Archive for the ‘Productivity’ Category

The Most Productive One Hour In Your Life

Summary – Super One Hour

If you are reading this, I’m very sure that you and I have the same common goal. We want to achieve more in our life. There’s only one problem though.

There are so many goals to achieve, better career, relationship, attitude, etc that sometimes they are very hard to keep track. Most of the time, we will end up spending more time on only a few areas like career and hobbies while totally neglecting other area like relationship etc.

Trying to maintain a balance between all our goals is really a headache. Planning them is known to even cause nausea and migraine. That is why I come up with this – The most productive one hour in your life.

Basically, it is a one hour schedule where you will set the things to do which will cover all the important aspect of our life. There is only one rule to this tool – You must do every single thing listed. Every single thing.

Let’s start shall we?


  • Switch off your handphone.
  • Switch on your computer and connect to the internet
  • Grab today’s newspaper and a timer

The Super One Hour starts now.

1) Knowledge – Read headline of newspaper (5 min)
Read the newspaper. For some this may already be a routine, but for another it is very hard to really sit down and read. For the latter, try reading the headline only. It will save you time. Make sure you know everything that is happening in your country, and ultimately in the world.

Extra mini things you can do :

  • Read English newspaper to improve your English.
  • Start with the half of the comic page and end with another half. Hopefully it will start your day with a smile and the news will be less depressing.
  • Try to give out comments while you read. It will make remembering the details easier. For example “Ah, Malaysia has a chance at a Gold Medal. What’s his name again?”

2) Relationship – Give your loved ones a call (5 min)
Pick up the phone and call your spouse. Even if she is at work, call her. Ask her about her day and try to give a message to her that you appreciate her. You don’t need to be direct and say “I appreciate you”. Nobody says it like that. Say it without actually say it. Maybe you can say “Looks like you are busy, I’ll help later with the dishes.” After you’re done, swith off the phone. there should not be any distraction for the remaining task in this Super One Hour.

Extra mini things you can do :

  • Spark the fire. Try to figure out what actually about you that she finds attractive. Use that considerably. If she finds you funnily charming. Be funnily charming.
  • Help her with her stress. Don’t add to it.
  • A classic snail mail once in a while is always romantic. Try it, she will like it.

3) Finance – Count how much money you actually have now (5 min)
Go get your bank account book, all of them, and start adding up all your savings and cash. Now ask yourself, “is that enough to cover your lifestyle for 6 months if you are suddenly fired from your job?”. This exercise will in a way make us realize our level of financial security.

If you say no to the question (which is usually the case), immediately write on a piece of paper how much more you need and paste it on the wall. From now on, everytime you deposit some money, deduct it from the amount you just wrote. Make it so that you can see how you progress to save that money.

Extra mini things you can do :

  • Educate your family that financial planning is everybody’s responsibility (with an extra staring at the one who spends the most)
  • Set up a contest to see who can save the most. The winner will win a month of no housechore. That will be irresistable even for me.

4) Social – Email a friend (5 min)
Login to your email account, and choose one friend that you haven’t email for some time. Send him an email saying hi. You can also send out messages to him/her by other means such as facebook, IM and so on.

Extra mini things you can do :

  • Schedule to meet your friends at a coffee shop. Never meet your friend with an ulterior motive. One friend had invited me for a drink one day, and I happily went. Apparently he was trying to sell me an insurance policy. Spoilt my evening.
  • Set up a text file containing all the details of your friend. You don’t want to be asking the same friend what he’s doing for a living 5 times, do you?

5) Declutter – Cut everything by 10% (5 min)
Choose one item today. It can be anything from your wardrobe or RSS Feed or email. If for example you choose your wardrobe, go through all your clothes, and if you have a total of 100 clothes, decide immediately which 10 are you going to give away. Maybe you can give the clothes to your brothers/sisters.

The idea of decluttering is to reduce or eliminate those that you don’t really need. If you have 3 chairs in your room and you only need one. why not move the 2 chairs to another room.

