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Finding a system or routine that works for you can be difficult and time-consuming. Once you think you’ve got one down, a new one comes across you that you want to try. Our productivity champ this month, Andy, can attest to this.

He came across various systems, habits, and routines that promised to increase his productivity. Finally, he had an epiphany that lead him to decide on a system of his own that he continues to use today.

Read on and find out how Andy’s system and the AE community has helped him become more productive.

Introducing Andy Vandiver

Tell us a little bit about who you are and what you’re up to.

Based in North Carolina, I am a Senior Director of Business Development for Catalent Pharma Solutions. In this capacity, I work directly with a wide range of clients — from large, global pharmaceutical businesses to virtual biotech start-ups (and a lot in between). The common thread among them all is a desire to positively improve patient/consumer lives by developing and commercializing new impacting medicines. At Catalent, we partner with each of them to expertly develop and make these drugs for approval.

What is the backstory that ignited you to get started on becoming more productive?

Three things conspired to set me on a path to raise my personal productivity bar:

  1. Marrying someone who gets things done at a much faster clip than me.
  2. Being encouraged to ‘redeem the time wisely’ in scripture while realizing my goals, up to that time, had been completely static.
  3. Stumbling by happenstance across the Asian Efficiency podcast and community. And of course, endless email.

What was the wall or problem that you ran into that stopped you from accomplishing what you wanted?

James Clear said ‘We don’t rise to the level of our goals but fall to the level of our systems’. So, what if systems are lacking or absent entirely? Then I can say — from experience — the fall is as long as Gandalf’s fall in Moria! The lack of good systems meant very little progress on poorly defined goals — year after year. It was obvious if growth was going to occur, I would need some structure.

What was the epiphany you experienced and discovered?

Initially, in my attempt to become organized & productive, I tried to adopt highly touted approaches and philosophies, such as “GTD” or the “One Thing”. Inevitably, they would each fail, as the implementation of such a total system — in and of itself — required a degree of productivity and focus I lacked. I needed a tool to use the tool.

The light began to break through when I recognized that “The journey of 1,000 miles begins with 1 step” isn’t just good fortune cookie wisdom — It is true in personal productivity. By taking small steps and continuously trying out habits/tools/routines, slowly a unique system sufficient for my own needs emerged. I ditched the urge to adopt a total system approach and became content with bolting on anything that seemed to work. Almost invisibly the results began to pile up.

I saw I wasn’t alone in this regard either – a fair number of AE Dojo community members were taking a similar approach to hacking their way into a system that worked for them. While the fundamentals remained constant – prioritizing, calendaring, reviewing, stacking routines and so on, the means to achieve these varied extensively.

What was the transformation that you experienced?

Recently during a holiday break, my boys and I did an exercise where we listed everything noteworthy we have accomplished or experienced over the past 12 months — really in an attempt to give them some perspective — and the list was not what I expected. We had done far more in our personal lives than I had ever thought, across multiple areas.

Professionally, my sales targets have been exceeded for the fourth straight year, exceeding over $100 million in contractual value. More importantly, however, is the fact I am working with clients on life-enhancing and/or life-saving drugs and being productive means faster acting and better working medicines for patients.

If you have one piece of productivity advice for someone who is struggling to make progress towards their goals, what would it be?

An imperfect, 70% effective approach is infinitely better than the perfectly effective approach still being studied. Stop reading about productivity or what others are doing and start building a lego-block system that works for you. Then tear it down, and build a better one.

Thank you Andy for sharing!

Andy is a great example of what we refer to in our community as a “productivity champ” — someone who continuously looks for ways to become better or someone who has the growth mindset. Other examples of people who have succeeded are Lisa and Scott who we have written case studies about.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, or distracted, you can overcome that and become a productivity champ too:

  • Review our TEA Framework, and become familiar with the 3 Pillars of Productivity.
  • Take our super-quick Productivity Quiz, which will give you actionable insight into where you should get started.
  • Pick one (only one!) action step and schedule it on your calendar to implement it.

If you think we should feature you as a productivity champ, get in touch and let us know!

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Asian Efficiency by Asian Efficiency Team, Asian Effici.. - 2d ago

So you’re feeling fairly productive and then wham – a life change happens. It could be any number of things, but in today’s episode we are going to talk about one specific topic: being productive during illness or recovery.

I’m joined by Jennifer Lava and James Lott Jr., two professional organizers and productivity consultants who have unique experience in this area, which you’ll hear about. Let’s just say they know what they’re talking about.

Thanks to Gusto for supporting The Productivity Show. Gusto is offering our listeners 3 months free when you run your first payroll. Check out Gusto at Gusto.com/TPS.

Thanks also to Rhone for supporting The Productivity Show. Rhone is offering our listeners 20% off their first purchase. Visit Rhone.com/TPS and enter promo code TPS during checkout.

