How to truly be more productive
If you thought your schedule was busy, just wait until you hear what Michele Romanow has on her to-do list. At just 25-years-old, Romanow co-founded the top daily deal site, Buytopia.ca and her entrepreneurial career has only grown from there. Today the Canadian tech entrepreneur juggles managing a business (Clearbanc), speaking engagements, filming for Dragon’s Den, and more, all while still maintaining some semblance of a healthy lifestyle. We asked the 32-year-old self-proclaimed productivity master to share her top tips for keeping it all together.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
I know this is the wrong answer, but I check my phone to see my schedule for the day and respond to anything urgent that has come in overnight. If there is nothing urgent, I brush my teeth and head to the gym with my trainer Sonia Jhas. She puts me through a different and usually crazy hard workout everyday – some combination of weights and cardio. I like to grab a protein shake afterwards with almond milk and jump in the shower.
What does your morning routine look like?
It all depends on the day. My day can start on a flight, in a boardroom, on set or in another city! If I’m in town after my workout it’s a short walk to the office. I start my day with my paper notebook and a 4×6 inch Post-it note to write down the three most important things I have to do that day. I prioritize things that only I can do (not tasks that I can delegate) and tasks that have the potential to really move the needle on my business. I start with the hardest task – once you’ve started with something hard, everything else feels easier. You also have the most amount of willpower in the morning so I find it’s the best time to tackle something hard.
What tips do you have for staying on top of emails?
Email is a never ending challenge and I’m not sure I’m the master, but I try to play by a couple rules. If a quick request or response comes in that will take under 2 mins to respond to, I try to do it right at that moment on my phone. I find if I don’t do it then, it will slip through the cracks.
For bigger requests, I get these on my Post-it of things to do for the day and try and use the 25 minute pomodoro method, where I turn over my phone and try to complete a few tasks without interruption.
Finally, as an entrepreneur I’m constantly bombarded with decisions I have to make. My partner Andrew D’Souza and I try to stick to one rule: make reversible decisions quickly (and then if I’m wrong about something – quickly retreat!) and take a long time making irreversible decisions. It’s actually remarkable how few decisions are truly irreversible, so this helps our team move quickly.
What kind of tools do you use to manage your schedule and make sure you don’t miss important dates and deadlines?
I set reminders in Google calendar for everything – calls, meetings, deadlines, important dates, blocking off time to concentrate on a task. I’m always on my phone so I have notifications popping up all the time.
How do you maintain your energy level throughout the day?
Each day can get pretty hectic so I make sure that I have healthy, nutritious options readily available to keep my energy levels up. Through the day that means snacking on almonds. I have resealable bags of natural and flavoured almonds at home, in the office, in my drawer, in my handbag – everywhere! Grabbing a handful of almonds helps keep me going, especially when I have back to back calls and meetings.
When do you turn off the tech? Do you? And how do you wind down for a good night’s sleep?
It’s definitely hard to turn off the tech when you’re building a business. I try to get away whenever I can to spend less time attached to my phone – whether that’s skiing or travelling across Israel recently.
If I can’t sleep I try to read a (physical!) book or use the meditation app “Calm”. They have some great meditations and sleep stories to put you to bed!