What Keeps You Productive? — Experts Weigh In

The summer is winding down and it’s harder than ever to stay focused. With the last little bit of warm weather and sunshine, all we want to do is run to the beach or pull out the grill. We asked our small business owners how they stay productive and focused not just in the summertime but year round as well.

Here’s what they had to say:

1. “To keep ourselves productive and focused, our studio of photographers and videographers set mini goals and rewards if we achieve those goals. If we finish post-processing our workload by Wednesday, we take the afternoon off and treat ourselves to smoothies and bubble tea. We try to get the most productivity out in short intensive spurts. We tackle the most difficult and important tasks early in the day and schedule out our workload week by week. We use Asana to keep the entire team on track!” –Nicole Chan, Promessa Studios

2. “One very specific thing I do to stay productive and focused is I use the Pomodoro Technique. The idea is that you work without distraction for at least 25 minutes and then take a 5 minute break, then repeat. I try to get 8-10 in per day and it has made a massive difference in my productivity.” –Stephen Lytle, Smart Business Hacks

3. “Running your own business is stressful, but it is important to implement mindfulness into your daily routine by creating realistic goals for each day, as simple as flossing every night. To better manage time, it is helpful to breakdown your days into a time chart and track all of your minutes to see where you can better spend your time. Actively choosing to live your best day ever will keep you in a motivated mind-set, and increase your overall personal and business success.” –Anne-Marie Faiola, Bramble Berry

4. “I originally thought that summer would equate to slowing down and more breaks, but this is untrue. To maintain my endurance and productivity, I have accountability partners that help me stay focused on business projects. I also create breaks in the form of extended weekends to rest, relax, and explore. These breaks also keep me motivate and alleviate burnout.” –JaNaè Taylor, PhD, Minding My Black Business

5. “Working out in the morning keeps me productive and focused year round. After working out I have a lot more energy, and a lot more patience, I am ready to attack the day. While working out I also have a clear mind and think of some of my best ideas and collect my thoughts.” –Chris Gronkowski, Everything Decorated, Ice Shaker

6. “I break my day into 30 minute increments, and implement the ‘Pomodoro’ technique. This means that I focus for 25 minutes purely on the task at hand, without allowing any distractions. I then take a 5 minute break and check emails, messages and any other notifications. Every single morning, I also outline my to-dos, and assign a goal amount of ‘Pomodoros’ I want to perform.” –Sergey Sapelnyk, Society Socks

7. “Take short breaks. Taking breaks seems like it could break focus and productivity, but in fact it does the opposite. It allows you to not get burnt out on a particular task or project and helps you better focus during the time you’re investing. If you try to work straight for 8hrs, you’ll get a lot less done then if you take a 3-5min break every 30-45minutes. Shave off a few minutes for a break, and be rewarded with stronger focus and better productivity!” –Matt Ham, Computer Repair Doctor

8. “What I do during lunch is play piano. Playing any instrument has been scientifically proven to engage practically every area of the brain at once especially the visual, auditory, and motor cortices so it gets my mental capacity going again and helps me through my afternoon. It’s like a mental full body workout. It gives me the mental jump start I need to finish my day and gets my creative juices flowing again.” –Gene Caballero, GreenPal

9. “What keeps me productive and focused: constantly reminding myself that I only have one chance to get this right. I start the day with a strange ritual, by looking into a mirror where I keep telling myself that my clients are getting married for the first (and most likely last) time. This forces me into a sense of urgency, to be really in the moment so to speak. The downside is that one becomes emotionally and physically drained after giving 120% for the entire day.” –Jimmy Chan, Pixelicious

10. “As an entrepreneur and business owner, I’m pulled in a hundred different directions every day…. it can be hard to stay focused, but here are a few productivity hacks that work for me. My brain is always flying in the morning, so I keep a notebook on my vanity and list out things I need to tackle that day while I’m getting ready for work. Then I listen to business and marketing podcasts on my commute to work. All business owners need inspiration and professional development, so fitting that in during my daily commute works perfectly and starts every day in a positive frame of mind.” –Danielle Kunkle, BOOMER BENEFITS

