How to Rescue Failing Software Projects: Practical Proven Methods That Work

IMG_1712 My book is finally available as an eBook, on Amazon Kindle and on Amazon. I wrote this book to share my experience in how to rescue failing software projects. When I was going through such a situation, I had no one to turn to. My hope is that the information in this book will be useful to those in similar situations. Although the information in the book pertains to software projects, I have come to realize that the techniques can be used in many other situations. I have personally used these techniques in business and technical projects.

You can read more about it here.
My book can be purchased here at
Amazon Kindle version is available here at

Friday, November 17, 2006

Goals give you power to go on

Goal setting is important. Taking action on your goals is equally important. Reviewing your goals daily is critical. It reminds you of your committment and keeps pushing you to take action.

Recently, I was swamped with work, too much work. 16 to 18 hours of my time was devoted to work. Yeah, I slipped up too. I didn't review my goals daily. One night, I was pretty exhausted and felt kind of lost. Don't get me wrong. The work I do is fulfilling, but I felt empty.

That was when I pulled out my goals. I read my goals again and again. Suddenly, I felt relieved and elated! The goals I had set and taken action on reminded me of where I was headed. I was reminded of my purposed in life. I was reminded of the fulfillment when I took a small step at a time.

I have found that reading and reviewing my goals daily has given me and reminded me of the direction my life is headed, where I want to be, what I want in life, what I need to do to get there. My life became balanced again. Having this balance in life is extremely important to me because it affects my health and mental well being, all necessary for the achievement of my personal, wealth and health goals.

Copyright © Bernard Ong, 2006.
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Newsletter on Effectiveness

Based on feedback and traffic received, I am thinking of creating regular newsletters, provide forms for downloads (or sent through newsletter) and notification of new blog posts.

I would like to solicit feedback. Do let me know if you would like to subscribe to receive:

1. Regular Newsletters on effectiveness - sharing more details of my experiences on how I use various techniques to improve effectiveness. I have not decided if I will do this fortnightly or monthly.

2. Provide forms that I use

3. Notify you on new blog posts that I write.

Do let me know if this would interest you. All this will be free to you.


Copyright © Bernard Ong, 2006.
All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Goal Setting Tips

Goal Setting is not a new topic. There are lots of books and information about how to set goals. I would like to offer my experience in goal setting and more importantly, how to begin achieving goals.

Let's start from the basics. How do you set goals? Many books advocate the SMART way, which stands for:

1. Specific
2. Measurable
3. Actionable
4. Realistic
5. Time

I agree with this concept. This is the way I use it to set goals.

1. Grab a piece of paper and pen. No, typing into your laptop is not going to work. I have found that writing it down forces you to think hard before writing because you don't want to cancel and make a mess on the paper. With a laptop, hitting the 'delete' button is too easy.

2. At the top of the paper, write you goal. What do you want to achieve and by when. The description of your goal must be specific. For example, writing "I want to be rich" isn't a concrete goal. It has to be specific like "I want to have $1 million in cash in the bank by 31 December 2008". Being specific forces you to think hard about what you want in concrete terms. It also allows you to take action. Vague goals do not have actionable activities that bring you closer to it. Be bold about your goal. Don't do incremental goals. Think big and bold. I can hear you now. What if I can't achieve it? If you think big and set tough goals, if your goal is important and critical to you, you will find a way. If it is incremental, it doesn't have the excitement and challenge to sustain you.

3. The next line, write down WHY you want this goal. Write down as many reasons as you can. The more this goal is strongly linked to you emotionally, the stronger the passion, the more it will drive you to achieve. The 'WHY' factor is the most critical part of goal setting, but normally given the least amount of thinking because it is more difficult than the other steps. If you cannot find a strong WHY, keep the goal aside until you do. Keep find out reasons why. This also helps to filter out goals that are not in line with you values and beliefs.

4. Next, write down 3 activities that you will do in the next 48 hours. You don't have to have a detailed plan on how to achieve your goals. If you do, that's great. Many of us sometimes do not have all the steps in mind. So, start with the first 3 activities. It may be to register a business, research on internet web providers and their facilities, and create your first web page. It may be to register a company, do detailed research on a product you want to sell, search for a shop space. Whatever it may be, list out 3 activities and COMMIT to completing it in 48 hours. The first step is always the most difficult. Forcing yourself to complete the 3 activities in 48 hours creates the momentum. This is called taking massive action.