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Cheat Sheet:
  • Why Brooks brought Jennifer and James on to talk about this topic [4:30]
  • Why James believes you need to change what being productive means during illness or recovery [10:53]
  • How Jennifer has changed her mindset to accept her circumstances and keep moving forward [12:47]
  • Why the productivity tools Jennifer used before her chronic pain began became even more important [16:01]
  • The importance of everything having its correct place in helping relieve stress and save energy [22:50]
  • Why breaking your work down into chunks is always paramount in your productivity [32:33]
  • Why self-care should be your first priority always when you are in illness or recovery [38:33]
  • Jennifer’s advice on how to prioritize best in tough situations [43:02]
  • The benefits of hiring a personal organizer, also known as a “personal trainer for your stuff” [49:27]
Links:Connect with Jennifer Lava and James Lott Jr.

If you enjoyed this episode, subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Overcast, PocketCast or your favorite podcast player. It’s easy, you’ll get new episodes automatically, and it also helps the show gain exposure. You can also leave a review! Here’s how.

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It started out as a great day. You created your to-do list the night before and you breezed through the list. You even made significant progress on your projects. What started out as a great day, became a great week, a great month and it was all because you had your goals and rituals set in place.

Then things happened. You got sick or your child got sick. Unexpected trips. Emergencies. Feeling tired. Procrastinating little by little. Then you realize, you have not made any progress in a long time.

You have fallen off the productivity bandwagon.

I understand this feeling 100%. A few years ago, my family and I went on a two-week tour around Asia. This was planned–all good, right? Unfortunately, after our trip, we faced some family problems. I got stuck in that never-ending cycle of looking at the tasks that I needed to do after a two-week leave and then feeling helpless because:

  1. I couldn’t focus because my mind was somewhere else
  2. I didn’t know where to start
  3. I didn’t want to work

I wanted to leave Asian Efficiency.

I forget how I ended up telling Thanh. But I am leaning towards him sensing that something was wrong with me. But I will never forget what he told me. He said “Marmel, I understand and it’s OKAY. Take it slow. If you need a day or two to take care of stuff outside of work–take it. AE will still be here when you get back.”

You see, you don’t have to sacrifice your personal life to get things done. Sometimes, all you need to do is to speak to someone. In my case, it was my boss who happens to be a productivity nerd who has helped more than 13,000 people become productive.

If you have fallen off your productivity chair, it’s okay. You won’t be stuck there forever. As Thanh told me–take it slow and…

Follow these 6 strategies to help you get back on track1. Schedule your habits

When you fall off the productivity bandwagon, your habits could also be affected. For example, you stopped reading for 30 minutes a day, you no longer go to the gym or have stopped meditating. If that happened, then put your habits in your calendar. Pencil it in and commit to it. If you have completely stopped your morning or evening rituals then pencil it in your calendar, one at a time.

Not scheduling your habits or rituals could only lead to you forgetting about it or finding excuses why you can’t do it because it’s not on your calendar. If it’s not on your calendar, then it might not be important.

2. Make it as easy as possible

As Thanh told me, take it slow. Make small steps towards your goals. If you had 7 steps in your morning ritual and your struggling with being consistent, then try 1 step first until you get used to it again. Take it slow. What is important is you taking that first small step.

Imagine that you recently moved to a new house and at the same time you have work and not feeling very productive. Your house is still full of unopened boxes but you just couldn’t find the time to get it in order. Make it easy for yourself. Every day, set a timer for 30 minutes to go through a box. When the timer runs out, you can stop. Do this for a few days until such time you think that you can do more than 30 minutes a day. This amount of time, although small, is still time well spent.

Here’s another example. Let’s say you need to write a book. Instead of pushing for 1,500 words per day as you have done before, aim for 500 and then gradually increase it. Making small and easy steps can help you get back to your productivity groove.

3. Focus on one task at a time

The feeling of overwhelm is paralyzing and I wish I was kidding. You cannot focus if you have so much stuff on your to-do list and everything says “URGENT” or “IMPORTANT”. Then there’s URGENT AND IMPORTANT!

It’s time to whip out that Pomodoro. This is my go-to solution when I am feeling overwhelmed and I need to focus on one task at a time. Start your Pomodoro, work on a single task for 25 minutes with all your energy and brain power, and work on it until it’s done. It could take several Pomodoros–and that’s FINE! Don’t forget to take your breaks.

Repeat and continue.

4. Find a Group, a Friend, or a Mentor

How lucky am I that I am surrounded by my Asian Efficiency team and the Dojo?

It’s hard to feel and stay demotivated when you are surrounded by people who will stop at nothing to help you get back on track. And that’s what I have and it’s what you should get too. When you’re already feeling demotivated, you’d spiral down if you are always alone.

