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The People Behind Asian Efficiency (With Photos!)

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Today I want to write to you about something totally different. This blog has been around for almost two years (we started around January 2011) and I’ve realized that we haven’t shared much about who we are. So I’m going to change that.

If you have read all of our posts, you will have a good idea of who we are, what we stand for and what shoe size I have. On our About page we have a couple pictures of us just so you know we’re not aliens or Skynet-like robots who write about time management, productivity and personal technology (people have tried to verify we’re not aliens or robots because we get work done almost too efficiently sometimes).

Aaron and I are big proponents of transparency. If you have been a newsletter subscriber for a long time you already know this (you aren’t a subscriber? Head over here now.)

We haven’t been personal on the blog at all but if you are a newsletter subscriber you’re already aware how personal we get. It’s because we only share personal stuff on there, but we want to slowly start opening ourselves up on the blog too.

Starting with this post.

Lots of bromance going on here

Lots of bromance going on here. L: Aaron. R: Thanh.

Where do I start? Let’s just start with the past summer. Before summer started, Aaron and I were talking a lot about AE, its current state and where we wanted to take it.

We want to make this blog the top resource for time management, productivity and personal technology. From day one, we have always taken the approach to write evergreen content. If an article is not useful a year from now, we won’t write it. The value we put out there has to pass the test of time.

As we started talking about this and other stuff, we’ve realized that we need to be together in the same vicinity. Working remotely is great but it’s hard to take things to the next level when you are far away from each other. The value of being able to discuss things in person trumps remote working any day.

So in the beginning of June I booked my ticket, hopped on the plane in Amsterdam and half a day later I was in Bangkok. For the next 6 weeks I would be living in Aaron’s apartment and we would work together on AE.

Thanh at work

Thanh hard at work.


Aaron has been living in Bangkok for the last couple of years. He really likes it there and I visited him a year earlier. It was my first time in Bangkok and I could see right away why he likes it. Bangkok is fun.

Around that time we gathered some of our friends Micha, Charles and Vince to come too, and we formed a little mastermind. This past summer we did it again but without our dear friend Micha (who is in Sweden recovering from surgery).

asian productivity nerds

Left to right: Vince Wong, Charles Ngo, Aaron Lynn, Thanh Pham. In case you're wondering, that's a microphone on the table.

Random fact: One thing I love is coconut juice. It’s healthy, it tastes great and it’s really cheap in Bangkok. Not to mention easily accessible. All I had to do was walk outside the building, turn a corner and I could buy fresh coco juice.

coco juice

I love coconut juice.

Speaking of, we love eating. We like eating at nice restaurants and trying out new things. Bangkok is a great place to try out lots of foods and exotic fruits. It’s one of the reasons I really like Bangkok.

Aaron eating pad thai

Aaron eating Pad Thai. He told me it's not even a real traditional Thai dish. Who knew.


weird food

You don't want to know what that is.

From all the food pictures you would think we didn’t get much done. Luckily we did get stuff done! We produced a lot of content, recorded podcasts and worked on the website.

Aaron with camera

Aaron with camera.

A lot of this work is not published yet, but we are going to release it soon. Very soon.

Hong Kong

For fun and business, we also went to Hong Kong for a couple days. It was my first time to HK and I immediately liked it too. Why? Because the way the city is set up is very efficient.

Everything about it is efficient. There is almost no time wasting in that city. For example, you can check-in for your flight in multiple places within the city.

hong kong checking in

Checking in our bags in the middle of the city. Asian Efficient.

We had our flight back to Bangkok at night and instead of carrying around your luggage for the rest of the day, we could check it in at a nearby station. After we explored the city, we hopped on the train that exits right in front of the entrance of the airport. You literally get off the train, walk about 100m to outgoing immigration and then onto the boarding gate. Very efficient and AE-approved.

Thanh in Hong Kong

Thanh in Hong Kong.

What’s In Store?


Switch is one of our favorite books.


Asian Efficiency

Asian Efficiency in the bookstore.

The main purpose of this summer was to get together and figure out what we want to do with Asian Efficiency. Do we want to keep blogging? Do we want to take our consulting services public? Should we release a book? Do we want to create software? These and many more questions were brought up.

After hundreds of cups of green tea, sushi rolls and conversations later, we figured it out.

And we’ll reveal it soon. Very soon. To be continued.

Is there anything you want to know? Ask us in the comments below and we’ll let you know!

