We hear so much about becoming more productive. Buy this gadget or use this amazing app. Learn how to spend less time working but get the same results. Even how to work a mere 4 hours a week…

Are there entrepreneurs out there that have mastered time management?

Probably not, but there are those that understand the difference between being productive and being busy. These are two extremely different concepts. Being productive is any act that moves you towards a primary goal. Being busy is everything else.

Here are five ways to stop working mindlessly and start moving your startup in a positive direction.


Wherever you are in the startup process, or you’ve already started your business, you should identify your goals. This can be broken down into primary and secondary goals, but you can’t become productive until you understand what you’re working towards.

For example, let’s say you’re trying to choose how to sell your digital product online. You can choose from building your website, joining a larger marketplace, or selling on an eCommerce platform. Your primary goal is to finish your business plan. Your secondary goal is to choose the eCommerce system that’s best for your business.


Jo Gifford, from Selz, suggests we eat the frog first. This is doing the thing you’re dreading to get  it out of the way. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and we would obviously rather do the things we like first – it’s human nature.

But you know you need to eat the frog today. So wouldn’t you rather get it out of the way first and enjoy the rest of your day?


Perhaps you see a blank page that you need to fill when you look at your daily calendar. Many people believe we need to fill up our day with tasks to be productive. However, simply running around so you can check things off your list isn’t being productive – it’s just being busy.

Connor Neill, from LifeHack, says “Busy people have many priorities. Productive people have few priorities.” The only way for us to become more productive and less busy is to start saying no to things that don’t contribute to our overall goals. Figure out what your real priorities are (like starting your business) and start saying no to everything else.

Sometimes the simplest approaches are best


The Minimalists, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, are two pioneers who share the benefits of living a minimalist lifestyle. In their article, An Apple Watch Won’t Give You More Time, they share their views on value and quality. Joshua talks about a $100 pair of jeans, which has both value and quality because he wears them almost every day.

The same principles apply to our business. Choose to fill your day with activities, including buying things for your business that add both quality and value. It takes more time to replace or redo poor work than it does to do it right the first time.


Devora Zack, from Time, calls multitasking a myth. Instead, she advises us to single-task. When we supposedly multitask, we jump from activity to activity. This includes switching between our cell phones and reading emails. We can’t actually do both at the same time – hence the myth. We simply look from one to the other to get more done in less time.

Instead, keep your focus on one task for a set period of time. You wear many different hats as a new entrepreneur. You just can’t wear them all at the same time.

Track your metrics and review your progress.


The process of starting your business can be overwhelming. There’s so much to do! You may feel very accomplished at the end of a busy day. But checking items off your to-do list isn’t the same thing as being productive. It’s just being busy.

Start changing your mindset from tricking itself into believe you’re moving towards your goals when you’re actually spinning your wheels. Sure you may think you’re moving in the right direction. But in reality, you’re just running to stand still.