Loading...

Follow Asian Efficiency Blog on Feedspot

Continue with Google
Continue with Facebook
or

Valid

Remember how happy you were when you were in school and that final bell rang before the summer holidays?

Now that we’re out of school and working we know the other side of that equation — the parents that have to figure out how to get work done while the kids are off school.

In this episode, we’ll go over 8 tips for staying productive when the kids are out of school.

Thanks to Rhone for supporting The Productivity Show. Rhone is offering our listeners something. For 20% off your first purchase, visit Rhone.com/TPS and enter promo code TPS during checkout.

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 Marmel and Brooks handle having kids at home over the summer [3:32]
  • Why determining your big priorities is critical in maximizing your time with your kids [6:53]
  • The equally important task of setting clear boundaries for your time [11:38]
  • How to manage your work hours so you can spend your best time with your kids [15:59]
  • What cool opportunities libraries can provide your family other than just books [22:17]
  • How summer activities for kids are a win for everybody [24:56]
  • How to take advantage of your environment with your work [28:57]
  • Why you should always consider asking for help [33:37]
  • The importance of creating memories for you and your family while you can [38:17]
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.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Asian Efficiency readers as well as members of the Dojo, our productivity community, come from all sorts of different backgrounds. We have corporate workers and managers, entrepreneurs, teachers, scientists, musicians, marketers, housewives/housebands, and so much more! The beauty of having such a diverse audience is the wealth of knowledge that is shared.

A perfect example of this is Moses. Read on and find out why he is our productivity champ for this month.

Introducing Moses Kaulaity

Moses is a handyman and general contractor. He owns Kaulaity Construction, which is based in Ontario Canada.

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

Discovering podcasts is a fun and exciting thing to do when I was looking for entertainment, but it turns out there are a few podcasts out there that are all about self-improvement and business too! One of these podcasts is called “Old Dawgs REI Network Podcast”. When I was studying Real Estate Investment, I listened to this podcast frequently. At the end of the episode, the host (Bill Manassero) asked the guest being interviewed something along the lines of:

” …name your top 3 resources that you like for your business and 1 other podcast that is useful to you…”

The only answer that the guest gave that still sticks in my mind even to this day was “Asian Efficiency”, which is amazing because it goes to prove that the AE name is a lot stickier than The Productivity Show.

Anyway, once I took the productivity quiz, I knew I was hooked into a culture of professionalism that I never knew I needed, but also finally made sense to me.

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

This is a great question. I have learned a lot from my mistakes, and being in construction we run into literal and figurative walls all the time.

The short answer is that one could easily view a wall or problem as an exciting opportunity to grow. And those walls and problems have shaped me into the man I am today, I am grateful for them.

The slightly longer answer would be that the most devastating issues happen by not acknowledging the problem or “wall” appropriately, either through stubbornness, ignorance, fear, uncertainty or doubt and forcing a way through the issue instead of using skills. There are a lot of effective analogies for construction and walls!

What was the epiphany you experienced and discovered?

The power of compound interest. I didn’t realize that 1% incremental improvement could be such a wonderful tool and philosophy and practice.

What was the transformation that you experienced?

My body. Over the last 2 years, I have lost 50 pounds.

My Business. As of right now, I am booked 3 months in advance. I continue to fill my calendar and manage my leads properly.

My Family and Friends. I am closer to my Step-Daughters and Wife and all family members now. I treat my closest friends like they are family now. The love is real.

My Attitude and Spirit. I am calm and focused.

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

Start by saying the 3 hardest words you may ever have to say:

“I don’t know.”

Then begin reading, listening and learning–it’s vitally important. If you feel like you have to develop everything yourself from scratch, reinvent the wheel, go it alone, etc. I am saying to you, with peace and love, that you don’t have to do it that way. We can work together and build something great as a society. By asking questions, using the technology at your fingertips and pouring some wholesome nutrition into your brain and body, your future YOU will thank YOU for it.

What Does it Take to be A Productivity Champ?

Thank you Moses for sharing!

Moses 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!

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Summer is coming up and for most people that means vacations, extended time off and more time outside. The summer productivity slump is a real thing. But for some of you, you need to be productive and make the most of your summer. Maybe you’re studying for something, starting a business or you’re behind on work and need to catch up – this episode is for you. We’ll go over 7 tips you can implement right away to ensure you have a productive summer.

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.

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:
  • Thanh’s top three productivity resources for the week [2:05]
  • How the change in environment, both in the weather and in your workplace, can stifle productivity [4:30]
  • Why keeping an optimal temperature in your workspace is so important [8:20]
  • How people in much hotter climates adapt to their otherwise unbearable summers [9:19]
  • Why when you work is super important in keeping you productive [15:48]
  • Why the best solution is sometimes just working less [21:51]
  • The importance of staying hydrated, especially during the summer months [26:48]
  • Tricks for staying cool and hydrated all day long [28:45]
  • How to minimize your water loss throughout the day [33:04]
  • Why enrolling your kids in summer activities is a great benefit to your productivity [36:02]
  • Why summer is a good time to tackle that self-care activity you’ve been postponing [37:41]
  • How doing the same work activities in the outdoors can make a huge difference in your energy [42:48]
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.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Today we’re sharing with you our top 10 physical devices and tools that we use. These help us get things done, build habits, improve how we work, and overall makes our life a lot easier. If there’s anything that you think we should add, do let us know in the comments.

