I've got a little secret to share
I'm what you might call a productivity enthusiast.
I love diving into YouTube videos, articles, books.
Anything that promises to reveal a new trick or tool that could turbocharge my productivity.
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.
Like a nine digit phone number.
Or a street address.
The names of some people I just met.
Or the menu I had yesterday.
My twenties were a chaotic maze of distractions and lack of discipline.
That’s why I’ve built some great productivity systems.
However, there's a dark side to productivity, one that many architects stumble into.
It's the never-ending quest for the perfect system.
Tinkering with apps, scheduling techniques, and goal-setting strategies…
We all fall into this trap.
We usually spend more time optimising the system than actually doing the work.
Something I learned very quickly is that productivity isn't about being busy.
It's about being effective.
So, here we are, on this journey together.
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.
I also filled my bank account over the past decade.
But, and 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 into your own business, you’d better stop reading.
Come back when you’re ready.
Otherwise, you won’t be making any progress.
So make sure you give it your all while practicing it.
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.
I wouldn’t recommend to you now. There are smarter ways to earn 10€ today.
But, hey, it’s how some of us started.
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 magic that makes you do 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?
That's what we all want, right?
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.
Remember, any system can bring incredible results only if you use it effectively.
This is how the power of leverage turned my efforts into a successful architecture business.
Creating a second brain
This concept became my salvation, especially considering my lifelong struggle with memory.
With the memory issue I’ve had since childhood, 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 here's the secret sauce:
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).
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.
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.
🎓 Learn how to build a second brain with the Operations – Knowledge Challenge. It will help you understand how to capture or prioritize the information.
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 don't spend their days doing things that won't move the needle.
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.
In its simplest form, it tells us that in most systems, a small number of inputs generate 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%?
Use the ICE method.
This is a framework I learned from Tom, the guy behind Quest Nutrition's billion-dollar success story.
We start by creating three columns on a paper:
- Impact, 2. Confidence, and 3. Ease.
On the left, we rank tasks by their potential impact—how much they can change the game.
Next, we gauge our confidence in our ability to execute each task successfully.
Finally, we assess the ease or difficulty of each task.
Now, the trick:
we score each task by multiplying impact, confidence, and ease.
If a task scores over, say, 25 points, consider it a high priority.
Tag it as "critical" in your second brain.
Tasks between 17 and 25 points are moderately important.
Anything below 17?
It's a low priority.
Don't get too bogged down by the numbers.
This framework is a tool to help you organise your thoughts and set priorities.
You'll need to adapt it to your personal style and context.
Your mission: start using the ICE method to identify your high-impact tasks.
It's all about focusing your efforts where it matters most.
I helped me become a priority ninja.
I hope it might help you as well.
🎓 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.
Process over outcome
This one's a game-changer, and I'll tell you why.
When I was younger, I had a habit of setting goals that were little more than sugar-coated wishes.
The trouble with goals is that writing them down tricks our brains into thinking we've accomplished something.
Sure, it feels good initially, thanks to that dopamine rush.
But soon enough, the excitement fades, and we're back to square one.
Here's where the millionaires, the hyper-successful folks, and the ultra-productive set themselves apart.
They don't just focus on the outcomes.
They're all about the process.
Don't get me wrong.
They still set goals.
But they also understand the value of what I like to call "Amplified Impact Time."
Amplified Impact Time has two parts:
Priority setting and Time blocking.
First, let's talk about setting your daily priorities.
We've already got the ICE method in our toolkit, helping us identify high-impact tasks.
Now, we'll take those and create our "Five to Thrive."
Imagine you always have five goals you're working on, no more, no less.
Next, we've got the "Three to Thrive," your top three daily priorities.
Three might not sound like much, but it's all about quality over quantity.
It's better to accomplish these and feel like a champ than to overload and end up feeling overwhelmed.
Now, the real magic happens with the "Two to Do."
These are the two most crucial tasks for the day, the non-negotiables.
You've got to tackle them, no matter what.
This system sets you up for success and helps you stay on track.
After all, it's not about how much you do.
It's about what you get done.
🎓 Learn how to improve your process systems with the Operations – Project Management Challenge. It will help you accomplish more tasks and feel less overwhelmed.
Your mission for this step:
start prioritising your tasks with the "Five to Thrive," "Three to Thrive," and "Two to Do."
It's all about focusing on the right things and executing them effectively.
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 listen, you're not your brain.
You're in this together, but 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.
It just wants to keep you not dead.
To win the attention war, your brain uses two tactics:
First, it lures 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.
The second tactic is more insidious.
It tricks you into consciously deciding to wander off the path.
It gives you a moment to ponder, "What am I really trying to accomplish here?"
This happens during meetings, conversations, or any task where you drift into autopilot mode.
So, how do you counteract these brain tactics?
It starts with asking a powerful question "What's my outcome?"
Whether you're having lunch with a loved one, working on a project, or even just scrolling social media, ask yourself:
- Why am I here?
- What's my goal in this moment?
It's remarkable how this simple question can snap you out of distraction and back into intention.
Your mission for this step:
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?
It's all about maintaining your intention to stay on track toward your goals.
Thinking time is crucial
This one might sound simple, but it's where the real magic happens.
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.
I won't dwell too deep into the specifics.
But I'm here to tell you why it's a game-changer for productivity.
Our lives are filled with noise, distractions, and constant demands on our attention.
It's like a relentless storm of information and tasks.
In this chaos, finding clarity of thought can feel like trying to catch a ray of sunlight in a thunderstorm.
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.
Now, you might be wondering, how does thinking time relate to productivity?
Well, if you want uncommon results, you can't settle for common actions.
Productivity isn't about doing more.
It's about doing the right things efficiently.
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.
What did I learn?
After more than 20 years of practicing these habits, I learned these 3 key takeaways:
Effectiveness Over Busyness
Productivity is not just about getting more done.
It's about achieving the right things efficiently.
Avoid the trap of endlessly optimising systems.
Focus on achieving meaningful results.
Leverage Your Efforts
Find ways to get more output for every unit of input.
Identify high-impact tasks, prioritise them.
And concentrate your efforts where they matter most.
Maintain Clarity and Intent
Continuously ask yourself, "What's my outcome?"
Stay focused on your goals. Avoid distractions.
Incorporate thinking time into your routine to keep your vision clear.
In essence, productivity is about maintaining unwavering clarity about your objectives.
These principles helped me and could also help any other architect.
Whether you have memory issues or ADHD.
You can also become a super-focused architect.
You can also achieve your goals more efficiently.
I want to leave you with a simple but powerful message:
Productivity isn't about working harder.
It’s about working smarter.
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, it's not about the system itself.
It’s about how you apply it.
It’s about the process.
If you have read so far, I believe you are have something special.
I know you have what it takes to build a successful architecture business.
Now, go out there and make it happen.
Whenever you're ready, there are 2 ways I can help you with:
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See you around ✌️