My entire life I’ve been a planner and organized, but once I entered the PhD program, I realized that my system could only take me so far. I started to read more on efficiency and productivity to help me improve and grow. Eventually, I started to intuitively set up better habits that complemented how I naturally moved through life.
During summer 2017, my friend, a business owner felt stuck in his process and asked for advice on how to get organized. When I would tell him to do something, he would ask “well how do I do that?,” and I would send him instructions. Over time, things weren’t connecting and I couldn’t figure out why. Then I realized that I was telling him to do things that I have done my entire life and were now second nature to me. So I tried to think step by step how I would tell someone to work on their goals.
I call this a goal attainment system because it helped me refine my goals. I also call it a work in progress, because the document is still being refined; just like life. My friend calls it an intellectual will because it is putting into writing what you want to do and it is something that can be passed on to others.
Whatever it’s called, consider it something that you can take into the new year to support any goals you have in mind.
Enjoy, and Happy New Year,
P.S. I love feedback. If you work through this document, please send me thoughts on anything that is confusing. I want to continue refining this so it can help people grow.
P.P.S. If you know someone who could benefit from this document, please share. Thank you : )
On February 13, 2009, I signed up for a blogger account because I wanted to share my writing with others. My first readers were my friends and family. Then somewhere along the line people who I did not know started reading and sharing my work; people even started hiring me to help them with their ideas. I loved every moment of it and fell in love with the topic of entrepreneurship. I fell so much in love with entrepreneurship that I’m in a PhD program researching the topic.
For two years, I was able to maintain both a blog and being a student. The blog was thriving, business was growing, and I was doing great in school. I thought I could easily manage being a PhD student, blogger, and business owner. But over the last two years, I have not been able to maintain the blog with the level of care that I like to put into my work. Being the stubborn (determined?) person that I am, I thought that I could do it all. So I reduced the number of blog posts and clients I was taking and maintained doing my school work. It was kind of working; I was having some money come in from freelancing and I was getting good grades. But something else was happening that I didn’t realize; I was exhausted and spread too thin.
This summer with the help of others, I realized that I was sleep deprived, stressed, and pushing myself way too hard. I was trying to somehow stretch 24 hours to fit all the responsibilities that I had taken on. I rarely took breaks and burnouts were so normal to me, I didn’t realize it shouldn’t be the norm to be down all the time. So I’m now working on reducing the number of things I am committed to and the hardest one to part ways with is this blog. But, it is the right thing to do.
I’m in the final stages of the program and if I am to achieve my goal of graduating by December 2018, I need to cut some things.
I’ve decided to stop blogging and taking on clients (and doing a whole bunch of other things) so I can focus on graduating. It is a temporary break, but in effort to prioritize and keep up with the demands of the program, something had to give.
I have notebooks filled with ideas and sketches, so don’t worry, I am coming back. I love blogging and creating content too much to stop forever. I don’t have a return date for regular blog updates, but I will keep you all posted on my progress and expected return.
Thank you for all your support over the years. And please feel free to keep in touch; shoot me an email.
In my recent newsletter (subscribe for updates), I shared end of the year updates and mentioned my 2016 goals and if I accomplished them. After I sent the newsletter, I realized that I focused on the things I did not accomplish and not so much on the things that I did accomplish. The number one thing I accomplished in 2016 was developing a system to help combat procrastination.
I always used to pride myself on being organized and a planner. Since even before high school, I would plan my day hour by hour in a planner or on a piece of paper. This habit followed through high school and beyond. To my family, friends, and coworkers I was someone who was determined, efficient, responsible, and dependable. I took pride in that.
When I entered my PhD program, I noticed that those same qualities were not translating into my work. I didn’t know it then, but I was feeling overwhelmed with the pressure of multi-tasking. I typically am a person who likes to work on one thing or two things at a time. But in the PhD program, there were many moving pieces and no longer could I manage it on my calendar or piece of paper.
I needed a new system and if I were to succeed in my program, I needed it fast.
When I need to solve a problem, I seek out solutions. I figured out that feeling overwhelmed was my root problem
I started reading books and blogs and watching videos that could help me become more productive and efficient. These books, videos, people, blogs, etc. have all played a role in setting me up for an improved 2017 and beyond.
On January 5, 2016, I purchased Deep Work by Cal Newport. I read his blog and I like his take on working efficiently in a distracted world. This book helped me figure out why my previous productivity system was not working. I realized that even though I blocked off time to do work, I did not treat it as sacred. If I said I was going to spend three hours every day writing, sometimes that time would get cut in half because I allowed distractions to enter my blocked time (phone calls, meetings, doing work for other people, etc). As obvious as it is, this book helped me realize that my time is precious. What I also enjoyed most about this book is that Newport not only explains why living a distracted free life will help improve productivity, but he also tells the reader how to implement the principles.
I love John C. Maxwell. I have read many of his leadership books and I enjoy the simple ways he explains personal growth concepts. This particular book, I listened to via the audiobook version, which is read by Maxwell. I felt like he was talking to me and I was getting a pep talk on life. Like Newport’s book, the information in Maxwell’s book provided me with some key insights that were useful for me to improve my productivity system and personal growth plan.
I have no idea how I found Asian Efficiency, which is a productivity and time management blog. I think I was searching on Google on how to organize tasks and I stumbled upon an article on filing systems. Where Newport and Maxwell’s writings provided me with insights on how I could improve, the Asian Efficiency blog pointed me to the tools I could use. In a future blog post, I will talk about my system that I have developed over the last month based on information I found on that blog.
Entrepreneurs Go All In – Behavior Gap Radio hosted by Carl Richards
2015 and 2016 were podcast years for me. I have always listened to audiobooks and podcasts, but 2015/2016 I started listening even more. There are many great podcasts out there, but one episode that I listened to a few weeks ago stood out to me. Earlier in 2016, I found Carl’s podcast because I read his finance column in the NY Times. This particular four-minute episode was about entrepreneurs and how they go all in when it comes to putting capital into their business. They go all in because they believe their business will give them the best return on investment in the long run compared with investing or saving in other areas. Though this episode had nothing to do about productivity, I really liked the message of return on investment. Now, before I commit to something, I think to myself, “will this give me the best return on investment in terms of my short and long-term goals?” This has helped me do a better job with saying no to others and even to myself.
How Great Leaders Inspire Action presented by Simon Sinek
This 18 minute video is about leadership and business, but I feel the underlying theme of “start with why” is applicable in all situations. After watching this video, I took a step back and reflected on what is my why. Why do I do what I do in terms of career, my blog, etc. This video is what prompted me to rewrite my about page (what do you think?).
The #AskGaryVee Show
I discovered Gary Vee in 2016 and I just love his bluntness and energy. I started watching his YouTube videos and I love all the advice he gives on entrepreneurship. I can’t decide on which video I was inspired by the most, but overall, I just like his entire philosophy about putting in the work to achieve goals. After I watch his videos, I feel even more inspire to work towards my goals.
Do you often find yourself distracted or procrastinating? Why do you think you do so? What resources or tools have helped you become more efficient and productive? Share your thoughts in the comments section.