1. Kindle Paperwhite 

I love books and I love to smell the pages of books (I know I’m weird). I have a collection of books at home that I display on my B&B shelf (Books & Booze, not kidding) but I also have a Kindle Paperwhite that I use (mostly) when I am not at home. e-Books are perfect when you want to read on the go or if you want reading materials anywhere you go. Whenever I have to wait for my daughter to finish her class, I just whip out my Kindle and read away. Anywhere I go if I have a suspicion that I will be waiting, I will always have my Kindle.

The Kindle Paperwhite is handy, portable, works well even with low light and bright lights. I still use a slightly older model (2016 edition) and I love it. I don’t have any reason to upgrade yet. I also got the Kindle Unlimited service.

If you’re wondering why not just use the free Kindle app for the iOS or Android, three reasons:

  • to phone battery life
  • no notifications on the Kindle, I can focus on what I am reading
  • because the Kindle Paperwhite is side-lit, and not backlit like phones and regular tablets, it’s a lot easier on my eyes (I have terrible eyesight)
2. CableCreation 2-in-1 (Lightning + micro USB) 

This is extremely handy when you travel because you don’t have to bring multiple cables. A perfect example is if you have an Apple phone and then you have a Kindle, just like Thanh. He has a couple of these cables around his apartment as well as in his bags.

Additional life hack: have a separate set of cables that’s always in your travel/portable bag. This way, all you need to put in your bag is your laptop and then you’re off.

3. eero 

Do you have wifi dead spots in your house? Or if not a dead spot, just an area where the wifi seems to be really slow? eero will solve that for you. They have the eero Pro (1500 sq ft) that you connect with your modem and with it, you can add an eero Beacon that adds an additional 1000 sq ft of wifi coverage. You can add more Beacons if you want your wifi to reach other areas inside your house or even your backyard.

Allow me to geek out a bit. eero is a smart router that adapts to your home and usage. It also has built-in security features that you don’t have to worry (or remember) about installing security patches.

Did I mention it has parental controls? You can create profiles for your kids and have the option to turn off their wifi access when it’s bedtime and also turn safety filters on as well.

eero was recently purchased by Amazon and if you’re not too keen on that, we do have an alternative and it’s the Netgear Orbi which has similar features to the eero.

4. Gunnar glasses

Blue light, although environmentally friendly, is the enemy of sleep. That’s why we always tell you (our readers) to stop using your gadgets or look at screens an hour before sleeping. Or else, you’d end up tossing and turning (and then looking at your phone screen again) for an hours before you finally get some shut-eye.

But it’s not always possible! Whether for work or for leisure, there are times when we just can’t help it. In my case, I work in front of a computer until 1 AM and it was such a pain trying to fall asleep. I would always envy people who would lie down and then within 5 minutes are already sleeping. I mentioned this to Thanh, in passing, during one of our team meet-ups and he immediately gave me his Gunnar glasses (he had an extra pair).

I use it regularly, starting at 6 PM so that I can sleep immediately after I work. I also noticed that my sleep disruption percentage (using SleepWatch) is also lower when I use it as well as better sleep quality.  You can know more about how to optimize your sleep for maximum efficiency in this blog post.

They are pretty stylish (in my opinion) since it reminds me of Bono from U2. So you can definitely wear them around town.

5. Sonos 

Sonos is a smart wireless sound system that you can control using voice commands and has Amazon Alexa is built-in. You can even connect several Sonos for the best experience. Thanh is so obsessed with the Sonos that he has 6 in his apartment!

6. Oura ring 

This is something that Thanh and several of our Dojo members (our productivity community) use as a fitness tracker. There are a lot of fitness trackers around but the Oura ring is literally a ring that you wear on your finger so you don’t have to worry about it being cumbersome (especially if you are not a fan of wearing a watch).

Although it’s well known for tracking sleep, it does more than that. It tracks your heart rate, number of steps you’ve taken, body temperature, and other metrics that the Apple Watch or the Fitbit also does–but in ring form. Thanh, in particular, likes the Oura ring energy feature and he talks about this in our podcast.

You can wear it 24/7! Well, except when you’re charging it.  

7. Withings Steel HR Hybrid Smartwatch 

It’s a smartwatch that doesn’t look like a smartwatch. With its sleek design, you wouldn’t expect it to track your heart rate, steps, distance, sleep. It also has smart notifications for calls, texts, events, and even app notifications.