5. At the end of executing your 3 activities, review and set the next 3 activities. Repeat step 4 again.

While executing the activities, if you find you are on the wrong path or encountering difficulties, take stock and ask yourself if the action taken is correct. Are there alternatives? Learn from it, set another 3 action items and take action. You will not always succeed in all the activities, but each activity tells you what is going right and what is not. Use this feedback to adjust your path of action to achieving your goals.

What kinds of goals should you set? You should have the following goals:
1. Personal (health, self improvement)
2. Family
3. Wealth
4. Career
5. Spiritual

Start with just one goal and take action. Until you get into the momentum of things, then set another goal. Do not get overwhelmed. Take it one step at a time.

And remember, enjoy your journey. As stated in my previous posts, it is the journey to achieving your goals that provides the greatest insights and learnings. It is through these learnings (whether success or failure in an action) that you become a more confident and effective person at setting goals and achieving them.

Enjoy your journey.

Copyright © Bernard Ong, 2006.
All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Prevent Goal Fatigue

Set your goal? Planned your course of action? Taking massive action towards your goals? Having written so much about the value of setting goals, what it means to us and how it gives us a direction in our daily lives, I'd like to pause and think about the unthinkable...goal fatigue.

We set aggressive goals at the beginning of the year only to falter and stop executing our actions. Why is that? Several reasons:

1. We fear failure.
2. We lose faith in our goals.
3. We change our goals.
4. We lose sight on the importance of our goals as we go through our daily lives
5. We get tired of executing and need a rest and the momentum slows down

Let me just write a little note about the last point, that we get tired. Have you ever felt that you have been executing your actions daily and feel that you need a break? I have. I realised that I had been executing day-in and day-out, feeling exhilarated by my daily achievements. I pushed myself far and beyond what is really necessary. Then the inevitable...goal fatigue.

Suddenly you feel that you need a break from this execution and just stop doing it for a while, get away from it.

This happens when you do not spend enough time to rejuvenate yourself. How do you do this?

Your goals need to be balanced. If you focus only on wealth creation goals and neglect the other aspects of your life, you will feel that life is not that enriching. I wrote earlier about taking one step at a time, and therefore, start with only one goal and work on it. At the same time, you should also set goals for your family, as an individual, spiritual goals, health goals, wealth goals, career goals. Setting it doesn't mean you need to execute all of them at the same time. Setting it means that you have a view of what you want in the various aspects of your life, but start execution on one goal first, until you get into the habit of execution, then start on your second goal.

Without writing the other goals, you will feel that your life is narrowly focused. As you begin executing one action at a time on one goal, remember this very important point: "Life is a journey. Totally immerse yourself, reflect and be completely aware as you execute your action. Enjoy the execution.". Doing this will give you the joy of experiencing the journey with your goal in mind, instead of simply executing and not enjoying the execution. This is what is meant by "slow down, stop and smell the roses along the way".

As you enjoy your journey, never lose sight of your destination. Constantly read, review your goals on a daily basis. Remember the old saying, "Out of sight, out of mind". If you do not review your goals daily, you will soon lose all interest in your goals and stop enjoying the journey.

Enjoy everything you do with passion and full awareness and enjoyment of the journey, and you will never experience goal fatigue.

To your success in your journey...cheers!

Copyright © Bernard Ong, 2006.
All Rights Reserved

Friday, October 27, 2006

Why goals?

I recently overheard a conversation about goals, goal setting and achieving goals. Someone asked about what his friend's goals were and whether he was able to achieve it.

This rather simple conversation got me thinking. We seem to take the word "GOAL" lightly. It seems to be an overused word. Everyone has goals.

Have you ever stopped to think, "What are goals for?"

We might say:

1. Goals are for us to achieve.
2. Goals are for us to get what we want in life.
3. Goals give us direction in life.
4. Goals will make us successful.

While these statements are true, I would like to offer my opinion about these statements.

Goals are good and gives us direction. However, without an action, goals remain a dream. It will continue to remain a dream for many years.

Even when action is taken, we tend to forget to enjoy the journey we took. Can you imagine this scenario:

1. Goal: Have $1,000,000 in cash by age 60
2. You take action, day in and day out.
3. Sometimes, the action you take gets you closer to your goal. Sometimes, the action doesn't yield the result you are after and you get frustrated. No matter what, you continue to work hard and plough on towards achieving your goals.
4. At age 60, you wake up at 7am in the morning and realise that you have achieved your goal. Whoooooopeeee!!!!!!

Really? You would probably be happy. You would also be wondering where did all these years go? You are already 60 years old. Yes, you have achieved, but you did not fully enjoy the journey. You did not savour the process of achieving one step at a time.

