Archive for the ‘Productivity’ Category

Priority

Summary – God only gives us two hands

I have unofficially taken a very long leave from blogging. It’s been 3 months since I last wrote an entry. And to tell you the truth, it’s like torture thinking about my unupdated blog.

I have actually been transfered to Sabah and there are a lot of things I need to do for the past 3 months; pending jobs to be finished, examination to study, new mill to familiarize.

If there’s anything I can learn from all the experience is that “When life gives you 1000 things to do, prioritize”. These are a few tips to be better at prioritizing that I’ve learnt the hard way.

1) Check with your religion first

This is actually a no brainer. But when you are in doubt on what to do, check with your religion. What are the priorities in your religion. Religion in my opinion, is a handbook to living your life. It should be able to solve every question you asked.

Even for an atheist, I still believe that their principles and attitude towards life will be their religion. Stick to that and you know you will do fine.

2) 80/20 Pareto Rule

I’ve said it before and I’m going to say it again, this rule rocks! For the benefit of those who are not familiar with it, let me try to explain the whole idea. According to Pareto, if you have 100 workers in your company, rest assured that there are 20 of them that can do 80% of the job. Once we have identified these 20 workers, you can actually sack the remaining 80 workers and still manage to get 80% of your business done.

The same goes to your daily job. Identify the 20% of the job that if you finish it, you can smilingly go back home knowing that you have finished the vital jobs of your day.

3) Review Review Review

I repeated the word “Review” three times (four times if include this one) because it is the best word to help you manage your life. Our priorities change with time. Immediately when we wake up, our most important priority is to brush our teeth. Once we do that, we have to review our task and identify the next most important priority. In this specific example, the next most important thing is to put on a suit and go to work.

This Reviewing process can sometimes be just as fun as playing an adventure type computer game, where you finish one task after another.

4) Most Important Task

For some, finishing off one task after another can be very exhausting. I personally believe this tool, which is called “Most Important Task” or MIT for short, is the best way to go for you guys. Before you go to sleep tonight, identify the 3 most important tasks that you want to be done tomorrow. When you wake up tomorrow, focus all your energy to get these 3 done at all cost. Once they are done, treat yourself with an ice cream or a walk on the beach. You know very well you deserve it.

Of course, there’s no point if you identify your 3 most important tasks of the day as eat, sleep and watch television.

5) Categorize your goals

This is another great tools that you can use to ensure that all your goals are met. First, categorize all your goals into three groups.

Group 1 – Life goals

  • You have to put all your life goals here. These are the goals that if met you will be satisfied with your life. Typical examples of life goals are live longer, travel around the world, become famous worldwide etc.

Group 2 – 10 years goals

  • 10 years goals are goals that must be met within 10 years. Some examples of such goals are like becoming a manager, lose 100 lb of weight etc.

Group 3 – Now goals

  • The Now goals are goals that can be achieved now if we start working on it. An example is like this blog post I’m working on. If I do it now, I will finish it today.

Once you have identified your goals’ categories, try to work on each category of goals in one day. You could for example, aim to save $50 and put it in your travel-around-the-world fund, jog for 30 minutes and finish your blog post in 1 hour.

You might not notice it, but you have basically achieved your three most important goals in just 1.5 hours today. Isn’t that great?

Conclusion

Prioritizing has always been the challenge to productivity. I guess that is why God only gives us two hands. It is to remind us that there are just so much we can do, so we have to choose what we want to do wisely.

– I wonder –
Any other techniques to prioritize better that you can share?

——— Personal Note ————
My first priority will always be family. However, there are times when something else come up and it’s so urgent that it requires my fullest attention and thus I can only see the family a few hours in a day.

Luckily I am blessed with an understanding wife. Thank you dear. I can’t imagine going through all this without you.

Photo Credit – Redvers

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7 Tricks To Spice Up Your To Do List

Summary – To-Do List equals Prioritize & Results
I’m sure everyone can agree that one of the best tools for productivity is the To-Do list. All productivity gurus recommend it. In fact, it is considered as the foundation of productivity by some. Generally, a To-Do list is a system in which you will list down all the tasks needed to be done. Once a task is completed, it will be written off from the list. It’s as simple as that.