If you want a smartwatch tracker but you’re not really a fan of how it looks, the Withing Steel HR Hybrid Smartwatch is perfect for you. Brooks bought one after a number of our Dojo members recommended it to him and he absolutely loves it. You can use it even when you are wearing formal clothes because they have several designs that you can choose from. The best part? It lasts up to 25 days on a single charge.

8. AirPods 

When the AirPods first came out, I literally went “Why Apple?”. However, Apple got the last laugh because the AirPods became a hit. It’s not the best when you’re working out but it’s really great for phone calls, meetings, and even podcast recordings. You can wear them together or wear just one.

If you want to use your AirPods with your Mac, install Tooth Fairy to make it work seamlessly.

9. Logitech Keys-to-Go Portable Keyboard 

Typing directly on your iPad is okay when you’re just browsing. But when you’re writing hundreds of words, then it’s a different experience altogether. This portable keyboard is the answer. It’s lightweight and can easily slip into your bag’s compartment. An added bonus is it’s spill resistant.

10. Montblanc pen

Do you know what never goes out of style? Hand-written notes for someone. It can be a simple thank you note or a simple event reminder. The Montblanc pen is a personal favorite of Thanh since he uses it a lot especially when he journals. It might not be your cup of tea, but there is something awesome when you use a beautiful pen when you write your notes down.

This is also one of those things that you can actually hand down to someone else for generations since they have refills. If you can’t hand down a Breguet Marie-Antoinette Grande Complication Pocket Watch, then you can hand down the Montblanc pen.

Action Item

Those are our top 10 favorite physical devices and tools. Next, pick one tool or device that you think will improve your life greatly and use it for the next 2 weeks and let us know how it goes!

If there’s anything you think we missed, let us know in the comments.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

In today’s episode, we are finishing up our 3 part series about our favourite things to get things done. We’ve talked about our favorite apps for the computer, our favorite apps for mobile, and now we are going to talk about our favorite physical devices and tools.

These are the things we use every day, and we love them all.

Thanks to Blinkist for supporting The Productivity Show. Blinkist is offering our listeners a free 7-day trial. Go to Blinkist.com/TPS to learn more.

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:
  • What computers, tablets, and phones Thanh and Brooks are using [3:56]
  • The device that Thanh and Brooks use so much, it is an “insta-buy” when it breaks [7:44]
  • How Thanh keeps all of his different devices charged with just one cable [9:40]
  • The solution to making sure you always have WiFi throughout the house [11:21]
  • How Thanh ensures he always gets a good night’s sleep [14:59]
  • Why Thanh and Brooks like Sonos speakers so much, they have six of them throughout their houses [17:21]
  • How the Oura ring miniaturized the fitness tracking accessory [20:32]
  • The smart watch that beat out Apple Watch for Brooks [23:53]
  • How Airpods became a must-have despite Thanh wondering who would buy them when they came out [25:36]
  • Brooks’s favorite portable keyboard to use with the iPad [28:13]
  • The gift that made writing more enjoyable and easier for Thanh [29:44]
  • The favorite devices of the Dojo members [32:38]
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.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

There were 178 billion app downloads in 2017, and that’s expected to grow to 205 billion in 2019.

With millions and millions of apps in the iOS and Android app stores, this creates a problem — it’s tough enough getting all your important things done in the time that you have.

It’s even more difficult when you’re distracted trying to figure out which app to use, or when you get distracted by some shiny new object.

Fortunately, we test out a lot of mobile apps here at AE so you don’t have to. We’ve narrowed down our favorites, and you can’t go wrong with any of them.

Traditionally we’ve made a list of Essential iPad apps, but this time we are going to also feature apps for the phone. Almost half the AE team uses Android devices, so we are going to feature cross-platform apps, or list Android or iOS alternatives where possible.

With all that said, here are our Top 10 mobile apps, not in any particular order.

(Note, we left off task managers, calendar apps, and things like Evernote and Slack since people talk about those all the time!)

MindNode

Mind mapping is a great way to capture, break down, and think through ideas.

It is also a great way to take notes and organize information. We recorded a podcast on mind mapping, and we discussed how I use MindNode to capture ideas and action items from books.

MindNode is a beautiful mind mapping tool on iPhone, iPad, and the Mac, and syncs flawlessly between the three platforms. It also has great export features, so you can create a mind map and easily turn it into Markdown for writing or export it to OmniFocus or Things to take action.

MindNode is iOS only, but if you use Android, Mindmeister is a popular alternative.

Spark

Spark is an email client for iOS, Mac, and Android. You can manage your email on all your devices, and you can export messages to your task manager or capture them to your file system or reference systems like Evernote or OneNote.

They have a “Smart Inbox” feature to try to make it easier for you to focus on the emails that matter. A nice design doesn’t hurt, either.

If you use email in teams, Spark has collaboration features whereby team members can comment on and assign emails to each other. This is a much more organized way to deal with team emails instead of huge forwarding chains.

Tripit

A few years ago, we made a family trip that involved 9 flights in 14 days. Tripit, which is a trip-management app for iOS and Android, was unbelievably helpful.