This is the part that is missing in goal setting and execution. We are so focused on reaching the end goal that we miss out the enjoyment of the journey. As the saying goes, "Take time out to smell the roses".

As we go through our lives and clearly set goals, remember to be conscious of your daily lives. Be aware, full aware of what you are doing NOW! Notice that you are breathing NOW! Be in the present. Enjoy what you are doing and know that you are doing the action for a purpose. You will feel amazingly at peace and motivated everytime you take action towards your goals, because you are living in the present, achieving every single minute and enjoying it!

So go ahead. Give yourself permission to "smell the roses" in your journey towards success.

Wishing you an enjoyable journey.

Copyright © Bernard Ong, 2006.
All Rights Reserved

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Motivation to Succeed with Goals

How do you motivate yourself to succeed. How many of us have read, heard, been spoken to about the importance of goals?

Everyone has, in one way or another. If you have not, think again. Think of a time when you had some work (or game) to complete. Everything activity or game we engage in has a goal. For example, watching a TV program has a goal. The goal is enjoyment. Every game has a goal.

Why is it really necessary?

Without goals, we drift through life without direction. Every activity we do should be directed towards getting us closer to our goal on a daily basis.

How should we set goals? Again, may books have been written on it.

This is what normally happens. A person reads a book on success through setting goals. Immediately after reading the book, motivation is high. He/she spends one day writing goals, objectives, action items, clarify values and more. The next day, execution begins. One week later, motivation wanes. Two weeks later, the pace slows. Three weeks later, no more progress. Is it no wonder that we are all afraid to set goals again? Is it no wonder we procrastinate time and again?

Let me share a secret in setting goals that will keep you engaged.

The secret is...take one step at a time.

There are many areas of your life that requires goals. For example, income goals, health goals, family goals, personal goals, spiritual goals, career goals, wealth goals. For a start, choose one or two areas ONLY. For each area, identity 3 to 5 activities that needs to be done. These activities must be completed within the next 48 hours. This gives you the momentum to do the next 3 to 5 activities. When these goals are clear, and action has been taken quickly, the momentum builds and tends to carry on pushing you.

The next step is to write your goals and activities down. You MUST review your goals and activities every day. Yes, every single day. This gives you the motivation to keep on executing your activities to achieve your goals. As stated in my earlier posts, you must write, write, write things down, and do daily reviews.

This MUST be become a habit. As you do your goal review daily, your motivation becomes higher as you successfully execute activites. When you see that you take action to complete the 3 to 5 activites in such a short time, you will feel motivated to do more because you can see that you are closer to your goal.

The mantra: TAKE ACTION NOW!

Of course there are many areas such as clarifying your values and beliefs, and these are done during goal setting.

Go ahead. Set one goal now. Write a list of 3 to 5 activities and being executing. Let me know how you feel.

May you achieve your goals with great motivation to achieve the success you desire!

Copyright © Bernard Ong, 2006.
All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Self effectiveness: Time log and effectiveness

Its been some time since I last wrote. In this entry, I'd like to relate my experience with using time log recently. I have been keeping a time log for some time. Time logs are like a journal of the way you used your time. (See my earlier entry on the importance of time log). You have to be able to measure how you use your time before you can improve your usage. Time is a precious commodity that cannot be replenished. So use your time wisely. If you never think about the limited time we all have, think again.

Try this. Take out a monthly calendar from your planner, diary or PDA. Stare long and hard at it. All your available time for the month is on that piece of paper. Every goal you want to achieve, every activity you want to do (or not do), has to be done within the constrains of that piece of paper, no more no less. I repeat. No more no less. No one has more time than others. If you want to achieve your goals, do it now, or plan for it.

I was in the Philippines recently and was stranded at the Manila airport due to a typhoon. There was even a black out at the airport. There was not electricity except for critical functions of the airport. All hallways were pitch dark. Because I have the habit of keeping a time log, I am very conscious of what I need to write into the log. At the airport, I could have just done nothing and relax. I felt uncomfortable because I would not be able to account for my time in the time log. This pushed me to use my time in the dark to complete my work on my laptop until its battery went flat, then I proceeded to use my phone to work on email until that went flat, then I started to do planning for my goals. All in all, I accounted for my time, and it made me feel great that I used it to accomplish important activities that moved me closer to my goals.

