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10 Things You Didn’t Know About Asian Efficiency

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I thought I would switch it up today and write something more about AE. Previously we mentioned how we wanted to open up more on the blog so we want to continue that. We often get asked various random questions so I thought I would answer a bunch of them plus add in some other random things you might want to know about us. This is just for fun and here are 10 things you might not know about Asian Efficiency.

1. It all started as a joke.

A couple of our friends coined the term “asian efficiency” when they noticed how fast we could produce quality work with ease. They joked that it was because of our Asian genes so for fun we registered A year went by and as the domain name was up for renewal, we thought it might be a fun idea just to share some stuff about how we do things.

Now almost three years later, it’s what we do every day. Who would have thought!

2. We have weird backgrounds.

Aaron is Australian, looks Chinese, lived in the US and now resides in Bangkok. Plus he speaks Thai and bits of Mandarin. And he likes to use British spelling – which I have to then correct for the blog.

Yours truly is Dutch, looks Vietnamese, grew up in The Netherlands, lived in various countries and now resides in Los Angeles. Plus I speak Vietnamese, Dutch and German. I can swear in Hungarian too.

3. We use Asana for team collaboration.

Many of you know us as OmniFocus experts and we use this amazing software to manage our personal lives. However, for team collaboration we prefer to use Asana.

OmniFocus is not really built for team work but Asana excels at that. We have developed some best practices for Asana so expect more content on Asana soon.

4. We use various platforms to manage AE.

While Asana helps us collaborate, we use a variety of different platforms for managing AE. Our philosophy has always been to keep it as simple as possible which usually means we tend to stick to one platform and make sure everything else works within the eco-system.

Some of the platforms we use:

The beauty of this is that all these work together in one way or another or don’t overlap. It took us a long time and trial-and-error to find a good mix, but this has been working really well for us.

5. We have a weekly conference call.

As much as we hate meetings, every Monday we get on Skype for about an hour and talk about what to write, what we need to do this week and general stuff about AE. It takes place around the time when I usually finish my day whereas Aaron just finished his morning workout and is about to start his day.

6. We spend way too much money on food.

We love eating and independently we’re always trying out new food places. I’m pretty sure the only reason we workout is so we can keep eating more new foods ;-)

7. Our content is pre-determined.

We have a huge list of topics we want to write about that we store in an Excel file. This also serves as our content schedule. Once a month Aaron will pick a bunch of topics and schedule them in.

We literally have 150+ topics we want to write about. So there is never the excuse “what should we write about”. You guys also contribute a lot of ideas over email and social media, and all these suggestions end up in this Excel sheet.

8. We read a lot of books.

Asian Efficiency at bookstore

Most of the content on the blog is inspired by a mix of personal experience, working with people and knowledge derived from the books we read. We often get emails from people saying how unique our content is compared to what’s out there and we can attribute that to the books we read.

We have a list of books we recommend right here, but it’s really a fraction of all the books we’ve read and recommend. We strive to keep reading and learning as long as we’re alive.

9. Aaron is a mind mapping ninja.

Watching Aaron mind map is like watching Mozart compose a song. He’s the one who got me into mind mapping and a lot of the content we have published about mind mapping is heavily influenced by Aaron’s years of experience.

10. Various interesting facts about AE.

  • Top 3 countries of readers: US, UK and Canada.
  • Most popular post of 2013 (thus far): Organizing Your Files, Folders and Documents
  • We receive 80+ daily emails. We read everything but sometimes can’t respond to everything. Until we do a marathon email clearing session.
  • Most readers come from New York City.

Is there anything you want to know about us? Just ask us in the comments below!

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Posted by Austin  | March 24, 2013 at 11:34PM | Reply

This was really great to get a little behind the scenes look at what you guys do. would love to see more of these with your other regular great content.

Posted by Thanh Pham  | March 25, 2013 at 1:05AM

Thanks Austin – will do :)

Posted by Erzsebet  | March 25, 2013 at 2:33PM | Reply

You have just made me laugh as you wrote you can swear in Hungarian. :D
Where/When/How did you learn that?
I am a Hungarian and … that’s why I found it funny and strange as well.

I love your blog.
Keep up the good work, guys!
Take care.