You can look for an accountability friend–someone you can share your goals for the week (or month) and someone to check up on you if you have done what you set up for yourself. We tend to work harder and focus on a goal if we tell someone else what our goal is. It could be as simple as going to the gym. Go to the gym with your friend and set a goal on how many times you will do it per week and make sure you communicate this with your friend as well.

Inside the Dojo forum, our productivity community, we have a thread all about accountability. Dojo members post what their goals are and other members of the Dojo check up regularly.

5. Design your environment for success

When I was a kid, I couldn’t study when my room was a mess. It was impossible. There were just too many distractions. What I would do, a week or two before my exams, I always do a general cleaning of sorts. This is something that I still do today. Not that I am still messy, but I always make sure my desk is tidy.

When I start my work day, I go to a clean desk that’s telling me “You’re ready.” It’s like starting off a clean slate every single day, ready to make progress on my goals and tasks. My computer is the same way. When I open up my computer, I don’t have any open tabs.

6. Don’t give up

When you fall off the productivity bandwagon, the most difficult part is picking yourself up and just starting. That first task on top your to-do list is going to be your Mt. Everest. You have to climb it. Slowly. One step at a time. But no matter how small those steps are and no matter how slow your pace is, you will still reach the summit.

So don’t give up!

It will take time to get back to your regular productivity groove, but it will happen.

Action Items

Now is the time to start getting back on track. If we were to pick two items from the list above to get you going they would be:

  • Schedule your habits
  • Focus on one task at a time
  • Join a community of like-minded people like the Dojo

If you need help, reach out to us. We’re here to help you.

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Asian Efficiency by Asian Efficiency Team, Asian Effici.. - 1w ago

In the past, we’ve talked about making goals and creating rituals. What do you do when you have those goals and rituals that work well for a while but then… don’t. How do you get back up when your productivity or goals have slipped? Sometimes it’s a sudden change, but other times it’s so gradual we don’t even notice.

In this episode, we’ll go over 6 ways to help you bounce back.

Thanks to Gusto for supporting The Productivity Show. Gusto is offering our listeners 3 months free when you run your first payroll. Check out Gusto at Gusto.com/TPS.

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Cheat Sheet:
  • The two most common ways most of us get off track with our goals and productivity [3:15]
  • Why you should schedule your habits [6:13]
  • How to make getting back to your habits as easy as possible [10:56]
  • Why focusing on one task at a time will make your work go by faster and easier [15:49]
  • What happens to your brain when you try to multitask, and why it doesn’t work [18:07]
  • The power of community and mentorship in building and maintaining your routine [22:51]
  • How our environment deeply affects us and our habits [31:55]
  • Why you should clear to neutral at the end of your workday [38:45]
  • Why showing up is the most important thing [42:07]
Links:

If you enjoyed this episode, subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Overcast, PocketCast or your favorite podcast player. It’s easy, you’ll get new episodes automatically, and it also helps the show gain exposure. You can also leave a review! Here’s how.

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Here at Asian Efficiency, we always tell our readers and our customers to always do an annual review. The annual review will help you measure, quantify, and visualize your personal growth as well as goals that you have set for yourself at the beginning of the year. These goals can be personal (family included), business goals, and also career goals.

But here’s a kicker–you don’t have to wait until the end of the year to actually do a review. A mid-year check of your goals is just as important as an annual review–especially when you feel that you have not made any big progress. It’s natural to feel demotivated or even panic at the thought of “Six months have gone by and I am still nowhere near the goals I have set six months ago!!!”

Some would actually just give up on their goals and look forward to January of NEXT year to start again. You don’t have to do that. The thing is, it’s fine if you are still far from your goals. You still have six months to work on it. You don’t have to sacrifice the important things just because you feel that you have wasted 6 months and you need to triple your effort!

Going through your mid-year goal check is the perfect time for you to make changes or even cut off some stuff in your list. It will also help you visualize where you currently are. Let’s say your goal for the year was to do 50 book reviews and during your mid-year check-in, you realize you only did 15 the past six months–knowing this will help you make changes by either adjusting your goal or adjusting the number of reviews you do per week and then add to your calendar.

OR! If you have not thought about your goals for the year, it’s fine if you start NOW!

Here are things to look out for during your mid-year check-in:

1. Are there any changes to your goals?

A lot can happen in a year just like a lot can happen in six months. What could be true six months ago, could be far from the reality you face today. For example, changes to your career or family life or even shift in business priorities–which are all fine and should be embraced wholeheartedly. You don’t have to continue working on a goal if it no longer will bring value to your life.