This may sound trivial, but this is what goal achievement is about. Make use of your available time. If you think this is trivial, try this. Take out a monthly calendar from your planner, diary or PDA...for last month. Stare long and hard at it. All your available time for last month is on the piece of paper. What did you achieve last month? What did you do last month?

If you don't know, then you have squandered your time away.

Time is ticking away. Don't waste it. You can't save it for a rainy day.

Copyright © Bernard Ong, 2006.
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

self effectiveness: What percentage of time are you conscious?

In my previous post, I wrote about living consciously. By logging time, you will come to realize how 'conscious' you really are everyday.

I have managed to track my time usage up to 70% on good days. On other days, it may be as low as 30 to 40% where there are lots of interruption. By logging your time as I described earlier, you soon realize that distractions will throw you off your daily plan. In planning, I dare say that no one is able to plan 100% of their time. Time must be allowed for you to deal with distractions. I normally plan about 40 to 50% of my time. Based on my current time pattern, it is a comfortable range.

If you plan 100% of your time, you will end up stressed because you will also have to deal with distraction on top of your planned activities, which means that you will need more than 100% of available time to deal with all activities, which is not possible, which leads to stress!

Everyone percentage of time usage is different, depending on their job nature and personal nature. The key is to have conviction of your goals, write your plans and track your time usage as described earlier, and you will learn the meaning and value of 1 minute.

Copyright © Bernard Ong, 2006.
All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Self Effectiveness, Wealth, Health: Alive but not conscious?

Over the weekend, I had a flurry of activities to do, one after another. At the end of Saturday, the first day of a long awaited weekend, I realized Saturday was gone! Where did it go to? I had been looking forward to it all week and now it was gone in a blink of an eye!

Have you gone through a similar experience? This normally happens when either we do not have a goal (long term or short term), or when we lose sight of our goals temporarily. We perform activity after activity because we have to or obligated to.

If I had performed the activity with the mindfulness that it was to fulfill a goal/objective, the day would have been more fulfilling. I performed that same activity without the mindfulness that it was to fufill a goal, and I didn't feel fulfilled. Why?

Human beings are surprising creatures. Human beings thrive on achievement, whatever it may be. If we perform one activity without mindfulness that the activity helps to achieve a goal, it doesn't mean much.
In my case, these activities were necessary. I needed to accomplish my activities for Saturday and I did have a goal. But in rushing from activity to activity, I wasn't mindful of it.

How many times have you spent a day (let's say Saturday) out with friends/family, shopping, at the beach enjoying yourself, then suddenly find yourself at the end of Saturday, feeling a sense of loss/regret that more could have been done? I have.

For example, there was once I spent the day at the beach with friends and family. I had an enjoyable time. At the end of the day, I felt like the time just whizzed by and I yearned for another day at the beach. I didn't have enough of it.

The secret is to live in the present. To enjoy every present moment. To be mindful of the present. To be conscious of the present moment. How do we do this? We need to train ourselves. Writing things down and keeping a time log is a surefire way of noticing the present (See my previous blog posting). If you log your time every hour, you will be very conscious of your present activities and maximise your enjoyment at every present moment and not let it slip away.

Try it. You will be surprised what time logging can help you achieve. Even if you are going through a rough moment, time logging helps you to clarify you thoughts/feelings.

Stay in the present. Enjoy the moment, whatever it may be. With time logging, you will begin to live in the present and begin your journey in accomplishing your activities with greater passion and thereby achieving your goals.

Learn to enjoy every moment working out to improve your health. Learn to enjoy every moment in learning how to build your wealth. Learn to enjoy every moment in being effective. The greatest motivator is within you. It is knowing that you have a clear CONVICTION to your goals and every activity you perform is helping you get closer to it.

"You can't deal with what you can't write down. Do not simply be alive. Be consciously alive!"-- mrbolt

Copyright © Bernard Ong, 2006.
All Rights Reserved

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Self Effectiveness - What do you do every day? Start a time log

How time flies. In a blink of an eye, before you know it, its 10 years later. Will you ponder on where the time went to? Many will ask these few questions:

1. How time flies. Where did all the time go to?
2. What did I do in the last 10 years?
3. Was I a different person 10 years ago? How am I different now?
4. I had so many dreams 10 years ago. Did I achieve anything?
5. I wish I had done this activity.
6. I wish I had done that activity.
7. I wish...I wish...I wish

Will you be asking yourself these questions in 10 years time? Will you regret?

How many more 10 years we have? How many more times can we ask these questions?

The time to stop this wishful thinking and regret is NOW. Everything in life revolves around taking action. Without action, nothing changes, nothing is achieved, whether it be wealth, health, peace of mind, happiness, great relationships.