11. “Honestly what keeps me productive is yoga and meditation but the biggest thing that keeps me going is being able to see my business talked about (Press) It’s true but it lets me know that my business is appreciated. The only productivity app I use is Instagram.” –Mitesh Popat, PlantOGram.com

12. “Discipline is the key to staying on task, especially in the summer. Have routines and specific project milestones set for each day. And listen to Tony Robbins and Gary V every day. They will keep you energized and focused!” –Lynne McNamee, Lone Armadillo Marketing Agency

13. “As a small business owner I always make sure during the weekends I go out with my friends and enjoy the summer time weather. Having fun during the weekends really helps me stay motivated and focused during the week. I won’t feel like I’m missing out when I am having fun on the weekends. Summer is all about and it may be hard to focus, but if you work hard you can play hard as well. That is what helps me stay focused during the summer time fun.” –Lisa Chu, Black N Bianco

14. “Each morning before I start work, I write down 3-4 tasks that I must accomplish that day. I have a tendency to underestimate how long things take and how often I’ll be interrupted so I find using a very short list I can realistically get through helps motivate me and keeps me on task.” –Larissa Pickens, Float Design

15. “To stay focused while I work, I use the MyNoise.net sound generator to drown out distractions. I also take anywhere from 5-7 meditation/prayer breaks through out the day. I love the Headspace app for simple and easy guided meditations. Breaks last anywhere from 3-10 minutes and help me release stress and refocus on my big picture business goals.” –Janet Kozak, Content Strategist

16. “I find the summer a challenging time to stay focused and productive. Recently, I was introduced to the Pomodoro technique or time blocking. Basically, you break up your tasks into 25-minute blocks, with a 5 minute break between tasks. By working in short blocks, I am consistently productive. The regular breaks have bolstered my motivation and kept me on track.” –Brad M. Shaw, Dallas Web Design Inc.

17. “I use a mind map to increase my productivity and focus. I learned in college that our brain can efficiently manage only so much information before that information becomes nothing more than clutter. When I find myself overwhelmed crate a mind map from point A to point B. It not only organizes the mess in my brain; I am also much more focused and productive afterward. I use an app called Simplemind+ on my Iphone.” –Kate Stebbins, Personal Injury and Trial Specialist

18. “As much as I didn’t want to admit it, I’m way more focused and productive very early in the morning. If I can knock out my high-level tasks before 9 a.m., I’m golden for the rest of the day. What also helps, is prioritizing my to-do list in an old-school, written planner. Physically writing them down helps me focus more and I get to physically cross things off the list when I’m done, which is mentally more rewarding.” –Sherry Holub, JVM Design

19. “I keep productive and focused by understanding the difference between motion and productivity. It’s easy to get caught up in longer phone calls, monitoring email messages and even social media activity. Unless it adds value, it’s motion and should not be a priority. I have a daily list of productivity items and focus on accomplishing them.” –Vito Santoro, Vaetas, LLC

20. “What keeps me focused is my power list, which is a list of 5 core tasks that help me build better habits and keep me striving toward my goals. If I complete all of these tasks, I consider that day a “win.” I track all of my wins and losses, which holds me accountable, and keeps me motivated to put up more W’s than L’s.” –Brandon Crossley, Poindexter

21. “I hit the gym religiously every day. It’s where I relieve my stress and get my head around the day’s activities. It’s the one place I feel like I don’t have to be connected to the outside world and I leave feeling healthier, stronger and motivated to conquer the day with a fresh mind and body.” –Lori Cheek, Cheekd