The same can also be said for ‘overly optimistic goals’ that we make when we’re very excited and pumped! Like–work out every day, write 2000 words daily etc. If you can do it, that’s awesome! But if during the course of the year you realize that you’re not hitting it consistently, perhaps the goals you set were not realistic. So you adjust your goals. For example, instead of saying you will work out every day, you change it to work out at least three times a week. Then from 2000 words a day, perhaps change it to 5000 words a week.

2. Remove unnecessary goals

When you start the year with a clean slate, you might get tempted to list down 10 (or more) goals for the year. It could look something like this:

    1. Lose 50 lbs
    2. Go to the gym every day
    3. Launch website version 2.0
    4. Hire a blogger/writer for website
    5. Attend 5 different seminars on sales and marketing
    6. Read 24 books (non-fiction)
    7. Travel to 2 countries I have never been to before
    8. Attend weekly taekwondo classes with Ben
    9. Start MBA journey
    10. Increase sales to $300,000 by the end of the year

It would be awesome if you can check out everything by the end of the year but if you’re not careful, you might end up not finishing or reaching any of the goals you have set. The mid-year check-in is the perfect time to remove unnecessary goals and decide which ones are the most important ones. You then can give focus on these important goals.

From the 10 goals, you can narrow it down to:

  1. Hire blogger/writer
  2. Launch website 2.0
  3. Increase sales to $300,00 by end of year
3. Where are you with the goals you’ve set?

Look back at the goals you’ve set for yourself at the beginning of the year. It’s best to write down on paper or on a whiteboard so that it’s easier to visualize. Beside each goal, put in where you currently are.

For example, your goal was to increase your mailing list from 10,000 to 50,000 and during your mid-year check-in, you see that you are at 15,000. You are still lacking 35,000 emails to reach your goals. Knowing that and visually seeing that on paper or on your board, plan out what you need to do to close that gap and reach your goal.

Let’s say your goal was to launch your own website, where are you currently with that? You realize that you’ve only just purchased the domain. Still, a long way to go but you can now make some plans on how to get from having a domain to having a working website.

You can also use the mid-year check-in to remind yourself WHY you decided on those goals. What would you earn (not necessarily in monetary form) once you reach your goal? Use this opportunity to get yourself back in the game by just remembering WHY you need to achieve those goals.

4. Set more frequent goals

Twelve months can be a long time especially if you want to see results as soon as possible. You can set more frequent goals that can add up to your long term goals. Instead of saying that you want to earn $300,000 in revenue by the end of the year, you can change it to say $80,000 in revenue per quarter.

By setting more frequent goals, you are also forced to make more frequent check-ins and not just every six months. When you do this, you don’t get overwhelmed by the length of time and at the same time, every time you reach a goal, you will be motivated to continue.

(In the Dojo, our exclusive productivity community, we have a video course on the 12-Week Year that can help you set more frequent and meaningful goals.)

5. Evaluate the roadblocks you faced

Knowing these roadblocks and how you overcame these will help you in the next six months. Hopefully, you will not make the same mistakes and if you encounter the same roadblock, you already know how to resolve it immediately.

Next Steps:
  1. Re-write all the goals you have set for yourself at the beginning of the year.
  2. Look over your goals and evaluate what needs to change or what needs to be removed.
  3. Look at each goal on your list and evaluate where you currently are (be specific, especially with numbers).
  4. For each goal, plan out what you need to do for the next six months in order for you to move forward and gain some traction towards reaching your goals.
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At the beginning of the year, we set personal goals, family goals and for some even business goals. At the end of the year, we evaluate our achievements and weed out what didn’t work versus what did work. You don’t need to wait 12 months to evaluate your goals. A mid-year check-in is as equally important as an annual review. In this episode, we’ll give you 5 important things to look out for when you’re doing your mid-year check-in.

Thanks to Gusto for supporting The Productivity Show. Gusto is offering our listeners 3 months free when you run your first payroll. Check out Gusto at Gusto.com/TPS.

Get Podcast Updates

Do you want to get an email with shownotes each time a podcast goes live? Then let us know where to send the updates by entering your first name and email.

Cheat Sheet:
  • How long most people’s yearly goals last, and why a mid-year check-in is so important [4:11]
  • Why it’s never too late to set your goals [5:26]
  • What to do if your goals are no longer what you want or need [8:40]
  • The importance of removing unnecessary goals [11:29]
  • Why it’s much more efficient to set one goal at a time, even if you think you can do more [13:58]
  • How to set better goals by figuring out where you are now and how best to measure it [16:20]
  • Why setting more shorter goals is better than one big goal [23:20]
  • The power of reflecting on your past experiences in going towards your goals, and knowing you can’t predict what roadblocks are in your future [29:30]
  • Why you should keep your work and life goals separated [35:31]
Links:

If you enjoyed this episode, subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Overcast, PocketCast or your favorite podcast player. It’s easy, you’ll get new episodes automatically, and it also helps the show gain exposure. You can also leave a review! Here’s how.