However do you know that To-Do list can be further improved to maximize productivity? Here are 7 tricks I personally implement that you might find useful.

1) Write this sentence at the top of your To-Do list

“It is never about how many left, it is about how many accomplished”

How many times have you been so happy that you have completed a lot of the tasks listed, but by the time you are about to celebrate, another set of tasks occupy the list. If your focus everyday is to clear that list, you will be frustrated everyday.

That is why it is always better to focus on the number of tasks completed instead of number of tasks left on the list. Believe me, it will make a lot of difference in our motivation level once our perception on the concept of a To-Do list changed.

2) Keep a record (The Done List)

Based on the same philosophy, I would recommend you to keep a record of the tasks completed. Make another list if you can – The Done list. Any tasks you have written off from your To-Do list, put them in this list. This list will serve as a reminder to you that you can be productive if you want. It will also help boost that declining motivation almost immediately.

If motivation is not a problem to you, at least take pride in your work. You deserve it.

3) Set points and its corresponding rewards

This tip is actually one of my favorites. I put points to all my tasks on the To-Do list. The most urgent tasks will be given 10 points, while the less important ones will be given 5 points. The tasks which are not important are given 0 points. Yes, Zero. I will tell you why shortly.

I will then set a target and its corresponding rewards. For example, if I ever reached 5000 points, I will treat myself with a one day leave. Of course you can make this more interesting by allowing further accumulation of the points. It’s your rule.

The reason I give the least important task a zero is because I have experimented before by giving it 1 points. I end up avoiding doing all the urgent tasks and just focus on these trivia tasks. That itself is an example of a To-Do list went wrong.

4) Make it ugly

I have a friend who actually decorate her To-Do list. She actually writes with such beautiful handwriting on a beautiful piece of paper. If I’m not mistaken, it’s the kind of paper I used to write love letter on. But that’s another story. In the end, her To-Do list is not getting any shorter and she is more stressful than ever.

I have nothing against beautifully written work. But for a To-Do list, I would recommend you to write with your worst handwriting ever (Of course it must be readable too). The whole purpose of a To-Do list is to cross the items off. By making it ugly, you are subconciously pushing yourself to finish the tasks as soon as possible. Who would want to have an ugly written list unchanged for a year?

5) Use paper with lines

I once used a whiteboard as my To-Do list. It was a bad idea. Since there was no lines to separate the tasks, I often just squeezed the new task in between the existing tasks. By the end of the day, the whiteboard was filled with incomprehensible words.

Use paper with lines for your To-Do list. Nothing is more frustrating that a board full of tasks but you can’t read it.

6) Make the list short

Now that you are using paper with lines, why not limit your To-Do list further by having only 10 tasks on each paper. It is very tempting to have a very long list. But the truth is, a short list is better in term of efficiency and simplicity. Here are a few additional reasons why a short list is always better.

  • Easy to scan through anytime.
  • Highlight the most important task immediately.
  • More satisfying when you write off a task.
  • Having completed one paper of tasks will give you an extra boost of motivation.
  • You are always eager to free up some space on your paper by completing the task.

A suggestion, go through your To-Do list and find tasks that can be delegated. Write that off. Now find other tasks that can just be eliminated. You should by now have reduced the length of your To-Do list by half. Congratulation!

7) Take three tasks out (Literally)

Remember your To-Do list with ten tasks? Now tear the top three tasks and immediately complete the tasks. Instead of crossing off tasks after you complete it, you are now doing it the other way around. If three tasks is too much, you can always choose just the one. It will help if the tasks torn are your most important tasks of the day.

There is only one rule to this technique. You must complete the task by all means. Once you allow yourself to procrastinate or rewrite the tasks again tomorrow, it will immediately become a habit. You don’t want that.

/end list

Conclusion

There are so many ways you can improve your To-Do list, but it will not work if you don’t understand the fundamental of a To-Do list. A To-Do list is meant to help you prioritize which tasks are more important. The list will also be useless if you avoid completing all the tasks.

– I Wonder –
Any other tricks you might want to share with the rest of the readers?

———– Personal Note ————-
My first computer got infected by virus almost monthly. I could put up with a virus that shows funny message once in a while, but this virus slowed my computer to a near halt. As a result, I formatted my computer every month. Fortunately, I had prepared a To-Do list on the steps to be taken immediately after a computer format. The list contained what softwares to install, what were the settings etc. Ah the good times.

