My Top 2 Game-Changing Productivity Hacks of 2018 [S01E09] is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Since I’ve been reviewing how I did during 2018, I came across 2 simple productivity hacks which helped me see massive improvement in how I work and how I run my business.

My Top 2 Game-Changing Productivity Hacks of 2018 [S01E09]

In this 7-minute solo episode, I share 2 simple hacks I started using in 2018 which were instrumental in boosting my productivity massively.

Using a bullet journal in combination with POMODORO-based Macbook app has helped me:






INTRO: (00:03) Welcome to the Ask Irfan edition of the SIA Business Podcast. In each Ask Irfan episode, your host, Irfan, will be answering questions you asked and even questions you never asked.

Irfan: (00:22) Hi. In this episode, I would like to speak about the key, simple, and easy to implement the strategy that I have discovered in the past few months, which helps me stay focused on the most important tasks that I have to do each day. And it makes sure that I don’t get distracted, and that I am able to stay productive.

(00:44) And actually, I have been able to attain a lot of success in the last few months. And even though I’m not using this tactic as often as I should, it still has impacted my work life in a really good manner. So, it includes just a couple of items.

(01:03) Number one, you can use a simple notebook or you can buy a bullet journal, and you can use your notebook or your bullet journal to note down the top 3 to 5 tasks that you have to do on that day.

(01:19) And one easy way to know what should be the top 3 to 5 items that should go in this list is to ask yourself what Tim Ferriss suggested in one of his podcasts on productivity, where he mentions that… I’m paraphrasing but I hope I’m saying it correctly.

(01:37) He basically suggests that while selecting any task for the day, you should ask yourself if doing this task will make the rest of the tasks unnecessary or easy. So, I think that should be your selection criteria. And I will make sure that I include a link to Tim Ferriss’ episode on productivity where he talks about this.

(02:00) So, what I do is that each evening, I write down the top 3 to 5 tasks that I have to do the very next day. And once I have noted down these tasks, what I do is that I mention the time it would take me to complete each of these tasks.

(02:20) And when I’m mentioning the time, I’m actually using… I’m basically writing down the number of 20 minutes sprints it would take me. So for instance, if I have to do a content writing, I would write down whether writing down this article would take me 1 sprint of 20 minutes, or 2 sprints of 20 minutes, or something like that. So for instance, 2 sprints would mean that it could take me 40 minutes, right?

(02:45) So like I said, write down the top 3 to 5 tasks that you will be completing the next day, which are of the highest priority for you, and your business, and your work. Then, write down the number of sprints that it will take you to complete those tasks.

(02:59) Then, what you can do is that if you are using a Macbook, you can download a Macbook app called Tomato One. If you are using other device, I’m sure you will be able to find similar devices. Basically, look for any app which is a Pomodoro App. So, the way Pomodoro App works is that it will notify you after every 20 minutes sprint. In the case of Tomato One, the default setting was 25 minutes for a sprint, but you are able to edit the time. So, what I have done in my case is that I have set up each sprint to be of 20 minutes and the break time is 2 minutes. That’s the short break time, which happens after every sprint.

(03:40) And then, I have selected a 15-minutes long break, which I take after every 3 Pomodoro sprints. So, I use a Pomodoro to work in very fast pace sprints and there is a pretty famous law called the Parkinson’s Law and I use the famous Parkinson’s Law to select deadlines, which are very strict.

(04:05) So, I try not to be a perfectionist… and basically, the Parkinson’s Law says that the amount of time it would take you to complete a task is… it becomes as long as the deadline is. So for instance, if I set a deadline of 1 day, I will complete the task in 1 day. Like, just before the day ends, right? If I have set a deadline for a task as 2 hours, I will make sure that I complete it in two hours.

(04:36) So, I really like this law because being an entrepreneur, I’m quite a bit of a perfectionist like most entrepreneurs are. And so, if I’m given the time to really spend a lot of time on something I will do it and redo it. Or maybe I’ll just procrastinate till the very last few moments or something. Right?

(04:55) So this is why, when I’m mentioning the number of sprints that each top 3 to 5 tasks of the day will take me, I make sure that I am not setting up a very long duration for each task. This way, I can avoid being a perfectionist and just do a job which is decent and good enough.

(05:17) Again, I still feel guilty about it, and sometimes, in case of some extremely important task, I end up spending more time obviously, but still using the Parkinson’s Law in comparison with the Pomodoro technique, it really helps me a lot.

(05:35) There has been actually various research reports… according to which, the ability to basically take short breaks between each sprint and deciding upon the task that you have to do beforehand, and the fact that you are creating a list and prioritizing them. All of this, basically, makes the Pomodoro technique, more or less.

(05:56) So, there has been researched that doing so actually results in improved productivity, and improved focus, and a great creative flow. So, it also helps you with avoiding distractions and staying very, very focused. And actually, I was surprised that while using this technique, I’m able to get a lot of work done in basically just a few hours. So, I’m still working on making sure that I use this technique every single day.

(06:29) I still get carried away sometimes and I may not use my bullet journal, but usually, when I don’t do that, I can see that my productivity and my ability to take care of the most important things suffer enormously, which is why I get back to using it again.

(06:44) And I hope that you can try it as well. And do let me know if you have any questions regarding it or if you have found any other ways in which you have improved your productivity. Thank you so much. I hope this helped, and I look forward to speaking to you again. Bye.

OUTRO: (07:01) Got any questions about content marketing, SEO, startups, or something totally different, or weird, or fun? Share them with us and we will answer them in the next Ask Irfan episode.

If you have any questions or if you would like me to interview any entrepreneurs or digital marketers, please contact me here


Syed Irfan Ajmal is an award-winning serial entrepreneur and a seasoned digital marketer. He is an international speaker, and speaks and conducts trainings at various organizations and events of Pakistan and UAE. Moreover, he also writes about entrepreneurship and digital marketing for various large publications of the USA, UK, Canada, and Pakistan including Forbes ME, the World Bank, Huff Post,, Virgin, and others.

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