Extra mini things you can do :

  • Look at your room. What is the one eye sore that can be removed. Remove that item for the day.
  • Set up a specific place for everything. Place keys at a designated place. So whenever you are in a hurry and you want to look for your keys, you will know exactly where to find it.

6) Career – Sit down and plan your career. (5 min)
One thing about our career or work, is that after a while, everything will look like a routine thing. You wake up in the morning, and suddenly you are in your robot mode. Working that routine without ever thinking on how to advance in your career.

In this Super One Hour, sit down and plan your career. Think what can you do now that will result in a promotion or a raise. Personally for me, if I want to get promoted and noticed by the top management, I will have to pass First Grade Steam Engineer Certificate. Now that I know this, I should plan what exactly I’m going to do to pass that certificate.

Extra mini things you can do :

  • Try looking for another job. Go for interview, even if you are not really planning to change your career. At least your interview skill will improve.
  • Be more visible to the top management. If you don’t know how to sell yourself, people may not notice all your effort even if you are the best worker ever.

7) Health – Jog (25 min)
Put on your jogging shoes and start jogging for 20 minutes. I once read that in order for the body to start burning fat, you must be running at least 20 minutes. Any shorter than that, you are just warming up. Spend the last 5 minutes to cool down.

Jogging / exercising is also known to have a destressing effect. After all the work you have done before, you will definitely going to need this.

Extra mini thing you can do :

  • Try to remember the news you read just now
  • Plan your next Super One Hour while running. Which of your friend will you email next, or which life goals are you going to work on.

8] Spiriuality – Meditate (5 min)
You should by now all sweaty and tired. Sit down and meditate for 5 minutes. Just do the most basic meditation. Sit down, close your eyes, focus on your breathing in and out and think of nothing else. Forget everything you have done before, and try to taste the inhaling and exhaling breath you take.

Extra mini things you can do :

  • There shouldn’t be anything else you should do in a meditation.

/end list

Conclusion – You can use my version of Super One Hour. But I recommend that you come up with your own version. One that has your sets of goals and things to do. Maybe you prefer swimming to jogging, or yoga to meditation.

The idea can also be expanded to maybe Super One Day or Super One Week. The possibilities are endless. Enjoy!

– I Wonder –
What other things you would advise one to put in the Super One Hour

Photo Credit – Fabiola Medeiros

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Summary – 5 things you must procrastinate

We’ve all heard that procrastination is the one enemy of productivity. In fact I myself have written a few articles on combatting procrastination.

However, procrastination is not all that bad. There are a few unique cases that we should consider procrastination as an option. In most of the case, it is by far the best option.

Allow me to name a few of those cases where procrastination should be practised.

1) Procrastinate Spending Money
Another word for spending money is of course shopping. Just procrastinate it all together. Everytime you have the urge to do shopping just for the sake of killing time. Procrastinate it. Just say “I will do this later, not now”. If that doesn’t work, repeat this “You hear me?? LATER!!” 🙂

But first you must know the difference between fundamental things and leasure things. You don’t want to mix the two, if not you will buy that extra pair of pants when you are actually going to buy some food.

2) Procrastinate Agreeing to Unbelievably Good Deals
How often you have just received your paycheck when suddenly a well dressed man approaches you offering the best massage chair in the world. The way he describes the amazing feature of the massage chair is so convincing that you are preparing to surrender all your money to him smilingly.

No offense to all the sales person reading, salesman are really good at this. You are not even thinking of a chair when you walk out of the bank, but suddenly you just can’t stop thinking about the deal.

Rule of thumb when approached by sales person, if you don’t need it 5 minutes ago, you probably don’t need it now. Procrastinate the decision to sometime later in the future.

3) Procrastinate Deciding On Non-Urgent Matter
Non urgent matter are decision that need to be made but you still have time to think about it. For examples, the name of your future children, or where to invest your hard earned money.

You don’t need to decide now. You still have a lot of time to think of a good name or doing research on your investment option. Yes, you may be a little late, but you are giving yourself the chance to be better equipped.

