Entrepreneurs

These are Kevin O'Leary's top 3 productivity hacks—and anyone can use them

Kevin O'Leary
Scott Mlyn | CNBC
Kevin O'Leary

Kevin O'Leary gets a lot done in a day.

The investor, famous for his role on ABC's "Shark Tank," usually wakes up at 4:30 a.m. — with his "Shark Tank" investments, gigs lecturing at universities and time spent running his own companies, he has a lot to manage in a day.

"I'm in a different city almost every day, sometimes stopping in three time zones for different meetings and appearances before I go to bed," O'Leary said in a July 16 question and answer session on CNBC Make It's Instagram.

So how does he do it? It's all about time management and focus, O'Leary says. Here are his top three productivity tips, shared on Instagram, which anyone can try out.

1. Use a daily to-do list

O'Leary uses an old school approach with his to-do lists: pen and paper.

"Every night before I go to bed, I write three things on a Post It note that I HAVE to do before anything else when I wake up," he explains. Even before taking any calls or opening up his email, O'Leary first accomplishes those three tasks.

"[It] sounds small, but it has made a huge difference in my productivity," he says.

His fellow shark Barbara Corcoran is also a big user of to-do lists. She takes a different tack, and puts down every single task that's on her mind.

"It will be everything from get [my daughter] Kate's blood tested for iron deficiency — something as personal as that — to a call with an entrepreneur who's getting jittery about closing a deal with me from the last season of 'Shark Tank,'" she says. Corcoran then puts an "A" next to the things that are her highest, non-negotiable priorities.

2. Don't procrastinate

Wasting time is unacceptable, according to O'Leary. "Make a schedule for yourself and stick to it," he advises. "Prioritize every 15 minutes of your day."

If O'Leary finds himself getting side-tracked, he uses this trick to get focused: "I think to myself, 'Am I making money doing this?' That makes it easy to snap out of it."

Robert Herjavec, another "Shark Tank" star, pre-plans his entire year in his calendar to make sure each day is used to its fullest potential. "I live and die by my calendar," Herjavec tells CNBC Make It. "[It] allows me to manage my time and prioritize."

3. Keep track of your progress

"Keep a weekly, monthly, quarterly journal. Check in with yourself regularly. Take note of exactly what you're doing so you can change strategy" if need to, O'Leary says. "Think about it: Every seven days you get a chance to set new goals, reach new heights and get s--- done."

"Shark Tank's" Daymond John considers proper goal-setting the No. 1 secret to success. And he suggests taking time each day to reflect on your progress and aspirations.

Find the time to ask yourself, "Why am I getting up today?" John says. "What is the end purpose of today? What did I do today that I need to do better tomorrow? What did I not get to today?"

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Disclosure: CNBC owns the exclusive off-network cable rights to "Shark Tank."