How I Stay Productive – Ndubuisi Ekekwe

How I Stay Productive – Ndubuisi Ekekwe

How do you become more productive at work, home or school? I do get questions with people asking me how I juggle many things at the same time. I always respond PROCESS.

In secondary school, I took 15 subjects when WAEC typically allowed 9 maximum. In my first term in SS1, I realized that I had so much free time after the 9 subjects. To keep myself busy and challenged, I added extra 6 subjects which those on science path would not have been allowed to take. While in the bank, I was employed full time and still ran two master’s degree programs at the same time plus a correspondence doctoral program [my job reviews were Excellent].

The Process saw me through; I continue to refine it. Besides working fast, I do one thing daily – I put 20 minutes to plan the next day. If I improve and optimize my productivity by say 3% daily, I would possibly achieve more within a year [they compound over time]. Productivity for me is not doing many things – I select just what I want to focus on because the impacts would be great.

I have a TODO text file with contents divided into two sections: Key and Possible. The Key items are things which must be done that day; the Possible are bonus if I can get to them. Then, I have another one LongTD [Long TODO] text file which has weekly, monthly and yearly things to be done; I review this LongTD daily and see which activities can be moved to TODO. I try to free my brain by not packing things which can be written down.

As I plan, I do not focus first on speed – I focus on the direction of my efforts. The activities must be impactful and catalytic to what I want to accomplish. Within the 20 minutes, I design what is important because working on things that matter is the best way to be productive. I give thoughts to anything I do, and nothing comes by chance.

Now, to make sure I execute on my plans – daily, weekly, monthly and yearly – I make sure I connect with people who can help me. I spend good time building networks of people with capabilities in many areas I may need help.

So, to be productive and get things done, you must know the most important things you have to work on a specific day or time frame. And then do all to get them done. Also, I make free space to learn. For example, I have a block of time for LinkedIn which is now a Lab for me.

For things that do not add value, they are cut-out. And if I have to do them, I try to use the fastest [least resistance] path to get them done. Generally, I do not like any ecosystem where I experience bad moods. I treasure energy and certainly want to experience optimism. So, I avoid activities or events that can kill my energy.

Productivity does not mean been busy and just working all the time. Reading a book, learning something new, sleeping well and spending time with family are elements that make getting things done optimally. I do not measure mine by mere time. I focus on the trajectory of important things I am getting done. Those things could be in business and family.

Take an example: I spent about 5 years on Facebook. I measured it and found no professional value. The family value was not also good [Facebook would tell people I read their messages, making them to know I did even though I have not made time to respond to them. To the person, that was disrespectful that I did not respond. But I knew I did not have the time to work on that response. With that tension, Facebook was not helpful]. I simply deactivated my account. The same happened with Twitter: it was making me to develop a writing style I did not like [making statements without analytical rigor]; I closed the account.

Productivity is working on things that matter and you have to define those things. Spending time daily to think through things you want to accomplish would help your productivity journey.


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7 thoughts on “How I Stay Productive – Ndubuisi Ekekwe

  1. Great and insightful post Prof. Lots of things to learn from your system.

    I use a similar system too. Every evening I decide on 3 things I want to focus on and do the next day and put it on my list. Then I add 3 other things that I would like to do If I finish the first 3. During the day, I focus on the 3 things and avoid distractions through social media. (I make time specifically to browse social media and learn new things). To save myself from going on a “Reading tangent”, if i find a post I think will be useful but don’t have the time to read it instantly, I use an app called Pocket to curate that post so I can come back to it later.

    Being occupied doing many things is not the same us being productive. For busy people it is important to be able to find a process which maximizes productivity and follow that process diligently. Thanks once again, Prof.

    1. Great one Isaac – the key is having a filtering process. “Every evening I decide on 3 things I want to focus on and do the next day and put it on my list” means you have developed a filter to make sure you do things which add value. Thanks for sharing

  2. Awesome productivity routine. Clearly one needs to inculcate discipline and keep working on it everyday.

    As someone said, this too is “…a journey, not a destination.”


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