Are You Working Too Many Hours?

This week, I check out “The Productivity Project” by Chris Bailey. He compared his work output between 20 hour work weeks and 90 hour work weeks.

The results he uncovered will surprise you.

Ready?

He found that was only a marginal difference between the 20 hours work week versus the 90 hours work week.

Why wasn’t there a significant difference between the two?

It turns out the productivity boils down into three elements.

Time.

Attention.

Energy.

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Credit: A Life Of Productivity

Rather than spending more time in the hope of being more productive, you need to manage your energy and attention too.

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Some other lessons I learnt:

1. Be Productive With A Purpose

Don’t just try to optimise your schedule to maintain the self-image that you are productive.

True satisfaction comes when you are actually pursuing goals meaningful to your values.

Remember that the end goal of productivity is to free up space for the activities and people you enjoy.

2. The Internet Kills Your Productivity

It’s akin to be addicted to cocaine.

You go online because you’re craving for that stimulation.

Chris has a routine where he turns his phone to flight mode from 8pm to 8am. This allows him to wind down properly before sleeping while starting the day on the right note.

3. The Future Self Bias

We over-estimate that our future selves will be much capable than our present selves.

For instance, we might have an assignment due next week.

We end up rationalising that next week’s “we” will be disciplined and efficient in completing the task. Therefore, this week’s “we” can afford to slack off.

This distortion in perception results in the last minute scramble and the likelihood we will fail.

Why You Should Quit Facebook & Focus on Deep Work

#BinVlogs Episode 4: Why you should quit Facebook and focus on deep work instead
 
This week, I cover Cal Newport’s latest book “Deep Work”.
 
He researches into the WHY and HOW deep focus can help you succeed, especially in a distracted world filled with shiny objects.
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Some of the important lessons I learnt:
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  • In a competitive global economy, deep work is more important than ever. Too learn and implement complex skills, you need extended periods where you work with full attention on a single task
  • The best way to include deep work is through ‘Fixed Commitment Schedule’. Before the week starts, you have already dedicated specific blocks of time towards deep work. Everything else has to fit around it
  • While you still deal with obligations such as text messages, emails and surfing for information, chunk all these tasks into short blocks of time within your schedule. This allows you to be proactive rather reactive with your time
  • Social media is an unproductive method of relaxing. The stimulus from your newsfeed bombards the mind with unnecessary information, distracting it from deep work. You are better off  unplugging – reading a book, getting in touch with nature.

My 2015 Annual Review

Each year, I conduct an annual review for myself to reflect on the past and plan ahead.

It covers a range of areas: Business, Spirituality, Relationships, Health, Nutrition and Travel

This time round, I’ve decided to share it publicly as a way of keeping myself accountable. Also to inspire you if you wish to do likewise in your journey.

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To guide the process, I usually ask myself three questions:

  • What went well this year?
  • What didn’t go so well this year?
  • What am I working towards?

2015 has been an incredible year for me – I’m grateful for the people I met and the opportunities that came forth. All this has served as a launchpad for 2016 and the coming years.

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1. What went well this year?

Mastermind Group – This comprises of a fortnightly Skype call where we dial in to discuss our businesses – from overcoming sticking points to celebrating wins. Thanks to Simon and Ken for being great buddies along this journey.

Marketing Clients – I decided to take some clients for marketing projects. Not only did this bring in extra cashflow, but my skills as a marketer (and business person in general) improved exponentially. The benefits of learning insights from one project and applying it towards a challenge in another project have been immensely valuable.

Exercise – I discovered the benefits of investing time and effort into exercise. As my buddy Karim mentions “You don’t find the energy, then go to the gym. Instead, you go the gym to find the energy.” This has inspired me to take up physically demanding sports such as Muay Thai. Also in order to save time commuting, I will be setting up a home gym soon.

Nutrition – I hired a nutritionist for tailored advice. That is where I consistently drank green smoothie for breakfast, ate tofu quinoa salad for lunch and salmon salad for dinner. Mentally I feel much sharper and my body feels lighter. Combined with meditation = BOOMED!

Writing – At my peak this year, I was writing 1,500 words each day. This practice has allowed me to create many “bad” articles and a few “good” ones. Some of the good ones made it to Smart Company, General Assembly and Dynamic Business. Need to keep focused and continue working the magic.

Relationships – I made it a monthly practice to call back to my family, as well as contact friends frequently via whatsapp and facebook messenger. Massive improvement compared to previous years where I forgot to keep in touch for months and even years. Even something simple like sending a funny video or relevant content keeps the relationships alive.

