Melissa C. Koh

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Let’s increase productivity


Being your own boss may seem like a dream to many, but with the upsides come as many downsides. One true benefit that I appreciate is flexibility. I do enjoy being able to plan my own time, make my own schedule and work at my own pace. The downside however, is the demands I face from daily tasks, deadlines and challenges. I take on a huge responsibility and I owe a huge commitment to my partners, clients and employees. This has resulted in me putting a lot of pressure on myself. I find myself working around the clock and doing everything in my ability to increase productivity. To be honest, work is constantly on my mind, and it is a real struggle for me to switch off.

Over time, these are some ways, that I have realised, help me to greatly maximise my days to its fullest potential.

1. Keep a diary

I cannot live without my physical diary, which keeps track of all the things I have going on everyday. If I need to be somewhere and I keep it in my head, chances are I’ll forget it the next moment. (Maybe it’s STM or just too many things going on, haha.) Realistically, keeping a diary (whether online or physically) is the best way as it gives me an overview of the week, month and important dates through the rest of the year. I choose to keep BOTH a physical diary and an online one as I’ve found that penning down my thoughts and writing down “lists” helps me to mentally register it. I see the benefits of an online calendar as it helps my entire team to sync our schedules and it gives sight on my schedule.

2. Start the day early

Maximising my day definitely begins with a good (and early morning). Morning routines are extremely important and getting into good habits have found to be a very effective way to kickstart my day. I like to start with a warm cup of honey lemon apple cider and then a good cuppa tea, followed by my emails. My breakfast follows about an hour later into my emails before I get ready and be on my way to the office. Every single day is a new battle and starting early gives me as much time as I need to fight all the “battles”.

3. Make lists and plan ahead

Everyday, I wake up to a chain of messages with lists of things that need to be done. James also stays organised by keeping to lists. In this way, you will never miss out or forget what needs to be done. And as you tick off those to-dos, in flows a sense of achievement that will drive you to continue with the remaining tasks. My team and I makes use of certain apps like SLACK to keep track of all our deliverables and on-going projects. Another app that we love keeping our ‘lists’ on is called WUNDERLIST. Go check them out for yourselves!

4. Visualise then prioritise

While trying to keep to deadlines and producing deliverables on time, it is easy to get distracted with last minute tasks. Perhaps for many people, the best way is to start with the most urgent task at hand. But for me, I visualise how my day will go on, which places I have to be at and what I can do in the pockets of time available. Then I decide on the priority of those tasks which can be done. I usually try to tackle the simpler tasks first so that I can strike off as many items on my to-do-list as possible before the day ends. The bigger tasks must be broken down into smaller, manageable tasks so that I’ll feel like it’s more conquerable. A rule of thumb I follow is to “get it done first if it can be done in less than 5 minutes”. This has been so helpful in ensuring that I stop procrastinating, especially if the task at hand is a really simple and non-time-consuming one.

5. Let go and move on

Sure, I may have prioritised a shoot this morning at 10am. But what do I do when the weather decides to be unforgiving? Move on. Don’t let uncontrollable circumstances set you back. I know it is easier said than done. Sometimes a mini setback can be a real bummer. And I must admit that there are days when these setbacks get to me and when I feel like I’d rather just sit and wait for the situation to improve or get better. When I get stuck on a project, or feel like I’m in a creative rut, it may seem like it is really difficult to move on because of how determined I am to get over it. But I’ve realised that learning to let go and to be more forgiving of myself and the situation helps to put me in a better place.

I’m still learning but I guess the process of letting go and moving on is one big feat that I hope I will be able to conquer.

6. Know when to multi-task

I am definitely a multi-tasker. James calls me ADHD but let’s face it, there is some value to multi-tasking. The constant shifting of attention from one thing to another keeps me on my feet and makes my day more exciting. I’ve found over time that multi-tasking can be effective only if I am able to rotate my concentration entirely from one task to another without any distractions. Also, it is only effective when I’m able to well prioritise my tasks according to it’s critical nature and demands. For example, I could be getting my hair and make up done at a photoshoot and replying my emails or answering my messages at the same time.

However, there are certain things in my scope of work that needs my 100% concentration and attention. I’ve read that “High-quality work produced is a function of two things—the amount of time you spend on the work and the intensity of your focus during this time.” Hence, for areas where the quality of output matters, I believe that a 100% concentration and dedication to it is definitely required.

7. Remember to eat and hydrate

Don’t forget to leave time for your meals. Sometimes you get too engrossed in work that you don’t realise it’s already past lunch or dinner time. Your body and mind also needs to take a break and recharge so that they can perform at their peak and a good time to let them do so is during meal times. I like to purchase a 1 litre bottle of Evian Water and leave it on my desk so that I am reminded and challenged to finish it up before I wrap up for the day.

With that said, make sure you put away your phones and only get back to your notifications once you’re done with your meals. I’ve found that being connected with what I do really helps me to live in the moment and be truly present in it. Hence, while I go about my day, I constantly strive to remind myself to not let any moment slip away— even if it may be a simple conversation over salad for lunch.

I hope these tips will help you with being productive everyday.
I’ll end with my favourite quote by Mark Twain, “Continuous Improvement is better than delayed Perfection”.
Feel free to share with me your favourite ways on being productive too, I’d love to know!

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  1. Rachel Ong
    16 Jul 2018 @ 9:32 pm

    I really love this. Simple and effective, and I can’t wait to try out the tips. Especially the one on breaking down larger tasks into smaller ones so they become more conquerable.

    Looking forward to more posts like these 🙂 and loving how you and James do everything with love for God. It shows through your work, your visuals – and time is the real test of what is genuine and what isn’t. Great job Melissa and James! Strive forward!

    • melissa
      25 Jul 2018 @ 9:41 pm

      Thanks Rachel, for being so encouraging and positive! 🙂
      Means a lot to us!

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