We have all heard and read about time management. In my view, its not really about managing time. Its about managing the activities we do each day and allocate the appropriate amount of time to effectively use it.

Many of us begin by planning. I beg to differ. What we should be doing first is to create a time log. That's right. I'm not being crazy. Create a time log. You wondered how time flies? Stop wondering. Get to the bottom of things. Find out exactly where time went to!

Create a time log. Record your activities in a log. If you can't measure it, you can't fix it. A simple log will contain the activity name, start time, end time, duration and classification. For example, each activity can classified into personal, health, family, work, spiritual. Keep it simple for a start. Do this for 30 days. You will be amazed where your time flew to. With the time log, you can then determine if the activities you do are directed towards achieving your goal. If it is not, then why are you doing it? Every activity consumes time. Time once consumed is gone forever.

Start now. Its never too late. I have personally found this very useful and effectively. After 30 days of continuous discipline (extremely difficult at first), I began to question myself on the activities I do. Every single activity I do gets scrutinized because when I record the activity into the time log, I cringe when it does not bring me closer to my goal, knowing that I just wasted 2 hours that is lost forever. It makes me feel uncomfortable enough to streamline my activities and drive me forward towards my goal.

Easy enough? No. It sounds easy. Its very difficult to do because it requires discipline! We are all creatures of habit. Bad habits are hard to break. Do this, and write all your time-bound activities down (as stated in my previous blog entries). You will soon see yourself in a new light.
Good luck and happy logging. Drop me a note to let me know how it goes.

Check out this book by Peter Drucker called The Effective Executive. Fantastic and in my opinion, the only book on effectiveness ever needed.

Copyright © Bernard Ong, 2006.
All Rights Reserved

Sunday, September 10, 2006

self-effectiveness: Time is ticking away!!!

Its been a week since I last posted. In this post, I want to spend some time talking about...time. Everyone takes time for granted. Everyone knows that time is precious. In my view, this is all lip-service. Knowing and truly realizing it are two different things. I, too, know that time is a precious commodity. I've read about it, been told about it. Pretty hard to 'realize' it.

Everyone's time on this earth is limited. Hard and morbid as this may sound, but it is so true. Everyone's time is limited. Everyone has the same amount of time. So why are some more successful than others? Luck? Family connections? I beg to differ. Yes, these do play a part. However, a lot of it deals in making full use of our time.

Time, once gone, is lost forever, and I mean forever. There is no recovery software that can ever bring it back. We are what we are because of the seeds we planted and nurtured in the past. Our present is the future of our past. We now have to plant and nurture our seeds for harvest in the future. Do not neglect the power of a minute.

Let's put this into perspective. From wealth perspective, if we study and learn how to invest wisely in a few minutes and take action, the yields will be great. Think about investing wisely. If you invest $1 everyday at a 15 or 20% return, your returns will be great. Every little bit counts, only if we begin TODAY and now.

From health perspective, watching sports on TV or reading about it is fine. If we do not take action TODAY and now, we will only be walking libraries about sports, instead of getting a workout TODAY to be fitter to enjoy our life and wealth.

I was on the commuter train this week and observed people on the train.Many were either listening to music, reading, talking on the phone etc. I was thinking, "How nice it would be if we could be making money every single minute without us being physically present.". Think of the enormous freedom you will feel. It may be through investments, Internet business, owning a business, royalties etc. But all this can be achieved only if action is taken TODAY and now.

What you do with your time is your choice. Whether it be watching TV, going for a walk, reading a book, exercising, learning a new skill, its all your choice. Even staring blanking at the wall is fine because its your choice. The critical point is whether the activity you are doing is going to get you closer to your goal.

Time is ticking away. Remember to write your goals down. Every action and activity you write must be time bound to have significant meaning. If all your daily actions are directed towards you achieving your goal, then you will surely achieve them. Its all about making proper and effective use of your time.

Copyright Bernard Ong, 2006.
All Rights Reserved

Friday, September 01, 2006

Self effectiveness, wealth, health: Questions are the answer?

I have recently been reading Awaken the Giant Within by Anthony Robbins. I'm only half way through it. In my personal opinion, an excellent book!

There are many concepts and theories that if implemented in earnest, I believe will yield tremendous results. Well, I'm not that effective yet. I am taking once concept and practicing it until it becomes a habit and then move on to the next. It may take longer, but I'm confident I'll be a better person for it.

The one thing that struck me like a ton of bricks was the section about questions. The use of questions is an extremely powerful tool. Asking yourself empowering questions will most definitely yield empowering answers, empowering you to act. Ask yourself disempowering questions, you get disempowering answers.

I recently began trying this concept. I was asking questions like "Why is this situation so bleak? What caused this situation to become so dire?". The reason was because I wanted to seek an answer in order to resolve an issue in an effective manner. I realized that these questions were good in this instance. However, I realized the limiting effects. I needed to act and propel myself and those around me to the next level of effectiveness, which is not about what went wrong and what needed to be fixed, but rather how to induce massive change to turn a bleak situation around. I began asking questions like "What can I learn from this?", "What do I need to do to exceed the customer's expectations?". Simple as it may seem, I got an answer that allowed me to excel and push the boundaries from problem resolution (which may please the customer) to delighting the customer by not only fixing the problem, but also going further in achieving substantial progress on exceeding the customers requests.

I am also asking more empowering questions about wealth and health. Instead of asking questions like "I'd like to be rich. How should I achieve it?", I ask "What do I need to do to create tremendous value for my customers in order to truly delight their expectation?", "What do I need to do to achieve financial abundance through passive income so that I can provide for those around me and help those in need?". I link my empowering question to a pleasurable need. In this case, my question and need for financial abundance is linked to my need to provide for those around me and those in need, which gives me happiness. I find that if I do not link the empowering question to a pleasurable need, the question loses its appeal and the answers seem mediocre.

I am a person who believes in simplicity. The simpler a concept, the easier to practice, the more you will achieve. Using this technique with writing (as posted in my earlier posts), you will realize that the activities you write will be empowering ones, in line with your goals.

Recently, I was tempted to buy a camera with 10 megapixels capability. I was close to buying one. Then I began asking myself, "Do I really need one now?", "What do I need to do to achieve financial abundance in order to provide for those around me and those in need?". Suddenly, my desire for the camera dissipated. I would still want to buy one, but not now. There are more things I can do with the cash like investing for a better return, which will help me achieve the answers to the questions of financial abundance. Only then will I reconsider buying the camera.

Try it. Go on writing (as stated in my earlier posts). Ask yourself empowering questions every day, every hour, every bleak or difficult moment you encounter. Let me know if it works for you.

I will be writing more about the system I use beyond simply writing. I will share about how to make the activities time bound and other effective techniques in managing your time in future posts.

Copyright Bernard Ong, 2006.
All Rights Reserved

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Self Effectiveness: To-do lists or not to-do lists

I have always been intrigue with to-do lists. Ever since I can remember, having a to-do list made me feel like an important person when I was a child! :-) In primary school, I had to-do lists of homework to be done from school. Of course, these to-do lists were created on a whim, as and when I felt "productive". Most of the time, the work to be done were remembered in my head. It served me well.

When I entered the workforce, many people used business diaries. I was not different. I had one too! It contained important activities that I had to do in the to-do list section, whilst appointments were recorded in the section with a timeline. Again, this served me well for some time.

When activities started to pile up, and when I was involved in projects, I was overwhelmed. The tasks that were remembered in my head remained there. I was stressed because I was afraid of forgetting about doing them. My mind was not used for thinking. Instead, it spent time reminding itself not to forget. I couldn't sleep well. At times, I would wake up in the middle of the night in panic, thinking that I had forgotten to do something.

I made it a point to write activities down in my to-do list. After all, the diary's section with the timeline was for appointments. Again, this worked well for about 1 week. After that, my to-do list was overflowing with activities. I read books about prioritization. I tried to prioritize the activities in A, B,C. Later, prioritized them into A1, A2, B1, B2.Then it came down to trying to select which activity to do first. Instead of performing the activity, I spent the majority of my time deciding which activity to begin because I wasn't sure if I could complete it on time, which will affect other activities.

What did I do?

I cancelled every activity on the to-do list. I started a new to-do list. Boy, did it feel good with a brand new list. My feeling of elation didn't last long, I went back to an overflowing to-do list, missed deadlines, became extremely stressed about missing activities.

This is where is dawned upon me to ensure all activities are time bound. Time must be allocated to all activities. (Refer to my previous posts on "write, write, write" here and here and here). The foundation is still to have the habit of writing things down.

Do I still use a to-do lists? Yes I do, but only for short lists and activities that can be done within a consecutive block of time. For example, shopping for groceries, post letters, withdraw cash. To-do lists still has its place in effectiveness. However, I personally believe that to be effective, all activities must be time bound...And MUST be written down.

