Keysoft, blissful innovation

This is KeySoft Landing Page

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Keysoft, blissful innovation

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Partnership or temporary organization

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When to spend money instead of time

Today we are going to talk about a common issue among entrepreneurs and professionals – lack of time. Since we provide a time management app, you’d probably expect us to share with you some classical tips on how to organize your schedule better and increase your productivity, right?

Well, not really. This post is not about squeezing more tasks into your daily schedule, but about taking them out. How?

By delegating them to other people.

But let’s get back to your problem and its causes. This must be a familiar scenario to you: you have lately been working on an important project that is very rewarding, but also requires lots of time and effort. In the meanwhile, the place where you live has turned into a mess, your potted plants have died, and you never have time to shop or take your dog out for a longer walk. Doesn’t it feel frustrating when you don’t have time or interest for completing these mundane tasks, which are otherwise important for your well-being?

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Productivity vs. effectiveness

The reason why so many people feel overwhelmed with everyday duties, both professional and domestic, is following the old paradigm of productivity that makes you think you should get more things done, preferably in less time.

It’s time to leave this kind of thinking behind and start making a difference between two concepts – productivity and effectiveness.

Productivity focuses on quantity – the idea is to achieve more, to get more things done, and to limit the amount of time needed to complete a task. This concept is often used in business, and sometimes with negative consequences. Business owners want to produce more, but frequently neglect important aspects, such as the human and material costs of increasing productivity.

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Effectiveness, on the other hand, puts an emphasis on quality; effectiveness is also the fundamental paradigm of Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Covey sees effectiveness as a function of two things: what is produced and the capacity to produce.

The problem with the old paradigm of productivity is that in your struggle to achieve more and get more golden eggs, you start to neglect the goose or your producing asset. Effectiveness allows you to create perfect balance between production of desired results and production capability. This change of attitude will help you not feel overpowered by everyday tasks anymore or become unable to complete them. Isn’t this what you are trying to achieve, after all?

Outsourcing in business

The solution for having more time for yourself is found in the place where you expect it less: at work.

In business, we delegate tasks or outsource various functions in order to become more effective. Business would not thrive without applying this solution – let’s imagine a company lands a large contract that increases the amount of purchasing for a limited period of time. Is it worth burdening employees with this occasional extra work and sacrifice quality in the back-office? No, the best solution is to outsource purchasing.

The benefits of outsourcing in business are already well-known – these are just a few of them:

  • Access to better skills
  • Reducing costs
  • Elasticity (you can grow and shrink as needed)
  • Maintaining focus on core activities
  • Decreasing the need for office space
  • Flexibility (use additional resources only when needed)

How can you apply outsourcing in your life?

You should consider a similar strategy for mundane tasks as well, especially when you don’t enjoy doing them.

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Here are just a few examples of common tasks you may want to entrust to somebody else:

  • House cleaning
  • Cooking
  • Shopping, buying presents
  • Walking the dog and taking it to the vet or groomer
  • Organizing family events
  • Doing repairs in your home
  • Lawn maintenance
  • Doing the laundry
  • Picking up your drycleaning
  • Online errands like paying bills
  • Managing emails

When should you outsource?

Outsourcing everyday tasks has given birth to an extremely lucrative gig industry – on the one side, we have people who are high achievers and earn enough to outsource, and on the other we have contractors or services ready to meet their needs, from delivering groceries to helping them sort their personal emails. Should you become a part of it?

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The idea is to outsource mundane tasks when your time becomes extremely valuable for you. For busy people, an hour saved may be worth more than the money they pay to a service provider. A mom running a successful small business will prefer to pay someone to cook meals so she can spend more priceless time with her children, and in a similar manner, a young professional living in a big city would rather pay an extra fee to have their groceries delivered at home instead of doing a two-hour trip and carrying bags.

So, you should outsource when the answer is “Yes” to both these questions, especially the first one:

  • Is the time saved more valuable than the money spent?
  • Do you dislike doing the task?

How to identify what you should outsource

The decision to outsource a task should be taken after identifying those chores or duties that you dislike and making a few calculations so you decide what’s worth more: the money or your time and effort.

