Fifty Productivity Strategy Secrets For 2019-2020

This article from 2014, now it has been updated in May 2019.

Let's Make 2015 Our Single Best Year!

Here are some Productivity Strategy Secrets shared by the movers and shakers, entrepreneurs, technocrats, top chefs, brand advisors, CEOs and top people. I believe you will gain miles from applying any of this strategy. Some you have may have heard, whilst some push you to repeat even more because the ultimate secret is about mastery. Here’s for you.

Productivity Strategy Secrets For 2019-2020:

1. Think and write about what you want to achieve in 2019-2020

2. Own productivity, make effort to schedule what matters to you on daily basis.

3. Prepare RTDL – Real To Do List each night before bedtime or early morning. It helps you plan the day effectively and efficiently.

4. If you come very early in the office, don’t check emails or read news online. Rather spend on thinking of your vision or do uninterrupted work that needs your brain.

5. Start your day with positive thoughts. Think of something really positive.

6. Manage your time insanely because you gotta manage your time.

7. Focus while you are doing something. If you are at work, focus. If you are with your kids and spouse, focus.

8. Scrutinize your calendar for the day. Prioritize and compress if you need to.

9. Delegate and follow up the tasks you ask someone to do for you. They could be struggling to execute and it doesn’t help when you abdicate the tasks.

10. Pray or meditate in between your hectic day. It has calming effects to the brain.

11. Use Post-It notes when you remember something out of your main RTDL / schedule. Don’t ignore it or don’t jump into it immediately (unless its extremely urgent).

12. Compile the Post-It notes by the end of the day and schedule them in your calendar and RTDL.

13. Use alarm clock to wake you up. Your biological body needs 66 days to stabilize and register – chances are you may have variations of biological clock in 30 days so use alarm clock.

14. Ditch the alarm clock and wake up fast head to the bathroom.

15. Take a nap in somewhere during lunch of slightly before lunch. 10-15 minutes is enough – use alarm clock to wake you up. Make a sign on your door or close it completely – uninterrupted.

16. Charge your devices. Don’t let the fear of dying batteries take your energy.

17. Avoid unnecessary phone calls or meetings that you can get someone else do for you.

18. Have a drink eg. coffee, tea, water or juices between 2-3 hours in between.

19. Make sure you drink enough water per day – preferably plain water. How much? Mayo Clinic’s advise is 3 liters for men and 2.2 liters for women. More is fine.

20. Hunker down when you need to complete very important work. Allocate 90-120 minutes uninterrupted for this.

21. Play some sports during the weekdays or find ways to walk the stairs. It helps you think better and it is good for the body.

22. Make team discussions and meetings interesting by removing the chairs. Get everyone a Sharpie and Post-It notes for further engagement. Boring meetings suck more energy than anything else!

23. Ask everyone participates in the meeting why are they present at the 1st place. If they don’t have the answer you are looking for they shouldn’t be in the meeting.

24. Go to bed with a question that you are working in your head – you might get the answer when you wake up!

25. Go somewhere for short travelling – it helps to clean up your thoughts and reenergize your body.

26. Cave in and have private light moment for yourself away from kids and spouse. Do this very privately. It doesn’t have to be a weekend getaway, sometimes a half day by yourself fortnightly is enough.

27. Don’t delegate your motivation to anyone else including best friends, spouse, children, neighbours, parents or anyone. Your motivation is your’s. Own it.

28. Do some art work eg painting, playing music, gardening, crafts, tinkering or singing. It rejuvenates your body and mind.

29. Make time for the people that matters to you personally. It could be your loved ones, parents and besties!

30. Eat same thing everyday helps to improve productivity. Once awhile, it is ok to change the menu.

31. Use productivity apps on your smart devices. Games are not productivity apps. 🙂

32. Turn off your television in your busy day. Throw if you can afford to live without it.

33. Set a dedicated time to reply emails. You can try LIFO method – Last In First Out to handle emails.

34. Build a network of friends that see you as who you are. Friends that you can laugh at and laugh at you – freely. It’s fun really!

35. Have a walk once awhile, either early in the morning or evenings. It’s a good distress method.

36. Have breakfast – eat something healthy to start the day.

37. During meeting or discussion, if it is not in the agenda don’t bother to talk about it.

38. Capture your random thoughts when you browse social media or roam around the internet. Some people use Evernote, Mashable, Pinterest.

