How to be more productive?

On 20151010, It took me almost 4 pomodoro tomatoes to pack for things to bring to Japan. I still have some things that I want to bring, but I cannot pack yet as I am still using them.

On 20151011, I felt very tired after feeling panicky because of a schedule that is beyond my control. I surrender and let the universe to come out with the solutions. I must prepare myself to accept the consequences.

In 2001, I had a very clear goal and almost everyday I worked tirelessly to meet that goal. I succeed and it led to better opportunities. At that time, I felt that I was productive, perhaps due to less distractions that I experienced.

How to be more productive?

  1. Do one important (not necessarily urgent) thing daily. We can do (almost) anything, but not everything. Given that each of us has only 24 hours a day, how do we decide and prioritize our goals and tasks?
  2. Develop and use laser sharp focus.
  3. Implement limits. Use deadlines wisely with an understanding of Parkinson’s Law. Work fixed hours and in fixed amounts. When people have all the time in the world, more time is taken to do things.
  4. Don’t say yes to every request. Most of us have a deep need to be liked. Learn how to say No diplomatically. Don’t be so available to everyone.
  5. Simplify. Create a Do List, Do later list, Delegate list, Detour list and Do not do list. A noted (either written or digitized) list is a form of simplification and it minimizes brain drain. When an unproductive task is placed in our hands, try to detour and reroute it to someone else who’s more invested in the outcome.
  6. Divide and conquer. Break down complex projects into bite-size chunks and complete them one at a time.
  7. Minimize / delete distractions (for example TV). Declutter and delete / discard / donate anything that is not useful, beautiful or joyful to us. Never let mess creates stress.
  8. Nurture positive habits and routines, these are devotions that lead to productivity.
  9. Manage our resources: talent, treasure ($), time, energy, attention.
  10. Time is a limited commodity and everyone of us has our timer of life ruthlessly ticking and counting down. Master the art of time management e.g. use time box, batch together similar tasks, alternate between work and break (because energy is cyclical). For example, I use 25-minute pomodoro to ensure that I keep myself hydrated and walk to washroom for a toilet break so that I do not end up sitting whole day. Taking breaks is important for staying sharp.
  11. Be over prepared, then be adaptable and go with the flow.
  12. Ask questions. Why do we want to get something done? Ask ourselves is it necessary we do a particular task. Need != want. When someone gives you a new task, have them explain why it’s absolutely necessary. If they can’t come up with a good reason, there’s a good chance the task should be assigned to someone else or dropped altogether.
  13. Overcome perfectionism. Realize that not everything must be perfect. Sometimes “good enough” is a better solution to increase productivity.
  14. Consider alternatives. For example, if you are sending an email to just one person and it’s going to be more than a couple of sentences, a phone call might be more efficient. Sometimes the email is good for keeping a record of what was discussed, but sometimes a phone call can save a lot of time spent writing the email.
  15. For mindless activities e.g. laundry, cleaning, cooking, do them all at once while listening to something productive (an audiobook, TED talk, or favorite voicenotes)
  16. Eat well + get enough sleep + exercise
  17. Reflect. Have do-nothing time.
  18. Surround ourselves with yellow.
  19. Cherish people, use things; not the other way round.
  20. Envy is a waste of time. We already have all we need and the universe will provide us with what we need as long as we put in efforts to acquire the resources.

Everyone is unique, thinks differently and has different priorities, so no piece of productivity advice will work perfectly for 100% of people, 100% of the time for all situation. However, we also share many of the strategies that can work for us. What are your strategies to be more productive? I would love to hear from you.


How to ruthlessly prioritize to get more things that matter done?
Listen to DATA/photos/Asia2014/voicenotes/*_increase_productivity.amr

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  2. […] [1] This is aligned with the strategy of implementing limits to be more productive. […]


  3. […] be productive, if you are sending an email to just one person and it’s going to be more than a couple of sentence…. Sometimes the email is good for keeping a record of what was discussed, but sometimes a phone call […]


  4. […] thrive in a system, an environment with deadlines. Parkinson’s Law applied to me. When people have all the time in the world, more time is taken to do […]


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