Saturday, September 12, 2009

Of bovine heads, may cooler heads prevail...

Masjid Nabawi - Madina, Saudi Arabia
(Photo from

A friend asked me about the happenings in Shah Alam lately. I think there's already enough written and said about it from both sides of the divide and I don't think I have anything to add to it. However, this is what I shared with him:

Some years back, when I was into sirah (the Prophet SAW's life history) I came upon this incident: A group of Christians from Najran paid a visit to the Prophet SAW in Madina. He (SAW) received his guests in his Masjid. It was a Sunday - the Christian Sabbath. When it came time for Mass, the Prophet SAW and his companions vacated the Masjid so that the Christians could carry on with their devotions undisturbed (inside the Masjid).

You figure out for yourself if the above narration means anything to you.

As we are in the last days of Ramadan, let us strive in living Islam as the Prophet SAW and his companions did.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

10 Ways to Increase Productivity & Have Better Time Management

Photo shot in Malacca sometime early 2009. Hazy evening sky with the sun about to set.

My friend Moonshi from Singapore has this to share with the M&Y group. I think it is an interesting and worthwhile read, so I am reproducing it here in its entirety.

Dear M&Y graduates,

Currently, my business serves several hundred Clients in Asia-Pacific including names like Kuwait Finance House, JVC, Hitachi, Aussino, Temasek, Sun Microsystems, Charles & Keith and many others. After tuning my CRM system and getting my weekly business and management reports, I now know that 85% of my clients are small-medium business, 10% are medium-sized businesses and 5% are the multi-nationals.

After much observations, I realized that many small businesses are struggling to make their business successful. Most small business owners I met says that they feel that they are working very hard and yet they still don't see the results they desire. After speaking to more than 50+ SME bosses, I realized most of the issues are around cash-flow management, the boss trying to do everything on his own and there is no systems or technologies to support the boss to leverage himself.

Maybe some of you want to grow your business to the next level of success. Maybe you want to increase profit by 5% per annum without stress. Maybe you want to create a job within your own business with no stress of reporting to a boss. Whatever your situation, let's take a look at several ways to increase productivity and have better time management which I am applying in my life and my business.

Increasing Productivity

1. Build your team: Have you ever heard of the 80/20 rule? In business, 20% of your business activities yield 80% of the results. You need to determine which tasks are in your top 20%, and eliminate and/or delegate the rest as a means of increasing productivity and experiencing better time management. Unfortunately, many small business owners fail or don't grow to the next level because they don't take advantage of small business resources like building a good team. An excellent way to get started is to hire an assistant or outsource some of your non-core business activities e.g. book-keeping, accounting, administrative work (non-revenue generating activities), computers and network management, etc.

2. Cultivate marketing relationships: Create a referral program that is easy for any Aminah, Robert or Ah Leong to refer businesses to you. Referral programs is one of the resources for entrepreneurs to increasing productivity and better time management. These referrals invest their time promoting your products or services in exchange for a commission on the sale. In addition, find other entrepreneurs with complementary businesses and collaborate on services or create product bundling. You get more breakthroughs and unique perspectives when you are not working on business development alone.

3. Leverage on technology and systems (this is my company's expertise): Any business can be dissected into two major parts: Vision (what do you want) and Systems (how will you do it to get it with everyone aligned to it). Entrepreneurs are usually challenged by the "How will you get it" part and skip this extremely crucial step. Increasing productivity by systemizing your business is one of the critical resources for entrepreneurs. Systems will save you time, reduce errors, simplify tasks, enhance communication, keep you organized and help remember important things to get done. What is a system? A system is basically a task that you do to perfection from A to Z and you are able to document it, step-by-step that even a 10-year old or a 50-year old can do without having to ask you a single question and he/she can do it to the perfection as if you are doing it yourself. Then, apply the law of leverage to make it happen faster, better and cheaper. Now to apply the law of leverage to a system, you need technology that has all the processes built-in, guide the user on the step-by-step process, do validations to verify the input information is correct while allowing many people to do the same tasks and process at the same time to create repeatable results! Want to know more about systems? Contact me :)

4. Get a Business Mentor or Hire a Productivity & Systems Expert: A business coach or productivity expert are tremendous resources for entrepreneurs. These professionals will help you make things happen, develop steps to help you reach your goals, and provide you with the necessary support and structure you need to utilize better time management and realize your business goals. In Singapore, I am blessed as the Singapore Government have many funding and grants to help businesses grow. As such, I can help my clients and tap on these grants to reduce their investments to implement systems and get technology-leverage". Refer to, and for details.