39. When you are tired, pick the most interesting task and that require not much effort.

40. Have the habit to ask people around you these questions: What next? What else? How so? So what? What if?

41. Make time to read heavy stuffs related to your work and career. It helps you progress further and make more money to feed your passion.

42. If you think to job hop – put your economic needs as number one priority. Unfortunately, some passionate thing you do may not generate enough to get you further. Give it some time to develop. Meanwhile, try to love your career and what you do.

43. Keep promises so you don’t have to spend time remembering what you said.

44. Once a while, bend the rules and make big change for creativity and innovation sake. You don’t know your limits until you push them.

45. Keep some really nice, inspiring, motivating, captivating or whatever that will make you light up again during your down time. It could videos, music, letter, photos, mementos, books, lectures, articles etc..

46. Look your best when you are at work. Wear make-ups, spray perfume and dress well. It matters on how other perceives you at work place.

47. Stick to deadlines – earlier is better but don’t screw up your deadlines.

48. Discipline your emotion, nonetheless be direct in your comments.

49. Reframe your lost opportunities and do it at your own time, privately. Seize the right opportunity when you see it. Don’t play the waiting game.

50. Always stay hungry and stay foolish. Keep learning and adopt action bias. Do Think Leap.

Good luck and let’s make 2019-2020 our best years!

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Innovation Lessons Worth Heeding

“The culture of innovation is across the globe is more robust than ever. We think that’s worth celebrating.” –

Robert Safian, Editor Fast Company


Fast Company Magazine, March 2014

I received Fast Company March 2014 edition on high note because it is packed with ideas on innovation and innovative companies list from around the world. I feel extremely motivated and inspired. I love innovation and I’d one day dream of getting into innovation in education. Well I am working on it block by block.

In this edition, Fast Company covers a list of 50 Most Innovative Companies together with 10 companies from 10 sectors and loaded with things these companies did, do and going to do on innovation front. Most of these companies are tech-based ranging from apps (Dropbox), medical (Medivation), communication (Google), tech centre (iHub), smart phone (Xiaomi), engineering (GE), elelctrical (Tesla and Philips) and genomics (Beijing Genomics Institute). A long list indeed and I bet some of the companies were unheard of. But I rather attracted to the innovation lessons in Fast Company March 2014 edition and there are truly motivating for me to share. There are 12 altogether, but for relevance I cut it short.


This is about focus, focus and focus. Google tops the list for this one for its ability to focus in Search business. You can refer to Google company website and they will say the same thing. While it is extremely difficult to apply focus when you are a start-up, many people think it is easier for the big companies. Trust me it is equally difficult or worse. Focus breeds exceptional quality and mastery. In the world where “innovation” is ubiquitous, exceptional product will stand out. It is those that holds the red umbrella among the blacks will be seen and that’s truly exceptional. We need to really think through our product so it becomes exceptional before we launch it. Once launched and spotted as red umbrella, it has to deliver promises. It is expected these days. If you think you don’t cant make it exceptional yet, communicate that to your customers. They are more than happy to oblige and help you achieve your next goal.


I had experience this 1st hand and unfortunately it wasn’t a pleasant one but good learning. When developing product, speed is the name of the game. Sometimes, too much information is not a good thing. My advise is to keep some nascent stage innovation on stealth mode (under the radar). Only people that need to know knows. To announce it big at nascent stage will kill every idea even before it starts. Next is to develop basic product fast enough and learn from it and make adjustment as we go along (with a strict timeline). We call it prototype and prototype is for testing. However non-product developers may not understand this and always use labeling like lousy product even during at prototyping stage. It is incomplete product and it has to evolve. It is episodic but it certainly has continuity. In education for example, there’s already matured science in learning but if you force down the teachers throat to change you can backlash. Pick your right beta-testers and launch it stealth mode.


When you talk to hard core product developers, money isn’t a big thing. I know how it feels because I have been there once and I learn my lessons. Product developers love their product sacredly. But we have to pay bills to survive the company and the idea, and therefore when you think you want to launch a nicely packaged product but you cant sell, that’s bad news. Try to get something that you can sell even for small amount because money matters. Get up and grow it further.