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In 48 hours, I had to give a keynote in front of 450 people. Here I was, sick, lying in bed, and we’re about to launch a new product at Asian Efficiency which could change the course of the company.

With very limited time and capacity to be productive, I still needed to rehearse my keynote (that I have never given before), finish up product deliverables, review important marketing campaigns, lead team and employee meetings, and more. I wasn’t sure what to do.

What would you do if you were sick and you had an important deadline? Do you work through your sickness? Do you rest, recover and try to catch up later? Push a deadline?

Most typical advice will say to take a day off, rest up and come back when you’re healthy.

But I couldn’t cancel on my keynote. If I did, I would have to refund what they paid me and it would damage my reputation with the meeting planners that pulled a lot of strings for me to get this gig. We also had a product launch happening and we were already mid-way through and canceling it would negatively impact the brand and our clients who were expecting this new product. I had to figure how to get it all done while being sick.

At Asian Efficiency we help people make the most out of their time without having to sacrifice their health, family, and things that matter to them. It was time to eat my own dog food and test this even further. So here’s what I ended up doing.

1. Focus On One Thing

At Asian Efficiency we see people not get things done because their focus is all over the place. When people start their day tackling five different tasks, they often leave the office disappointed with nothing checked off. Even though they were busy and “doing work”, nothing got accomplished.

That’s why it’s important to prioritize and only work on one task at a time. This is how you get things done. One important task done is more impactful than five tasks half-done.

What’s even better is eliminating anything you don’t have to do. How often do we work on tasks that don’t even need to be done? Far more than we care to admit.

When I was sick, I knew I couldn’t do everything and it was a good reminder that I needed to get even more ruthless with my priorities.

Out of the 10+ things on my todo list before my flight, I asked myself this question: what are the things only I could do?

Once I asked myself that question, it became very obvious. The only thing I could do that no one else could was to give a keynote. Everything else could be done by someone else. So my todo list went from:

  • Prepare and rehearse keynote
  • Give keynote
  • Review marketing materials of product launch
  • Run daily standup meeting with the team
  • 1on1 meetings with key team members
  • (and a few other things)

To this:

  • Prepare and rehearse keynote
  • Give keynote

I was the unique talent for the keynote and everything else was delegate-able and postponable.

Once I had this clarity, I felt so much better. I could focus on just one big thing and have everything else done by someone else. I got on a call with the team, explained the situation and gave everyone pointers of how I would think through certain things. They were now empowered to take over.

You can do the same. Ask for help from others. It could be your partner, your team, co-workers, your parents…anyone. This is the perfect time to have them help you so you can focus on what’s most important.

I used to have trouble letting go of things but I’ve learned over the years that this mindset held me back from growing Asian Efficiency. So I had no issue with letting someone else run the meetings and review the marketing materials. It was also the perfect opportunity for the team to improve on their skills and at the same time, we became better at being cross-functional.

2. Sleep, Sleep, and Sleep

Sleep is extremely important for getting back on track and healthy. This is when your body will focus on repairing and recovering. With only 48 hours before my trip, I made it a priority to nap and sleep as much as I could. We have a course inside the Dojo on how to optimize your sleep and recovery so I remembered we had a simple checklist there that I could use.

My mindset was really simple: let’s tackle my todo list and whenever I feel tired, take a nap. Mid-way through rehearsing my talk for the 2nd time, I felt tired. So I grabbed my eyemask, lowered the bedroom temperature and made my room as dark as possible before I laid down.

When I woke up, I felt hot but a little better. I would go back to rehearsing my talk and repeat this process.

To prepare for a good night sleep, I followed my evening ritual and made sure I consumed more magnesium throughout the day. It’s a natural tranquilizer for the body and I’m a big fan of the Calm supplement. I would take 3 scoops a day to get around 1 gram of magnesium in. Most of us don’t get enough magnesium from our diet so this is an easy way to increase that and get better sleep.

The next day, after sleeping 8.5 hours, I woke up feeling pretty good and energized. I could still feel I was not 100% but good enough to get a day’s worth of rehearsals in and running last minute errands.

3. Go Sweat In a Sauna

The most recent go-to step in my recovery protocol is to go to the sauna. Detoxing and sweating in the sauna has so many health benefits. Where I live in Austin, two blocks away there’s a fitness and recovery center called Generator Athlete Lab. They have an infrared sauna that I usually go to twice a week. But once I got sick, I went in every day.

The sauna will raise your internal temperature just like when you get sick or go through intense exercise. It will stimulate processes in your body to help you recover from that and detox through sweating and eliminating heat. Normally I would last between 25 and 35 minutes in 150F (65 Celsius) but this time I could barely do 10 minutes.