– Thanh

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Posted by Steve  | September 20, 2012 at 8:33AM | Reply

What are your sources of income?

Posted by Aaron Lynn  | September 20, 2012 at 9:50AM

Online business. My accountant wouldn’t be happy if I said more than that.

Posted by omni-impotent  | September 20, 2012 at 9:07AM | Reply

Fairly new to the site. It’s great that you’re sharing some of your private life with the readers, but given some of the controversial stuff you guys post about sex/dating, wouldn’t you prefer a bit of anonymity? What do you think potential partners would think? Don’t get me wrong. I think they are great, practical ideas–backed by some science. But I wouldn’t exactly want to let the girl I’m dating know that I am *kind of* using her to release oxytocin in my system so I stay happy and thus more productive! Girls, for some odd reason, like romance. Just from reading the material I can tell that you guys have a good interpretation of things. Don’t feel the need to risk that anonymity. :-) (Sorry to be a bit of a downer.)

Posted by Aaron Lynn  | September 20, 2012 at 9:58AM

The lady friends we had read through it didn’t object too much. As with anything anyone has written about, there will be differing opinions, but that’s usually a good thing that generates debate and discussion.

Posted by Thanh Pham  | September 20, 2012 at 11:51AM

Great question. Our series on Sex & Productivity has been read by our female friends and others, and they mostly agreed with our content. Like I mentioned, we’re all about being open and transparent. That also includes towards the people in our lives we hold close.

Posted by Erik  | September 20, 2012 at 12:05PM | Reply

Nice article! Your guide to setting up OF was one of the main reasons to why I stuck to it, and getting more and more use from it every day. I’m really curious to hear what you have been planning!

Posted by Thanh Pham  | September 20, 2012 at 12:49PM

Hey Erik! Great to see you here too (and on our FB page). We’ll release a lot of stuff soon. I think you’ll like it.

Posted by Mark  | September 20, 2012 at 1:59PM | Reply

Great post… looking forward to what’s ahead!

Posted by Thanh Pham  | September 20, 2012 at 2:01PM

Thank you Mark.

Posted by Cam  | September 23, 2012 at 5:15AM | Reply

next level bromance; probably not a microphone.

I’m looking forward

Posted by Thanh Pham  | September 23, 2012 at 3:37PM

Haha thanks for stopping by Cam.

Posted by max power  | September 24, 2012 at 5:27PM | Reply

charles ngo brought me here

Posted by Thanh Pham  | September 25, 2012 at 1:47PM

Thanks for stopping by Max! I hope you’ll like our content.

Posted by Mark  | September 25, 2012 at 4:21AM | Reply

Nice one guys. Keep up the good work!

Posted by Thanh Pham  | September 25, 2012 at 1:48PM

Thanks Mark!

Posted by David  | October 4, 2012 at 10:36PM | Reply


Good evening (where I am located), simply wanted to drop you a note to say thank you. I recently joined the group and am fascinated with the whole “GTD” concepts & processes. Specific to what you guys are doing, awesome, keep up the great work and please advise if there is anything I can do to assist in your efforts.


Posted by Aaron Lynn  | October 4, 2012 at 11:52PM

Cheers David.

Posted by Sida  | November 3, 2012 at 6:13PM | Reply

How about an app that combines todo list and time tracking so now you can track exactly how much time you spend on each task rather than just pile everything under “work” or “personal tasks”

Posted by Thanh Pham  | November 5, 2012 at 10:47PM

Great idea Sida. We haven’t seen anything like that out there so far. I find in general that there are a lot of holes in the apps space when it comes to task managers and online collaboration tools.

Posted by hikerpa (Ellen)  | March 18, 2013 at 6:50PM | Reply

Excited to see what you have planned!!! I really love Omnifocus Premium. It really helped me get clear with the way I do GTD. So thanks so much.

Posted by Aaron Lynn  | April 26, 2013 at 5:28AM

Thanks Ellen!

Posted by Chinoiseries  | May 4, 2013 at 3:40AM | Reply

Cold soba noodles with seaweed… and a raw quail egg? Loving the food pics :) I had no clue either that pad thai was not authentic Thai.

OmniFocus Premium’s been everything I had hoped for and more. I’ve tried getting to grips with OF (on the iPhone) for a while now and ended up throwing up my hands in defeat every single time.
The Premium Posts were such an eye opener: now I finally understand what contexts and perspectives are for and even more important, how to apply these to my life.

Thanks a million, guys!

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