Photo Credit – Purpleslog

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7 Tips To Remind You Of Your Goals

Summary – Remember & Be Super Productive.

Pop quiz

There is a guy who loves productivity tips. He reads every single tips on all productivity blogs and half of the time he is one of the most productive person on the planet.

The question is – What happened to another half of his time?

Procrastination? Nah.. He must have memorized all the tricks to overcome procrastination. Fall sick? Maybe but nobody can be productive when they are sick, so that excuse is acceptable.

The Real Answer

He simply forgets to be productive.

You may not notice it, but forgetfulness is one of the hidden enemy of productivity. Just look at our annual resolution. It’s almost the end of the year now, ask yourself, how many have actually been fulfilled? There will usually be a lot of resolution left unfulfilled. For some they have totally forgotten that they even have one.

Another example to illustrate how forgetfulness is productivity number 1 killer is handling our finance. We have read all there is to know about financial management such as how to save that emergency money, how to avoid impulsive buying etc but usually when we really want something, we will just buy it. This can only happen if we forget the whole idea of financial management. The worse case scenario would be when we deliberately forget all the tips.

How To Be Reminded Of Things & Goals

The only way we can overcome forgetfulness is simply to remind ourselves all the time. Listed below are a few simple ways to actually do that.

1) Make use of screensaver. Why on earth are we displaying piping lines as our screensaver. What good will that do. Put up encouraging words such as “It’s been at least 5 minutes since you do anything, do something now!!”

2) Constantly edit your wallpaper by listing down your priorities. I need to have pictures as my wallpaper. So what I did is to edit the pictures using Gimp to list down my top 5 goals in life (Beautifully written of course)

3) Set alarm for your work. After a while you will need to have a break. What I would recommend you to do is to set an alarm on your computer to ensure you will be able to get back to work promptly.

I suggest an online alarm clock – Kukuklok.com. You can set what kind of alarm noise you want from cockerel, classic clock, electronic and slayer guitar. Make sure you max out the volume of your speaker. That should work. If not, your spouse will threaten you to start working just to make the noise stop.

The simpler way is of course to set up the alarm on your cellphone.

4) Install ReminderFox extension to your Firefox. This is especially for those who use Firefox as their browser. You can install this extension (ReminderFox)and organize how you want to be reminded.

5) Paste reminders on the wall. I remember a scene from the movie – Hollow Man where the scientist had pasted a note reminding him to get back to work on the ceiling. Whenever he is getting sleepy or is lying on the bed, he will immediately see that note. I’m not sure whether he gets back to work after that or just ignore the reminder. But still, it’s one of the most efficient way to remind yourself.

Some other interesting places to paste the note is in your wallet, at the steering wheel of your car or on top of your television. The rule is to place it at the most viewed place throughout the day.

6) Use unwritten reminder. Pasting notes to remind ourselves is a great idea but when you have a few thousand things to remember, your house may not need the new repainting (It will be covered with that small notes pasted on the wall)

What you should try to do is to associate the things you see everyday to your list of things to remember. For example, I will always be reminded to check whether I’m out of gas whenever I come across a gas station while driving.

Try this with everything else. The best things you can do is to associate seeing money with saving. Imagine, seeing money and you immediately save it. You will be rich.

7) Ask a friend to remind you. Ask for help from your friends to remind you of your goals. For example, make it a habit to bring your friend when you go shopping. This friend is assigned to deter you from buying. Maybe by telling you it’s too expensive or it looks ugly on you.

If you have such friends, sticking to your budget or resolution will be easier. If you do have such friends, cherish them well.

– I wonder –
Any other ideas on how to be reminded of things or your goals?

———- Personal Note ———–
When I was 16 years old, I wrote my goals on the inside of my wardrobe. One of the goals include being a master in martial art. Of course, my fellow friends found out about my goals and they made fun of the goals. That in a way had deterred me partially from pursuing my goals.

Lesson learnt – ditch those friends.

Photo Credit – Mhatma

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The 5 Unspoken Laws of Parkinson's Law

Summary – How Parkinson’s Law helps you get things done.