We suggest this practical 5-step process to identify what you should outsource:

  1. Determine your hourly wage

It’s simple – the amount of money you earn in an hour should be high enough to exceed the amount of money you spend outsourcing for an hour, otherwise you will lose out by paying somebody else to do the job.

  1. What causes frustration in your life?

Many conflicts between partners rise from mundane tasks – instead of relaxing and spending time together after work, you have to clean the house, do the laundry, or cook. By the end of the evening, you both are too tired to communicate to each other and bond. So, what ruins your leisure time more than anything else? Consider outsourcing that task.

  1. Decide whether it’s worth outsourcing

Now that you have decided you no longer want to pay your bills and manage your emails instead of watching your favorite show, start looking for service providers and check their hourly rates. If one hour of your time is more valuable than the amount of money you’ll have to pay to outsource, then you should go with it!

  1. Find the best provider

Now it’s time to find a provider you can trust and who is billing a convenient hourly rate. Consider websites like DoMyStuff o
r TaskRabbit; if the task you want to outsource can be completed by a virtual assistant, try Upwork and Fiverr. The great things about these websites is that contractors get public feedback from their clients and you can easily determine who is reliable and provides high-quality services and who will just waste your time.

  1. Hire the provider

After interviewing several providers, it’s time to stick with the best candidate and make a decision. If you are not satisfied with your choice after they start working, you can put an end to the collaboration and look for someone else. Whether you need a service provider to work for you 1 hour a week or 30, there’ll always be someone out there ready to do the job and save you the headache.

Bonus tip: Apart from outsourcing your hands on work, you could also try your hands on various time tracking tools. For instance, if you are a digital marketer then Hootsuite for social media management and Omniconvert for improving conversions will save the day for you.

So, what’s that chore you’re dreading and how will you get rid of it? Let us know in the comments so that other readers may get inspired to.

Interview with Dan: Becoming a professional golfer through 10,000 hours of deliberate practice

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Dan used to be the average 30 year-old man until April 5, 2010; that was when he quit his day-job as a commercial photographer to become a professional golfer, although he had never played 18 holes of golf in his life. He has embarked on a 10,000 hours journey that will end in December 2016, confident that success comes from practice and not from talent. Every step of the “Dan Plan” is being documented on Dan’s website and on a support network created on social media sites. Let’s see what Dan has to share with WeekPlan readers in terms of productivity and motivation more than 5 years after starting his unique project!

WeekPlan: Let’s start with the first question: was this the first time in your life when you embarked on such an out-of-the-norm adventure?

Dan: My initial reaction to this question was “Of course!”, but then I realized that when I was 20 I left university to head out on my own and travel around the world for about a year.  It wasn’t nearly the same type of quest that I am currently on, but it was groundwork for a larger “project” in my life. I am not sure how A led to B, but without the earlier exploration I am not sure I would have had the courage to embark on the current plan. It’s hard to jump off a high-dive board when you don’t know if you can swim, but when you take it one step at a time, this makes progressing through life stages seem natural.

WeekPlan: Do you remember what prompted you to start “The Dan Plan”? How did the idea grow in you?

Dan: Originally I was looking for the next challenge in life. After a number of years as a commercial photographer I had found some success, but I was ready to make a transition. I wanted to do something completely new to me in order to see how far an average person could go in a new pursuit starting later in life. I was on a road trip in Omaha, NE visiting my brother and he took me out to play a par 3 golf course on my 30th birthday. I was horrible at the sport and afterwards we were talking about whether it was nature or nurture that made someone successful in an endeavor like golf. After a lot of internal debate I decided the only way to answer this question was to quit my job and go all-in.

WeekPlan: We believe the vision one has of his own goals help provide motivation during difficult times. How did you visualize your Plan at the beginning? What helped you keep going?

Dan: When I started I had no clue what I was doing or how I was going to do it, but, as you said, I had a vision of where I wanted to be. It wasn’t immediately clear how the day-to-day would go, but having a concrete idea of where I needed to be helped actualize my interim goals and kept me on an upward path. There were numerous tough times along the way, but after a while I realized that all hard times are eventually followed by a breakthrough and an elevated time – the nature of a fluctuating world.

WeekPlan: Did you use any specific tools and techniques to stay on track? For example, how do you handle weeks when you are too busy to practice or too tired?

Dan: At first it was very tough, and by “at first” I mean the first couple of years. I didn’t understand the nature of improvement and I became frustrated at times when there would be a setback in my progress. In the same vein, I had lull days where my energy level was very low and I would feel exhausted for no apparent reason. After a while I realized that these things are cyclical and learned that there were times where it was best to push through and times when the only option was to walk away and come back with a fresh mind/body.

WeekPlan: The theory behind your plan is that skill comes from practice more than raw talent. Do you still feel the same now, more than 5 years after starting “The Dan Plan”?

Dan: After five years of this pursuit I definitely still believe that skill comes from practice. I have always believed that there are certain genetic traits that can be advantageous to specific pursuits, such as having a large amount of fast twitch muscles helping someone’s chances at being a sprinter or on the contrary a composition of slow twitch muscles aiding in distance running.  Outside of extreme examples of very specific athletic pursuits the main difference between success and failure is amount of work put in and the willingness to accept and understand failure.

WeekPlan: Have you been enticed to start new ideas / plans during that time? I often have ideas that get me excited momentarily. What allowed you to stay focused on “The Dan Plan”?

Dan: There are always new ideas and thoughts. I have had loads of ideas in the past five years, but I told myself that I would see this through so that it is keeping my on track for what I want to do in the coming future.  I enjoy what I do and still have so much to learn.

Want to achieve more? Learn how to maintain production capability!

Today we would like to introduce you to the concept of P/PC: production / production capability. By finding the right balance between reaping the rewards and spending effort in maintaining your assets, you can reduce the urgency in your life. This concept was made popular by the book “7 habits of highly effective people” by S. Covey.

Let’s say that both Joe and Sarah just bought the same car. 

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The first year, Joe doesn’t do any maintenance work on his car because he says the car doesn’t need it and he doesn’t have the time anyway.

Sarah, on the other hand, washes the car fairly regularly and goes to the mechanic whenever something doesn’t seem quite right.

If you’d ask Joe, he’d tell you that what Sarah is doing is unnecessary.

year 1

5 years later, Sarah has kept her habit of maintaining the car regularly. She had to fix a few things but far less than Joe. Nevertheless, they both end up spending the same amount of effort on their asset:

year 5

You can see where this story is heading. 10 years later, Joe has had a lot of issues with his car and he had to resolve them when he was least available. 

year 10

In the meanwhile, Sarah is still enjoying a functional car and already making an appointment for the next technical inspection.

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This story tells the same morale as the golden goose fable: short-term thinking that focuses on eggs and neglects production capability will cause you to damage or even lose your assets; effectiveness depends both on the golden eggs (results) and the goose (maintaining production capability).

How to keep the golden goose happy and healthy

Many popular time management and productivity tools can be blamed for our tendency to neglect asset preservation. The more tasks you tick and the more eggs you get from the goose, the more productive you are, right? Well, this is far from the truth.

The time management vision that Week Plan promotes is different. The idea is to become effective, not productive, by focusing on important things.

All tasks you have to complete each day fall under 4 different categories:

quadrants

Quadrant II is the place where you want to spend more time and where maintaining production capability is included. By giving priority to important tasks, you’ll avoid crisis, dealing with tight deadlines every day, and needing to solve pressing problems on a regular basis. Prevention plays a vital role within Quadrant II, and, in order to become more effective, you’ll need to allocate more time to activities aimed at preserving assets.

