Small-Business Summit: Be a Productivity Ninja

Four masters of productivity shared tips for getting more done.
June 26, 2012

One of the best-attended breakout sessions at the New York Times Small Business Summit yesterday was “Becoming the Ultimate Productivity Ninja in 3 Easy Steps,” in which four small-business black-belts showed the audience how to deliver lethal blows to procrastination. The panelists were small-business consultant, author and OPEN Forum contributor Barry Moltz; Wendi Caplan-Carroll, senior regional development director for Constant Contact; Lena West, founder and CEO of; and Krista Neher, CEO of Boot Camp Digital. The panel was moderated by Jane Applegate, OPEN Forum contributor and the executive producer of The Applegate Group.

The hot topic of the discussion focused on social media and its potential to drag you down a time-wasting rabbit hole. Barry Moltz had one valuable tip for timing your social media check-in.

“Never, ever, ever, ever log on to Facebook first thing in the day,” he insisted. “It will take you in a direction you don’t want to go. Next thing you know, you’ll be checking out that girl from high school to find out if she really did marry the quarterback.”

And Wendi Caplan-Carroll suggested that forming a good social media strategy can come only after having a good customer strategy, which can happen by employing the “80-20 Rule.”

“80 percent should be informational and 20 should be promotional,” Carroll said. “You are trying to get people to Like, comment and share, which boosts your search results and gets you in feeds.”

Lena West said that being more productive means letting go of the myth that some people just have more time.

“I don’t believe in ‘managing time,’” West said. “Time is a constant. Everyone gets 24 hours. It’s more important to manage energy.”

Her advice is to recognize which times of the day you are most productive and practice “time chunking,” which is basically clustering similar tasks into time “chunks.” West also said there are three essential tasks you must perform on social media:

  • Administrative—Keeping your profile and contact information current, as well as change notification settings.

  • Content creation—Making time to create content, such as Facebook updates, tweets and blog posts.

  • Engagement—Retweeting others' tweets, responding to Facebook posts, Liking other posts, reading blogs and so on.

Finally, Krista Neher debunked the multitasking myth by saying you should focus on one task and find technologies that save time. She cited the example that if you find a tech tool that saves you five minutes a day, that adds up to many hours over the course of a year. Neher and the other panelists offer the following as their favorite time-saving apps and services.

  • Boomerang. A Gmail extension that can mark messages for future reply and reminds you to follow up

  • Evernote. A one-stop shop for notes. You can text notes for meeting, take pictures of business card, and search everything

  • Syncs your calendar and lets people schedule appointments with you

  • Oh Don’t Forget. Text messaging service that sends you texts to remind you; can send to others

  • Reportive. A Gmail plugin that will pull up someone’s social networks in a sidebar when you compose a new message.

  • Google Voice. Sends a text message transmission of a voicemail.

One final productivity tip on which all panelists agreed is to take time out of your day to “disengage” from social media and technology entirely and let your mind recharge.

Visit OPEN Forum’s New York Times Small Business Summit page for additional coverage from this and previous events, as well as highlights on Twitter via the hashtag #OPENNYT.

Photo credit: OPEN Forum