The 10 Best Productivity Tips From Fortune’s 40 Under 40
How do you make more time in a day that’s already packed to the brim? We asked the influential young business leaders on this year’s 40 Under 40 to share how they organize their lives.
Here are their top 10 productivity tips.
1. “Write down your priorities on Monday morning, and rearrange your agenda for the week to make sure it will allow you to address these priorities. If I don’t do this, I find myself reacting to what’s most urgent during the week, instead of focusing on what’s most important.” —Fidji Simo, Director of Product, Facebook
2. “Have a clear system for to-dos: whether it’s ‘Getting Things Done’ or the ‘Checklist Manifesto,’ just have a system and stick to it. I have a very specific method I use in Slack and in email that works for me, and knowing I have that system keeps me from feeling overwhelmed even when I’m behind or the to-dos pile up.” —April Underwood, Vice President of Product, Slack
3. “Inbox zero is a fool’s errand. I don’t try to keep up. I feel perfectly fine picking and choosing what I want to engage in.” —Jeff Lawson, CEO, Twilio
4. “Review your diary at the end of each week. Literally print it out and review it. Ask yourself three questions: (1) did we achieve what we wanted to (2) did I personally need to be there (3) could it have been achieved in a shorter time frame. It will transform how you spend your time.” —Scott Farquhar, co-CEO, Atlassian
5. “Know what significant goals you want to work towards every day. Many days, I start the day by writing, ‘How I will build the company today’ on a blank sheet of paper, and then I list a small number of high value tasks or goals for the day.” —Rachel Haurwitz, CEO, Caribou Biosciences
6.”At the start of each week I write an email to my team to share what I’m focused on and what’s inspiring me outside of work. It not only forces me to prioritize my week, but the act of writing helps organize my thoughts clearly. It also means each week I’m making deposits into the ‘context bank’; my team gets early transparency into what issues I’m thinking about. I find that all of these benefits accelerate me for the week by reducing confusion and need for 1-off meetings.” —Joe Zadeh, Vice President of Product, Airbnb
7. “The key for me is you have to understand how your brain works and when you are most productive. For me, I’m most productive and creative in the morning through early afternoon, so I’ve gotten rid of lunch meetings to keep my productive time going as long as I can. I make sure the tasks I have at the beginning of the day are the tasks that require the most creativity or, in other words, tasks I have never done before.” —Ryan Smith, CEO and co-founder, Qualtrics
8. “Most people type much, much slower than they think. Work on increasing your typing speed—or invest in voice recognition software. And then stop wasting time reading productivity tips.” —Adam Grant, Professor of Psychology, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.
Related: What Would Tim Ferriss Do?
9. “Never procrastinate. Just get it done right away. I don’t wait until I get home, I take calls wherever I am. I execute on any feedback I get right away. That way, the work never piles up.” —Anthony Tan, CEO and co-founder, Grab
10. “Turn off everything—email, phone, stock tickers, news, etc.—as often as possible and focus on a single task without interruption.” —Dianne McKeever, Co-founder and Chief Investment Officer, Ides Capital