My Seven Favourite Productivity Tools

Productivity

I juggle a lot of balls in my life, and I mean a LOT.  I’m a bit of a perfectionist and usually put 110% effort into whatever I’m doing.  I also try to lead a “balanced lifestyle” as much as possible.  Though I’m always super-busy I make a point of being an active father, a good husband, and still make time for my friends.

I must admit this is not always easy, but it works most of the time.  One secret is to make the most of your time, and to have a different attitude towards time. With that in mind, let me share with you my seven productivity secrets:

1) My MacBook Pro:
By far my favourite tool of all.  I switched from PC to Mac in 2002 and never looked back.  What I love about Macs is their consistency and reliability, and their sleek, sexy design.  There isn’t this gradual, steep decline in efficiency and speed that you get with Windows computers.  They have much better software/hardware integration.  Also, I’ve never had a virus.  I have the 15″ laptop which works best for me.  I find the 13″ too small and the 17″ too big.  I use my Mac for both work and pleasure.  I love it.  I use iWork and Office for Mac for most of my work.  If you’re in Bahrain, you can find out more about the agent here.

2) My Nokia E71:
Probably the best phone I’ve ever had.  The only reason I don’t have an iPhone is because I can’t be bothered to have it hacked for Bahrain use.  But I love the E71.  I like it’s ease of use and functionality.  I also like the full keyboard, because I don’t like fiddling with those multi-letter keys.  For me the phone functions as my calendar, diary and phone book – and of course a phone.  I’m told it has exactly the same functionality as a Blackberry, but I wouldn’t know.  Blackberry users have disputed this claim.  My response is who cares, as I don’t use it for email.

3) OmniFocus for Mac:
I’m not exaggerating when I say that this software changed my life.  According to their website, “OmniFocus is designed to quickly capture your thoughts and allow you to store, manage, and process them into actionable to-do items… flexible enough for any task management style, OmniFocus helps you work smarter by giving you powerful tools for staying on top of all the things you need to do.”  And that’s exactly what I use it for.  I plan my week and the next with OmniFocus.  I also use it to store my ideas, as well as short, medium and long term plans.  It has a great reminder function as well.  Sorry PC users it’s only for Mac.

4) Pen and notepad:
I know this is primitive, but still very effective.  I always have a pen and notepad in the car.   I usually listen to audio CD’s when I drive.  The topics range from internet marketing, to entrepreneurship, to health and nutrition, to martial arts and much more.  Whenever I hear a good idea or anything that I might want to follow up on later, I whip out the notepad and make a note of it there and then so I don’t forget.  If I don’t action it when I’m back at my desk I’ll enter it into OmniFocus for later follow up.  I also have a pen and notepad next to the bed, which I’ll often use when I get an idea at night, or remember to do something. My advice is always have a pen and notepad around – do not depend on your memory.  Many a great idea were lost forever as they were never noted down.  In fact I got the idea for this blog post yesterday while listening to an Audio CD.  I quickly jotted it down at the next traffic light.

5) A big white board:
Probably my favourite management tool of all time.  I love white boards.  There’s one in my office and one in the Falak executive meeting room.  I find that whenever there is a complex problem that needs to be solved, it helps to illustrate it on a big white board where everyone can see the points.  I even use it on my own sometimes when I’m wrestling with complex issues.  If you have the space (and the authority at work) I recommend you get one too.

6) Time chunking:
This is a method where you dedicate a chunk of your time to one task only. This is a big secret to productivity.  Multi-tasking is really overrated.  It might sound and look impressive, but you won’t get much results.  Whenever I’m working on something I dedicate anything from an hour to three or four hours to just that one thing.  I don’t check my email, make (or receive) calls, instant message, Facebook (that’s a verb now, right?) or anything else.  I work straight through.  You get so much more work done when you’re focused.  I don’t remember the exact time, but I think it takes 20 minutes for the brain to re-focus on a task once it’s been interrupted.  Think of all the interruptions you have during your work day.  I hardly have any, and I own several businesses, have 20+ people working for me and have three kids!

7) Books:
Okay, I admit this one is a bit cheeky, as some might argue a book is not really a tool.  My reply would be a tool is anything that helps you do what you need to get done.  Anyway, reading books about what successful and highly productive people do can be extremely beneficial.  I learnt my secrets by emulating others.  I read somewhere that inventor Nicola Tesla used to work 6 hours and sleep half and an hour, and that he’s do that 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  I tried that in the summer of 2007, when I was hectically working  before the launch of the DreamBody Centre, but I couldn’t do it.  The wife and kids were away on holiday and I stayed behind to work.  I have quite a capacity for hard work, but I couldn’t match Tesla’s colossal work ethic.  Anyway, my point is books are an enormous productivity and learning tool, use them.

Bonus Tool Number Eight
Again, not really a tool per se but worth mentioning; wake up early.  In one of his books Donald Trump mentions that he wakes up at 4:00 am.  He expresses surprise that it takes his competitors so long to wake up.  He also says that this is one of his secrets to success.  In his book Automatic Wealth: The Six Steps to Financial Independence, entrepreneur and author  Michael Masterson has a heading entitled “The Early Bird Catches The Golden Worm”.  He says “getting to work early is such a common virtue of successful people that I’m tempted to call it the single most important thing you can do to change your life.”  I couldn’t agree with him more.  For example, today I woke up at 4:00 am.  I got so much done by the time I came to writing this post.  I don’t necessarily recommend that you get up at 4:00, but you might consider getting up earlier than when you are right now, it’ll really boosts your productivity.

I hope that was useful to you my friend.  Thanks for taking the time to read this and talk to you soon.

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