I have a friend who is doing code programming using talents around the world where specifications are mostly done online through email, skype and chat. When the prototype is ready for test and they test a few rounds online then towards the final stage they meet to fix it. Client is rope in during prototyping stage and collaboratively enhance product effectiveness. There is also services right now for product testers (these are talents too!). This efficiency can be emulate but human touch is critical in this kind of relationship. In education this is not a distant future because technology enabled education is already a big opportunity, check MOOC. Technology has allowed most of us to get connected and magic happens on daily basis.


There is a saying that “do what you love”. But I am in the opinion that at the beginning you have to try to love what you are doing because you are starting out. Not many people get to do what they love at first, slowly they understand themselves better and make a choice to do what they love later in life. If you are not passionate with what you are doing right now, take a step back and evaluate. If you have been doing it for 20-30 years and it is killing you inside, time to make a good judgment. If you decide to stay, contribute rather than isolate yourself. If you really have found what you love doing, jump in. You never know where it will take you, sometimes to happier places. 🙂


Aligning your team to customer centric and market driven can help innovation thrives in difficult time.

Customer is king. In education, the students are the customers and they have a say. In some schools, the students get to rate their teachers and hold the key for the teacher’s job and promotion. With the democratization of information through online, print and social media people have a good sense of what is good experience and what is bad in education. Yes some businesses get away with it but they don’t last long and most of the time they are non-committal to making customers happy. This applies to other businesses as well and other parts of your company. There are many opportunities to make customers happy, it is whether you think it is going to make any economic sense or not. If yes, start investing small and grow. If not, in time someone will pick it up.


Day dreaming can be a good thing.

Science has proofs that day dreaming in the day has positive effects on your productivity and creativity. In innovation the feeling of trying to get something up and make it possible like something big coming out of your chest and brain motivate us to keep working on our prototypes and innovative ideas. The sensation of dreaming is exhilarating and rewarding when you successfully deliver what was at first in your brain. To start something small or thrive something big requires all of us to dream and dream big. I usually start by talking about my dream to other people about it and accept their frown as learning opportunities. You will soon realize that they are like minded people that have the same dream. Geez dreaming is contagious and we can dream big together!

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Democratization of Education Through MOOC

In the education world it is called Mass Open Online Courses (MOOC). I have been following the movement of open courses and instruction for some years already. My journey with MOOC is rather unique because I stumbled upon it by chance when I was looking for free e-books on the internet. It was 6 years ago where I was looking for Toyota Production System book I stumbled into Khan Academy and several other video portals. I don’t quite remember those portals but they were mainly university lectures made into video format. All these videos (the full length) are available online. I used to be able to download this from iTunes some years ago, I don’t think you can do the same now.

Some trivia on MOOC; many people mistaken it with online videos. It is not. You can find thousands of good quality videos on YouTube or TED Talks. MOOC has online tools that help you to know what you want out of the course (normally there’s a pre course survey). I found the survey help me think through my commitment level. There was a time in the middle of the survey I decided to drop that course because of my overwhelming schedule at that time. MOOC also provides you with online access to several open source tools that you are not aware of but it is only available while you are taking the course. For example there is this online tool that help me create a table of innovation using graphic format. MOOC also has quizzes instead of rudimentary examination. In those quizzes I was given 10 questions and I can answer them as many times until I receive the passing mark to get ahead and earn point. I wasn’t penalized and I learn better. For example rock music consists of drum, guitar and bass. It was in the 1970s where electric guitar was born when rock music morphed into a new beast!

MOOC is not just videos, they are instructional courses that’s made online. MIT has its Open Course Ware where it adopted Creative Common License some time in 2002. From 50 courses published in 2002, now MIT OCW (open courseware) has more than 2000 courses; some with Turkish and Korean translation. It was complicated to register and go through MIT OCW back then. However with better adoption from global citizens, MOOC took better shape with the establishment of another provider, Khan Academy. Variety of disciplines are offered in most MOOC ranging from mathematics, history, language, education, humanities, sciences, astronomy, business, entrepreneurship, music and many more.

Khan Academy founded in 2006, where as a not for profit organization and funded by Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, its uniqueness will blow your mind. I love Khan Academy for its content simplification and differentiated teaching using technology. I used to download loads of them on my iPhone. I listen to the lecture while driving and when I have time to look at the screen, I watch how the instructor show me techniques to answer question on trigonometry on his interactive whiteboard. Some special schools adopted Khan Academy as part of its enrichment content. A brilliant strategy, to my opinion.

