recipe card, a scrunchy receipt—anything works; though I prefer something on the thick side, like cardstock, and a pen—not pencil—so it doesn’t get smudged beyond recognition while riding in your pocket.

My idea book, list book (Moleskin), pocket papers (Papir)

8. List It—Then Break It Down Down

The list: in my pocket, my notebook, or a sticky note on my macbook. I have to write down the things I need to do or I’ll forget about them. I recently read an anti-list article, but their main beef was that lists don’t give the proper weight and/or time commitments of each task—so basically, just try to break down the tasks into all the smaller tasks that it really requires. Also, I have a couple list tricks. Circles, astericks, etc. stand out, so if you have the attention of your business partner, you can easily find all your questions/concerns for said partner by just finding all the circled BPs (or their initials). A circled T means I’ll do it tomorrow because I just didn’t get to it today for some other reason, and I have to transfer it to the next day’s list—just keep your Ts under control! And a big underscore __ next to tasks that MUST be completed today.

9. Changes = Breaks
Take breaks every so often, maybe even schedule it out hourly. But instead of a break reclined on a lazy boy, just change it up. Do something else for a bit, that’s way different and hopefully fun, but also productive. Like go for a run, read something NOT on the computer, write that thank you note, run some errands.

10. Stretch It Out
Reach for the stars, touch the floor—standing up or sitting down.

I hope you find this simple practical, productive, and doable!

—Samuel Sveen | writer