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  • Productivity Champ Spotlight — Saying No to be Productive with Curtis McHale

Why do people join online communities?

Often, it is about support. It could be technical support, moral support, or accountability. Here at Asian Efficiency, we have our own productivity community called The Dojo. It is a mix of awesome people from all walks of life who are there to learn and share what they have learned. One of our members is Curtis McHale.

You might have heard his name before since he’s been a guest in our podcast, The Productivity Show in the past (see below for some of Curtis’ episodes). As part of our growing community, Curtis has been helping other Dojo members too. This is one of his reasons why he joined–he wanted to help and at the same time have the support of the thousands in the community when he needs support.

We are happy to introduce Curtis as our Productivity Champ.

Introducing Curtis McHale

Curtis Mchale

Tell us a little bit about who you are and what you’re up to.

I spent 10 years as a software developer after getting my Counselling Degree and round about came back to coaching and writing as the thing that fit me best. Now I help men build a business that lets them be the fathers they’ve always dreamed of being.

What is the backstory that ignited you to get started on becoming more productive?

I hate wasting time. Don’t ask me a question twice because I answered it once and if you have no more information, I answered it with thought and why would I change my mind? To this end, I kept feeling frustrated that I was repeating myself and started to walk down the road of stopping that. I started with GTD like many. Now I use some GTD, some Bullet Journal and a bit of Kanban to keep it all together.

What was the wall or problem that you ran into that stopped you from accomplishing what you wanted?

The biggest wall is always time. My wife works every day at 3PM so that means I need to have everything done by 3PM because that’s dad time. Some weeks I’m still working out how on earth I get everything done and then actually spend time with my kids instead of just pretending to while I look at a screen and tack away at email.

What was the epiphany you experienced and discovered?

I think the biggest change came when I first read Deep Work when it came out. I had already been thinking about my focus and what I needed so much but that book gave me the words to express it properly. I had already started to only book calls one day a week but occasionally would let others creep in. It gave me some sort of external authority to say “no” and blame it on Mr. Newport. I’ve read that book twice since it came out.

What was the transformation that you experienced?

I feel like the transformation was slow and then fast. I was creeping towards Deep Work ideas and focus and blocking out my time for years. I see my first set of time blocks on my calendar in 2012. I wrote about taking calls one day a week in 2011.

When I got serious and in some ways mean about protecting my time, life slowed down in so many ways. I still feel a bit guilty sometimes when a customer asks for a call on a random Thursday, but I fall back to my rules of no calls outside of Friday.

Having space to do work and think made a huge difference in my income and how relaxed I felt.

If you have one piece of productivity advice for someone who is struggling to make progress toward their goals, what would it be?

No is the most productive word in your vocabulary. Just because someone wants you to do something, doesn’t mean you’re in any way obligated to, even if they are a previous client. Evaluate every new opportunity to see if it fits into who you currently are. I would have said yes to more coding work a year ago, and now I say no to almost all of it unless it’s extra exciting for me working with some person I really want to get to know. Even past clients get a NO now and some recommendations of who to move on to.

What Does it Take to be A Productivity Champ?

Thank you Curtis for sharing!

A Productivity Champ is not just about someone who has overcome all the hurdles they have encountered in their productivity journey, but it’s also someone who continuously works on being better despite the hurdles. Wins, no matter how small, are still wins and should be celebrated.

If you want to listen to Curtis in our podcast, here are the links:

Increasing Your Productivity By Using Analog Tools w/ Curtis McHale (TPS177)
The Art of Finding Time to Focus w/ Curtis McHale (TPS209)
The Secret to Making the Most of Your Limited Time w/ Curtis McHale (TPS201)

If you are feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, or distracted, you can overcome that and become a productivity champ too:

  • Review our TEA Framework for mastering productivity and become familiar with the 3 Pillars of Productivity.
  • Take our super-quick Productivity Quiz, which will give you actionable insight into where you should get started.
  • Pick one (only one!) action step and schedule it on your calendar to implement it.

If you think we should feature you as a productivity champ, get in touch and let us know!

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Thanh Pham

Founder of Asian Efficiency where we help people become more productive at work and in life. I've been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, and The Globe & Mail as a productivity thought leader. At AE I'm responsible for leading teams and executing our vision to assist people all over the world live their best life possible.

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