Here are the kinds of assets you need to maintain in order to enjoy a high production capability and not break down like Joe’s car:

Physical and mental health

What to do:

  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Sleep 8 hours every night
  • Exercise regularly
  • Spend time outdoors
  • Relax and reduce stress
  • Engage in pleasant activities like hobbies
  • Spend time on things that make you feel uplifted and inspired

Personal relationships

What to do:

  • Spend quality time with your family
  • Don’t neglect your friends
  • Socialize often
  • Invest in personal relationships by being helpful and engaging in empathic listening

Work and productivity

What to do:

  • Learn how to delegate tasks
  • Invest in training your staff
  • Make meetings shorter and more focused
  • Use time management tools such as the Pomodoro technique
  • Limit the amount of time you spend checking email and social media accounts

All these activities require extensive planning, structure, and even changing your lifestyle. If you keep following the old paradigm of focusing on urgent tasks, you’ll find it impossible to squeeze a workout session three times a week in your busy and unpredictable schedule or to call your old friends regularly. When the car is broken, thinking how to maintain it properly is out of the question and all you can think of is how to make it run another mile.

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But, when you take care to maintain production capability, the car never breaks and you enjoy a steady, safe journey, where you also have time to admire the landscape and relax. What things will look like for you?

 

 

 

5 reasons why you need a weekly planner

Time management is a challenge even for the most talented and motivated people.

Productivity levels vary from day to day, and modern tools that are supposed to help us work better and faster can turn against us – think of all the time you lose checking your email every day or giving up to guilty pleasures like shopping online.

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Some people like to keep track of their daily activities using paper and pencil, but checking a long scribbled list of to-do things may have the opposite effect and make you feel discouraged.

A well-tuned weekly planner should help you focus on your most important tasks instead of showing you how much work you still need to do in a short time. Here are 5 reasons why a weekly planner will help you get things done and enjoy your daily activities more:

  1. You can keep track of all responsibilities at any moment

A weekly planner can be accessed from any device, including your smartphone, and you can always check upcoming tasks without needing to carry your agenda with you. Do you feel like updating your schedule while commuting to work? No problem, you can have a look at all your tasks right now!

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  1. You get used to focusing on important activities

Do you feel like any activity on your schedule is urgent? It’s a common feeling, and this happens when you forget to prioritize activities by importance. A good weekly planner will allow you to showcase the most important activities, keep track of them and avoid running out of time because of poor task prioritizing.

  1. You can share your schedule with other people

Explaining your daily plans to other people is not only annoying, but also time consuming. The best weekly planners include team features, allowing your family, friends or co-workers to have access to your schedule or a part of it (in case you need privacy) and making it easier to find a moment when you can spend time with them or work together.

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  1. You’ll increase your productivity

According to some grim statistics, only 45% of the time people spend at work is actually used for completing primary job duties. A reminder from your weekly planner and the perspective of not finishing your to-do list today will help stop wasting time.

  1. You’ll enjoy a feeling of completion at the end of the week

Each time you cross out an activity in your weekly planner or mark it as complete, you’ll feel closer to attaining your goals and at peace with your inner self. It’s a well-known fact: you enjoy your leisure time more when you know you’ve done your job!

Soylent, my experience

More than a year ago, I discovered Soylent through the founder’s blog where he was sharing his progress in looking for a recipe for a complete meal replacement drink.

Soylent is basically a mash up of all the nutrients your body supposedly needs in a day.

Benefits

I am attracted to the concept of being confident that I am giving my body the nutrients it needs throughout the day, and rather than hoping that the food I eat has enough of everything, I believe I can achieve a superior result by measuring my intake.

Some people are attracted to Soylent because it is generally cheaper than normal food (a DIY recipe could be as cheap as $5 a day), and some are attracted to it because it saves them time (2 minutes preparation if you use the official Soylent product or 10 minutes for a DIY version).

For me, I am attracted to the health benefits. The fact it is cheap and quick to make removes resistance to do it.

Also, I don’t want to replace all my meals with Soylent so I took a hybrid approach: breakfasts and lunches are replaced with Soylent and dinners stay “normal”. I have been doing that for a few months now and I am ready to reorder a new batch of ingredients.

