Productivity tips from influential young business leaders

Fortune magazine have announced 2016’s top 40 most influential young people in business under the age of 40. With an impressive set of business leaders ranging from founders and co-founders of the world’s most successful start-ups to product directors and CEOs of some of the most well-known companies on the planet.

There’s no denying this line-up know how to get stuff done – and they’ve revealed exactly how you can do it too, whatever industry you’re in, or stage of your career you’re at.

Focus on what’s most important, not what’s most urgent

Fidji Simo, the Director of Product at Facebook, writes a list of priorities every Monday and arranges a week to make sure these get addresses.

“If I don’t do this, I find myself reacting to what’s most urgent during the week, instead of focusing on what’s most important,” she said.

Have a clear system for working through your ‘to do’ list

“I have a very specific method I use… that works for me, and knowing I have that system keeps me from feeling overwhelmed even when I’m behind the to-dos pile up,” said April Underwood, Vice President of Product at Slack.

Don’t read every single email you receive if you don’t have to

“Inbox zero is a fool’s errand,” said Jeff Lawson, CEO of Twilio. “I don’t try to keep up. I feel perfectly fine picking and choosing what I want to engage in.”

Review your performance at the end of every working week

Scott Farquhar (left), the co-CEO at Atlassian, recommends: “Ask yourself three questions: (1) did we achieve what we wanted to (2) did I personally need to be there (3) could it have been achieved in a shorter time frame. It will transform how you spend your time.”

Build your to-do lists under an overarching goal

“Many days, I start the day by writing, ‘How I will build the company today’ on a blank sheet of paper, and then I list a small number of high value tasks or goals for the day,” said Rachel Haurwitz, the CEO of Caribou Biosciences.

Keep your team in the loop

Joe Zadeh, the Vice President of Product at Airbnb, has a very open approach with his team. ”At the start of each week I write an email to my team to share what I’m focused on and what’s inspiring me outside of work. It not only forces me to prioritize my week, but the act of writing helps organize my thoughts clearly [and] my team gets early transparency into what issues I’m thinking about. I find that all of these benefits accelerate me for the week by reducing confusion and need for 1-off meetings.”

Understand how your own brain works and let it lead the way

“For me, I’m most productive and creative in the morning through early afternoon, so I’ve gotten rid of lunch meetings to keep my productive time going as long as I can,” said Ryan Smith, the CEO and co-founder of Qualtrics.

Get up to speed with typing

“Most people type much, much slower than they think,” advised Adam Grant, Professor of Psychology for Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. “Work on increasing your typing speed—or invest in voice recognition software.

Stop procrastinating!

The CEO and co-founder of Grab, Anthony Tan, said: “Never procrastinate. Just get it done right away. I don’t wait until I get home, I take calls wherever I am. I execute on any feedback I get right away. That way, the work never piles up.”

Get rid of distractions – including your phone and email

“Turn off everything – email, phone, stock tickers, news, etc. – as often as possible and focus on a single task without interruption.” Said Dianne McKeever, Co-founder and Chief Investment Officer at Ides Capital.