On Being Productive – How I Work

A lot of people coming to me and ask how did I manage my time and do all those writing and business things and eventually becoming productive. And I don’t really have a proper answer. I actually have told everyone that I just do it. I just do everything at once. And it doesn’t seem to satisfy ’em. Now by request of my friend on twitter Daniel @darosi I’ll try to sit, thinking and write down about how I work.

Before I start, I must tell you that this is all about mindset. For me, I have to produce something or making progress of something every single day.

Today must be better than yesterday and tomorrow must be better than today – Hadits

Thus, there are times in my life, when I thought I haven’t create anything for the day and I can’t sleep. Then I create a new blog, and I can sleep well :))

What I often heard from people, on why they’re not pursuing their dream, doing what they want to do, achieve more, is lack of time.

“I don’t have time.”

But isn’t it strange that we all have the same amount of time as brilliant Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg, etc. Why they seem to have more time to build such empire & wealth?

My twitter profile pretty much describing how I use my time:

Wrote 19 books in 5 years. Owner of @kutukutubuku@desainweb@nulisbuku@tempalabsCommittee member of @freshforum@GirlsinTechID@startuplokal@bincangedukasi

And that’s not all. Describing me need more than 140 characters :))

My attitude towards time is this: I make time.

If needed, I will sleep less.

Now that you already know and set your mindset, I will tell you the technical how-to & how I work.

My typical day started at 5 am. Sometimes earlier around 4 am. That will give me 5 hours sleeping and I already fresh.

I will start my day with reading latest news from Fireboard in my iPad. I read mostly about technology and writing. This is also how I try to seek inspirations for my startups or for my writings. If I found great content, I will immediately share it too to twitter. This way I indirectly maintain my followers too.

7 am, I will start writing (while having breakfast and sip my herbal tea). If I have a book writing project, I will continue writing it. If I don’t, I will write blog posts. I write with target & schedule (not only in writing actually but also in business). And that make me focus on finishing my book. If after some calculation, to finish a 200 pages book in 2 months, I have to write 2 hours per day, and must produce 3 pages on that 2 hours, then I’ll do it. If I can’t make it today, then I’ll bring it tomorrow, so my target would be heavier, 6 pages for the same 2 hours. Consistency and commitment to fulfill the deadline is what I believe.

Writing with target doesn’t mean you don’t love what you write (because it sounds too mechanic). I’m pretty much in love with my writing, and I love my readers most. That’s why by finishing the book on time, I believe I can give benefits to my readers faster, and that’s what motivate me.

9 am. Start checking emails. I received around 100 emails a day. All kinds of it. And they’re not spam. All invitations to speak, meeting, and schedule related, I forward it to my assistant @navikaanggun. All emails with documents, agreements, proposals goes to my other assistant to read and make a summary for me. All emails that needed research also goes to my assistant. I personally answer interviews from media, emails from my business partners & associates, friends and everyone that I think only me can answer. Yes, I delegate, so I can have more time to think conceptual, find new opportunities and think about ‘what’s next’.

11 am. I go to either a meeting (about works) or to office. I choose 11 am to avoid crazy morning traffic. But yeah, even at 11 am I still got stuck in some points of the streets. I read book or magazine on the way. I also write. Maybe business ideas. Plans. Or poetry.

To see clearly of what I have to achieve today, or this week, or this month, I use Mind Map app on iPad called MindNode. It’s very useful to write down whatever on my mind and make plan. I also use MindNode for outline writing, early stage of book writing. And also to solve problems. If you don’t have iPad, you could use a piece of paper and pen to create your mind map. Read a book Mind Map by Tony Buzan.

To write poetry or note taking while meetings, I use Evernote apps that would sync my note from iPad, iPhone to laptops.

15 pm, after the meetings over, I’ll get back to my office. I still pretty much working behind desk. I must meet my partners once in a while and communicating with my team. I’ve been the CTO (Chief Technology Officer) for my startups. And it’s important for me to make sure that everything’s under control, technology wise.

17 pm,  the activities will vary. Another meeting is usually on schedule. Mostly will be in a form of networking sessions, executing ideas, business talks, community related meeting, interview with journalists, invitation to events, speak in an event, sharing & discussion with people, etc. I’ve been running community events like #StartupLokal, Girls in Tech Indonesia, Fresh Forum and Bincang Edukasi. So this is also the time to think about ’em.

21 pm, if I’m lucky I should be home by now. Do light email checking. Plan checking. Reading books. Keeping up with friends. Or exploring things that I want to do next. Including: traveling :)

midnight, sleep.

All day long, I will keep updating status on my twitter @salsabeela. No strict hours for that :P

“Don’t you have a life?”

Of course I have :))

I do what I love, which is precious and keep me wake up every day. And that’s living!

I have the bliss of time flexibility, meaning, I can go to beauty salon on Monday morning and go to Bali the next day, just because I want to take picture of sunset. For me, everyday is (as fun as) holiday.

So this is pretty much, my life, and I enjoy it.

One of the thing that will make me look more productive than other is that I make my plans and ideas happen. I act on it.

For me, the right time is always: NOW.



A writer of 30 books. Co-Founder & CMO & Initiate StartupLokal, the biggest startup community in Indonesia. Co-Managing Director of Girls in Tech Indonesia.


  • jumialely

    amazing, i like yout bouquete, i spend my time teaching my student, then teaching child on the road.

    Back to our mindset, many indonsian people spent their time watch Sinetron… then say, life so difficult, isn’t it sista?

    u can be their inspiration


    Ollie Reply:

    @jumialely, Insya Allah sis :) I never watch tv, except someone recommend me about a tv show on twitter :))


  • Ladeva

    Hi Ollie, I like this article, inspiring me :)

    Indonesian young woman need more inspiration like this to realize them how lucky we are now live near by technology. And it can make us more easy to explore many things to make a better life in our community :)


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