Photo via Flickr by Steven Depolo cc 2.0

As 2016 rolls in, a top priority on everyone’s resolution list is how to be more productive. Whether it’s keeping better notes, time management or limiting distractions, everyone wants to hit the ground running in 2016. As we close out the first week of the new year, we asked CEO’s about what how they focus their energy on tackling big projects and their favorite productivity apps. Check out the responses below.

Robyn Metcalfe, founder of Food + City:

On tackling big projects: “One small step at a time, breaking a big project into bite-sized pieces that are easy to accomplish. Hard pieces first.”

Favorite productivity apps: “Pomodoro, time management timer. Perfect tool for focus and flow.”

Lucas Braun

Lucas Braun, CEO of OnRamp:

On tackling big projects: “I’ve learned in my experience that the best way to tackle big projects is to break them down into smaller and smaller chunks, tackling one individual task at a time and solving problems along the way.”

Favorite productivity apps: “I’ve found LinkedIn to be an excellent aggregator of news and events that helps me stay up-to-date on tech industry happenings. But truthfully, it’s tough to say whether their app is helping or hurting my productivity.”

Chris Taylor, CEO of Square Root:

On tackling big projects: “We tackle large, abstract problems by organizing Square Root into autonomous, cross functional teams that we call “herds”. For example, there is a herd that has members from product, engineering, customer success and data science that owns our product workflow for intelligent scorecards, and there is another that owns mobile strategy. It’s the role of the leadership team to make sure the herds have everything they need to take ownership of our hardest problems and have the greatest impact on the company.”

Dan Graham

Dan Graham, CEO of

On tackling big projects: “The same way I eat an elephant. One bite at a time.”

Favorite productivity apps: “Slack, Gmail, Google Docs.”

Tim Hamilton, CEO of Praxent and President of Entrepreneur’s Organization Austin:

On tackling big projects: “We have benefited greatly from practice Agile Scrum which teaches teams how to achieve 2x the work in half the time. Ideas like limiting work in process (not starting another task until the current one is done) and estimating work by sizing tasks in relation to each other instead of by themselves are just two of many critical lessons we’ve learned. Finally, high achievers who are eager to see progress often overlook the value of planning. One of my favorite quotes, “plans are useless, but planning is indispensable”, by Dwight D. Eisenhower is a great reminder to treat planning as an ongoing exercise, instead of a one time event.”

Charles Thornburgh, CEO of Civitas Learning:

On tackling big projects: “One small piece at a time. Depending on the type and scope of the project, I tend to start by thinking about what the greatest assumptions around the work are, and how I might prove or disprove those assumptions as quickly as possible. This helps focus energy and effort on key initial milestones, and allows me to avoid wasting undue energy on large projects that end up not delivering the value I was hoping.”

Favorite productivity apps: “Slack and Evernote are the two I use most heavily. I’m currently playing around with flow, which I’ll likely fold in in 2016.”

Bernard Briggs, CEO of Humm:

On tackling big projects: “When looking at projects, I focus on those that are most meaningful to the business and find that they all come down to establishing and building great relationships. As a company, we don’t want to be just a vendor, we want to be a partner. Once we have the relationship established, projects are then translated to the Product and Operations team to for a successful execution.”

Favorite productivity apps: “MIndMap, Boomerang, Slack.”

Bill Boebel, CEO of Pingboard:

On tackling big projects: “I start working on it and figure the details out as I go. Many people spend a lot of time planning how to tackle a big project before jumping in, but they’re planning with limited information. The most useful information is discovered later in the process after you’ve started. In business, the fastest path between two points is a squiggly line, not a straight line — start, make fast decisions and course correct quickly. If you plan for a straight line, you’ll usually miss the target or somebody will beat you to it.”

Favorite productivity apps: “Google Docs, Slack & HipChat (I use both for different groups I talk with) and Pingboard :). And I’ve tried every personal task management and notes app you can think of but keep coming back to Apple Notes. Text files are just simple and they sync between all my devices. I probably use Apple Notes more than any other app.”