Case Study: World-Famous Musician Reveals His Best Productivity Tips

Meet Joe Powers

Joe Powers, a world-acclaimed harmonica player, shares his story of how he started his [music business] while he struggled to manage his time. After finding AE, he implemented a few strategies that worked for him, and in this interview, he shares his success story.

Why Joe Came to AE How Joe Used AE Joe’s Results
Joe was ready to launch his career as a professional musician but he lacked focus and needed help with time management and setting priorities. Joe learned how to plan his days and manage his time using AE’s OmniFocus resources. He leaned about focus and priorities using the Finisher’s Fast Lane course. He also learned how to set himself up for a productive day by designing his ideal morning ritual. Joe is a business owner and a professional musician who travels all over the world. Instead of being overwhelmed he feels in control of his day. He has the freedom to focus on his most important priorities.

Joe’s Story

Joe was working for the Social Security Administration, but he was true passion is his music.

For Joe, quitting the day job was a pivotal moment in his career. Stepping away from the 9-to-5 created time to pursue his dream of being a professional musician, but he quickly realized he needed guidance to leverage the opportunity he had been given.

I would spend hours and hours on really trivial things. I really needed some guidance.

In his musical education, Joe developed his craft. However, he was not taught the principles of productivity or time management. In his new role, Joe was leading his own business giving music lessons while also traveling to perform as a professional musician. The demands on his time were overwhelming. As a person who is always focused on being his best, Joe searched for solutions to improve his time management and business operations.

Joe’s search for productivity led him to David Allen’s GTD methodology, While searching for a task manager, Joe discovered OmniFocus. He knew that OmniFocus was a powerful tool (we love it at Asian Efficiency), but it comes with a steep learning curve. Fortunately, Joe found Asian Efficiency.

Joe learned how to use OmniFocus, but he also started reading the Asian Efficiency blog, listening to the podcast, and taking Asian Efficiency productivity courses. The transformation in his productivity was exactly what he needed to support his new business and career as a professional musician.

How Asian Efficiency Courses Helped Joe Overcome Significant Obstacles

Asian Efficiency Primer

Joe started with the Asian Efficiency Primer. It is a collection of some of our best thinking about productivity. It has a lot of valuable information and actionable steps. One of Joe’s biggest struggles was procrastination. Getting started can be difficult when you have big projects to accomplish. If something seems too big, you don’t know where to start. The Asian Efficiency Primer gave Joe clarity about how to break down his goals and projects into smaller actionable steps. After using the Primer, Joe said this about how it helped him overcome procrastination:

Just having them there, just laid out, with actionable steps. That made all the difference.

Asian Efficiency Finisher’s Fast Lane

Later Joe took the Asian Efficiency Finisher’s Fast Lane course which really helped him transform his mornings (and days). It showed Joe how to eliminate distractions and organize his day around his priorities. Now he spends a significant amount of time at the beginning of the day working on his most important priorities. He uses the part of the day when he has the most energy to accomplish what matters most.

A Typical Day Before Asian Efficiency

Joe spoke about how his productivity struggles and how he managed his time before Asian Efficiency.

Before Asian Efficiency

Before Asian Efficiency, Joe’s mornings were unproductive and frustrating. His typical day included rolling out of bed and going directly to his computer to check email. That always led to distractions and wasting time on things that were not top priorities. In fact, he said, “I didn’t even think about prioritizing.” Every morning was just a reaction to whatever was in front of him at the moment.

Whatever was in front of me at the time seemed like the most important thing.

After Asian Efficiency

Asian Efficiency taught Joe how to plan his day with intention and purpose. In the Finisher’s Fast Lane course, Joe learned how to eliminate distractions and overcome procrastination. Now he has clearly defined priorities. He works on his most important tasks in the morning when he has the most energy, and he reserves low-priority tasks for the afternoon when he has less energy.

Joe’s New Morning Ritual

Joe’s new morning ritual ensures that his morning stays as productive as possible and sets him up to have a productive day. He is intentional about being in control of his day.

A typical day after going through the Finisher’s Fast Lane course:

  • Wake up and drink 20oz of water
  • Personal hygiene
  • Meditate for 20 minutes
  • Yoga
  • Breakfast
  • Journal on the computer (no email)
  • Immediately start working on my Most Important Task (Eat The Frog)
  • Only after making significant progress on the Most Important Task, open email and other communication channels.

The transformation is undeniable. He said having a morning ritual, priorities, and knowing his Most Important Task makes him feel in control of his day and gives him the freedom to work on what matters most.

“ I can structure my day the way I want it, instead of responding to whatever urgent thing comes in. I am in the driver’s seat.”

What would you say to those who resist structure?

Joe admits that he has friends who are musicians whose lives are unstructured. He notes that many times they forget things or they are late. It is frustrating for Type A personalities who are self-motivated and structure their days. However, he recalls what inspired him to be more productive was the example of other people who always seemed to get things done. His personal approach is to do his best to inspire others by his example.

Still, he recommends the Finisher’s Fast Lane course to anyone who wants to improve their lives and achieve great things.

“This stuff is so essential. I think it should be mandatory.”

Travel Tips

Joe travels extensively as a performer. Thanh took advantage of the opportunity to ask for a couple of tips for others who travel. First, Joe recommended packing cubes for the organization and the ease of packing and unpacking at the destination. Second, he suggested investing in technology. His iPad Pro is how he is able to transport and have access to all of his sheet music regardless of where he is traveling. When plans change, he is prepared because all of the music is always with him on his iPad Pro. There are almost limitless ways to leverage technology to streamline your travel. What is one thing you could use technology to improve your travel experience?

Travel in Asia

Joe had the privilege a few times to travel in Japan. Thahn asked him if he believes that Asian people live up to the stereotype of being efficient. His reply was “Yes.” Without a doubt. Asian people can be very efficient.

Joe mentioned that the Japanese philosophy of Kaizen is one of his personal core values. Kaizen means to continually improve. Joe mentioned that he observed Japanese efficiency in every part of the culture from the train system to the foodservice in restaurants.

What is a MasterMind?

A Mastermind is a gathering of a small group of people (up to 12) meeting together for the purpose of supporting one another by sharing resources, knowledge, and experience, and facilitating brainstorming and problem-solving. It is a way for business owners and organizational leaders to help themselves and help others to grow.

Some people are nervous about participating because it involves being vulnerable with a group of people you may not know that well. Thanh asked Joe about his experience at the Asian Efficiency Mastermind.

Joe admitted he arrived for the Mastermind feeling nervous. However, he enjoyed it and found it extremely helpful. He said he felt encouraged by the support he felt spending time with such smart, caring people.

After the Mastermind, Joe said it inspired him and equipped him to move forward. 

“I feel like I can move forward with what was blocking me.”

Next Steps

If you are ready to take your productivity to the next level, we recommend using the resources of Asian Efficiency in the same way that Joe did.

  • Consider starting with the Asian Efficiency Primer (just like Joe)
  • Try one of popular Asian Efficiency productivity courses like the Focus Filter
  • Enroll in the Finisher’s Fast Lane course when it is open for enrollment (available 2x each year)

See the full interview with Joe Powers: