27 Founders Reveal Their Favorite Tool to Keep Them Organized

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27 Founders Reveal Their Favorite Tool to Keep Them Organized
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11 min read

Editor's Note: Entrepreneur's "20 Questions" series features both established and up-and-coming entrepreneurs and asks them a number of questions about what makes them tick, their everyday success strategies and advice for aspiring founders.

There is no one right way to cut through the clutter and keep distractions at bay. It often takes time and trial and error to figure out the strategies that work best for you.

Whether it’s a unique app or a simple pen and paper, we asked 27 successful founders to share what tools they use to keep themselves on the right track.


Appeal to your brain.

Appeal to your brain.
Image credit: Brit + Co

Name: Brit Morin
Company: Brit + Co
Organizational tool: I’ve just started using an app called Brain.fm. The founders have studied the brain for years and figured out that certain sounds trigger different brain impulses -- some of which can aide in focus, sleep and anxiety. It’s been fascinating to play the music while trying to get work done; it’s like an instant ability to focus in a way I’ve never experienced before.

Read more about Morin: This Founder Shares the Secret to How to Make Your Business Last


Make your schedule a priority.

Make your schedule a priority.
Image credit: Pure Barre

Name: Carrie Dorr
Company: Pure Barre
Organizational tool: Evernote I use for everything, Shazam for music. I use Think Dirty to find toxin-free products because I’m really into that. And Amazon Prime and Instacart too, I love that you can get things delivered during the hours that work for you. I don’t know what I would do without those five.

Read more about Dorr: This Founder Shares How to Tailor Your Schedule to Fit Your Brain


Send notes to your future self.

Send notes to your future self.
Image credit: RewardStyle

Name: Amber Venz
Company: RewardStyle
Organizational tool: I use my inbox as a to-do list. Whenever I'm out and I think of things that I need to do, I just send myself a quick email or just put in the subject line the thing I need to do, so that later I can just search by my own name to find it. I find I don't write them down it will get lost. The other thing is actually screenshots. If something makes me remember that I need to do something, or it gives me an idea. I'll just take a screenshot of it and email it to myself.

Read more about Venz: This Founder Shares the Mindset That Helps Her Stay On Track


Delegate to a team you trust.

Delegate to a team you trust.
Image credit: David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Name: Bastian Lehmann
Company: Postmates
Organizational tool: I use Clear; it’s a to-do list app. I also send myself emails. But I’m not really good at organizing time, so it helps me have a chief of staff to work with and to get things done. My advice is to figure out what you’re strong at and what you’re not. Having a team that does that [fills in the gaps] has freed up a lot of my time to spend more time doing the things I love.

Read more about Lehmann: This Founder Shares the One Trait He Looks for in Every Hire


Use your calendar to change your behavior.

Use your calendar to change your behavior.
Image credit: EventBrite

Name: Julia Hartz
Company: Eventbrite
Organizational tool: I live by my Google calendar; it’s a compass for navigating my days. Productivity starts with staying organized and calendaring my day enables me to create a structure that empowers me to get things done. It’s also crucial to block out time for yourself, so you’re not just stuck in meetings all day. Each week, I look back back at how I spend my time and re-evaluate if needed, so I also use it as a learning tool.

Read more about Hartz: The Day This Eventbrite Co-Founder Learned When to Speak Up


Have access to your notes everywhere.

Have access to your notes everywhere.
Image credit: BloomThat

Name: David Bladow
Company: BloomThat
Organizational tool: I use the Notes app. It syncs between all devices; it’s very simple. I make agendas and it's all there. The best tool is the one that you use, and for me, that’s my system.

Read more about Bladow: This Founder Has 3 Simple Tips to Achieve Maximum Productivity


Sound the alarm.

Sound the alarm.
Image credit: Randi Zuckerberg

Name: Randi Zuckerberg
Company: Zuckerberg Media
Organizational tool: It’s old-school, but I set a lot of alarms during the day, like for when when I want to be done with something. Sometimes I follow them, sometimes I don’t, but it does bring mindfulness into my day.


Read more about Zuckerberg: Why Everyone Can Use Randi Zuckerberg's Number One Focus Tip


Shut everything down.

Shut everything down.
Image credit: Nerdwallet

Name: Tim Chen
Company: Nerdwallet
Organizational tool: The off button. I put my phone on nighttime mode, and I shut down everything when I'm working. I get highly distracted otherwise.

