Getting More Done: Interview with the Productive Superdad

This article first appeared in Alpha Efficiency Magazine: Issue 7: Creating Your Source Codesubscribe and buy her

Timo, please introduce yourself to our readers.

My name is Timo Kiander and I’m the person behind a blog called Productive Superdad. It focuses on productivity advice for online entrepreneurs.

Although I have been blogging on and off since the year 2000, Productive Superdad is my serious attempt to start earning a living through my own online business.

I’m 42 years old and I have a family, a wife and a small boy of 2 1/2 years. I’m into spending time with my family, sports, learning/teaching productivity and building my online business.

I live in Finland in a small town called Imatra and I have pretty much lived my whole life here. I worked in the IT industry for over 16 years until back in 2013, when I was kicked out of my day job due to the poor economic conditions in this country.

Despite all this, I’m in the best place I can be since I’m able to focus on the things I care about the most: family, sport, productivity and blogging!

What originally inspired you to write about productivity and time management?

I originally got started with productivity in 2007 when I undertook a major change in my lifestyle.  After running my first marathon in 2006, losing weight and turning myself into an athlete, I became interested in personal development. To narrow it down, productivity and time management were the sub-areas that I found the most intriguing.

So I read my first productivity book, Getting Things Done by David Allen, followed by other well-reputed books like Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and Mark Forster’s Do It Tomorrow and Other Secrets of Time Management.

After reading those books I kind of stumbled onto other self-help topics until summer 2010, when I took a test that literally changed my life. It was a DISC test (personal strengths finder) by Anthony Robbins and based on my answers it created a profile that told me what type of person I was.

It was shockingly accurate and I just remember this one thing it mentioned: This kind of person has very strong time-management skills. So you can imagine it didn’t take me long to add 1+1 together and realize that perhaps this is the thing that I should be learning more about and eventually do for a living.

I started writing my current blog in 2010 and in the beginning, it was just another personal development blog. In 2011 I changed the angle a little bit and it became a purely time management blog.

Since then I have written one book, many e-books, reports, blog posts, 100+ guest posts, videos and podcasts and I keep doing those things. At first, the topic of time management seemed to be very simple but now that I have gotten deeper into it I know that I still have plenty of things to learn.

It’s a really exciting journey and I love it!

Your blogging and marketing strategy has evolved over time. What prompted you to adjust your approach and how did you go about it?

As I mentioned earlier, I started as a personal development blogger, but then I switched completely to time management. At the end of 2011, I made another big change, which eventually reshaped my blog to become Productive Superdad.

I knew this guy called Danny Iny before, but when he sent an email to his list announcing some open coaching spots, after considering it for a bit I decided to take him up on the opportunity. He started coaching me and in the very beginning, we defined a target audience for my blog. So rather than just writing for anyone, we chose the target audience to be work-at-home dads, since I was also one (although I was still working full-time at my day job).

He also suggested that I should call my blog “Productive Superdad” since I was talking about productivity and I was also involved in a lot of different activities as well. So that’s pretty much the history behind the name.

At the end of 2013, I published my first book – print and Kindle versions – called Online Business Productivity and it was meant for those people who were building their online businesses part-time whilst also having day jobs and other commitments. That’s when I decided to move away from work-at-home-dad topics to online business productivity.

Right now the target group is anyone building their online businesses and who want to become more productive at it. So even if I talk about online-business-specific topics from a productivity angle, I still incorporate more traditional time management material, since that can be applied to online business as well.

You’re very passionate about fitness. What role has this played in how you approach your personal and professional goals?

 

I would say that it has helped me a lot and to be quite honest, I’m not sure if I would be here talking to you right now if it wasn’t for sports. As I mentioned, I made this lifestyle change back in 2006/07 and I feel that blogging and online business is just part of the chain of events that started back then.

But talking specifically about fitness, I think that it has a clear connection with how productive I am and whether I’m getting things done or not. For instance, in sports you have goals and you want to reach them. You define a goal and then you take action every day in order to meet those goals. If you don’t reach them, just adjust your actions and analyze what didn’t work and why.

What’s also very important to understand is that you have to be ready to let go (at least temporarily) of some of your targets.

You define a goal and then you take action every day in order to meet those goals. If you don’t reach them, just adjust your actions and analyze what didn’t work and why.

The thing is that no matter how well defined a goal is, there are times when you just have to realize that perhaps this particular goal isn’t for you, or that the price you have to pay is simply too expensive. For example, I still have a dream of finishing my first Iron Man distance triathlon at some point, but I know that right now it’s out of my reach since I want to focus on my family and building my online business. It’s the same with blogging and business; You set the goals but you have to be ready to adjust them as you go. Sometimes a goal may seem easy to reach, but you’ll realize the true nature of your target when you start taking action on it.

Sports have really taught me a great deal about persistence and consistency. Especially endurance sports, where both of these traits play a big role. I think I’m naturally blessed with those qualities, which is perhaps why I chose endurance sports in the first place.

No matter how fancy and time-bound your plans are, they don’t matter without persistence and the willingness to work on your stuff every day. This is how it works in sports and in business too.