With Tripit, you can forward all your trip confirmation and itinerary emails to a special email address. It parses them and organizes them for you so you can see where you need to be when.

It also alerts you of any delays or changes to your trip. Sometimes you know before the gate agents do.

There are airport maps, so when you are rushing to make your connection in an unfamiliar airport, you can see where you need to go.

Typically I do carry-on and rarely check my bag, but when I do, I love how Tripit tells you what your baggage carousel will be right when you land.

We mentioned Tripit in our podcast about essential travel tips.

Zero

If you do intermittent fasting (or any other type of fasting), Zero is an app for iOS and Android that will help you track your fasts. You can add notes and check out the complete history of your fasts.

It’s simple to use and is well designed, which almost makes up for your lack of food.

Drafts

One of the key ways to avoid overwhelm is to capture.

When you have an idea, an action item, an inspiration, or a challenge that pops into your mind, you need to get it down and out of your head as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

You can debate whether paper or digital is better for this, but if you fall on the digital side of the fence, Drafts is the best app for quick capture. It makes it fast and easy to capture text on iOS, Mac, or Apple Watch. You can then easily send it to a task manager, a note app, or apply automation to do… almost anything with it.

Drafts is iOS/Mac only, but Google Keep is a popular app for Android.

Deliveries

If you get one or two packages a month delivered, you probably won’t get much out of this app. However, if you are constantly getting packages delivered, it’s amazing.

Deliveries is an iOS and Mac app that lets you track packages. Tracking packages isn’t exactly rocket science, but it has some nice touches:

  • It has Share sheet integration, so you can select a tracking number, hit Share, and send it straight to Deliveries
  • It can detect a surprising number of shippers based on the tracking code/Amazon link. It’s rare that you even need to select the shipping company.
  • It can sync to all your devices, so you can see, add, and get notified about package status wherever you want
  • It has (optional) web access, so you can have an assistant or someone else add packages on your behalf

While Deliveries is iOS/Mac only, there is an Android app called… Deliveries. As far as I can tell it is not by the same authors, but it has similar features and is popular.

Calm

Calm is an iOS and Android app for meditation and sleep. There are more than 100 guided meditations, but I don’t use any of those. The last thing I need in my life is to have to decide which meditation to do.

I like the Daily Calm, which gives you a new short guided meditation every day, and I like the Sleep Stories, which I don’t use very often, but when I need them, they are very effective.

(Aberystwyth By Train knocks me out every time. I have no idea what happens once he gets to the Welsh coast.)

Scanbot

Scanbot is a document scanning app for iOS and Android. It does a great job capturing paper and turning it into a high-quality scan, but where it shines is its post-scan Workflows. With one tap you can rename the scan and save it to a specific location or cloud service. This is great for receipts that you need to send to an accounting system or Dropbox or Box folder.

We talked about ScanBot in our 5 Things You Need For Your Personal Productivity System podcast episode.

OverDrive

There are some books you want to own and cherish forever, and there are some books that you want to read but don’t necessarily need to buy.

Or maybe you want to read these amazing productivity books but don’t quite have the funds to buy them all just now.

Your local public library to the rescue!

OverDrive is an iOS and Android app that lets you use your library card to “check out” ebooks and audiobooks. You can read the book on your tablet or phone, and then return it when finished.

Save your money for the really impactful books. For everything else, there’s OverDrive.

1Password

Some may consider this cheating because we mentioned 1Password in our recent Top 10 Productivity Apps on Desktop article, but it is so foundational that it deserves a second mention.

1Password is a password manager — you securely store your passwords in it, and then:

  1. Your passwords are safe, and you don’t need to try to remember them and risk reusing passwords, and
  2. You can save time and hassle by using it to automatically fill in your name and password when logging in.

Many people think of 1Password as a desktop app, but it shines on mobile. There’s a version for iOS and Android.

Your Turn

Is there an alternative to the apps we’ve mentioned that you think is better? Did we drop the ball and forget a killer app? Let us know in the comments or on social.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

This is episode 2 of our 3-part series on our top 10 favorite apps and tools. In today’s episode, we are going to do the monumentally difficult task and narrow down our 10 favorite mobile apps for iOS and Android that we use, love, and that makes us more productive.

This was hard because there are so many apps we love, but I think we have something for everyone. We also give an honorable mention to favorites submitted by the community.

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.

Thanks also to Blinkist for supporting The Productivity Show. Blinkist is offering our listeners a free 7-day trial. Go to Blinkist.com/TPS to learn more.

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:
  • Brooks and Thanh’s app of choice for email both on their smartphones and computers [6:37]
  • How to manage all of your travel details better [8:05]
  • What mobile app Brooks uses to plan and brainstorm everything [12:12]
  • How to easily make intermittent fasting a part of your life [18:16]
  • How to make sure you never forget an idea or task [20:35]
  • How to keep track of tons of packages and deliveries at once [21:54]
  • Using Calm to stay centered, keep focused, and sleep better [25:15]
  • How to get a whole library of books, audiobooks, and movies on your mobile device [31:08]
  • Thanh’s favorite app and what it can do for you [33:00]
  • The favorite apps of the Asian Efficiency Dojo members [35:39]
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.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Every year at Asian Efficiency we release a roundup of our favorite apps. With thousands of apps on the market, it can be challenging to find the right app for you.

We believe you shouldn’t have to sacrifice your health and family to get things done. You should be able to get everything done in the limited time you have. There’s no point in experimenting with dozens of apps and wasting a lot of time switching apps every few weeks.

Last year, we released our favorite Mac apps of 2018. This year, we’re diversifying it by including Windows apps too. Many Asian Efficiency readers use Windows at home and work so it’s only responsible for us to include Windows apps too.

Amongst the AE team, we have dozens of programs we love so it was hard to boil it down to just ten. We decided to leave out the obvious choices that you might expect from us. These would include OmniFocus, Evernote, and Slack. We love them, talked about them a million times on the blog and podcast, and we use them every day so definitely check them out if you haven’t yet.

Let’s get to the top 10 productivity apps for the desktop. They are in no particular order.

1Password

This is one of those apps where you don’t know you need it until you use it. You have already heard of the typical security advice: “don’t use the same password on every website”. While that is good advice, our memory is terrible for memorizing dozens of different passwords.

This is where 1Password comes in. You only need to memorize one password (hopefully a very strong password!) and then you can log in to all of your accounts that use unique passwords that you don’t have to memorize. This is not only much safer but so much more convenient. It’s one of the biggest time-savers that you can have.

To illustrate this: I don’t know the password of my Facebook account, online banking or email address. They are arguably three of the most important accounts you can have and the fact I don’t know the passwords shows you how much I rely on 1Password. When I go to Facebook.com to log in, I’ll open up 1Password, type in the only password I know to unlock it, and then 1Password will log me into Facebook with the unique password to Facebook.com.

So if one of the websites ever gets hacked and somehow gets my password, all my other accounts are safe.

Like I said earlier, the security benefits are great but the real benefit is how much time you save logging into websites.

Available on Windows and Mac.

SublimeText

This is the text editor for power users. It won’t win any points for being pretty, but the feature-rich text editor is my favorite for writing short content or editing.

If you’re someone who lives and dies by keyboard shortcuts, this will be your new favorite text editor. Don’t let the scary price tag scare you off as it did to me at first.

SublimeText is not for most people. If you’re someone who just needs basic features to write and edit, this editor is not for you. Don’t pony up for it. Use something like X or Y.

But if you’re a coder or advanced text editor, switch to SublimeText and thank us later.

Available on Windows and Mac.

Ulysses

When it comes to writing, there are a lot of apps out there. Over the past few years, Ulysses is one of the most popular ones available. Whether you need basic functions or advanced features, this app is suitable for all levels of writers.

One of the powerful features of Ulysses is the ability to export your writing in different formats. So you might write something in plain text but you can export in PDF and other popular formats.

Available on Mac and iOS. For Windows, we recommend Inspire Writer.

BusyCal

This is the most advanced calendar app available. While we are also big fans of Fantastical and its interface, there’s something to be said for all the powerful features that BusyCal has that no other apps have.

For example, you can adjust what a “week view” looks like for you. Do you want it to be 4 days or 10 days? You can adjust this to your liking.

Another killer feature is the integration with BusyContacts (by the same creators) which is a contacts app. In BusyCal I can quickly type in “Lunch with Billy Murphy tomorrow at 2 pm at True Food Kitch”. Since I only have one contact person with such a name, it will automatically associate that event with that contact person I have. So whenever I go to BusyContacts and check my last few interactions with Billy, I can see all the calendar events we had together.

If you use Mac and Windows computers, rest assured. It integrates with all sorts of calendar apps and services including Office 365, Google Calendar, and many more.

Available on Mac. For Windows, we recommend Outlook calendar.

TripMode

Sometimes you might find yourself in a situation where the Internet connection is very slow or you have limited bandwidth available. It could be on an airplane, coffee shop, foreign country or you’re stuck tethering through your phone.

For these moments, you want to have TripMode. It’ll prevent background apps and updates from downloading data when you’re on a mobile hotspot or slow public WiFi. This way you’ll save money and have a faster connection.

Available on both Windows and Mac.

LaunchBar

This is one of my personal favorite apps because of its versatility. Aside from launching apps, I use it as a clipboard manager, calculator, Google search and for finding phone numbers of contacts.

Think of Launchbar as Mac’s Spotlight or Windows’ X but on steroids.

One recurring theme you might notice from this list is that most apps on here are very powerful when you use keyboard shortcuts. As my friend Noah Kagan describes it, it’s a top-down approach: the faster you type, the faster everything else gets done. This also applies to keyboard shortcuts. The less you use your mouse or trackpad, the faster things get done.

Available on Mac. For Windows we recommend Launchy.

