A little over a year ago, we introduced the TEA Framework to the Asian Efficiency community through our blog and podcast. Over the years, we have helped over 13,000 AE customers become more productive and reach their goals. After working with so many people, we noticed that the majority of our customers’ challenges would belong to one of three categories: Time, Energy, and Attention. These three are the root causes of why our customers were not living up their full potential
Some people had energy and attention but NO TIME, and that meant that they were feeling overwhelmed. Think of someone who works from 8AM and comes home at 10PM. Someone with a calendar so full that they don’t even have time for themselves.
Some had time and attention but NO ENERGY, and that meant that they were exhausted. This is someone who you know can do the work (based on past performance) but you can no longer depend on because they can no longer get the job done.
Others had time and energy but NO ATTENTION, and that meant that they were distracted. This person may seem that they have everything in order, but if you really check on what they are working on, you will notice that they are not really focused on the right things.
Do you recognize yourself in any of the examples above?
Everyone’s productivity journey is different due to our unique circumstances. One system could work for you but not work for your counterpart located in Finland (a totally random country that I thought of). This is where the TEA Framework comes in. It is such a simple framework that can be applied by anyone! This framework is popular within the Asian Efficiency community and also with our Dojo members (the Dojo is AE’s exclusive online productivity community). One year later, we decided to revisit the TEA Framework to share what we’ve discovered since our first publication of it. We also revisited the TEA Framework on our podcast if you enjoy podcasts.
The TEA Framework—revisited
“I don’t have enough time.”
“I wish I had more time.”
You hear these phrases from a lot of people and you probably said these yourself too. Time is the most common issue when you talk about productivity. Imagine yourself checking your to-do list at the end of the day and you still have a lot of things to tick off. You’re going to think to yourself that you were not able to finish those because you didn’t have enough time. Time is our usual culprit and when you feel that you don’t have enough of it, you then feel overwhelmed because you can’t seem to stop the onslaught of never-ending tasks.
With that said, you want to be efficient in using your time to make the most out of it. Ask yourself, what can you do right now for you to win back time? One way you can quickly create time is through automation. You might not feel that you’re saving time, but if you add up all the minutes you saved by automating simple and repetitive tasks, it could already amount to hundreds of hours. Which you can then use to finish tasks or start a side project that you have been thinking about for years!
Another way that you can make the most out of your time is to use your calendar effectively. We have several resources that you can check out, depending on how you want to use it.
- How to Use a Company Calendar with Your Team and Employees for Maximum Efficiency
- How To Implement A Family Calendar, No Matter How Old Your Kids Are
- 3 Simple Steps to Help You Master Your Calendar
- The Digital and Analog Calendar System That Will Give You The Best of Both Worlds
Another question you can ask yourself is, how are you spending your time? You can tell yourself that you don’t have enough time because of all the other things that you are doing but what exactly are those things? Right now, do you know how much time you spend on email? Phone calls? Meetings? Social Media? Netflix? If you don’t have a sure answer, then it’s time for you to track your time. When you know how you’re using your time, you will know how you can improve it.
We discussed TIME in detail on one of our podcast episodes. Make time to listen to it here (see what I did there).
“I’m so tired.”
“I don’t have the motivation to do it.”
Sounds familiar? I even hear those phrases from my 11-year old.
You can have all the right systems in place, the right tools, be a GTD master, etc, but if you are not able to follow through because of lack of energy, then those things become useless. It can get really frustrating when you lack energy since you have all the resources, you have the time, and you know what to do but you just can’t follow through.
Unlike time, your energy fluctuates. You cannot plan that you will have 100% energy levels in a week. A lot can happen and one bad Monday night sleep could mean a very unproductive Tuesday.
It doesn’t mean that you cannot do anything about your energy. The number one culprit to lack of energy is… SLEEP.
A lot of our customers usually sacrifice sleep thinking that they can just make it up during the weekend. It doesn’t work that way. When you don’t get enough sleep on Monday and Tuesday, what do you think happens on Wednesday? Will you have the energy to function well? Will you be able to perform at your very best? No.
Do not sacrifice your sleep. Make sure you get enough rest every day. Take a nap if needed. Don’t stare at your phone while ‘waiting’ for sleep to come. The blue light on your phone will make it harder for you to sleep.
Aside from sleep, your rituals can help out with your energy levels because it gives that initial push to get you started. Whatever you have in your morning and evening rituals takes less energy especially when you’ve been doing it regularly over a long period of time. You don’t even have to think about it anymore—thus saving on energy.
We talk about Energy in detail on our podcast. I hope you have the energy to listen to it here.
You can have the time and energy to do 10 tasks but if you lack attention, you might be working on 10 tasks that you shouldn’t be doing.
Imagine this scenario. You’re bursting with energy and you have all the time in the world —so you finished a 2,500-word article. You feel great about this accomplishment. But guess what? Your MIT (most important task) for the day wasn’t to write an article but to create a client proposal that’s due tomorrow. Were you really productive?
Attention is all about working on what matters and staying on the right course.
In order for you to have attention, you need the following:
Focus: avoid distractions
Goals: know what you need to do
Mindset: know how you work
For a lot of our readers and customers, they already know what they need to do but they get distracted and lose the momentum. One way you can work on your focus is by doing deep work, eliminate distractions like notifications, clear to neutral, and you can even change locations.
Now that you have focus, it’s time to know what your goal is and why. Having a goal can help start to build up your excitement. Use that excitement to plan how to reach your goal. Make sure that it’s measurable as well.
So you have focus, you know what you need to do and why. Next is knowing how you work and perform at your best. In essence, knowing yourself. We talk about this in detail in our podcast. You can listen to it here with all your attention.
Find out how you are spending your time and check if there is something that you can stop doing or something you can delegate.
Stop using any electronics 60 to 90 minutes before going to bed.
Identify the one thing you need to do and the why behind it.
Should we add another category to this framework? We talked about this in our podcast episode. Maybe there’s a 4th pillar. You can check the podcast recording and show notes here.
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