About a year ago, I was sitting on the front porch of a home about an hour outside of Austin, TX. Every quarter I do a personal retreat where I go away for three days to reflect and think about my goals.
As I was journaling, I came up with a question:
How do you know when you have achieved mastery in productivity?
This was a question I couldn’t answer at that time.
I used to believe that, like personal development, it’s a lifelong journey. Every year there’s always something new and different to learn so it never ends.
But I was wrong.
There’s an endpoint where you reach diminishing returns. Once I realized this, it felt like a eureka moment. I jumped out of my chair and started scribbling down ideas on what is productivity mastery. This formed the foundation for the 25X Productivity System that we now teach at Asian Efficiency.
There are 25 skills that anyone can master to become in the top 1% of people who are effective and efficient.
Let me share with you how this came about.
The Start of Asian Efficiency
I started Asian Efficiency in 2011. The blog was a public domain where I shared my learnings about productivity, effectiveness, efficiency, and goal setting. It was intended to be a resource for friends and family to learn about what I was doing.
They always kept asking me the same questions.
“How do you use a to-do list?”
“What’s the best way to stay focused?”
“How can I squeeze more out of my day?”
And the list went on and on.
Instead of replying to everyone with a custom answer, I decided to write blog posts to answer all these questions. Anytime anyone would ask me a question, I would point them to the blog post. If I hadn’t written a post yet on their question, it would be the idea for my next blog post.
Prior to the blog, I was working at a life coaching company where I was the marketing manager. I dropped out of college to join this company and I was learning so much. However, as a 20-year-old kid, I didn’t have the skills to keep up with the demanding work and growth of the company.
I forced myself to learn everything I could about high performance, productivity, and efficiency. Like many of you, I studied the works of David Allen, Tony Robbins, Brian Tracy, and many others. They have all influenced my thinking and workflows.
As I started to write on the AE blog, I kept learning about other productivity systems and methodologies. There are many out there. You name it, I probably have studied it. Anything from Bullet Journal to Action Method to Agile Results to the obscure systems people use for specific apps (like Evernote, Trello, and so on).
Anytime someone came to AE for help, I was able to help them regardless of which platform, methodology, or system they used. AE became a resource for anything productivity related.
By studying all these different methodologies and systems, I was able to see their strengths and weaknesses. Some are great for creative people whereas others who love lists do better with other methodologies. This allowed me and the AE team to make recommendations that would fit the person’s personality and working style.
Common Patterns of Success
Since then, we’ve helped over 16,000 paying clients live more productive lives at work and home. Each one of them had custom solutions. They had their unique challenges and solutions.
As time went on, I started to notice patterns. There are certain problems and needs all clients have across the board no matter your job, background, or skill level. Everyone wants to be able to remember more things, get their to-do list done on time, and win back more time in their lives.
I also noticed that many systems and methodologies were very specific where they excelled but missed other things that people needed. Many productivity systems are great for day-to-day work but don’t address productivity from a holistic perspective.
For example, you could be a master at a productivity system but if you sleep poorly, it doesn’t matter how skilled you are. You lack the energy to do anything productive. Is that the fault of the productivity system? No, absolutely not. That’s like saying a Ferrari is a piece of garbage when you couldn’t start the car but it was because it simply didn’t have any fuel in the tank.
The TEA Framework
This led to us creating a productivity framework that holistically addresses everything one needs to be productive. In 2017, we announced the TEA Framework to help anyone master their Time, Energy, and Attention. They are the three pillars of productivity. When you have maximized all three, you are very productive.
People resonated with that framework so much and it started to become more popular. They started to realize where things were falling apart despite their best efforts to learn how to be good at a specific productivity method.
For example, a common problem people were having is that they wanted to study for exams and certifications after work. They would come home after work and be excited to study but nothing would happen.
They were simply too tired. They blamed their lack of willpower or procrastination for it when in reality the root cause of it is simply a lack of energy. Most other productivity systems and methods don’t address this at all. They assume you are perfect all the time and that you can still do things while your life might be chaotic or draining.
Life is messy. We have emergencies to deal with, last-minute fires to put out and the odd curveball to deal with. Life is not perfect and neither are any of us.
When you want to be more productive, you often have to change or add new habits to your life. Most, if not all, productivity methods don’t educate you on this. They simply assume that you know how to do it when in fact most of us don’t.
Just wake up at 5 AM, they say.
Just do your most important task first thing in the morning, they say.
Just change your schedule to suit your needs, they say.
It all sounds so simple, yet we see people fail to keep up with it.
Because behavioral changes aren’t easy. They take time and focus to become habitual.
Anyone can go for a walk in the morning. Not many of us can do it every day.
Anyone can put their phone on Airplane mode. Not many of us can do it for an hour before we start a task that requires focus and do it when it’s called for.
The TEA Framework is a great tool to use to see where you have an opportunity to drastically bump up your productivity. When you push one of the levers up, you typically see drastic results immediately.
But over the years we noticed that the TEA Framework lacked specific actions people must take to master the three pillars of productivity. We had best practices like declutter your calendar every week (Time), have an evening routine (Energy), and set reminders for your goals (Attention).
Clients liked the idea of quickly seeing where the opportunity was but then felt they lacked specificity to help them master that particular area. Giving them a set of best practices was helpful but not good enough to truly master it.
25X Productivity System
That is where my thinking time on the porch kicked in.
When I asked myself what productivity mastery is…I couldn’t answer it at the time.
But then it hit me.
Yes, if people master their Time, Energy, and Attention they will become masters of productivity. But the TEA Framework lacked a specific roadmap to get you there.
So when I got out of my seat, I started to grab my laptop and jotted down all the skills someone would need to master the TEA Framework with clear definitions of success.
Many were based on the patterns I’ve observed in our best clients that we’ve worked with. Over the years, many have sent me emails and messages saying something along the lines of “Hey I don’t follow AE anymore because I’m so productive that I moved on to other things.”
See for example this text message I got from a former client:
This client became so productive that he didn’t need us anymore. To me, that’s the ultimate form of success. We want all clients to be so productive that they can fire us.
These types of messages have become more common in the last five years. It got me thinking…what do all these clients have in common?
Together with the thinking time question on mastery, it formed the foundation of what is now the 25X Productivity System. It’s a combination of our observation of what our most successful clients have and our beliefs about what everyone needs to master to become superhuman productive.
Here’s a quick overview of the 25X Productivity System:
I discuss this in more detail in this blog post too.
Without me knowing it at the time, this productivity system was 11 years in the making. It’s addressing every aspect of life to become superhuman productive. From habits to skills to mindsets to tactics one needs to be extremely effective and efficient.
It fills in the missing gaps that other productivity methods and systems are lacking. In a way, it’s like the Bruce Lee approach. He took the best things of all martial arts and then put them together to form Jeet Kune Do. The modern-day equivalent would be Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) where you learn all the best techniques from every martial art to become the ultimate fighter.
That’s what the 25X Productivity System is. It’s the best of everything put together in one easy-to-follow system.
If you’re interested in learning more about this system, we have an online course about it that we teach 4 times a year. The best way to get notified about it is to subscribe to our email newsletter.
An exciting announcement that we have is that we will also be launching an in-person workshop in Austin, TX where you will learn this system. This will take place sometime in September 2022 and more details will be announced soon.
Just a heads up that when I click the link "The best way to get notified about it is to subscribe to our email newsletter" it takes me to a Google doc version of this post!
Keep up the good work,
Sorry about that! We have updated the link and should take you to a page to subscribe to our newsletters. :) Thanks!