VirtualBox

Do you ever need to use Mac OS and Windows? Instead of having two computers, with VirtualBox you can run both operating systems on the same computer…at the same time.

We use this at Asian Efficiency whenever we’re creating courses and step-by-step tutorials for apps on Mac and Windows. Instead of buying a dedicated computer, we’ll run Windows on the same computer through VirtualBox.

If you’re thinking of a gaming solution, I’ve tried it but it’s too slow. I had to buy a new computer for gaming. For everything else, VirtualBox is the way to go.

Available on Windows and Mac.

PathFinder

When I first switched from Windows to the Mac, I really missed Windows Explorer. Let me rephrase that: I hate Finder.

I’ve never been a fan of it. For all the glory of Mac OS, Finder has to be the worst app ever. Moving a file from one folder to another took a lot of acrobatics and the UI never made much sense to me.

So I started to look for alternatives and that’s how I landed at PathFinder. It’s the power user Finder for those who want advanced features and not have a million Finder windows open on their desktop.

Now I will say, Finder has gotten a lot better since 2008 but that’s because it’s been copying lots of features from PathFinder. If you’re happy with Finder, skip on PathFinder. But if you want something better and more efficient, go with PathFinder.

Available on Mac.

SnagIt

This is the go-to screen caption and annotation tool. There are lots of moments when you need to share a screenshot, add some arrows and text, highlight a certain area of your screen, and then share it with someone else…without opening up a full-fledged photo editor. That’s what SnagIt is for. If you work in a remote team or work with people outside of your office, this tool will save you a lot of time and frustration.

Available on Windows and Mac.

Nvalt

There are a lot of note-taking apps on the market like OneNote, Evernote, and Bear. We use them a lot for meetings, book summaries, checklists and sometimes even journals.

However, there are a lot of thoughts and notes that you have with a short lifespan. You might be talking to someone on the phone and you have to jot down a phone number to call. Where do you put that when you don’t have pen and paper ready?

What if you need to do some basic back-of-the-napkin math? What if you’re at a coffee shop and you want to make a quick todo list for while you’re there?

All these pieces of information have maybe a few hours of a lifespan and then they’re irrelevant.

For some, using your default notes app would be fine. You can fire up Evernote and put it in there. But I’ve found that I like using Evernote for long-term storage of notes and ideas. I don’t like cluttering it with random notes and waste more time organizing and finding notes.

That’s where an app such as nvalt comes in. Think of it as a digital scratchpad that’s fast and easy to use. Anytime I have something to write down, I’ll press COMMAND+? (Mac) to start nvalt and then I press COMMAND+1 which opens up my note “tmp”. Then I type away whatever comes to mind.

A few hours later, I’ll override whatever is in there. I find this app perfect for these kinds of situations. I use Evernote for notes that I always want to refer back to but for everything else, I use nvalt.

Available on Mac. For Windows, we recommend Qownnotes.

What did we miss?

What’s your favorite productivity app on the desktop? Did we miss any apps? Let us know in the comments. We love community submissions and we might feature it next time on the blog and podcast.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

In today’s episode, we are going to get super-tactical. A question we get asked all the time is “what are your favorite apps?”, or “what is the best app for X?”

While we believe that the best app is the one that is best for YOU, there are some that prove themselves time and time again. Today we’re going to start a 3-part series going through our favorite apps, devices, and tools that make us more productive or just plain improve our lives — and we’ll start in this episode with our top 10 apps for the computer.

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.

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:
  • Why a great app isn’t the first step towards productivity [4:51]
  • The importance of having a password manager [8:34]
  • Why Thanh chooses SublimeText over other text editing software [11:08]
  • How Ulysses helps keep Brooks creative in his writing [13:30]
  • Why BusyCal’s flexibility and compatibility with other apps makes it Thanh’s go to calendar app [15:49]
  • How Brooks uses TripMode to control his network’s bandwidth, saving money and time [18:06]
  • The app that Thanh uses every single day without thinking about it [21:43]
  • How to give your Finder windows superpowers [27:53]
  • Thanh’s scratchpad on Mac, and what he uses it for [31:27]
  • Which apps the Asian Efficiency Dojo recommends [35:22]
  • The apps that Thanh and Brooks have been using the longest [41:31]
  • When and why you should switch productivity apps [42:23]
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.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Systems Thinking is a powerful process that you can use to help you produce good results. This is true for our productivity champ–Andrew Pfeiffer. Andrew had a problem being consistent with his habits and to resolve this–he harnessed the power of systems.

When he started using systems, he was able to make progress on his big goals and became uber productive.

We are excited to introduce Andrew to you and learn how he implemented systems in his life.

Introducing Andrew Pfeiffer

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

As you can see from my suit, I’m a massive nerd! I studied a Bachelor of Mathematical and Computer Sciences (majors in Pure Mathematics and Statistics) and a Master’s degree by research in statistics. If you’re interested in my research, you can find links to my work on my LinkedIn profile.

