[ Musings ]

10 ways to be productive

Here’s the hats I am wearing:

– Social Media Engagement at Accumbens Networks Pte Ltd
– Director at Envis8ge Pte Ltd
– Founder of DaphnePaper & Feliz Pets
– Various business consultancy work at multiple startups and SMEs
– Managing a team of 5 girls
– Blogger & Shopaholic 😛

So many times I get this question – How do you wear so many hats at one time? How many hours do you sleep? Do you even sleep?!

Yes, I do sleep. The real trick is to be productive and know your strengths, as well as your weaknesses. So here’s 10 ways to be productive.

1. Plan.

I have a scheduler that I use religiously that helps me plan what needs to be accomplished within the day. Do your planning for the week on Sunday night or Monday morning and do your planning for the day the night before or once you wake up.

I’m someone who plans the night before as I need that extra 1 hour between waking up and going to work for makeup (da truth girls and guys). It also helps to put my mind at rest and ease, helping me to sleep better knowing that I did not miss any work for the day and have my next day prepared. So this said, if I had indeed missed anything out that needs to be accomplished before the next day, I’ll get up to complete it off. If not, I’ll reschedule it.

But planning is easy, right?


2. Know how to plan

Planning and knowing how to plan makes the difference between being overwhelmed and productive. Once gotten past the point of really putting your schedulers to good use, rarely will you find yourself with time doing nothing. Chances are, you just want to fill in all the empty spaces so much that you plan too much into the day, overwhelming and tiring yourself even before following a plan becomes a habit. Looking back at your schedulers, you’ll find yourself missing out on all your targets and then start thinking – ‘ Is this really gonna work out?’

The journey is long so go slow. It takes 3 weeks to form a habit and 8 weeks to make it stick so go easy at the beginning. The idea is to make the habit stick. Do not try to complete everything in 1 day. Spread them out and be realistic. Don’t forget to give yourself some time off too (point 4).

Credits to http://nikkiko.me/2014/02/03/daphne-paper/ and www.DaphnePaper.com
Credits to http://nikkiko.me/2014/02/03/daphne-paper/ and www.DaphnePaper.com

3. Seek help and delegate

No great works in history is accomplished by a single man. We all need help and great teams to accomplish things faster and more effectively.

Lucky me, I have a great team whom I’ve trained to assist in certain fulfilment. I’ve taken time to understand them personally and work is delegated according to their interests and strengths. In turn, they help me take time off some workload and work on other areas of business and development. In this case, ‘small time’ spent building the team helped me to save ‘big time’ doing other things, like blogging.

If you are unable to employ help, try getting favours from friends and families. Getting favours also helps build and strengthen relationships. Just make sure you pay it forward to pay it back.

Screen Shot 2014-02-04 at 5.03.41 AM

4. Plan for time off

All work and no play makes Jill a dull boy. Nuff said.

I usually plan for at least 3 to 6 hours of time off in a day. That’s quite a lot compared to most of my peers I know slogging in audit firms and banks. The sense here is, by being productive with your time, you should have more time for other things you enjoy doing! I like to spend these time alone, reading, watching tutorials, walking around aimlessly and letting my brain do it’s swirling of wonders, creative ideas and visionaries. 

And shopping.

Here's a cute puppy playing to keep you going on and reading. Found at http://pixdaus.com/
Here’s a cute puppy playing to keep you going on and reading.
Found at http://pixdaus.com/

5. Focus

I think it’s common sense why focusing makes you more productive, so instead of touching on why, I’ll point out 5 realistic actions you can take ( I do) to make yourself focus.

a. Visualise yourself focusing. Sounds absurd but this mental activity won’t cause you any strange awkward stares from colleagues so try it.
b. Turn your mobile to silent non-vibration mode and keep it away.
c . Close all other windows and pop-up reminders
d . If you are working on something that need more than 75 minutes to complete, take a 15 minutes break (and check your phone) after 45 minutes – Really. It helps you focus for the next gruelling half on hour. Would you rather take a break and complete the job in another 30 minutes or take 2 hours to complete a 75 minute work? Choose.
e. If a to d do not work well for you, simple leave work to the last minute. Always works. Though not highly recommended.