Travel – My perspective on traveling has changed. While there is certainly value in traveling solo, I now use travel as quality time to catch up with friends and create shared experiences. In 2015, Rit Xu and I travelled to Krabi for a short 4-day trip. Having been busy with our own paths and living in different countries, it was a great chance to bond. I’m looking forward to more trips with more old friends – Familiar faces in unfamiliar places?

Volunteer – As part of service, I stepped up to a committee position in a not-for-profit group. Again, it was a year of experimentation where we tried different activities and appealed to different groups of the community. There were times where it was messy, key people were overworked with no clear end goal. So easy to give up. To walk away. But as a crew, we rallied and pulled through. The result is a rock-solid organisational blueprint that we will bring into 2016.

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2. What didn’t go so well this year?

Recreation Groups – As large groups of friends left Australia for overseas, I realised it was time to make new ones. So I experimented with various meet-ups groups and hobbies. While the people I met were mostly great, it just didn’t seem to be a fit for my lifestyle or values. For instance, salsa practices ended late which inevitably conflicted with my morning routine. This has sparked my search towards communities where I can connect on a business or spiritual level.

“Always On” Mindset – I had adopted the bad habit of working even if I don’t have work to do. For instance, I might schedule an entire Saturday to complete work I could easily finish in 2 hours. So I waste time “inventing” work when I actually have more time for leisure. To combat all day working syndrome, I have started working in 2-hour chunks, then rest and review, then repeat.

Personal Branding – As a fresh graduate, creating blog articles and social networking were part of my efforts to land my first job. But my priority in 2015 was about turning inwards – Learning the ropes and clarifying my direction. With 2016 being an expansion year, it’s time to place personal branding as a higher priority again.

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3. What am I working towards?

Mindfulness + Business Space – I feel like I came one full circle. In my early 20s, I was heavily involved in spirituality. Attending meditation retreats in the forest and even considered becoming a monk. Then I entered the business world to learn about hustle and entrepreneurship. Right now, I’m interested in entering the intersection. Thanks to George Siosi Samuels for inspiring with creative + culture intersection as his career focus. Possible avenues involve starting a blog or even a podcast.

Creating A Community – Back to my search for a community of individuals who share the same values. I’ve been inspired by the Orange Hive Community created Kaixin and her friends, where members learn about design + startups. Or what Jai Barkley has done to inspire generations of passionate salsa dancers. If a mindfulness + business community doesn’t seem to exist, it might be a sign to start my own.

Bioenergetics – When I was studying to be a psychologist, I used to be very interested in energy healing such as Emotional Freedom Technique. To complement my meditation practice and nutrition, I plan to dive into energy patterns as the next stage of development.

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Overall, 2015 has been an incredible year of growth. The previous years have served as a period of apprenticeship, battling through the chaos and learning the ropes. It was messy, yet necessary on hindsight.

Now is time to thrive and make 2016 my best year (yet). Can’t wait!

Thanks to James Clear for inspiring me to do an annual review each year.

And thank YOU for reading. Do let me know if you decided to do an annual review for yourself.

Happy to trade ideas as always :)

Before you jump from the 9-5 ship, do this…

ARABIAN SEA (Nov. 16, 2012) Sailors assigned to the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) jump off aircraft elevator three during a swim call. John C. Stennis is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations, theater security cooperation efforts and support missions for Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Justin A. Johndro/Released) 121116-N-MN975-335 Join the conversation http://www.facebook.com/USNavy http://www.twitter.com/USNavy http://navylive.dodlive.mil

Working in the startup, I’ve seen it numerous times.

Newbie entrepreneurs enter the game. They proudly declare that they had quit their 9-5 for good. They announce it to the whole world by posting on Facebook about their ‘work in the cafe’ lifestyle. They attend lots of networking events to get inspired and ‘meet’ people.

After a few months, you meet up with them in person and they appear downcast.

Reality hits.

Continue reading Before you jump from the 9-5 ship, do this…

What I Learnt from Matthew Michalewicz’s Goal Pyramid

I found this video by Matthew Michalewicz through the Foundr blog. It has been insightful in explaining how to tackle common issues faced by entrepreneurs.

The top concern is entrepreneurs getting stuck in the ‘trading time for money’ cycle. They lack the funds to hire staff because of poor profitability. When you drill deeper, it is because they lack a system that generate a consistent flow of leads (demand) and a system to delivery the work efficiently (supply).

