Prior to starting my PhD, I lived a chaotic life as a teacher, a developer, an entrepreneur and family person. The expectations were high. The deadlines were always looming and never-ending. Needless to say, I struggled a lot.
But I wasn’t going to let myself disappoint. I selected many role models that are obviously more disciplined and productive. And they are all undoubtedly successful, by all standards, based on their achievements in life.
My mom is part of the list. She taught me the basics of time planning, and the wisdom of working with priority lists. As a tenured professor and a mother of 6, she insists that is her secret productivity sauce.
Of recent, my new role model is Barry Smyth, my advisor. I find it hard to believe he isn’t superhuman; or maybe an andriod from the future. He juggles many administrative and academic duties, yet he is always at the top of his game. He even affords to run a marathon. Impressive, right? The good thing is that he shares his productivity tips on his blog, and in his Flipboard magazine.
As a muslim, my all time favourite is Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. But of course, why not? In one of his sayings he advised:
“The most beloved of deeds to Allah are those that are most consistent, even if it is small”
Although he was referring to good deeds as per religion. This productivity wisdom can be extended to our personal and work lives. By splitting seemingly complicated tasks into smaller actionable bits. One can form a habit of tackling the “bits” one at a time, consistently. This had the added merit of reducing the likelihood of procrastination.
I’ve been mulling over the idea of starting a startup (no pun intended) on the side. I love to build things that people use. Like every developer out there, I have a list of bright ideas and a directory of many unfinished projects that may likely never see the day. But I still want to develop them. And since doing a PhD requires one to have more than 25 hours in a day, I’ll heed to the Prophet’s ﷺ advice, along with those from Barry and pray that my efforts in this August bears some fruit.