Think this is easy? No it isn't. Try it for 4 weeks and let me know if this works for you. Let me know when you embark on this method by leaving me a comment. I'd like to hear from you.

So, "to-do" or not "to-do" lists? Do to-do lists, but sparingly. The feel good factor of creating new lists each time is a false sense of achievement. It simply relinquishes you of your responsibilities, instead of taking responsibility for your actions through timely activities.

Can you see how this related to self effectiveness, which in turn, helps you to effectively achieve your goals in wealth and health? I hope so. Leave me a comment on your thoughts or subscribe to this blog so that you will be sent an email whenever I post an entry.

Copyright Bernard Ong, 2006.
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Monday, August 21, 2006

Self Effectiveness: Write, write, write - Part 2

In my previous post, I had written about the importance of writing down everything (or most things) that you want to do in a single place and not on pieces of paper. As simple as this sounds, this forms the foundation for a unloading unnecessary information from your brain, so that your brain will not be bogged down and can focus on thinking and execution.

Again, I cannot repeat how simple this may sound, but how effective it is. If you do not believe it, try it for 4 weeks and drop me a comment to let me know if it works for you.

The next step is to ensure that the activities you have written down are time bound. Every activities must have a start date, end date, start time and end time. Yes, start and end time. Why?

1. If you do not have the start and end dates and times, it means that it will never get done. The activity is not important. If it is not important, why do it? Aren't you wasting your time?

2. Other methods may use classification of activity into A, B, C etc. So, if you have 20 class 'A' activities to do, 30 class 'B' and 50 class 'C' activities, you should start on the 'A' activities first. Good. But hang on! Which 'A' activity do you start with first? Maybe if you label it A1, A2, A3 classification. Then which activity in 'A1' do you do first? You see what I mean? If the activity is important and helps you to achieve your goal, it must have a start time and end time. These are all 'A' activities. Having scheduled a date and time, the activity WILL get done because when the allocated time comes, you will do the scheduled activities.

Simple? Sounds simple. But difficult to do. Again, this boils down to discipline and habit. The foundation is to write everything down in one place. Take the challenge. Write everything down for 4 weeks.

What about To-Do list? I personally do not advocate To-Do list. I have used it before with the classifications 'A', 'B', 'C' etc. It didn't work for me. You know what happens? You create your first shiny new To-do list. All proud and neatly written. As the days roll on, you find that you can complete the activities on the list on day 1. So it snowballs into day 2, PLUS day 2 activities are added and this goes on. After a week or so, the To-Do list becomes huge and unwieldly! What do you do? You throw the list away and start on a new one. Sounds familiar? This is one simple reason why many do not achieve their goals. They do not have a clear plan, but rather have temporary, transient lists, hoping to achieve. Hope is not a strategy.

In my next post, I will be sharing more techniques on self effectiveness, such as how do you put the written activities into a visual overview so that you have a map for the month, how to do follow-ups, review, plan, achieve self improvement, and all information should be written in one place, not on pieces of paper.

If you try out this method, do let me know if it works for you. It has certainly worked for me. I feel less stress than trying to remember the 101 things I need to do for the day, week and month and worry that I may forget something!

Till the next post...Happy writing
Copyright Bernard Ong, 2006

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Self-Effectiveness: Write, write, write

About 14 years ago, I came across the term "self effectiveness". It is all about using your time and energy effectively. This is a first of many posts that I will write on self effectiveness. This post only focuses on the first and simple step called "writing". I will cover the other steps in future posts.

Achieving self effectiveness is simple to understand, but very hard to do. Let me tell you why. We are all indisciplined and more often than not, lazy by nature. Before I go into the techniques, let's understand why self effectiveness is so important. Self effectiveness propels a person to achieve his goals. By being effective, he/she gets the job done, which brings him/her closer to the goal. This in effect is called taking action. So what's the big deal?

Its easy if you only have 1 goal and a few activities. For most of us, we have 1001 things to do. How can you balance all you have to do, meet deadlines, achieve goals and not be stressed? To write is the first step to self effectiveness. There are just a few more steps, which I will write about in later posts. All these steps take less than 30 minutes a day in total.

Well, most of the time, we keep information in our brain. We retain our to-do lists, schedules, goals in our brains. Our brains are powerful. We only use about 1% of our brain power and there is so much untapped potential. Our brain should be used for "higher value add" type work such as...thinking, planning, and executing in order to achieve our goals. Don't let it get overwhelmed with details of activities and lists by remembering.