Read more about Chen: Nerdwallet's Founder Shares the Worst Advice He Ever Got

Work the old-fashioned way.

Work the old-fashioned way.
Image credit: Zocdoc

Name: Oliver Kharraz
Company: Zocdoc
Organizational tool:This may date me, but I still use pen and paper for priority projects and even developing new ideas. You have the choice to draw things or write things and sometimes one is more appropriate than the other. You can mix and match them in a way you can’t do on the computer yet

Read more about Kharraz: This Founder Says to Succeed You Need to Question Everything


Create a digital inspiration board.

Create a digital inspiration board.
Image credit: BaubleBar

Name: Daniella Yacobovsky
Company: BaubleBar
Organizational tool: In terms of getting work done, one app that we have started using across the organization is iCloud for photos. We are constantly sending different imagery back and forth and different things that inspire us.

Read more about Yacobovsky: This Co-Founder of BaubleBar's Secret for Inspiration? Always 'Keep Your Eyes Peeled.'


Write down everything down.

Write down everything down.
Image credit: Nicole Franzen

Name: Jenny Ripps
Company: Owl’s Brew
Organizational tool: I use the Notes app all the time. I treat it as a robust program; I sort of have hacked it in a way to work for me.

I'll use Notes during meetings and for recaps. I also have various notes that have to do with things that are personal or strategic.

On the flip side I use a project management system called Wrike. We use Slack for our inter-team communication, and we use Nutshell for CRM. We're pretty tech-oriented here, and we use these cloud-based systems all the "right ways." That's why I think my personal notes addiction is strange, because we tend to really use a lot of technology for the business so Notes is kind of an anomaly within that context.

Read more about Ripps: The One Thing This Entrepreneur Does Each Day to Stay Productive

Work with your hands.

Work with your hands.
Image credit: Talkspace

Name: Oren Frank
Company:  Talkspace
Organizational tool: I really like cooking and food, and I’m obsessed with a Japanese whetstone, which you use to sharpen knives. I don't need that sharp of a knife, and I put more time into it than is probably needed. I think it's highly therapeutic -- just doing something with my hands.

Read more about Frank: This CEO's Favorite Productivity Tips Are Surprisingly Simple


Keep conversation open.

Keep conversation open.
Image credit: Duolingo

Name: Luis von Ahn
Company: Duolingo
Organizational tool: I use Slack a lot. It helps me easily communicate with the Duolingo team and keep track of what the team is working on day to day.

Read more about von Ahn: Why This Founder Says the Worst Advice He Ever Got Was to Listen to His Users

Check boxes.

Check boxes.
Image credit: Hutch

Name: Bea Fischel-Bock
Company: Hutch
Organizational tool: I’m pretty old-school in that I always have a paper notebook with me where I write notes and to-do lists with little boxes. Nothing beats the feeling of checking off that little box. And Slack is a huge part of how I stay on top of everything going on.

Read more about Fischel-Bock: This Founder Shares Why In Order To Learn Fast, You Need to Fail Fast

Keep current with your calendar.

Keep current with your calendar.
Image credit: Angie Hicks

Name: Angie Hicks
Company: Angie’s List
Organizational tool: Obviously the Angie’s List app to get my home stuff done, which is really important to me. I’m a very basic gal. I’m an Outlook gal. It is what it is, all I need is a calendar. Have I got my calendar? Then I’m good.

Read more about Hicks: This Introvert Founder Swears by This Management Tip

Be mindful.

Be mindful.
Image credit: Kara Goldin

Name: Kara Goldin
Company: Hint
Organizational tool: When there is so much to accomplish each day, it’s important to take a moment every now and then to breathe and be mindful. I recently discovered the app Headspace and it’s been a great way for me to fit in bite-size moments of meditation to help me stay focused and clear my head.

Read more about Goldin: The Entrepreneur Behind a $90 Million Company Shares How You Can Get Past the Naysayers to Build a Successful Business

Subtract apps from your phone.

Subtract apps from your phone.
Image credit: Lyft

Name: John Zimmer
Company: Lyft
Organizational tool:  It’s more that I remove apps that are distracting. I always remove the news app and Safari from my phone and that helps me stay on track.

