Blog

Right task, Right time

A short while back, at an event, I had a conversation with a friend who wanted to learn how to use Spreadsheet software. He could do basic things using a spreadsheet but had come to realise just how versatile the skillset could be. However, he mentioned not having enough time to learn. I asked him a few questions about how best he learnt. Did he prefer classroom settings, one-on-one learning, self-taught or online classes? Knowing this would help him figure out how to create time to improve his spreadsheet skills. Unfortunately, we couldn’t finish the conversation as we had to move on to other activities.

A
Now or Later
Continue reading “Right task, Right time”

Keep your friends close and your to-do list closer

Where is your to-do list for the day? As I type this post, I can take a quick glance at mine on my favourite note-taking app, Evernote. On the go, it’s available on my mobile phone. It automatically syncs across my devices so I don’t have to worry about forgetting anything. I go to great lengths to make sure I have my to-do list with me wherever I am. That’s because out of all the productivity tools in my box, the to-do list has proven a life saver.

A to-do list
Ready to cross the next task off
Continue reading “Keep your friends close and your to-do list closer”

Seize the hour (not the day)

The Latin expression “Carpe Diem”, often translated into English as seize the day is first attested by the ancient Roman Poet, Horace. The idea behind the expression is that since the future is uncertain, it is best to prepare for every situation by taking action when you can instead of leaving it up to chance. In other words, do what you can now to make the future better.

Continue reading “Seize the hour (not the day)”

The clock keeps ticking (ii)

Last week, I wrote about the misconceptions a lot of people have about time management and how it is best viewed not as a single skill but a number of related skills that help you create effective systems for achieving your goals. As you build that system, there are 3 things to keep in mind:

Time is limited

A day in Nigeria lasts 24 hours. So does a day in China, Brazil or Lithuania. Within those 24 hours, you have a few peak productivity hours (or office hours) during which you want to get things done. You must learn how to estimate how long a task will take and the best time to get it done during the day. It is unlikely that you can fit three two-hour long high focus tasks into an 8 hour work day. You must learn to pace yourself or risk burnout. Time management is NOT spending five sleepless nights trying to beat the deadline for your latest project.

Burnout
The risk is real
Continue reading “The clock keeps ticking (ii)”

The clock keeps ticking (i)

One of the most important concepts in personal productivity is time management. Time management is a core skill that once mastered enables you to get more done in a week than most people do in a month while still having time to rest. Despite its importance in personal productivity, time management is a concept that is often misunderstood by many people. This is because the term time management, despite its popularity, is a misnomer. You can own a wristwatch but you can’t manage time. Even if you do nothing, the second hand of your watch will keep moving. Nobody can stop time.

A wristwatch face
If only the hand could stop
Continue reading “The clock keeps ticking (i)”

Nobody is guaranteed tomorrow

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now.”

Allegedly a Chinese proverb

The sentence that often accompanies procrastination is “I will do it tomorrow.” In this case, tomorrow is not the next day but that mythical destination where all human creativity, effort and productivity resides. If you think really hard you can almost feel it. Infact, you are sure with just a little more time you will be able to reach it. So does everyone else. So far, no one has reached it.

Never underestimate the power you have over what happens today
Continue reading “Nobody is guaranteed tomorrow”

Work hard but only on the right things

“As you climb the ladder of success, be sure it is leaning against the right building.”

H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Management Consultant, Peter Drucker once said “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently something that should not have been done at all.” Drucker’s ideas eventually lead to what is now called outsourcing ie a company should focus on only those activities that are essential to its business and that it can do well. Anything else should be contracted out to other companies. The result would be improved business for every company as each firm focused on what it could do best.

Continue reading “Work hard but only on the right things”

Stop being busy and start being productive

Activity does not always equal productivity. The rise in number of online meetings has created a unique problem. People spend all day attending back-to-back meetings. An extreme case was someone who by virtue of having to attend meetings with different teams across different time zones was getting only 3 hours of sleep per day. That’s certainly a busy lifestyle. Is your busyness leading to more productive results? No one is paid to attend meetings but meetings can be very comforting because they give the illusion of work being done.

Does not equal productive
Continue reading “Stop being busy and start being productive”

Productivity means being prepared to do your best

I remember in Junior Secondary School during assembly we often had to sing a song that began “Do your best and leave the rest.” I was tempted to attach a voice file of myself singing the full song. Luckily, saner heads have talked me out of it. That song got me thinking, in order to reach peak productivity, you need to first choose what to focus on, then give it your best, even when no one is watching.

Don't try to be perfect. Just do your best
Wherever you are
Continue reading “Productivity means being prepared to do your best”

How many cellphone-hours in a day?

“Well we really do spend most of our time on our phones. I personally would have to strike a balance.”

Comment left by a reader of last week’s post

The birth of the smartphone changed the way we live. Prior to that, cellphones were just miniature telephones. You could use one to send text messages and some of them came with pre-installed games but their primary function was to make calls.

As technology advanced, the cellphone became capable of much more than making calls. The birth of social media and mobile applications turned smartphones into the equivalent of a playground or office you could carry in your pocket. Eventually, the smartphone replaced the pocket calculator, camera, calendar, post office and even the banking hall.

There’s an app for everything
Continue reading “How many cellphone-hours in a day?”