thanh pham interview

I’m Thanh Pham And This Is What Makes Me a High Performer

Last week, in the “Habits and Habitats of High Performers” interview series, we featured Aaron Lynn who is half of the dynamic duo at Asian Efficiency. Now, it’s time to close the circle with the other member of the team behind the wildly popular productivity and time management blog.

Please welcome Thanh Pham.

A productivity black belt with a passion for sharing his knowledge with organizations, executives and employees. A big-time blogger with quite the social media presence. A globe-trotter, a foodie and “Eggs benedict connoisseur” currently residing in sunny Los Angeles. This is just a small portion of how you can describe Thanh and what he does for a living.

How does he do it all?

Let’s find out directly from Thanh:

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m the Managing Director of Asian Efficiency and our company’s mission is to make the world a more productive place.

What’s the first thing that you do when you wake up?

Drink 16oz of water.

How does your typical day look like (start, end, type of activities)?

If it’s a workout day, I’ll usually do that first right after I wake up. Then I come home and get ready with my morning routine (Note from Kosio: here’s how you can create a morning routine for yourself). After I’m done with my morning routine, I usually meditate for 10-15 minutes, review my goals and then immediately head to work. I’ll tackle my frog (most important task) and then check in with my team. Usually at this point I’ll also check email and scan for anything urgent. I’ll only answer urgent emails and the rest is left unread to be processed later that day, or another day.

In the afternoon I usually only do simple things like processing emails, organize my own tasks and those for the team, and take inventory of all processes/systems to see what needs to be changed.

Usually before, or right after dinner, I’ll do one more sprint of something focused before I call it a day

Besides sleep, what activity takes the most out of your day/night?

Working on Asian Efficiency. I tend to work a lot but that’s because I enjoy it.

How many emails pass through your inbox every day?

My own inbox at Asian Efficiency probably gets 60-70 emails a day. For my own personal inbox, maybe 5-10 a day.

How often do you think about your goals, review them, and take action on them?

Every. Single. Day. I never miss a day checking my goals. It helps me stay focused on where I want to go and what I need to do.

What are the essential habits that you’ve formed to help you achieve your goals?

Always do the hardest thing first. This simple habit alone has changed my productivity 100000%.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

  • Spotify
  • iTunes
  • Tweetbot
  • coda
  • textexpander
  • keyboard maestro
  • nvalt
  • OmniFocus
  • Sublime Text

What’s your workspace setup like?

I have a 15″ Macbook Pro retina, mStand to hold it, a 27″ HDMI monitor, Logitech K750 keyboard, Logitech MX518 mouse, Apple trackpad and Bose QC15 headphones.

What’s your best time-saving trick?

Anything that has timer running should be sequenced first so you can multitask. For example, if I have to wash the dishes and heat up food in the microwave, I’ll heat up the food first in the microwave and wash the dishes at the same time. Reversing that order would be a waste of time. You can also apply this putting food in the oven, washing your clothes, etc.

How do you deal with failure and how do you pick yourself up if you are struggling?

I just suck it up and move on. No need to dwell on it. I’d rather fail often and fast than never fail. It’s a sign I’m moving forward.

What motives you to do what you do?

My goals and my vision of my life looks like in the future. Then I try to live every day as if I’m already living it while knowing I’m getting closer to that reality every day.

What’s in your RSS reader (what blogs do you follow)?

I’ve stopped using RSS and now just follow interesting people on Twitter who share interesting stuff that I’ll read from my Instapaper queue.

If you invite me for a cup of tea what types of books would I find on your shelf at home (more brownie points for including a picture)?

No books here! Everything is inside the Kindle app on my iPad. Here’s a screenshot:

thanh pham books

If you could have dinner with any person (dead or alive) who would it be and what would you ask them?

Kobe Bryant.

He’s awesome on so many levels. I admire his work ethic, his competitiveness and his desire to always win no matter the circumstances.

What’s your favorite success quote?

“Go to bed smarter than when you woke up.” — Charlie Munger

Over to you now

And this is how a time management expert goes about his day. The biggest takeaway – do your hardest tasks for the day first. Eat the frog, tackle that monster and your productivity will explode. Your willpower is at its peak in the mornings, so use it to your advantage. You will also get a sense of achievement that can last for an entire day and that is essential to keeping yourself motivated and productive. Take a few minutes now, figure out what your hardest, or most meaningful task, for tomorrow is and put it on top of your agenda.

To learn more about Thanh, Asian Efficiency, and to get even more practical productivity boosters, check out their blog (and don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter).

If you really want to take your productivity and performance to the next level, check out the “Productivity Blueprint”, Asian Efficiency’s flagship training course. It is a step-by-step system, delivered in a series of videos, which will take you from where you are to being focused, able to eliminate procrastination and distractions and be able to handle email effortlessly.

What is your biggest takeaway from this interview? Share in the comment section below: