how I became interested in productivity

How I became interested in productivity [PMP #259]

When I was growing up, I never expected I’d be running a business where I help people with their productivity. In fact, there was a time when I wanted to be an architect. So where did this interest in productivity and the desire to start my own business come from? Today, I’d like to share a few personal memories that tell the story of how I ended up in the position I am today.

Don’t want to read this post? Listen to the podcast instead:

Since I can remember, I’ve always been a very organised person. Whether this was nature or nurture, I don't know. But as a kid, I remember taking a lot of pride in keeping my bedroom organised. This could be because I shared a room with my twin brother, Mark, and we had to be tidy in order to capitalise on our available space. Every few months I would go through my draws and cupboards and throw out the toys or stuff I didn’t need. It’s safe to say that from an early age, I found a lot of satisfaction from creating structure and order in my surroundings.

Growing up, our family spent a lot of time sailing. Our dad would take my brothers and I to sailing competitions around the UK where we would race and compete in the Optimist class. I became pretty competitive and my sailing career taught me how to be disciplined and how to focus my efforts on a goal. Our parents had to juggle four boys and I think this contributed a lot towards teaching us how to be independent and self-sufficient. Something that I think is very important when it comes to managing your time and prioritising your work.

When I was 12 years old, I got my first job which was a paper round. When you start to earn your own money, especially at a younger age, you learn the value of your time and money itself. I think this is why I became very good at saving my money and not wasting it. Before buying anything, I’d literally think about how many hours of delivering papers a purchase would equate to. This is the earliest memory I have of making the connection between my time and money earned.

When I was 15 I purchased my first computer, a MacBook. I remember a good friend of mine got a MacBook Pro at the same time but where his was given to him by his parents, I had to purchase mine using my hard earned paper round money. Because I was parting with a lot of money (and time) to buy this computer, I really wanted to get the most out of it. If I look back at my Apple Calendar in 2006, I can still see where I started using my calendar to display my school assignment dates and sailing commitments. Because I’d worked so hard to buy this Mac, I really enjoyed learning how to get the most of it and how I could use technology to be more organised.

After moving to New Zealand and during my final year of school, I took part in the Young Enterprise Scheme which is a program for school students where you run your own business for a year. During that time, I had some success representing New Zealand in an international business case competition. My partner and I, Chuck (who is my closest friend to this day) won the competition! This experience had a big impact on me and I felt like business was something I was both passionate about and naturally good at. It was at this time that I decided I wanted to do a Bachelor of Commerce at University and learn more about entrepreneurship.

When I went to university, my calendar usage really picked up as I started to block out time for my classes, tutorials, assignments and yes, even social events. Whenever I had something to do, I’d think about all the steps I needed to take to complete that tasks or assignment and used my calendar to plan my next steps. This is when my time blocking habit really developed.

While I was at University, I read The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. This is the book that showed me you don’t have to run a big company with lots of staff and that by optimising your time you could create a lucrative lifestyle business that balanced both your time and money.

When I got my first job in marketing after university, my interest in productivity continued to develop as I adopted habits like meditation and journaling. It was at this time that I went on a big reading binge in an effort to improve myself and I wrote a load of book summaries which are now available to download on my website.

I noticed my colleague and good friend, Dylan, would regularly publish articles to his own personal blog. This inspired me to purchase my own domain, and do some writing of my own. I chose to write about productivity as it was something that interested me that I also felt could become a business one day.

While I was in this marketing role, I discovered Asana after listening to Natalie Sisson’s podcast, The Suitcase Entrepreneur. Over a few months, we slowly transitioned our team over to using Asana to manage our work. The owner of the business, Simon, paid me a bonus for helping to implement Asana and this ultimately became the catalyst for to start my consulting business a few years later.

And the rest is history… My business snowballed from there and I branched out into other services like Pipedrive and Zapier. And that’s how I came to be in the position where I am today.

It’s interesting looking back at your childhood and reflecting on formative experiences and seeing how they help to shape you into the person you are today. I hope sharing this has given you an insight into how I think and where my interest in productivity comes from. Does productivity come more naturally to some people? Yes. But ultimately, these experiences demonstrate that productivity is something that can be learned and mastered with enough time. If you have any questions, please comment below!