Read more about Zimmer: Lyft Co-Founder John Zimmer: 'You Should Never Veer Off the Path of Your Own Values'

Use your computer password as a reminder.

Use your computer password as a reminder.
Image credit: Stephanie Geddes

Name: Alex Friedman
Company: Lola
Organizational tool: I set my computer password to be something aspirational, or a reminder to myself. Like "eat less candy" or "do your taxes." If I remind myself often enough, it usually happens, and then I change my password.

Read more about Kier: How You Can Use Your Computer Password to Make Your Aspirations a Reality

Travel anywhere.

Travel anywhere.
Image credit: G Adventures

Name: Bruce Poon Tip
Company: G Adventures
Organizational tool: Because I travel a lot, I’m all about Babel the translator app. You can even take photos of signs and menus, and it translates them. Also, Evernote is the one that keeps me on track in terms of my notes and thoughts.

Read more about Poon Tip: I Was About to Shut Down My Business but I Changed My Mind. Here's Why.

Get from point A to point B.

Get from point A to point B.
Image credit: Boxed

Name: Chieh Huang
Company: Boxed
Organizational tool: It’s a little cliche, but honestly it’s Uber. Uber has a "pick up at a certain time" feature that is really helpful. It gets me where I need to go on time.

Read more about Huang: The Surprising Reason Why This Founder Says Not to Be Afraid of the Competition

Pencil and paper everytime.

Pencil and paper everytime.
Image credit: Casper

Name: Jeff Chapin
Company: Casper
Organizational tool: I still use sticky notes to make daily to-do lists. I make a list of what I need to do and check it off. Pencil and paper works for me better than anything I’ve seen.

Read more about Chapin: Behind a $100 Million Mattress Startup, Casper Co-Founder Shares Advice on Finding Success as an Entrepreneur

Chat with Siri.

Chat with Siri.
Image credit: Brooklinen

Name: Vicki Fulop
Company: Brooklinen
Organizational tool: I use Siri on the go. I just ask her to make reminders for me, because if I don't put something in my calendar or literally have someone to remind me, I will forget.

Read more about Fulop: Use This Founder's Simple Email Strategy to Keep Burnout at Bay

Make your inbox into a dashboard.

Make your inbox into a dashboard.
Image credit: Nirav Tolia

Name: Nirav Tolia
Company: Nextdoor
Organizational tool: I would say that from a digital standpoint, I use my inbox as a sort of centralized place where I can track everything that's going on. It's a real-time dashboard of what I need to do or need to know.

Read more about Tolia: This Successful Entrepreneur Shares How You Can Build A High-Performing Company While Staying True to Your Values

Let music be your guide.

Let music be your guide.
Image credit: Jennifer Hyman

Name: Jennifer Hyman
Company: Rent the Runway
Organizational tool:  A choose a different Spotify playlist based on what I’m trying to accomplish. Music helps me get the job done, relax or get revved up.

Read more about Hyman: Rent the Runway's Jennifer Hyman Shares Her Worst Advice Ever: 'Shut Up and Act Sweet'

Get an overview of your finances.

Get an overview of your finances.
Image credit: Frankie Marin

Name: Christene Barberich
Company: Refinery29
Organizational tool:  Mint has been a savior. I wouldn't say that managing my finances is my strong suit, but it's helped me to have a clearer picture of everything in one snapshot. And I think that's incredibly valuable.

Read more about Barberich: Why Your Done List is Just as Important as Your To-Do List

Work in-flight.

Work in-flight.
Image credit: Sarah Kauss

Name: Sarah Kauss
Company: S’well
Organizational tool: I would says email on a plane. I really try to keep my email as my to-do list. I try for inbox zero, but I can't get there. But on plane I can attack things in order and get to the bottom. So I travel every week, and I'm super productive.

Read more about Kauss: This Successful Entrepreneur Shares Why You Should Do The Thing You Dread Most First Thing Every Day

Keep to-do lists on your phone.

Keep to-do lists on your phone.
Image credit: Patrick Ecclesine | ABC | Getty Images

Name: Barbara Corcoran
Company: Forefront Venture Partners
Organizational tool: I have endless to-do lists on my phone. Recently I learned how to put one of those little bubbles next to it which allows you to check it off. I use notes for everything.

Read more about Corcoran: Shark Tank's Barbara Corcoran Explains Why You Must Make Time in Your Schedule For Fun

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