Man working in an office focused on his computer.
From training yourself to take technology breaks to grouping similar tasks together, there are several key ways busy entrepreneurs can hone their productivity. — Getty Images/Morsa Images

There’s never enough time in the day to accomplish everything. And as an entrepreneur, your task load runs the gamut from calculating sales figures to planning marketing campaigns. So, it can be challenging to prioritize your workload and stay focused. If you feel like your to-do list keeps getting longer and you’re having trouble tackling it all, consider deploying some productivity hacks.

Nail the key components of productivity

Productivity tips and tricks can help you get more done in a shorter amount of time. However, the best solutions aren’t quick fixes. Instead, they involve changing habits so you can work efficiently. Start by outlining your daily objectives, which helps you concentrate on accomplishing goals. Carve out time for deep work and avoid the temptation to handle an unrelated quick task. Remember to take a uniform approach so your productivity hacks turn into habits.

The four elements of productivity include:

  • Have a plan: Understand your workday or project agenda.
  • Remain focused: Schedule time for distraction-free deep work.
  • Decide wisely: Prioritize the right activities and avoid getting off track.
  • Be consistent: Maintain a regular work pace based on a plan.

[Read more: This Week on Entrepreneur: How to Make Your Small Business More Productive]

Allow technology breaks

Many people feel compelled to check their favorite social media channels or websites while working. You may have the willpower to hold off while you’re working, or you may find yourself clicking every few minutes. Larry Rosen, Ph.D., shared his tips with the American Psychological Association for those struggling with their attention span.

He recommends learning to increase your attention span. Start by letting yourself check messages and alerts after about 15 minutes of work. Once you master 15 minutes without technology, boost the interval.

Nudge yourself in the right direction

Humans have rational and intuitive thinking systems. The instinctive function is more automated, meaning the person relies on past experiences and expertise to complete the task. Research suggests that the environment and “cueing and priming the existing processes” play a significant role. Therefore, making a small change to how you do something or the choices available can boost productivity.

Use these productivity hacks to optimize your workday:

  • Silence notifications across all devices.
  • Set a timer to check email or take a walk.
  • Identify bad habits and break them down in incremental steps.
  • Turn on a noise machine to muffle background noise.
  • Use a time management tool like Focus Booster.

Research suggests that the environment and “cueing and priming the existing processes” play a significant role. Therefore, making a small change to how you do something or the choices available can boost productivity.

Define your boundaries clearly

Interruptions (and the underlying feeling that you’re missing something) decrease focus and affect performance. Put up a “do not disturb” sign literally and figuratively by creating boundaries. First, think about the different distractions affecting work time. If you’re at home, pets or family members may think you’re readily available, requiring specific work-from-home time management skills. Likewise, customers or co-workers may believe you are reachable instantly at their whim.

Although entrepreneurs should be responsive, non-emergencies don’t require a reply in less than 30 minutes. If you use a business phone or unified communications system, set your status to busy or do not disturb for 15-30 minutes at a time. Some services let you create a custom voice, text, or chat message. This will automatically send a voice or text message to the person trying to reach you, letting them know that you’ll be back shortly.

In addition, if your work is time-sensitive or your clients are needy, it’s a good idea to mention your expected response times in your contracts or meetings. Knowing that you’ll respond within a specified timeframe can ease their mind and yours.

[Read more: Is Your Small Business Struggling? These Tips Can Help You Stay Focused]

Group similar tasks together

Joel Falconer with Lifehack suggests grouping tasks strategically throughout your day. This is because our minds function differently when creating versus processing data. For instance, if you’re working on marketing, don’t try to jump from brainstorming your content marketing calendar or campaign headlines into analyzing metrics. Put like-minded tasks together and take a break before heading in a different direction.

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