But those 10 minutes had a high return on investment – it helped me recover faster. Tons of research studies have shown the benefits of saunas and I’m a big believer in it. Just be mindful to hydrate yourself a lot when you do go in while you’re sick. Which brings me to the next point.

4. Drink Lots of Water

When you go to the sauna, you should be drinking more water than normal because you lose a lot of liquids through sweating. When you’re sick you should also drink more to help the body recover and eliminate any waste.

Most of us don’t drink enough water. Whatever the amount you’re drinking right now, double that. When you’re sick, drink even more. Everyone’s needs are different but to put it in perspective I drink around 2.5 liters a day (85 oz) when I’m healthy. When I was sick I would go up to 4 liters (1 gallon). On sauna days, that would be even more.

To take it a step further, when you sweat a lot (or had a heavy night of drinking) you lose a lot of salt and minerals. The easiest way to replenish that is by adding electrolyte powder to your water. It’s why you see professional athletes drink colorful liquids to help them recover and perform better. Except they usually have lots of sugar in them which you don’t want when you’re recovering from an illness. You just need the extra salt and minerals which is why the electrolyte powder is so helpful. I would add a small teaspoon to every jug of water I had. The brand I personally use is this one by Vega Sport but any brand will do.

5. Take Your Supplements

I’m pretty good with taking my daily supplements. At home, I have this supplement rack that my housekeeper will fill up every week so it’s always full and ready to go. There are weeks when I’m skipping taking supplements because I just forget or I’m too lazy to check it off in my OmniFocus. Sometimes for multiple days in a row.

However, as soon as I got sick, I would get back on track to take my daily supplements. I wanted to empower my body with every vitamin and mineral it needed to recover.

To take it a step further, a year ago my functional medicine doctor told me to take Congaplex 3-4 times a day (4 capsules each time). It raises your immune system and I had another friend, who I trust very much, vouch for it.

At the time I got sick, I wanted to recover faster so I could not miss work as much. I had never heard of this supplement but I was desperate to recover from my illness so I took it. Every day I would take it multiple times a day and as each day went by, I felt better and better.

Was it the Congaplex that helped? That I cannot be certain of but at the time I didn’t have all the other steps of the protocol figured out yet. The only major things I did was sleep, drink water and take Congaplex.

I’m a believer of it now after I tried it a few more times. Every time I feel like I’m about to get sick, like an itchy throat or my body temperature was abnormally high while I was sleeping (something I can see in my Oura ring), I’ll take Congaplex twice a day and I haven’t been sick much since. This has made me a believer of it and it’s widely available over the counter. In fact, I take 4 capsules now as part of my pre-flight routine (before I leave my home) so I avoid any sickness I might get from being on planes and at airports.

6. Stop Doing These Three Things

As much as sleep, hydration and supplements are important for your recovery, there are a few things that can delay or stop it.

For example, most forms of exercise is a bad idea when you’re sick. Your body is already stressed from the illness so adding more stress from exercise will delay your recovery.

In fact, intense exercise will temporarily lower your immune system. If you’ve ever started a new exercise program after not working out for a while, you might have noticed that you’re more often sick around that same time. That’s because your body will focus on recovery after exercise which temporarily compromises your immune system. Over time, your body gets better at it but this is just a good reminder for you and me to not exercise when we’re sick.

The other thing to avoid is eating unhealthy food. I know this sounds so obvious but how many of us have eaten pints of Ben & Jerry’s, bags of Doritos and chocolate cookies when we’re sick?

Just me?

Mmm, okay. Well let me tell you now, that’s a bad idea! When we’re sick we want to nourish our body with healthy foods so it can recover faster. I love eating ice cream – especially when I feel sick and hot thinking it will help me cool down and the sugar will make me temporarily feel better. Try to resist it because it’s not the nourishment your body needs to recover fast.

Because I was in a time crunch, my next piece of advice will be a little counterintuitive. Normally when you’re sick, you want to relax and avoid anything strenuous like exercise. In the past, I would read a book and watch TV all day.

I will actually recommend you skip reading and watching TV. I would consider these passive forms of recovery. Instead, you should focus on active recovery where you’re putting yourself in an environment for your body to fully focus on recovery. These are the things I mentioned earlier – drinking more water, sleep, nap and go to the sauna.

Instead of watching TV (passive), use that time to nap (active). Instead of laying in bed reading (passive), go to the sauna (active). Especially when you need to be recovered by a certain deadline like I did.

When I was sick, I skipped all these three things. I encourage you to do the same.

The Recovery Protocol

That is my recovery protocol for when I need to be productive by a deadline and get back healthy fast.