From my experience at the startup, I realised that this has certainly been the case. There were times when the lack of cash-flow resulted in the tightening of budgets. That meant lack of funds for training, tools and marketing activities. When that happened, it resulted in even less leads flowing in. This sparks a downwards spiral of scarcity.

Continue reading What I Learnt from Matthew Michalewicz’s Goal Pyramid

Asking This Question Changed My Life (And It Might Change Yours Too)

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‘Why not both?’ is a powerful question. 

Should I build my career or explore new hobbies? – Why not both?

Should I develop a strong body or strong mind? – Why not both?

Should I hone my writing or speaking skills? – Why not both?

Should I accumulate riches or cultivate spirituality? – Why not both?

Should I get more sleep or become more productive…

You get the idea.

Continue reading Asking This Question Changed My Life (And It Might Change Yours Too)

Sales Lessons I Learnt From A Beach Holiday In Thailand

As a tourist in Thailand, you are spoilt for choice. Especially in the tourist hubs, there is an abundance of vendors providing services such as tours, thai massage and food.

A few weeks back, I made a trip to Krabi, a spot in Thailand that boast beautiful beaches and sceneries. Taking on the role as a consumer, I was pretty intrigued at my purchase decision-making, which led me to choose certain businesses over others.

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Continue reading Sales Lessons I Learnt From A Beach Holiday In Thailand

Bin's 2014 In Review

Note: I realise that I’m posting out this in January, instead of the intended December. While I wrote the bulk of this last month, traveling and side projects was my main priority over the last few weeks.

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Starting this year, I plan to take some time in the December month to write my Annual review.

The purpose of this yearly report is to reflect on the previous twelve months and write an honest review of what went well, what could have gone better, and what I’m working toward.

Continue reading Bin's 2014 In Review

What Improv Comedy Taught Me About Business

Is anyone into comedy shows?

I’ve been attending Improv classes to learn how to be more expressive (no joke!), and found that it has taught me some valuable lessons in life.

Especially in business, navigating the dynamic environment can be tricky and challenging. But through practising the next obvious step, being flexible and taking action, you can start moving forward towards success.

Improv

Continue reading What Improv Comedy Taught Me About Business

6 Things I Learnt about Content Strategy – 'Art of Money' by GE Capital

 

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On face level, ‘Art of Money’ is a blog that covers lifestyle topics around travel and living. Dig in deeper and you will find that its actually an ingenious idea to promote a credit card service. Here were some lessons that I learnt.

1. Decision Making Journey

Its important to understand the decision making journey that your audience goes through prior to making a decision if they would purchase your product.

In this case of ‘Art of Money’, the primary decision stage seemed to be at ‘which credit card’ to choose. However, GE Capital would have to compete with major finance institutes like NAB if they engaged customers at that stage.

Therefore they decided to beat the competition by appealing to customers at a much earlier stage. The main strategy was to focus on trigger events that would result in credit card financing needed. For example writing articles that cover moving overseas, shifting house or embarking on an education stint.
2. Outbrain Strategy

Rather than only relying on your owned audience, you could showcase your content on a popular website to direct traffic to yours.

This starts by knowing who your target audience are, understand who the target audience on your prospective partner’s website are, and if this would be a fit.

From there, you can use partnerships to growth hack the size of your audience.
3. Link Content to Sales

One of the biggest objections of adopting content marketing is being able to link efforts back towards business ROI. Unlike the old-school advertising route of ‘Buy ME!’, one needs to provide useful content that educates the audience and build trust.

So how does this convert to sales?

One method is to place sales pages links within the content and context of the blog. For example, you might place this sentence at the end of an article “Keen to learn more about how to finance your education? Perhaps you might want to check out this offer [LINK].”

Another method is to use re-targeting through Facebook or Adwords. Prospects get pre-qualified when consuming specific content. Following this, you can target them with advertising across other digital mediums.

4. Strong Launch

When launching a new blog, it is important to build up momentum by pumping out more content at the start. For example if a campaign comprises of 60 blog posts, you should publish 30 blog posts at the launch and then periodically release the other 30 posts.

This demonstrates to viewers that you have more to offer on your site and they should keep coming back to your site for more content.

5. Coverage Types

There are 4 methods of segmenting your content strategy. (1) Audience: Which persona do they belong to? (2) Vertical: What type of topics are they interested in? What are their triggers to use your product? (3) Product: How can your product benefit the reader in the story scenario? (4) Which phase of the purchase cycle is your customers in?

6. Multiple Facet Process

Content marketing requires a multiple step process. It ranges from understanding the taxonomy and keywords used, to designing the content layout, to promoting to owned and paid reach, and measuring the analytics.