Thus, the first step in self effectiveness is to WRITE. That's right. Write everything you need to do. I do not mean on little pieces of paper, notepads, sticky notes. Everything you need to do, your goals, your schedules, should all be written in one single place. That's right. One single place. You should not be spending hours hunting for your to-do list on a piece of paper, nor trying to remember where you put the piece of paper! :-) I do not advocate to do lists. Every activity must be time bound. (I will cover more on this in future posts)

When you write, you unload a lot of stress from your mind. Instead of information overload in trying to remember activities to be done, your mind is now at ease that it knows where to find the activities it needs to do without losing sleep over it.

Have I done this? Yes I have. It certainly sounds simple. It took me more than 9 months to make writing this down into a habit. Even today, I still lapse into my old habit of writing on pieces of paper, but much less. How do I feel? I feel less stress. The feeling is amazing when you offload your mind through writing things down in a single place. I cannot stress how simple this sounds, but how effective it is. Each month, I accomplish more than 150 activities, yes 1-5-0. IF you have never taken stock of your activities, just try it. You will be amazed at the number of things you do in a month.

If your activities for the month do not contribute to you getting closer to you goal, then your goal is only a dream. This is how you achieve your goal, step by step in a structured and effective manner.

The method is simple, too simple to believe, BUT IT WORKS. I am a living example of a person who have changed using this simple technique, living with less stress caused by information overload. I am not perfect at it yet, but it has helped me tremendously.

So in summary, the first step to self effectiveness is to WRITE. It helps to jog your memory when needed. Use your mind more effectively to achieve your goals. The trick to all this is to make it a habit. It must be a habit or it won't be effective. Try it. What have you got to lose? Nothing. But everything to gain. Do it consistently for 4 weeks until it becomes a habit.

In my future posts, I will write about the other aspects of how to achieve self effectiveness, such as time management, goals and reviews and how to link all these together so that you are not overwhelmed by just trying to be effective.

Happy writing!
Copyright Bernard Ong, 2006

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Health-Effectiveness: A lesson from Wing Chun applied to life and business

After not attending Wing Chun Kung Fu classes for about 10 months, I finally found some time last week to attend. I had been travelling extensively. If you are new to Wing Chun, it is Kung Fu. Legend has it that a Nun conceptualised and formed the fighting principles of the art, which is considered soft, uses your opponents strength against him/her. Do check this site from Donald Mak, a Wing Chun Sifu (Master) for a quick introduction. Wing Chun is the first martial art that Bruce Lee studied. He studied under Grandmaster Yip Man. Check this article out with a photo of Bruce Lee doing "sticky hands" practice with Grandmaster Yip Man.

Anyway, back to what I was trying to say. An essential part of Wing Chun training is known as Chi-Sao or "Sticky hands". It is an exercise where two opponents hands are in contact and each opponent practices techniques, angling, defense and stricking in a safe environment. This is not done in a fix pattern. It is free flowing and each opponent is free to try different techniques without prior agreement. This is quite close to actual fighting, but done in a safe environment. I realised that after that length of absence, my reflexes and sensitivity was still intact. My sifu said that if your fundamentals are well formed and strong, it takes a short time to get familiar again with being sensitive. As the lesson went on, it clearly showed my sifu was right. I surprised myself too! :-) I also learnt that the more relaxed I was, the better my reflexes and sensitivity, as taught by my sifu. The more tense I was, the harder it became in getting back into the "groove". I could relax during chi-sao because my foundation was done well and taught well by my sifu.

I tried to relate this to my own effectiveness and business. It brought back a concept that Robert Kiyosaki (author of rich dad poor dad) wrote in his book "Before you quit your job", where he stated that one should practice setting up and running a business in order to gain experience in running business. Set up a company and try it out in a safe environment to learn and gain experience. I now truly realise what he was saying in his book. I have not started my business yet because of my fear of starting one, not having started one before. With this, I now intend to seriously look into starting a business to practice!

Similar to what we do in chi-sao in Wing Chun, I want to learn and practice setting and running a business in a safe environment, but as close to the real thing as possible. It may be as simple creating a business entity and begin selling or distributing a simple product first, low cost, low risk.

This concept may sound shallow to some, but it works. I am striving to be more effective one day at a time, one concept at a time, one step at a time. A journey of a thousand miles being with a single step.

In my next blog entry, I will share about my experience on authentic Thai massage at a Thai Wat (temple) in Bangkok that helped heal my shoulder injury and about the entrepreneural spirit of the Thai people.