22. “One way I stay productive and focused, especially working from home, is taking breaks like you read about everywhere! Five minute breaks every hour, really help! I may go grab a snack, load the laundry or the dishwasher, you name it! Sometimes I even take a 10 minute break and sit on my patio and read that article in the magazine I have been dying to read.” –Melissa Hernandez, MH Event Productions & Consulting Eden Prairie

23. “If you have something important to get done, but you just can’t seem to get your head in the game, grab a piece of paper and a pen and try “stream of consciousness” writing. This helps to eliminate mental clutter and uncover those intellectual gems you know are in there somewhere. Don’t censor yourself, and don’t try to organize as you write; just write whatever comes to you, and chances are before too long your brain will find its way back to that important thing you’re trying to get done. Our brains are much better at creative, strategic thinking and problem solving than they are at remembering details, and if we clear our mind of the minutiae (mental clutter), the “good stuff” often appears.” –Maura Thomas, RegainYourTime

24. “Staying motivated in the Summer is tough especially because the Antwerp Diamond District (where I travel with clients) closes for the month of August. Stateside I use two techniques to keep me on my game. The first is support: I belong to the Hudson Valley Women in Business and I meet with a small group of ultra motivated and high achieving women who keep me pumped about being an entrepreneur. The second is giving myself permission to take a break. Today I spent an hour jumping in puddles with my kids, just a short break made me feel invigorated and ready to jump back in.” –Kate Szirmay, The Diamond Concierge

25. “I’m a business owner who has ADHD, that means I have a million tasks and a million and one ideas in my head. What helps me stay focused and productive is time tracking and task management. Everything I need to do is laid out in a tool (ProWorkFlow) and I assign time limits to every task.” –Jarod Spiewak, Spiewak Marketing

26. “I have a quiet time mediation, prayer, and devotion routine that I practice in the morning before my workout routine that keeps me energized and motivated to tackle my business tasks. I also do visualizations, and use my timer/reminder apps between tasks during breaks so I can have a work/play balance through the day for short bursts of time. That helps to keep my mind refreshed and recharged throughout the day.” –Monica Matthews, M3S Success Life

27. “To keep focused and on target, I avidly use two lists and an online calendar. I’ve got my Punchlist on Google Docs which has all To Do items laid out by category with bullet-pointed action items. Then, I use my legal pad of paper to write down items that must be addressed before my day concludes. Finally, I color code my calendar by category (in-person meeting, phone call, webinar, to do item, and personal) and plan most of my day in blocks of time.” –Airto Zamorano, Numana SEO/Numana Medical 

28. “During the summer months I must say that it is quite slow and I’ve had to learn how to find something or do something that’ll keep the drive alive, as I like to say. I like to stay productive and focused by studying different cake techniques, subscribing to online cake schools, read different baking material for ideas and inspirations, and networking with other bakers. I actually created a group on Facebook, “Tutorials That Take the Cake”, so that bakers of all levels can share ideas, recipes, secrets, and tips on baking and cake decorating. My group is currently at 27,000 members and constantly growing by the day. Bakers and cake decorators from all around the world share their secrets and the posts really help with keeping others and myself motivated.” –Monica Anderson, Cakes & Desserts by Monica, LLC   

29. “To stay focused in the summer I drink a glass of water in the morning to hydrate my body and get my metabolism going. As I travel a lot, my morning routine varies according to my schedule and place. But I always manage to do a 15-minute workout to get energized and ready for a productive day. I’m using the Toggl app to help me track the time spent on each task so I know what needs to be optimized.” –Kostis Mamassis, Megaventory 

30. “I found from experience that is not about how much you do, but how well you do it. If you only commit to three tasks daily, you will be able to be in control of your day and feel a sense of accomplishment, rather than creating endless to do lists that not even Superman or Wonder Woman would be able to finish.” –Simone Vincenzi, GTeX

Looking to start your own business? Need trademark or copyright help? How about a Registered Agent? Give us a call at 877 692 6772, or visit us at www.MyCorporation.com.