6. Understand your body and make it your strength

Know your body clock and know when you are most productive and what. Here’s my personal example.

Morning rise – This is the time I’ll feel my bed and Aussino are the softest with the morning chills and I just can’t get out of bed even though I’m fully awake. So I’ll grab my phone and start looking through my email and more recently, Singsale for their mad morning sales. If I still have some time, I’ll read some news from the US side (they function on a almost totally flip timezone so by the time we’re awake, most of the day’s breaking news are out on the internet).  It’s a lazy time so no point making your body work when it can’t!

Commuting – I cam-whore and Instagram. The sun is at it’s best for selfies and there’s really nothing much productive things I can do with the hats I wear other than using the mobile phone. So I make good use of the time to update myself on the topics I follow and contribute my thoughts. Occasionally, I obtain some inspirations and plan the outline for my next blog entry.

Late Morning – Im out of bed and I know that I am more productive at this time of the day and am usually in the office. I work, clearing my to-do list (admin stuffs first as I hate admin and need a fresh untainted mind)as fast and as much as I can as my mind is still fresh and awake. I’m usually motivated by lunch.

Between 5 – 9pm – This is the time I am second highly productive and complete most of the difficult tasks. Dinner is usually quick or packet.

Between 11pm to 3am – This is the time when I am most productive and work on things that require a great amount of thinking and analysis. Eg. Working on proposals, reports, business strategies, content creation etc.

Before sleep – Plan for the next day’s or the week’s (if it is a Sunday) schedule.

I work a full 6 day week.

This should keep you coming back.  From a article talking about the body clock - http://captain-nitrogen.tumblr.com/post/2547882672/the-clock-is-ticking
Oh you stopped here for awhile. This should keep you coming back.
From a article talking about the body clock – http://captain-nitrogen.tumblr.com/post/2547882672/the-clock-is-ticking

7. Understand your weakness

After Lunch – This is the time I use to do my callings, meet-up with clients or my team as I usually feel sleepy after lunch and talking keeps me awake. I don’t do work that require focus or independent work here since it’s not going to be productive anyway. If there’s no meet-ups or urgent stuffs, I go out for a walk or do some shopping.  Shopping after lunch time helps save time wasted in queuing up and getting blocked by crowds. I rarely shop during fridays and weekends.

I also have short attention timespan so I make sure I have my in between breaks and move my body around.

I have been noting my body clock since Junior Collage days and understand my body rhythms. It may look haphazard to you but it has proven to work for me. Try to consciously note your working habits and relate it back to your body clock and work. Adjust your work-list accordingly to achieve the most out of the hours you have in a day.

8. Make yourself accountable

Share your plans to others. I have shut my chat and shared my plans to complete this blog post with Shawn and some friends so I better complete it or they’ll come here expecting a new post but find a old post. It’s awkward and somewhat embarrassing.

This boy looks like me. A boy from a lovely blog and family http://thecoatneys.blogspot.sg/
This boy looks like me.
A boy from a lovely blog and family http://thecoatneys.blogspot.sg/

9.  Control your environment

Have construction going on? Work somewhere else. Have a chatterful colleague? Shut him/her off or move away. Not enough space on the table? Work on the floor. Mom’s calling? She can always message. Something urgent that’s actually not that urgent? Schedule it away.

10. Reward yourself when you have a productive week

Completed only 60 – 70% of what you have planned out for the week? Don’t be too hard on yourself for the start! Give yourself a little reward over the weekends and do something you always want to do or go get something you always wanted to get. Being productive means more time and money!

Reward is also mandatory as the toughest of man needs some motivation and tangible things to look forward to. Plan in your reward and take this opportunity to manage your finances.

Increase the level of difficulty later on, but don’t necessary go for a 100% completion for reward if you follow my proceeding believes. I believe that a 100% completion means more can be done and you are undermining your own capabilities. Either you are planning too little into the schedules or it means there’s room and opportunities for bigger tasks and initiatives. Hitting that 100% means a review needs to be done. For me, I am usually satisfied with a 80 – 90% completion.

Here's what I would reward myself with.
Here’s an example of what I would reward myself with. Credits tartecosmetics.com


Here’s wishing all friends and readers a Productive and Prosperous Year of Horse!


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