I've got a little secret to share
I'm what you might call a productivity enthusiast.
I love creating and optimising systems.
This obsession isn't just a hobby; it's my passion.
Why, you would ask?
Well, I've got a little secret to share.
I have a severe memory issue.
After a while, I can’t remember some things.
- The names of some people I just met.
- A nine-digit phone number.
- The menu I ate yesterday.
- A simple address.
That’s why I’ve built some great productivity systems.
However, productivity has a dark side, which many architects struggle with.
It is the never-ending search for the perfect system.
Messing around with applications, scheduling techniques and goal-setting strategies….
We all fall into this trap.
We tend to spend more time optimising the system than doing the work.
One thing I learned early on is that productivity is not about being busy.
It's about being effective.
So, here we are trying to build a successful architecture business together.
I'm about to take you through a five-step productivity system that didn’t only transformed my life, but also helped to increase my earnings over the past decade.
But, this is crucial…
Any system is only as good as your commitment to using it.
If you’re not fully committed (a 100%) to put these lessons into practice, you’d better stop reading.
Come back when you’re ready.
Otherwise, you won’t be making any progress.
Disclaimer published… let’s start.
1) The power of leverage
Let me share a story that takes me back to my college days when I was working as a waiter.
I was paid by the hour. Just 10€/hr. Ridiculous. But, hey, it’s how some of us started.
If I had to start again, I wouldn’t do it. There are smarter ways to earn 10€ today.
It didn't matter how much work I got done or how well I did it. I received the same hourly rate.
In essence, I had very little leverage. I was trading my time for money, a common scenario for many architects.
But what is leverage?
Leverage is the concept of doing less while achieving more.
It's about getting more output for every unit of input.
Think about it: how can we get more, by doing the same, or less?
As I said before, the key lesson here is that it's not about staying busy.
It's about being effective.
You can fill your day with tasks.
But if they don't yield significant results, you're not being productive.
You're just spinning your wheels.
My leverage system: Notion + Canva.
One of my goals is to increase my authority.
So I continuously create and distribute content online.
In my case I built a system for Content Creation, which I will share with you very soon (stay tuned).
It’s a process for Ideation, Writing, Editing, Publishing, Measuring and Learning.
It’s a 6 step process that it would take me hundreds of hours to do everything.
My trick: I do it everything with Notion + Canva.
Those are my 2 leveraging tools.
They allow me to do less, and achieve more.
I created a super simple system that allows me to create nearly unlimited amount of content using the least amount of resources.
Less time, less people, less tools, less energy, and less money.
And it works wonderfully.
My tip: Use levers to create and distribute your content
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Remember, any system can bring incredible results only if you use them effectively.
This is how the power of leverage turned your efforts into a successful architecture business.
2) Creating a second brain
This concept became my salvation, especially considering my lifelong struggle with memory.
My twenties were a blur of constant distractions.
I would dart off in a million directions, blindfolded.
And focusing on a single task seemed like an impossible feat.
But one day, everything changed…
I stopped trying to juggle everything in my head.
I started working on something called a "second brain."
At its core, a second brain is your mental dump zone.
A place to unload all those thoughts racing through your mind.
I personally use digital tools like Google Keep and Notion.
But you can go old-school with a notebook.
The tool doesn't matter as much as the process.
Here's the science behind it.
When you have a thought or something to remember, it's like opening a new tab on your mental browser.
One tab alone won't crash your system.
But imagine all those open tabs piling up day after day, week after week.
Your mental CPU starts to slow down with unresolved cognitive loops.
Until your brain shuts down.
Like an overloaded computer.
I’ve been there, a couple of times.
I passed out and lost consciousness.
The reason? Stress and Anxiety.
What you need, is NOT more information.
What you need is clarity of thought.
The second brain is your system to getting rid of that mental baggage.
It frees you to bring your full focus to whatever task is at hand.
I update my second brain daily.
I write down everything that is worthy remembering, usually before going to bed.
This step matters because it helps me start the next day with a clear slate.
It's like clearing cache memory on your computer for a fresh start.
You nerdy guys understand me.
This is what my Notion looks like:
Your mission: build a second brain.
Whether you choose tech or pen and paper, start unloading those thoughts that weigh you down.
Trust me, it's a game-changer.
It will help you to lighten your mental load.
My tip: Document everything and build a Second Brain
🎓 Learn how to build a second brain with the Operations – Knowledge Challenge. It will help you understand how to capture or prioritize the information.
3) Learn to prioritize and manage your time
One thing I've noticed about successful architects is that they're masters at avoiding tasks that don't matter.
They spend their days doing things that won't move the needle.
Refining your AutoCAD or Revit templates.
Spending hours reading code requirements.
Even more writing text that no one will read.
Also detailing aspects that no one asked about.
As Peter Drucker once said:
“Doing something excellently when it shouldn't be done at all is the ultimate form of waste.”
Make sure we don't waste our precious time on trivial things.
Now, here's a new concept for you
The Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule.
It tells us that in most systems, a small number of individuals generate or accumulate the majority of outputs.
In other words, 20% of what you do accounts for 80% of your results.
Focus your time and energy on those crucial 20%.
But how do you determine what's in that critical 20%?
My Time Management System
In my case, managing time is one of the most important aspects.