48 hours later, I was on the plane, feeling 95% and on my way to Atlanta to give a keynote. I felt good enough to travel, give a talk and impact hundreds of people. Had I not followed my recovery protocol, I’m not sure I would have made it.

Going forward, I know what I need to do now to recover faster. This recovery protocol, which I’ve now documented in Evernote too and labeled as “Recovery Protocol”, is simple yet effective. The next time I get sick and I have a strict deadline to be healthy again, I know what I need to do now. And you do too.

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Asian Efficiency by Asian Efficiency Team, Asian Effici.. - 3w ago

I’m joined this time by Noah Kagan. He runs several companies and we got into how he is able to do that and still live a great life outside of work. We talked about goal setting and his unique systems for achieving goals, what his daily routine looks like and he shares his top-down approach to productivity.

This was one of my transparent interviews because we also talked a lot about our own failures and what we learned from them.

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Cheat Sheet:
  • The importance of making getting started as easy as possible at every stage of a project [1:23]
  • How Noah uses commitments and coaches to make achieving his goals easier [4:29]
  • Why Noah invests 5% of his net worth in risky investments every year [11:41]
  • How Noah sets his goals, manages them, and reminds himself of them daily [13:29]
  • How to prepare for getting back on track with your goals, and how to play games you can win [19:09]
  • The nature of personal growth, and how we aren’t always directly steering the ship [24:50]
  • Aligning your time and money spent with your values [27:16]
  • Why Noah doesn’t feel like he sets big enough goals, and why it’s important to be humbled by them [35:05]
  • How to know if it’s time to recommit to your goals or drop them [42:18]
  • How to keep interested in achieving your goals over the long term [46:33]
  • The apps that Noah uses every day, and what he recommends you do before checking those apps out [53:34]
  • How Noah leverages others to help increase his quality productive time [1:00:24]
Links:Connect with Noah Kagan:

If you enjoyed this episode, subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Overcast, PocketCast or your favorite podcast player. It’s easy, you’ll get new episodes automatically, and it also helps the show gain exposure. You can also leave a review! Here’s how.

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Summer reminds me of the holiday season when it comes to productivity. It seems that during summertime, people would often relax and slow down with their tasks and to do lists. Unfortunately for someone like me, I am already done with school and I don’t get summer breaks.

When I slowed down and ended up not doing much during the summer, I ended up panicking because of all the things that I had to catch up on!  It wasn’t the most ideal situation because I ended up very stressed and felt I needed another vacation–after taking a vacation.

It’s a whole new ballgame when you have kids (hello parents)! Not only are you fighting the urge to slack off and relax, but now you’re also juggling an extra 8 hours of time with your kids that they used to spend in school (thank you, teachers).  

The truth is, there are so many distractions during the summer like invitations from friends and kids constantly telling you “Mom/Dad, I’m bored”.

Whether you do or don’t have kids, how do you stay productive during the summer months and avoid the summer productivity slump? We asked this question to the Asian Efficiency team members and members of the Dojo, our exclusive productivity community, and we got some really helpful tips that you can implement and stay productive.

Tips on How to Stay Productive During Summer1. Have your portable office handy

With so many distractions during the summer, it would work to your advantage if you can take your work somewhere else. Clear skies, good weather, a clear head, and a bag with everything you need to be able to work outside–is everything you need to work and tick off some tasks on your to-do list.  Having your portable office handy means that you don’t end up forgetting. Inside my portable office bag are:

  • laptop charger
  • iPhone cable
  • Type C cable (for my Samsung S10)
  • Micro USB cable
  • power bank
  • Pocket Wifi
  • 3-way wall plug
  • notebook and pen
  • wet tissues
  • hand sanitizer
  • cash stashed in the secret pocket
  • water bottle

The only thing that’s not yet in my bag is my laptop.

I personally like working in parks especially for tasks that don’t require me to do deep work. I just make sure that I got my Bose QC35 to block out the noise. It might not be the same as working remotely in the Bahamas, but it sure beats working inside four walls.

2. Start your day early

The most obvious reason is when you start early, you end early as well. You get work done and have time to relax or spend time with family or friends. Also, early mornings are relatively cooler and you get more work done when it’s not as hot as the oven. We tend to experience the slump once the temperature starts to rise.

3. Work at an optimal temperature

The recommended working temperature is between 68F to 76F (which is 20C to 24.4C). Anything above or below those range means feeling sluggish and committing mistakes because your focus will also slip. If you don’t have an A/C, get a desk fan or one of those air coolers.

In some areas of the Philippines, heat can get as high as 123F (51C)! The island where I am from, the heat index went up to 111.2F (44C). That’s why we have A/Cs in our house. I tried to work with just the fan on but I had a hard time focusing and I couldn’t write. Our electricity bill went up but it was definitely worth it.

