Unlocking Productivity: Proven Strategies from Successful CEOs and Business Owners

Different people have different approaches when it comes to organizing time and optimizing productivity. However, it’s often the most successful individuals we should look to emulate. In pursuit of valuable insights for business owners, we reached out to several founders and leaders who graciously shared their top productivity tips.

Successful leaders emphasize the importance of reducing the multi-tasking required for themselves and their team members. Focusing on one task at a time can allow for full engagement, resulting in higher-quality outcomes and increased efficiency.

Max Ade, the CEO and co-founder of Pickleheads, the digital home for pickleball players, explains why this is so important for employees.

“Starting a business often takes extended hours from early employees, and even for established businesses, it’s likely that multi-tasking is a regular occurrence. But this can have a serious impact on how much gets done. Some estimates suggest that as much as 40 percent of an employee’s productivity can be lost when they switch between tasks.”

With so much potentially on the line, it’s smart for business leaders to do an internal audit of what work they’re giving out. If there are redundancies or tasks that can be distributed more effectively, it’s worth doing. Ironically, allowing your team to do less can result in them getting more accomplished.”

Paul Serra, founder of Elevated Fortune, agrees that the owner must also practice the same high level of task mastery. He uses a practice he calls “Thinking Time.” 

“It’s refreshingly old-school – no tech required. Once a week, I begin my morning by stepping away from the screens and seeking a quiet space. With just a pen and paper, I write my number one goal at the top of the page. Beneath it, I list everything I need to do to make that goal a reality. It’s a simple and powerful tool to focus the mind. It primes your brain to focus on what you want as opposed to what the world wants you to focus on.”

Taming the surprises that happen along the way is a skill that needs to be honed by any good business leader. By quickly identifying and addressing mistakes or opportunities, teams can pivot, plan, and improve rapidly, leading to increased productivity in the long run.

Adrian Tamminga, co-founder and business manager of Iron Embers, a premium outdoor fire pit manufacturer in Guelph, Ontario, calls this “Failing Fast.” 

“As proposed by writer Patrick Lencioni, failing quickly and often can lead to faster learning and growth. It allows business owners to identify weaknesses and make necessary adjustments sooner rather than later.”

Books by Patrick Lencioni

Podcast and YouTube Host, International Keynote Speaker and CPO Consultant at Not the HR Lady, Tara Furiani, explains it this way, “Develop a growth mindset by embracing challenges and learning from setbacks. This mindset empowers business owners to persist and adapt in the face of adversity, ultimately fostering innovation and growth.”

Interestingly, I saw similar advice in other tips from leaders who called their technique something else when it was really about maximizing their available time.

Becky Colwell, sales without selling coach at Heart to Heart Sales offers, “Once my most urgent tasks are out of the way, I ask myself “What will close the loop?” As someone with ADD, I find I’m often in my head instead of taking action, and this question has really helped me focus on what to do next. It also reduces the amount of time I spend going over and over a task in my head!”

On researching why this works, I came across “cognitive closure,” which, according to psychologists, can reduce mental strain and help individuals focus better on subsequent tasks. There’s even a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology that found that individuals who achieved closure on a task then performed better in subsequent tasks, so I’m pleased to be “closing the loop” when I can.”

Top business owners understand the value of investing in skill-building resources for their teams. Providing access to workshops, online courses, and training programs helps employees refine their skills and contribute to a more innovative and productive workplace.

Taminga says, “Continuous learning is crucial for business owners. Platforms like Coursera or LinkedIn Learning offer a wide range of courses that can help develop new skills or enhance existing ones.”

A few more websites that offer learning opportunities or classes that I’ve used and like for different reasons (and I should probably summarize in another article) are Udemy, Skillshare, and Open edX.

And Bob Bilbruck, CEO at Captjur, echoes that advice with his own tip, “Learn something new every week.” For example, “If Chat GPT scares you, learn more about it, read about it, use it, experiment with it – embrace learning about everything, especially cutting-edge technology.”

Several CEOs mentioned the importance of limiting daily time spent on any task. Techniques like the Pomodoro Technique can help break work into manageable intervals and promote focused attention on individual tasks.

Elizabeth Pharo, CEO, chair of the board, and operating partner at Divorce.com recommends using productivity apps like Trello or Asana. “These tools allow you to create boards for different projects, assign tasks to team members, and set deadlines. They’re especially helpful if you’re juggling multiple projects at once.”

She also recommends taking regular breaks and delegating tasks. Many interviewed leaders mentioned taking breaks, delegation, and even exercise as additional productivity tools.

As the workplace becomes more intuitive regarding work-life balance, it’s great to see that change radiated in the feedback from business leaders. More than half of them included personal wellness tips in their productivity hacks.

These tips from successful CEOs and business owners emphasize the importance of strategic time management, creating an environment conducive to productivity, and fostering continuous learning. By implementing these strategies, you can unlock your team’s potential and set your business on a path to tremendous success.

Christine Wetzler is the BoostFrontline managing editor. She is an accomplished writer, consultant, and PR strategist with a passion for empowering businesses through effective storytelling. As a prolific contributor to professional services, commodities, technology, energy, not-for-profit, and business press, her writing showcases her deep understanding of diverse industries and the power of communication. In addition to writing for our site, she writes for Forbes and Entrepreneur and has run her own PR and marketing firm since 2002.