Everything starts the day before. Or the week before.
1) I schedule my week on Sundays.
On Sundays I spend a couple of hours preparing for the week.
Also, if I know I'm going to have fun on Sunday, I do it on Fridays.
Always in advance.
First, I place the blocks of time that are most important for me to work on that week.
Then I schedule the rest of the meetings and tasks.
Sometimes I even schedule the next week's blocks, so that I don't get meetings in during those times.
This is the reason I schedule my calls at least for the following week.
My calendar is not available in the week I am working.
Because my week is already closed. I know what's going to happen.
And there are very few surprises in the week.
2) I get ready the next day, the night before.
I'm going to the gym? → Pack the bag.
I'm going to call someone in the morning? → schedule the task in Google Calendar.
I'm going somewhere → prepare the clothes.
“Being punctual is not about arriving on time, it is about leaving on time.”
My tip: Schedule your calendar
🎓 Learn to prioritize and manage your time with the Operations – Time Challenge. It will help you stay more productive and focus on the tasks that are really important.
It's all about focusing your efforts where it matters most.
I helped me become super productive.
I hope it might help you as well.
4) Stay focused and avoid distraction
This one's all about staying on course and not falling into the traps our brains set for us.
Here's a fascinating thing about our brains:
They're wired for maximum efficiency. They love conserving energy.
That's why it's so easy to slip into mindless activities like binge-watching Netflix.
Endlessly scrolling through Instagram, or getting lost in video games. Your brain craves autopilot mode.
But you're not your brain.
Your goals and aspirations aren't exactly aligned.
Your brain's mission is straightforward, to keep you alive. That's it.
It doesn't care about your dreams, ambitions, or productivity.
He just doesn't want you to die.
The Attention War
To win the attention war, your brain uses two tactics:
1) First, it brings you into a zombie-like state of complacency and distraction. And you don't even realise it's happening.
You think, "I'll just check TikTok real quick”… and poof… 45 minutes vanish.
2) The second tactic is more intrusive.
It tricks you into consciously deciding to deviate from the path.
It gives you a moment to reflect, "What am I really trying to accomplish here?"
This happens during meetings, conversations, or any task where you go into autopilot mode.
So, how do you counteract these brain tactics?
My anti-distraction tactics.
I used to have too many distractions with my phone. Now I don't.
- I use Do Not Disturb mode on the Iphone, so no calls come in, only the few that are saved as important.
- I have turned off all notifications. No email, no Whatsapp, no other annoying notifications.
- I've started using Opal, which blocks a selection of apps on my phone, and I can't use them during the work time. Use it and let me know what you think.
- I play some Spotify playlists by Hans Zimmer that immerse me in the task.
These are very simple tactics that you could apply right now.
You have no excuse to get distracted.
And last but not least…
5) Thinking time is crucial
Now, you've probably heard of meditation, quiet reflection, or thinking time before.
Architects have been raving about the benefits of these practices for ages.
Our lives are filled with noise, distractions, and constant demands on our attention.
It's a relentless storm of information and tasks.
In this chaos, finding clarity of thought can seem like trying to find a needle in a haystack.
But here's why thinking time is crucial. It clears the fog.
It's like taking your mind to the gym, building that focus muscle.
Sure, it's not easy. Thinking ain't easy!
You don't go to the gym expecting it to get easier.
You go because you want to get stronger.
Your mind works the same way.
My thinking process
In my case, I spend 5 to 10 minutes a day to reflect and think.
I think about:
- Why am I doing this?
- Which is the goal?
- How is this goal related to my mission?
- What's the outcome?
- How does it help other people?
- How can I do it better?
There are many questions I ask myself.
Many times, those questions find new solutions that I hadn't thought of.
Or they give me new ideas about something I was stuck on.
All this magic happens by thinking for only 10 minutes.
And they usually happen when I'm not in the office:
- working out at the gym
- taking a walk in nature
- riding a motorcycle
- talking to strangers
- taking a shower
You only need 10 minutes to think.
Your mission for this step
Incorporate thinking time, meditation, or quiet reflection into your daily routine.
It doesn't have to be a grand ritual.
It could be as simple as a few minutes of silence each day.
It's all about decluttering your mind so you can think and act with crystal-clear vision.
If there is only one thing I want you to take away from this article it is this:
Implement this question into your daily routine.
Set random alarms on your phone to remind you to ask:
- Why am I doing this?
- What's the outcome?
Learn to answer these questions.
And you will stop wasting your time on meaningless tasks.
So even though I have a serious memory problem, after more than 20 years of practicing these habits, I have been able to be super productive.
I don't know if they are the best systems in the world, but they work great for me.
I want to leave you with a simple but powerful message:
Productivity isn't about working harder.
It’s about doing less.
I challenge you to take what you've learned here and put it into action.
Commit to using this productivity system consistently, and you'll witness tremendous results.
Remember that it's not about the system itself.
It’s about how you apply it, it’s about the process.
Day by day. Step by step. Brick by brick.
If you've read this far, I think you have something special.
I know you have what it takes to create a successful architecture firm.
Let’s talk and see if we can work together.
Now, get out there and make it happen.
I hope to see you win.
Whenever you're ready, there are 2 ways I can help you with:
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See you around ✌️