Please notice the keyword “Equipped”. There’s no point of procrastinating decision making, if you just end up NOT any wiser on the subject.

4) Procrastinate Unstable Emotion
How to procrastinate your emotion? Not easy, that much I can tell you, but not impossible.

When you are depressed, just say this out loud. “I can’t do this now. I’ll have to suck it up and deal with this emotion later”. Difficult to do? believe me it is doable. I personally am always stressed out at work, but when I get home. I just postpone the stress to tomorrow, when I can actually do something about it.

Why bother panicking about work not finished when you are at home. There’s no way you can finish your work at home since the work is at the office. So worry about it tomorrow.

You think this is difficult? Wait till you read no 5. Oh wait, here it is.

5) Procrastinate “Procrastination Activity”
When you are supposed to clean up the house, and you think about doing it later. What do you end up doing?

This is procrastination activity. Things like watching television, playing games or taking unnecessary nap. How about procrastinating this as a change? Number 4 doesn’t seem so difficult now, does it?

Conclusion – Just like anything else, procrastination on the 5 items listed above will be easier to do if you make a conscious decision to do it later. Say it out loud that you are not going to do this now.

Happy procrastinating!

– I wonder –
Is there any other unique cases that I might have missed?

Photo credit – McPig

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Summary – Be super productive and organized. It’s all about improving the interface of your mind

I’m sure you are familiar with Gmail. Almost everyone I know uses it. That should say something about the service. Personally I find Gmail is the best solution to handling your email. It’s really one of the most organized and productivity minded solution designed.

Now what if I tell you that we can assimilate this concept into our way of thinking? Yes, putting a Gmail in your mind.

The mind really is a remarkable thing. We can only guess what it’s true pontetial will be and I’m very sure that it will still be a long way to go before we fully understand it. The problem is never about the mind, but how we interface with it. Imagine we are using a super computer and the only OS available is the DOS (some of you may not even familiar with the OS), it will be such a loss.

The same thing with this experiment I’m proposing. By applying some of the concept in Gmail to our way of thinking, hopefully we will be more organized and productivity minded.

Let’s get started shall we?

1) Gmail has always been in Beta version
I registered with Gmail quite a long time ago, and I remember that it was in its Beta version then. Many years later, for some reason, it is still in Beta version.

Let’s put a Beta sticker to our mind. Let it be official that the work on our mind is always in Beta version. There will always be things to improved. In my opinion, just the acknowledgment that our mind is a work in progress will help a lot. Of course we must be checking consistently on how to improve our mind.

2) Premium location of “Compose Mail” and “Inbox”
Just underneath the Gmail logo is the link to Compose Mail and Inbox. The link is not buried down the page or disguised in complicated flash button. That’s because an email is only about two things – sending and receiving email.

Figure out what are you about? If you are all into money making, than that is what you should put there in your mind. Limit the items to only two.

3) Report Spam Button
Almost all emails have this. Whenever spam emails received, it will automatically be flagged as spam and put in the spam folder. Sometime a few misses and you will have to report the email as spam manually.

Install a Report Spam button in your mind. If at anytime a negative thought comes to mind, immediately flag it as “Negative Thought”. Do this consciously as if you are actually clicking the button in your mind. If you think Gmail is smart to learn from your action, wait till you see what your mind is capable of.

4) Delete Protocol
You must notice that in order for you to completely delete an email, you will have to delete it two times, one in the inbox and another in the trash folder. The philosophy is, it is better to have millions of rubbish emails building up than to lose that one very very important email from your VIP.

The mind work at a more complex level, but the same philosophy applies. If you want to forget something, you will have to do some extra work. It is never as easy as clicking a button and hope it goes away.

I actually put up an entry on how to forget and move on specifically dedicated to a friend who wish to do just that. Please have a read if you are interested.

5) Emails in reply is grouped together
This is one of the differentiating feature of Gmail. And even though it takes me some getting use to, I find it very helpful. Previously I sometimes get an email from a long lost friend and I just can’t figure out what he is referring to as I can’t see my sent email to him. By grouping the emails in reply together, conversation and email make more sense and easy to track.