4. Have a shorter workday or work week

Some companies offer a 4-day work week during the summer. This ensures that things still get done and employees also get to spend quality time out of the office. If you have (a bit of) control over your schedule, you can also do this. We have a Dojo member who would take Mondays off during the summer to spend more time with his wife and kids.

It’s not just about the work that needs to be done, but also about the rest and relaxation that needs to be taken.

5. Try not to get sick

The worst part of summertime is getting sick–so avoid it as much as possible. We all know that getting sick means not being able to work or not getting the output we want. Be extra vigilant with your water intake (no, soda does not count) to avoid dehydration. When our body is dehydrated, our immune system suffers. It also lowers down our energy level.

Aside from staying hydrated, make sure that you are getting enough sleep. We have always equated good sleep with productivity since when we lack sleep, we tend to start the day feeling sluggish (for some, irritable) and some times, it’s hard to bounce back.

(Staying Productive with Kids)

6. Enroll your kids to join summer activities

This is not only for your productivity but your children as well. Learning doesn’t need to end once the bell (signaling the end of the school year) rings. There are a lot of community-based activities that children can join like painting, music, arts & crafts, taekwondo, karate, and etc.

The other side to this is you get time to work on your most important tasks as well. And if you are working from home, you get your much needed quiet time to focus and do deep work.

7. Establish boundaries

This is something I have explained to my daughter even when she was still very small. I used to work in corporate and I had a 9 PM to 6 AM shift. I explained to my daughter that I need to get enough sleep so that I can spend time with her in the afternoon and have enough energy to last me throughout my work ‘day’. Although she was still very young, she understood what it meant and she would never interrupt my sleep unless it was an emergency (which thankfully never happened).

Now that she’s 11 years old, she still respects the boundaries that I have set when she was still 2 years old. It doesn’t mean that I don’t spend time with her–just that we have allocated time for work and then some ‘us time’. We still watch her favorite show, The Deadliest Catch, and watch anime.

8. Create memories

As a kid, my summer memories are all about family. I would usually spend it with my cousins and we all stay at our grandparent’s house. If not, I spend it with my aunt who lived by the beach. By the time summer ends, I’d be so tanned that it would horrify my mom. Those memories I have are forever with me–I enjoyed my summer vacations and just thinking about it makes me miss my grandparents (so much).

Now that I have my own family, I want my kid to have good memories too. That’s why every summer we travel and spend time as a family. This is something that I always plan months in advance so that I can take a planned leave from work and really focus on having a great time with my family.

This way I don’t have to stress about work during our vacation because I have planned it and have made the necessary changes so that I am able to complete my tasks prior to my planned leave.

The Important Thing

We have said numerous times that work-life balance is a myth since we cannot really separate the two. These two cups would often spill over each other–which is fine.

But the important thing is this: have a life worth remembering.

It will not always be just about the goals we’ve set. Not just about the number of tasks we were able to tick off our to-do list. Not just about the number of hours we have spent doing deep work.

It is about the quality of life we are living. The memories we create with our loved ones. And the smiles we have and have caused.

Let’s all have a productive summer–and summer with lots of laughter and also some rest.

Action Items

Try to give working outside, in the open with lots of natural light, a try by preparing your portable office. Let us know in the comments what you prepared and how it went.

Next, try to work earlier than usual and see if you get more things done and still had time for yourself and your family after.

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Are you about to go on vacation? Before you do, be sure to listen to today’s episode where we share our top 5 tips for summer travel. You’ll discover the best travel apps, what you need to pack on your trip, and how to best prepare for your upcoming trip for it to be stress-free and comfortable.

Thanks to Grammarly for supporting The Productivity Show. Grammarly is offering our listeners 20% off a Grammarly premium account. Go to Grammarly.com/TPS to learn more.

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Cheat Sheet:
  • Why you should always have a packing checklist [3:53]
  • How a checklist can help you not only with forgetting something but also with bringing too much [6:52]
  • How you can make your checklists smarter by making them activity-specific [10:21]
  • Other travel necessities and tips and tricks from Brooks and Thanh [13:10]
  • How to train yourself to travel smart and light [17:30]
  • The advantages of leaving some things at home and getting them delivered to your destination [26:09]
  • How Thanh made his frequent destinations work better for him when he traveled there [29:21]
  • The mighty packing cube and how it can make your luggage easier to pack and to use [30:33]
  • How to make sure that you will have access to WiFi on your travels [36:53]
  • The apps and travel services that you must have when you travel [42:08]
  • How to protect your sensitive data with a VPN on your devices when you are traveling abroad [50:13]
Links:

If you enjoyed this episode, subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Overcast, PocketCast or your favorite podcast player. It’s easy, you’ll get new episodes automatically, and it also helps the show gain exposure. You can also leave a review! Here’s how.

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