This democratization of knowledge excites me because I believe education should be customized to personal level. In other words, we can choose what we want to learn and based on our need at that time. It is not necessary for us to go to school or university to get those papers and get stuck by the time it ends. However the very reason that we go to the university is for the accreditation and recognition of our education because without it whatever we do to obtain our real education will not be recognized by the employer or clients. This is where the gap in MOOC at the early stage, where students just learn for his or her own knowledge but unable to demonstrate their knowledge prowess and skills beyond intellectual level; the least they can show it while they do their work if ever they were given chance. The next development of MOOC is something that I truly admire and support.

It was around 5 years I learned about Coursera and much less than that on eDX. These two are providers of high quality university courses especially from American universities. It was when eDX decided to invest several millions into its MOOC development, it creates a new wave of open courses for the global citizens. eDX main founders are Harvard University and MIT. Now they have partners including Cornell, UC Berkeley, Boston University, Dartmouth, Davidson, HKUST (Hong Kong), ANU (Australia) and few more. This is a great development. You should consider visiting their website and enroll in some of the courses. I have enrolled in Innovation and Commercialization from

On the other hand, Coursera started in 2012 founded by Stanford University professors. It is a for profit organization and currently working with Stanford University, Princeton, University of Michigan and University of Pennsylvania. There are more than 6 million students on Coursera today and growing. I am currently taking a course on History of Rock Music (University of Florida) and University Teaching 101 (Johns Hopkins University) from Coursera. You should also visit Coursera and have a jam!

"Can MOOC finds a viable business model?"
“Can MOOC find a viable business model?”

What I like most about MOOC today is the convergence of ideas and history has shown us that the moment convergence happens, a big shift is coming soon. I believe other than banking, education is next on the line to experience tectonic shift. It probably take another 5 years or less for Malaysia to see something big coming. It may be a bit late but it is better late than never. Because if change doesn’t happen, there will be serious fall out of competitiveness of the universities and revenue will be impacted as well.

In The Economist, February 2014, says that “online course is its rock-bottom marginal cost: teaching additional students is virtually free. The fixed cost of creating an online course is relatively high, however. Getting started means putting together a curriculum, producing written and recorded material to explain it, and creating an interactive site that facilitates discussion and feedback.” This so true especially for public university. The same article pointed out the obvious that adding another student means adding another block of facility and the need to prepare another accommodation. Besides, to raise the productivity of tenured professors and teaching faculty is already difficult for bigger class means poorer quality. With the perennial concern on graduate quality, best to keep the class at optimum level (depending on courses).

While this may threaten the existing business model, especially for public universities, it doesn’t leave them with much choices nowadays. There is already major financial cut (from 20-30% annually) from the government coffers to finance public universities and it doesn’t seem to slow down. Other than financial savings (maximum 10-15%) from key activities- still not enough to offset the cut; public universities should consider paving the way for MOOC to become the next revenue stream. This could start for students abroad especially from developing countries where it has strong presence. It can be a good brand building before the students make their way to the physical university. I could attest to this when I take courses from Coursera and eDX where I could remember the name of the professors and earn certificate for the classes from the universities.

"University that adopt MOOC fast enough and offer it to the right market will have an edge as the innovation is taking shape."
“University that adopt MOOC fast enough and offer it to the right market will have an edge as the innovation is taking shape.”

In my Rock class from Coursera, there are  15,000 students registered for the course. In my University Teaching 101, there are more than 10,000 students. They come from around the world and with various backgrounds. I read a story of a teenage girl in South Africa where she completed around 15 courses on MOOC and now become the smartest girl in her village. Despite the fact that she never been to school, she is now a village teacher teaching and inspiring other children. She is blessed with her literacy in English and internet connection. This is classic education. A quote from Mark Twain, “Don’t let school get in the way of your education.” I think public universities in Malaysia should seriously do something about this and start small.

There are many ways to start MOOC because as public university they have many resources at their disposal. What they need a strong will and deterministic vision of the university management to leap forward. I will try to cover more information and ideas on how MOOC could benefit the university and how to go about doing it in my next post.

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