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The Answers to These 4 Questions Are the Keys to Maxing Your Productivity We asked 100 successful entrepreneurs how they maximize productivity. Here's what we learned.

By Paul Evans Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Productivity appears illusive. Our calendars are filled. Our tasks compete for time. It just seems like we cannot get everything done that we need to get done.

After talking with 100 entrepreneurs about how they plan and execute their days, four questions emerged. These four words will allow you to become more productive because you will be more specific and intentional regarding your "get done" list.

1. What?

The first thing you need to know and plan for is what needs to be done. That sounds obvious, but many business owners get to their desk and think, "What do I need to do today?" Part of the day is spent trying to figure out what needs attention.

Instead, the productive entrepreneur plans his or her day the night before and is specific about the list. That way their is no searching for what need to be done during the work day.

Let's say that in this case "what" is meeting with "Michael" about the week's revenue.

Related: 7 Healthy Habits That Maximize Your Productivity Every Day

2. Width?

This question asks, "How much time should be given to "What?'" This is where the biggest breakdown comes. Most leaders have no idea how long something will take. They estimate, or more likely, block a generous portion of time that feels right.

Productive entrepreneurs treat time like money. They are stingy and greedy and in order to maximize it they have to minimize time in a task. Instead of setting a meeting for an hour, they will consider who is involved and shrink the meeting to the minimum.

To become more productive you need to guard your time and work to do as much as possible in as little time as possible. So if Mike is coming in to report the week's revenue that might need seven minutes. Exact, precise and focused. Whereas a person with low productivity might schedule 30 minutes or even and hour.

Related: How to Manage Time With 10 Tips That Work

3. When?

What time will Mike be slotted? 10:20 a.m.

An unusual practice of the hyper-productive is that they ignore common times. You would think they would schedule at the top or bottom of the hour like everyone else. Instead, they schedule in chunks. They will hold back-to-back meetings and tasks and calls.

Schedule your work as tightly as possible, but make sure it in the calendar. It will take a bit of others to get accused to it because most people are lax with time. I tend to announce the time clearly if it's a call or a meeting: "I have 10 minutes slotted for us. I'll keep it brief and to the point." (That might be how I got the nickname Tick Tock.)

Related: 8 Business Practices That Increase Productivity

4. Wealth?

Finally, what's the value or result desired from the activity? Mike will help determine if the company is on target and what adjustments need to be made. He helps assess the current situation financially.

A call with a new client may lead to a $50,000 contract for your company. The goal of a local presentation might cement credibility and branding. A daily post to LinkedIn crafts your writing ability and puts you in front of hundreds of connections.

Knowing the reason behind your actions also give you the feeling of accomplishment. You lay down at night not wondering if you were spinning your wheels all day. You know you spend your time wisely and for the purpose of specific outcomes.

Plan your days the night before by asking "What?" "Width?" "When?" "Wealth?" You will increase your productivity and figure out the impact of your day.

Paul Evans

Speaker, writer and consultant

Paul Evans speaks, writes and consults in the area of accelerated achievement. He started his first business at the age of 20, a fitness center, and has been focused on growth and results ever since. Evans's turning point came through tragedy. The loss of his wife when their son was five weeks old created an intense focus to live with purpose. His mission is to help people get more done, in less time, more accurately.

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