Today, more than 9 million women-owned businesses operate in the U.S. Since 2007, women-owned companies have grown by 45%, five times faster than the average rate. Which means there are a whole lot of #girlbosses out there making their ideas come to life, managing teams, and getting sh*t done.
But let’s be real: That last part is often the hardest. No matter if you’re just starting your career, high up on the corporate ladder, or building a business of your own, chances are you have a to-do list a mile-long.
To help you tackle it all (without losing your sanity), we asked a few of our favorite female business owners and leaders to share their best productivity tips.
“I am a big advocate of David Allen’s 2 minute rule, which says if you determine an action can be done in two minutes, do it right then. This is especially true with email—I manage to inbox zero, and I am extremely disciplined about email management and fast responses. The pace that you set with your work trickles down into the rest of the organization, and I want to be quick and accessible for the team.”
— Julia Cheek, CEO and founder of EverlyWell
I am obsessive about my to-do list. Each day I extract from that list and write down my top 4 or 5 absolute MUST-dos of the day. Also, I schedule my week in blocks of time. For example, I know on Sunday that those two meeting-free hours on Thursday am (for example) are going to be spent doing x, y or z. I basically craft my week ahead of time.
— Keri Glassman, celebrity nutritionist and founder of A Nutritious Life
“No” is one of my favorite words. When you say no to what doesn’t serve you, you say yes to something else. In this case, you’re saying yes to making time to work on your business or passion project.Remember, it is OK to politely decline invitations that do not really appeal to you. If you just turn down just one activity each week—be it networking or just happy hour with friends—that’s another few hours you just made for yourself.
— Susie Moore, life coach and author of What If It Does Work Out?
When I get up earlier, I’m able to carve out space for myself that I likely won’t be able to get as the day goes on. From the moment I wake up, I turn to my bedside table and jot down at least three things I’m grateful for right now. This trains our brains to start the day on a positive note. During this first hour or so, there is absolutely no smartphone, email, laptop, etc,. This is a time for setting the day’s intentions and visualizing what a successful day ahead looks like.
— DeeAnn Sims, founder and creative director, SPBX
I add every single task I want to complete to a Trello board. In this way, I can visually prioritize and make a conscious decision about how to spend my time each day. In this way, I almost never feel like I have forgotten something and have the satisfaction of marking something as “done” when it has been completed.
— Mary Fox, co-founder & CEO, Marlow
Energy keeps me productive, and exercise keeps me energized. I schedule time for activity—an appointment with myself. I also try to work movement into the rest of my day, whether it’s a walk-and-talk meeting or a quick round of knockout at the basketball hoop outside the office.
— Ty Haney, founder and CEO, Outdoor Voices
As a business owner, you have to make a ton of decisions each day, both macro and minor. What subject line should we use for this email? What color scheme should we use for this deck? Who should we hire for our sales team? There’s no way I could get it all done if I waffled over every little choice, so I’ve learned to tune into my intuition to make decisions quickly and efficiently.
— Sammy Courtright, co-founder & COO, Fitspot Wellness
Set a timer and make the alarm annoyingly loud. I’ll tell myself, ‘Okay, you get 45 minutes to create this piece of content.’ The self-declared deadline makes it a motivating and fun sprint and focuses you pointedly on the task, whereas an alarm creates a negative feedback loop. Your brain will start to adapt to an ‘alarm = bad, focus = win’ association. When you DO beat a sprint, reward yourself with a little delight, such as a few minutes of distraction on your favorite social app.
— Beck Bamberger, founder of BAM Communications
Switching back and forth between types of tasks can be time-consuming and counterproductive, so I block off days according to tasks and the skill sets they require. For example, Monday is media day where I do interviews, media outreach, and catch up on related reading. Tuesdays are logistical (sending invoices, updating profiles, analysis of numbers), Wednesdays are dedicated to creativity (dreaming up new projects, and so on. Each day is based on a skill set so I can ride the vibe, dive deep into it and emerge with the best results.
— Margaux Cassuto, relationship expert and founder of Three Matches
If you have a call that doesn’t require you to follow a screen (many are actually like this), just step outside. Put some bluetooth headphones on and walk and talk. If you need to take a quick note, write it on the ‘notes’ field of your phone. You’ll be amazed at what 20 minutes (or maybe even more) of a walk and talk call can do. Plus, you’re not trying to respond to emails or surf the web while you speak to this person so you’re extra focused and in tune.
— Elisette Carlson, founder, SMACK Media