After finishing my Master’s degree, I won a position in the graduate program of a large organization. As part of the program, I completed a six-month rotation in a data science team, where I got to use my mathematical and programming skills to analyze and visualize patterns in large data sets. It was my dream job because I got to program in R, the same language that I was using for most of my Master’s research. I then spent the next two years in my dream job as a data scientist – apart from a four-month secondment with a different organization.

This year, however, I’ve decided to take a break from vocational data science for a year or two to do an internship with a university-based parachurch organization. I was a part of this organization while studying at university, and I found them incredibly valuable in my growth as a Christian. It’s a privilege to be able to serve other students and help them to receive the same benefits that I did.

Of course, I will always be a data scientist, and I’ve been making the most of my programming skills in my internship in a variety of ways. For example, I send monthly email newsletters to supporters, and, instead of using a point-and-click service like MailChimp, I use the command line interface provided by my email client of choice, MailMate. I’ve also been asked to analyze some data sets as part of my internship, which will be fun!

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

I distinctly remember a day – I was studying at university at the time – where I wandered into kikki.K and purchased a random book about organizing your documents. I soon found myself diving deeper and deeper into the productivity rabbit-hole, reading more organization and productivity books, including the ubiquitous Getting Things Done by David Allen.

I also need to give credit to one of my Master’s supervisors, Dr Jono Tuke. (Side note: he is a brilliant supervisor, and I highly recommend him.) He introduced me to a raft of productivity tools, including Evernote, OmniFocus, OmniGraffle, You Need a Budget, and – of course – programming languages like R and Python.

By the start of 2015, having read Getting Things Done and soaked in Jono’s wisdom for a year, I was an eager student of productivity. I frequently added different productivity and technology blogs and podcasts to my ever-growing RSS feed, including Lifehacker, Gizmodo, and – as a result of these blogs – Asian Efficiency! I signed up to be a Dojo member in late 2015, and then a lifetime member in early 2016! I cannot recommend highly enough being a member of the Asian Efficiency Dojo, because you get access to both world-class training material in a whole range of topics related to productivity, and an incredibly supportive and helpful community. I explain in more detail why you should sign up as a member of the Dojo in the video below.

Asian Efficiency Testimonial - Andrew Pfeiffer - YouTube

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

My problem was that I was inconsistent at building habits into my life that I knew were good for me. I’ve always valued being productive and getting things done, but I knew that until I built good habits into my life – such as planning my day the night before, conducting a weekly review, sleeping well, reading, exercising and meditating – my ability to make progress on my bigger goals would be impeded. For example, I knew that my quality of life would improve if I made steps to sleep well consistently, exercise well, and eat well. However, I didn’t know how to execute these habits consistently.

What was the epiphany you experienced and discovered?

Systems! Systems! Systems! Building systems into my life that combine multiple habits and track my performance at achieving them have been such an epiphany.

For example, a few years ago, I had a coaching call with Thanh where he helped me to set up a system for tracking my time. I use a shortcut for the actual tracking – it appends a timestamp and a time-tracking category to a CSV file. However, the magic of time-tracking happens when I review my time-tracking data at the end of each week. I’ve created a simple web application where I input the CSV file and enter some parameters to create a visualization of how I’ve spent my time. I’ve included example data and an example plot in my Github repository. Being able to see at a glance how I spent my time each week has proven immensely helpful to me in many ways. For example, if I wasted time in the evening watching YouTube videos, the visualization will make that clear to me. Even the act of tracking my time itself makes me more accountable to how I’m spending my time, and less likely to slack off in the evening when going to bed earlier would be the wiser choice.

I also learned to track my performance by reading 12 Week Year by Brian Moran, an excellent book recommended to me by many members of the Asian Efficiency community. I have obtained immense value by following Moran’s system for measuring and reviewing performance using a weekly execution score. Moran defines the execution score as the percentage of tactics – mini-goals – that you complete each week. As the name of his book suggests, Moran suggests reviewing your tactics every 12 weeks or thereabouts, which makes excellent sense. Twelve weeks is enough time to make progress and not long enough to tempt you to slack off.

Moran recommends setting a maximum of three goals and then deriving a small number of tactics from these goals. However, I resonated more with James Clear’s advice in Atomic Habits: he states that improving life systems is superior to setting and completing goals, because systems can always be improved (Kaizen – continuous improvement), while goals don’t tell you what to do when you complete them. Or, as he puts it more pithily, “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” Consequently, I set five to ten tactics for a given 12-week timespan, and then I give myself a pass if I completed the habit on at least six out of seven days for the week. As Clear notes, missing a single day won’t cause any issues with breaking habits. However, repeatedly missing habits creates a new, inverse habit. I then journal at the end of each day regarding whether or not I completed each tactic: If I didn’t complete the tactic, why not, and is there anything I can change to help me complete the tactic next time?