5. Get to the core of your revenue-generating activities: These activities provide valuable payoff in the long run. They are based on your priorities, values and goals and are the activities you love doing and do best. I also say it differently - If you love what you do and do what you love, you are in the right track to help others while being fairly rewarded for your services. In turn, these tasks that you love doing create immense value for your clients.

Now you may have discovered several ways of increasing productivity. The next challenge is this, unless you know the steps and keys to better time management, you may not achieve the desired results you want. We all have 24-hours a day. Most of us sleep about 8-hours, work for 8-hours and manage other aspects of life the other 8-hours - including running errands, chires, getting up and preparing to go to work, commuting, taking breakfast, lunch, dinner and managing our lives. Since there are only so many physical human hours in a day; start focusing on specific areas that are consuming your time.

Better Time Management

6. Doing Something More Than Once: I am a personal believer that if I have to do something more than once, I want to systemize it. In essence, I handle things only once by evaluating every task that comes my way, deciding what to do with it, and prioritizing my to-do list. I use MS Outlook to schedule my time, make appointments with myself for all my daily tasks and meetings and plan my time up to 2-weeks in advance. Once I've started a task, I keep at it until it's done. If I cannot complete it in a day, I break the task into several days and work on it up to 4-hours per day. When I come back to an unfinished task, I take extra time to re-familiarize myself with it and figure out where I have left off. Successfully completing a task, no matter how small, gives me a great sense of accomplishment and encourages me to take on other tasks that come my way.

7. Stop Multi-Tasking: Many people try to do more than one task at a time. From my personal experience, I am kidding myself thinking that I'm getting lots done. When nothing gets your full attention, errors creep in. In the long run, you end up spending more time undoing those mistakes. Stop trying to do it all at once. By giving your undivided attention to one thing at a time, you'll be much more productive.

8. Expect and Manage the Unexpected: Unexpected or unwanted events occur that demand your time and energy. Practicing better time management means taking care of disruptions by scheduling time in your day for the unexpected. Give yourself a window of opportunity to face "surprise" issues, and be open-minded about accepting support when needed. I always have "spare-time" every day to manage "the unexpected" from Clients, staff or new opportunities.

9. Ruthless Time Management: Practicing grrreeeaaattttt time management means being ruthless with what you spend your time on and how you spend it. You need to set boundaries; identify the time wasters throughout your workday; schedule blocks of time to work on tasks, and make and keep appointments. Only do the tasks directly related to your small business goals and invest your time only on what you love and do best. If you have calls that are not important to your goals, get your assistant to take a message and call back when you are available. This is where the "spare-time" comes in handy.

Ultimately, your goal should be to create work-life balance to ensure you are spending your time and efforts increasing productivity in a way so that you can take time off to rejuvenate and recharge your batteries without compromising your success. Creating a calendar of your ideal workweek is an excellent way to do this. I personally make sure that I don't work beyond 6.30 PM everyday unless there are important and urgent matters that needs immediate attention or a new project that spans different timezones.

10. Slow Down to Move Ahead Faster: Take the time needed, by slowing down, to evaluate your options, to deliberate on ideas and create a plan for your business goals and lifestyle. Then, design your business accordingly. Not only will this result in increasing productivity, but it is the epitome of better time management.

I hope my practice and sharing can create some new strategies for you to increase your productivity, and key aspects of better time management. I guarantee that if you put this information into practice, you will work smarter and achieve greater success!

Till then, be your best, stay passionate and...

Stay driven!
Moonshi Mohsenruddin | CEO | CommGate, Inc.
Inspiring Change, Empowering Businesses through technology-leverage.