Interconnecting one point to another is exactly the basis of our brain. We do our thinking this way. We think of one thing for example cars, then you remember to send your car for maintenance, maybe after that you think of what else you want to do now that you are in the town, maybe shopping, which reminds you of the wife who love shopping.

Amazingly that you think of cars first before the wife 🙂 I write more about this in this article – How to Improve Your Memory Using Spongebob

/end list

There are so many more features of Gmail that we can integrate in our mind. For example, the labels, Star, Search and the increasing free space etc. But I’m going to leave it to you guys to figure it out.

– I wonder –
Appreciate if you continue adding what else about Gmail that can be used in the comment section.

———— Personal Note ————-
I am always fascinated with the true potential of the mind. Maybe influenced by a lot of tv series, I sometimes wonder if maybe those psychic things like telekinesis and telepathy can really be done. What do you think?

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GTD for student

Summary – Last resort method for student to get things done

The life of a student has always been like a tug war between being motivated and plain lazy. I know. I’ve been there. Some time, we become so motivated, we even seek for extra work just to enhance our learning. Another time, there are no motivational speech in the world that will make us wake up from that comfy bed.

When that laziness attacks and you have so many things to do, what would you do?

These are a few tricks that I tried as my last resort to get things done. Most of the time they worked. Try them and tell me how it goes.

1) Read standing up
Sometimes I have trouble waking up when I read my notes. So what I did was reading the notes while standing up. If you can walk that would be even more effective to combat those drowsiness. However I found out that my concentration deteriorates even faster walking.

2) One page at a time
This is my last resort to almost anything. If I have to read 20 pages of notes, I will force myself to read 1 page. That’s it. I promise myself that after that 1 page is done and I fully understand or memorize the page, I can stop studying altogether.

Usually by the time I understand the subject, I will be more in the studying mode and thus page 2 🙂

3) Report your failure to other people
This also should be used as the super last resort. Make yourself accountable. Not to anyone but to your parent. I know.. it may sound very childish reporting yourself to your parent but believe me it work.

All you need to do is to write an email (if your parent read email of course) reporting every assignment need to be done, and notes to be studied. And each day, you should HONESTLY write a progress email detailing your progress. If you didn’t touch anything on the subject, confess to your parent and give reason why.

If the shame of not doing anything didn’t move you to finish your work, I don’t know what will.

4) Bet with your lecturer
How about if you prepare one letter signed by you and give that letter to your lecturer when you started the semester.

Put it in writing that everytime you are unable to deliver your assignment in time, you will wash his car FOC. The lecturer will definitely make use of this offer. He will look for your assignment first everytime. And you will feel more driven to do your assignment.

5) Red card of wealth
This is a system I created just to give me an extra push with money. However, being a student I don’t have money. Not much anyway. So what I did is creating about 20 red cards per month. I put value to the card at about $10 per card. So if by the end of the month I still have 20 cards, that is like an extra $200 in my pocket.

Whenever I want to push myself to work, I will just warn myself that 1 card will be burnt down (literally burnt) if I didn’t do the work.

Where will the money come from, my current salary of course. Once I start working, I am entitled to spend the red cards guilt free 🙂

6) When motivated, do extra
There will be times when you just super motivated for no apparent reason. How? Still a mystery to me. What I did when I’m in that state is to do extra work. Maybe study those subject not yet covered by lecturers, do past year questions etc.

Why I do this? Because there will be times when I’m just super lazy and all the above will not change it. By doing extra work when I’m motivated, I will feel less guilty being lazy sometime later. 🙂

– I wonder –
What do you do as your last resort to get things done?

——– Personal Note ———
I still have a few more techniques, but a bit abstract to describe here. Maybe next time 🙂

Now that I work, I actually still practise some of the methods. I honestly give report to my manager on what I have done and what I still don’t do. He may not even care, but I am so ashame to report on task not completed, I usually will finish them all. Well most of them anyway 🙂

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