Learning how to create effective systems that form the backbone of my tactics have also been immensely valuable. In addition to Atomic Habits, I resonated a lot with Atul Gawande’s The Checklist Manifesto and Sam Carpenter’s Work The System. In particular, Gawande emphasizes that checklists need to be as simple as possible, which I have found immeasurably helpful given that I err on the side of perfectionism. Consequently, simple checklists have formed the backbone of the tactics for which I track my performance – each checklist has a cue (when to start following the checklist), content (what to do) and a result (the desired outcome from following the checklist). Gawande also makes the incredibly helpful distinction between reading and do checklists (you read the checklist before you follow the steps) and do and confirm checklists (you follow the steps and then read the checklist to verify that you’ve completed it). In particular, read and do checklists need to be completed in a certain order, while do and confirm checklists can be completed in any order.

You can view my checklists on my website. By way of example, some of my tactics at the time of writing are:

  • Spending 45 minutes or more reading the Bible and praying.
  • Eating four or more serves of vegetables.
  • Reading for 15 minutes or more.
  • Walking 8,000 steps or more.
  • Avoiding technology after 6:00 pm (apart from journalling).

What was the transformation that you experienced?

Having this systems mindset and tracking my performance at adhering to my systems has changed my life immensely. For example, I quickly realized that the best time to complete many of my desired habits was first thing in the morning before I could be interrupted for the day. Consequently, I wake up at [5:00] AM and spend three hours smashing out my most important habits, including reading the Bible and praying, eating four serves of vegetables, reading, and going for a walk. I have no doubt that having a systems mindset and tracking my performance are two major reasons why I have been able to stick to my three-hour morning routine consistently. (As an aside: If you are just starting out with the concept of a morning routine, please don’t try jumping straight into a three-hour routine. My routine is the product of years of gradually building up what I do in the morning and experimentation.)

I have also immensely valued my routine as I have transitioned into my internship in university ministry. Unlike my previous role, where I simply rocked up to the office and worked for a certain number of hours before leaving each day, my internship has much less routine. Consequently, having a morning routine that I can smash through – as well as a shorter evening routine at the end of the day – to bookend my day with a constant structure through which I can achieve my most important goals has proven so valuable.

I am also immeasurably more confident at achieving other goals that I set for myself. The systems mindset can be applied to any goal because any goal can be achieved if you repeat the same task over and over again. For example, after reading about Keto and hearing other members of the Asian Efficiency community talk about their experiences with it, I recently tried to give the system a shot. I haven’t fully systematized the diet yet, but I eat the same thing for breakfast each morning (a meat-and-green-veg stew at [5:00] AM and some frozen veggies at [8:00] AM), and I weigh myself each morning using some smart scales that automatically track my weight and body fat percentage. In the last three months, my BMI has dropped from 24.5 to 21, my body fat percentage has dropped from 19% to 12.5%, and I feel great!

A common misconception of habits and systems is that they make life boring. To the contrary, I’ve found that setting good habits for myself allows me to put myself on autopilot for routine tasks so that I can spend my valuable cognitive resources working on more creative and intensive pursuits. (For more details, check out Atomic Habits.) For example, in the immediate future, I plan to systematize some other writing-based goals that I have for myself, such as adding a blog and book reviews/outlines to my website. I don’t want to keep everything I’ve learned from books, podcasts and web articles to myself – I want to share it with other people! I also want to combine my love for programming, productivity, and technology to build some more productivity-based web applications that other people may find useful.

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

Join the Asian Efficiency Dojo, and sign up for lifetime membership. In the Dojo, you’ll have access to world-class video training courses in a wide variety of topics, including The AE Way to Implement a 12 Week Year, How to Get Started with Journalling and Get Laser-Focused with Deep Work. You’ll also be able to interact with other Dojo members and the Asian Efficiency staff through the Dojo forum, the Dojo Slack channel, and live podcast recordings. We would be delighted to answer your questions and help you achieve your goals. For more information about the Dojo, check out the video that I recorded for Asian Efficiency.

Due to its overwhelming popularity, Asian Efficiency only opens the Dojo for new enrolments at selected times throughout the year. If the Dojo is closed, my other piece of advice is to figure out exactly what is blocking you from achieving your goals. And I’m pretty confident that your blocker will fall into one of three categories – a lack of time, a lack of energy, or a lack of attention. Asian Efficiency dubbed this framework that they created the TEA framework. Once you’ve identified whether time, energy or attention is your blocker, utilize Asian Efficiency’s resources – such as their blog and podcast – to find a solution. For example, if your problem is time, you could wake up 15 minutes earlier and spend that time making progress toward your goals. If your problem is energy, you could download a sleep-tracking application and track your sleep for a week – this really helped me improve my energy! And if your problem is attention, you could buy some Bose QC35 noise-canceling headphones and use them when you’re trying to work.

To summarise: sign up for the Dojo, and while you’re waiting, use the TEA framework to find the most appropriate solution for you.

What Does it Take to be A Productivity Champ?

Thank you, Andrew, for sharing!

Andrew 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!

Read Full Article

Read for later

Articles marked as Favorite are saved for later viewing.
close
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.
Start your free month
Free Preview