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The 5 Rituals of Highly Asian Efficient People

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woman at being Asian Efficient

When it comes to productivity, stripping it down to the basics can be challenging. With so many systems, hacks, techniques and tips out there it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle on what actually universally works.

After meeting and studying hundreds of highly effective people in today’s world, I’ve derived the basics of productivity into 5 rituals that you can implement today that will shoot your productivity into overdrive.

1. Start Your Day with a Morning Ritual

The most important hour of the day is the first hour right after you wake up. How you start your day sets the tone for how the rest of your day will go.

Wake up grumpy and tired? Chances are you’ll have an unproductive day. On the flipside, wake up relaxed, happy and ready to take on the world, and you’ll be eating your frogs and get insane amounts of things done.

This is why you want to have a morning ritual, or morning routine as some people call it. It’s your hour of power where you consistently set yourself up for a successful and productive day.

Even if you don’t wake up feeling great, a morning ritual can turn that around and change your mood for the better. When you consistently follow your morning ritual, you’ll get more consistency in your life and more things done.

We have a lot of different suggestions for one’s morning ritual but here are the basic components:

  • drink 500mL / 16 oz of water right after you wake up
  • do some light stretching
  • use the bathroom
  • review your goals

2. Review Your Goals

Speaking of goals, it’s vitally important that you look at your list of goals every day. This should motivate you and get you on the train to your destination. We can’t stress this enough.

When you don’t know what your goals are, you’ll mindlessly go through the day like a zombie and react to whatever the world throws at you. Instead of being pro-active, you’re being reactive.

You don’t want that. When you don’t know where you’re going, it’s easy to get lost, go around in circles and never get ahead.

You want something to aim for. Something to look forward to by taking steps each day that get you closer to where you want to be.

Live your life on your terms and you do that by knowing what your goals are and taking action on them. That’s an Asian Efficient life – when you align your activities with your goals.

3. Prioritize Your To-Do List

prioritize your todo list

Once you know what your goals are and where you’re headed to, setting priorities becomes easy. You’ll ignore the unimportant things and just focus on what you need to do that’s important.

When you struggle with prioritizing your to-do lists, it’s because you have no clarity on what you want to achieve. You have to know one level up what it is that you want to get. This differs per person but only YOU know what it is.

What’s more important: planning your career for the next 12 months or spending more time on the weekends with the family?

Upon first sight, both seem equally important, right?


It depends on your goal – the context you’re in and where you want to go. If you’re already spending lots of time with the family but you’re stuck in your career, planning your career is probably more important.

However, if you’re overworked and you get remarks from people that you aren’t present enough around family members, it’s probably better that you spend more time with the family.

So don’t just superficially look at your to-do list and work on each task one-by-one. Think about what your goal is and then start prioritizing your to-do list.

This is how you focus on what’s important, never waste time on the trivial stuff and live a productive, happy life. Remember, we all have the same amount of hours in the day – prioritizing your to-do list allows you to make the most out of it.

4. Exercise Often

An universal habit that all high-performers have is that they exercise on a regular basis. After reading hundreds of autobiographies, magazines features and interviews of highly successful people – a pattern kept repeating itself: they all exercised.

Exercise boosts your cognitive ability, improves your mood and simply makes you more productive. Our bodies weren’t made to sit 12 hours a day – we’re made to walk, use our hands and stress our bodies.

So start exercising. A healthy body is a productive body.

5. Take the Time to Reflect

woman reflecting on what to do

When you’re out there putting out fires, checking boxes off and go-getting, it sounds counter-intuitive to stop in the middle of that, and reflect on what you’re doing. It feels like you’re wasting precious time and resources but it couldn’t further from the truth.

Once a while you need to take a step back, take a break, reflect on what you’re doing and make adjustments along the way.

Are you still going in the right direction? Are you not burning out? How can you do it faster, more effectively?

As management guru Peter Drucker would say:

There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all.

The fastest way to go from point A to point B is to go in a straight line but oftentimes we get curveballs thrown our way that derail us from our path. There are unexpected emergencies coming up, an email that demands your attention, sometimes our mood doesn’t help us get things done, and all these other random factors can get us off our path.

Sometimes you have to take a step back, look at the bigger picture and make adjustments so you get back on the straight line.

Make sure you do your weekly review. Take enough breaks. And most of all, check back on Asian Efficiency every now and then :-)

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Posted by Sam  | January 2, 2014 at 2:19PM | Reply

Randomly came across this article today, totally awesome and accurate. The point about the morning ritual absolutely hits home. Starting out your day with a routine establishes a certain frame of mind that one needs for stability.

Posted by Aaron Lynn  | January 2, 2014 at 3:21PM

Thanks Sam!

Posted by Fred Kruck  | December 31, 2013 at 4:23PM | Reply

Drink a pint of water, stretch, then go to the bathroom? Obviously written by someone still young. When you get older, you have to reverse the order…. ;-)
Great posts — I look forward to another year of great suggestions!

Posted by Kosio Angelov  | December 18, 2013 at 7:56PM | Reply

Love it! Going back to the basics is a good thing to do, especially towards the end of the year.

I would also add to your great list “don’t overcomplicate things”. Efficient people can get lost in their own systems and trying to use all the latest tools, gadgets and apps. Sometimes, simple can be better. Don’t have your to-do app handy, write it down on a piece of paper (old school, but it works). Less is more as the saying goes.

Posted by Thanh Pham  | December 18, 2013 at 9:56PM

I like that Kosio. The simple solution is usually the best solution.

Posted by Wynxz  | December 18, 2013 at 6:33PM | Reply

So I’m a Asian (also by native) Efficient person now :)

Posted by Thanh Pham  | December 18, 2013 at 6:36PM

Welcome to the club :-)

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