Soylent in Australia

Unfortunately I cannot buy Soylent easily from Australia, they still don’t deliver it down under so I started looking for alternatives. There is an online community of people who share recipes of Soylent alternatives using local ingredients: DIY Soylent. After some browsing, I found a recipe that suited my needs: Australian Soylent 1.0. (I found the recipe too sweet for my taste so I reduced the sugar)

I bought the ingredients online (three different shops) and 3 days later I had the ingredients I needed.

Ingredients used for DIY Soylent

It takes me 10 minutes in the morning to prepare my day worth of drinks.

The final product:

DIY Soylent in Australia

Results

How does it taste? For me it taste a bit like cake dough before baking it. I added cocoa and banana to vary the taste a bit.

How do I feel during a Soylent day? I don’t feel any different than other days. I don’t feel more alert like other people reported. I feel full until about 4pm. I have a fast metabolism and I generally am hungry at 10:30am.

How about bowels problems? People have reported having diarrhoea or smelly farts with Soylent. I don’t personally experience any major changes with this australian recipe.

Headaches: For a time, I bumped up the level of proteins to 180g a day but it was giving me headaches. Keeping it at 100g like in the recipe solved that problem.

Colorful urine: this is due to the excess vitamins from the multi-vitamins pills. Not really a problem but I decided to only take one of these pills instead of two.

Overall, I really enjoy having discovered Soylent and a way to have it here in Australia, I need to find more ways to vary the taste.

 

UPDATE: Make sure to read Marc’s comment too. Very insightful!

Updated roadmap

Hi, I have worked recently on clarifying the roadmap for WEEK PLAN and thought you might be interested to see it.

Roadmap

1. Polish the Android app. We published the Android app silently a few weeks ago and unfortunately it is still very “experimental”. Because I am not an Android app developer myself, I have outsourced the development to another company and fixing and polishing the app takes an order of magnitude more time than I would like.

2. Publish a new version of the API. We will improve the documentation and the consistency of the API to make it easy for any developer to create apps on top of WEEK PLAN. The first product to come out of this API is the iPhone app which is doing very well now.

3. Rework the user experience. I believe I can make the experience on WEEK PLAN a lot more engaging by improving how a user enters information and navigates in the web application.

4. Calendar day view. This is our most requested feature and after several months of product design I believe I came up with an elegant solution.

5. Etc… There are more than 400 items in our parking lot, so we are not running out of ideas on how to improve the product… The timer seems to be a feature people use extensively so we might look into improve it.

 

What we have been working on lately

1. Publish the Android app.

2. Publish and polish the Google Calendar synchronization.

3. Hire another developer. Although we are making progress, things are going way too slow. So for months I have been looking to hire someone but I couldn’t find anyone that matched what I was looking for. Finally I met Dzmitry from Belarus and he is great!

4. Automation of the testing. One of the things I want to improve is the stability of the software and Dzmitry’s first task has been to automate the testing on many pages of WEEK PLAN.

5. The Outliner. I was looking for a way to connect long term vision with the weekly planner and this is what the Outliner is about. I am planning to publish a video about the Outliner soon.

My ideal week: free printable "planner"

Do you live your life as it comes (reactive approach) or do you prefer to live with purpose according to a plan (proactive approach)?

As the founder of WEEK PLAN, I try to expose my readership to new interesting techniques that can help them be more effective.

Today, I share a new tool called MY IDEAL WEEK:

Screenshot of my own ideal week

The concept is very simple: imagine what your ideal week would look like if you had 100% control over your time

I believe it is essential to color code your ideal week. It helps you find imbalance and attach you emotionally to this piece of paper. I personally use green for “Sharpen the saw” kind of activities, pink for relationships, blue for creative work, and grey for chores. 

Some comments on my ideal week: 
1. As you can see I still spend a lot of time consulting while I am bootstrapping WEEKPLAN. My true ideal week would replace consulting with Development work for WEEK PLAN.
2. I don’t plan much of my weekends. The weekends are the days I have the least control of.
3. I like to give each day a focus theme (admin, consulting, dev, etc…).

I have turned MY IDEAL WEEK into a PDF that you can download here[version with am/pm format] [version with Sunday first]

Enjoy!