Posted by Thanh Pham  | March 25, 2013 at 2:41PM

I lived in Budapest for a year (right by Oktagon). I have a lot of friends there who introduced me to Palinka and taught me some basic Hungarian…with of course some of the swear words :)

Posted by The L  | March 31, 2013 at 3:40PM | Reply

#6 is sooooooo Asian!! ;) Not sure if it’s true but making pictures of (your) food and showing it off to your friends seem something Asian too (…well at least I do! LOL).

Posted by Aaron Lynn  | April 26, 2013 at 5:36AM

It most definitely is. It’s like a roundtable of smartphone photography every time I eat out!

Posted by Chris  | April 5, 2013 at 8:51AM | Reply

Great post!

I’m really looking forward to your posts on Asana. I have been using it for about 6-8 months for specific projects whilst still utilising Omnifocus as my primary task manager and I am impressed how Asana is developing as an overall solution. I want to deploy it more broadly within my project teams so insight into your experience with it will surely be helpful.

Thanks again for the great work the two of you do!

Cheers from Amsterdam!

Posted by AC  | April 14, 2013 at 5:57PM | Reply

That’s great to know a bit more from you guys. Thanks for all the great posts so far.

I blame you for having introduced me to Agile Results… now I can’t go to bed before writing my 3 outcomes and my daily journal :-) (thanks for that btw!)

Re #7… why Excel? I would expect you to use other tools :-)



Posted by Aaron Lynn  | April 26, 2013 at 5:38AM

It’s what we had when we started the blog and haven’t stopped using it since – it just works.

That being said, we’ve been eyeing Confluence lately and that may be where things go in the future for content scheduling and management.

Posted by Fabian  | April 14, 2013 at 7:54PM | Reply

Hi guys, I really love your stuff, so keep it up. I have two questions for you:
1. How do you guys finance and more importantly your lives?
2. How did you guys meet?

Thanks from Guangzhou,

Posted by Aaron Lynn  | April 26, 2013 at 5:40AM

1. We were both working for different companies when we started Asian Efficiency. That helped us fund the initial costs and hosting, and we basically just worked on the blog in our spare time after work.
2. Very randomly at a marketing conference in New York. Thanh was the only other Asian guy in the room, so I walked over and said hi.

Posted by Krishna Prasad V  | April 15, 2013 at 6:22AM | Reply

Hello AE’ians,

I love the stuffs you write here and often I implement them and share it with others too. Great thoughts!

By the way, I presume that you may be earning through other day jobs while you write great stuff here. How do you manage both work and passion [presumed to be AE :) ]?

Best regards,
Krishna Prasad V

Posted by Aaron Lynn  | April 26, 2013 at 5:42AM

Asian Efficiency is our full-time now – we live and breathe this 24/7!

For our first couple of years we did juggle day jobs with AE though. It wasn’t easy – had to give up a bit on TV, socialising and lounging around to make it work :)

Posted by Chinoiseries  | April 26, 2013 at 3:38PM | Reply

Just getting started on Evernote and OmniFocus because… well, my life really needs some re-organizing. Keep up the good work guys and would love to see some good food shared too ;-) (Groeten uit Nederland)

Posted by Simon  | October 21, 2013 at 1:53AM | Reply

Fantastic article however I would like to point out one big obvious mistake …… Correct British spelling to what exactly ?


I was born in England and live in Holland where I have to correct spelling to British on a daily basis ;)

Keep up the good work guys … Oh sorry guyz.

Posted by Thanh Pham  | October 21, 2013 at 12:31PM

Haha thanks Simon! Hope you’re liking The Netherlands.

Posted by Naomi  | January 2, 2014 at 12:29AM | Reply

I was curious about AE background, now this post answers most of my curiosity. :D has become my all time productivity “bible”. I can’t spend a day (or two) without checking up your site, and reopening the premium post e-books I bought (yep, I gifted my self AE primer and Omnifocus premium post this new year).
I must admit that nothing great starts easy. I’m working on it, though.
Just wanna say that all contents I bought are absolutely essential for boosting my productivity. I love AE and I’m thankful you guys make the efforts and time to share.

P.S. I’m curious how many of your readers come from Indonesia?

Posted by Thanh Pham  | January 2, 2014 at 11:27AM

Thanks Naomi! I’m glad you found our website and premium products useful.

Just checked our analytics, we have thousands a month coming from Indonesia. You’re definitely not alone :)

Posted by ife  | July 4, 2015 at 9:04PM | Reply

love the work you guys do.also i am looking forward to see your post on Asana.

P.S. I’m curious how many of your readers come from Africa, to be specific Nigeria ?

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