I’ve learnt about Parkinson’s Law way back when I was a student. Back then it was just like any other things that came out from my lecturer’s mouth – Incomprehensible meaningless words. There’s nothing wrong with him or his lectures, it’s just me. I’ve learnt my lesson though.

Parkinson’s Law if used correctly, will ensure that any work that need to be done WILL be done. If the deadline is 1 hour, you will finish it in 65 minutes top. Interested?

Parkinson’s Law – The What

Parkinson’s Law says that – Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.

It basically means that if you are supposed to write a 10 pages report and you set the deadline to be 2 days. It will most probably be finished in 2 days. According to Parkinson, the work will expand itself to adjust to the deadline you have set. You will start feeling the need for a more thorough research about the topic, maybe an interview or a good time spent googling. The simple 10 pages work has now expand itself to fill up the vacancy in the 2 days period.

Now that is an example of a really motivated and productive guy. Imagine what will happen to a person whose nickname is The Laziest Person On The Planet. He will start surfing the internet, watching television in the name of research, take few long nap to refresh his mind from God knows what. In the end, the 10 pages report will still only be finished after the 2 days deadline (even though based on the attitude, it will be very unlikely)

Exactly after 2 days, both of them (productive guy and lazy guy) will claim that the work done is very hard and it requires the full 2 days just to finish it.

Now this is where it become interesting. Try assigning the same work to another guy and set the deadline to be only 1 day. I can guarantee you that the work will still be finished by the deadline with almost no difference in quality (Of course we are comparing between two productive guys)

The Unspoken Law of Parkinson’s Law

1) Know the limits of low and high.
You cannot finish writing a 10 pages report in 10 minutes. That is stretching the law and you will only end up more frustrated, tense and most probably become another statistic of hypertension cases.

Experiment with the law. Let say you manage to finish the report in 2 days. Bravo! now let’s try 1.5 days. Do this until you know for certain what’s your low and high limit to Parkinson’s Law

2) Keep track.
This is actually covered in point number 1, but I think it is so important that it deserve a number too. Always keep track when you are doing the experiment. It will be a waste of time when you have done all the experiment to get your optimized deadline data but forget all about it in a year or two. Keep a book, and record everything until you can have the following conversation with your client

Client – Can you optimize the SEO of my blog for me?
You – Not a problem.
Client – When can I expect it to be finished?
You – 47 minutes.

3) Buy a timer
Now why do we need a timer when we are this motivated? The reason is because there is an unmotivated section of your mind which is equally strong, and usually it is so much smarter than your motivated section.

When you are doing your work, your unmotivated section of your mind will start to sabotage the process. Typical example is when you start to forget how much time you still have before the deadline. This is where the timer comes in. Set the sound of the timer to be as refreshingly painful as possible.

A no brainer but really, why we bother come up with a deadline if we have no idea where we are at anytime.

4) Answer to someone.
Find yourself a few friends to help you. Give them the authority to check on your progress. Now imagine that they are THE boss. I’m very sure that the work will be finished in no time. It always work for me (But with real boss)

Email them the details of your work. Maybe ask them to call you after every one hour and you must report how many pages have been done. Of course you will need to reimburse the call charges later.

The only problem with this is when the boss apprently is the laziest person in the group. You know what to do right? Fire your boss. This is the only time in your life you will be able to do this :)

5) Know other forms of work expansion
You set the deadline for two days, and you finish it in one. By right you have proven Parkinson wrong and that the work is not expanding. However the work does expand but this time it will be in other forms such as anxiety (wondering what if the report is rejected), or no satisfaction (You feel like starting over) or tense (arghhh)

By knowing this fact, you can save yourself a lot of therapy session in the future.

And by knowing all the 5 unspoken laws, you are finally ready to experience the full benefit of Parkinson’s Law. In another word.. your work is guaranteed done.

– I wonder –
Care to share your techniques to get things done?

———— Personal Note —————
The previous 1 week has been a very hectic week for me. VIPs were visitting the mill and you know that number infinity people keep talking about. I have that exact number of works need to be done :)

That was when I remembered this technique. Now the number of balance work I need to do is roughly infinity minus a few hundres.

Photo Credit – laffy4k

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