You’ve written an impressive amount of interesting guest posts across the Internet – how did you motivate yourself to achieve this?

It was all about building my audience and getting new subscribers to my list. The craziest year for guest posting was 2012. When I’m getting into something, I like to give it all I’ve got and at that time it was guest posting.  Actually, I was also able to see how far I can push myself and the result is over 100 guest posts on productivity sites across the web.

The motivation part was natural: I was able to write about those topics I care about most. It was really exciting to turn those ideas into a written form and one big reason why I was able to write so much so fast was that I was using Danny Iny’s guest posting training program.

Right now, I haven’t written a guest post for months; But things are changing back to normal in June when I’ll start writing them again. This time I’m focusing on really big blogs and it’s taking my writing to another level. I think that guest posting is the most effective way of building the audience, but also to create authority and connections with other bloggers and experts. Unfortunately, there is some misinformation on the web about what guest posting is and isn’t, but I believe it works if you stay away from spammy guest posts.

With your blog, your family, your other writing and the newsletter you must be incredibly busy – what’s the best time management advice you can offer our readers?

Yes, I am 🙂

My advice is actually in three parts and it’s this: Divide your days into different sections, maximize the time usage on them and take immediate action.

First, understand that your days are actually comprised of various parts, such as working, spending time with your family or hobbies. What matters in each part is that you maximize the time you’ve got for them and that you take immediate, proactive action. For instance, if you’re building your blog, pick the projects that have the biggest impact on your business.

Before actually starting work on the project, be sure to prepare yourself for the tasks ahead so that you can start working on them right away without spending time pondering each step.

Finally, take immediate action and start making progress on that project so you see actual results. Not tomorrow, not next week – now!

In general, taking action without delay is the best strategy for moving things forwards, no matter what the area of life is. If you become a proactive person who moves things forward that’s generally a good thing, and you’ll feel great about yourself too.

In general, taking action without delay is the best strategy for moving things forwards, no matter what the area of life is.

In this issue of Alpha Efficiency, we’re talking about “Source Code” – our own take on how to record the motivators and values that drive us daily. Do you have something you use to motivate you in this way?

Well, I think that all starts with knowing yourself, who you really are and then aligning your daily actions so that you live by your purpose. For me, this started with the DISC test but of course, this was only a start.

Eventually, I defined my own vision statement to describe who I want to be in this life:

Become a productivity professional who gives individuals and companies more time for enjoying their lives – with less stress and more fun!

In other words, once I knew the stuff I should be doing on this earth, it was so much easier to decide on an action-by-action basis whether a particular task supported my overall vision or not. Once the vision statement was there, it was a matter of defining how to actually reach my vision and this happened by defining the necessary milestones. Once I reach those milestones I know I’m on the right track.

I believe that my motivation comes from knowing that this is the stuff (teaching and learning productivity) I should be doing in the first place. I also think that the word “peace” is really something that describes this core idea behind living with purpose. Peace comes from knowing that you’re doing the thing you’re supposed to be doing.

Sure, you realize that there will eventually be roadblocks on the way, but at the same time, you’ll also know that you are able to handle them so you can be peaceful and trustful.

I doubt that these same effects of feeling peace and trust would be possible with something you don’t care deeply about.

We understand that you’re not part of the Apple Ecosystem (that’s allowed!), but can you talk us through the technology that you use daily to manage your busy life?

Actually, I am! I bought a 13.3″ Retina MacBook Pro last year, which I have connected to two 24″ LCD monitors. I also made a switch to wireless with a Logitech Solar Keyboard and an Apple Magic Mouse. This is the setup I use on a daily basis and I have been very happy so far.

Of course, moving over to Mac took some time since I have a PC background and I’m still going through a transition phase. But overall the switch was a smooth one.

The daily productivity applications I use on my Mac are:

– Alfred: Launching apps from the keyboard, instead of using a mouse. This really saves my time as I’m able to start applications quickly.

– Alarm Clock 2: I’m using a timer when writing, so this is the one I’m using right now.

– Wunderlist: My task list of choice.

– Google Drive: I’m writing all my blog posts and other documents there.

I know that there are a lot of different productivity tools that I’d like to use/test, but this is my top four and they serve me well.

My other daily-used tool is my Nokia Lumia 920 Windows Phone. When I was kicked out of my job I asked my boss if I could keep it. The phone works ok, but it seems that all the cool apps are for iOS or Android so I’ll be making a switch to iOS sometime this year.

In addition to calling, I also check my emails or spend a limited amount of time on social media on a daily basis.

What’s your next big project and how are you gearing up for it?

I have three big things that I’m working on:

Time and stress-management seminar for local entrepreneurs
Starting a new blog in Finnish
Getting involved in writing Kindle books

In the first case, I’m speaking to local entrepreneurs about time management with a friend of mine. We already had this mini two-hour seminar a couple of weeks ago and it was very exciting to talk about the topic I love. We’re already planning more mini-seminars like this, but at the end of the year, I’m able to say how things have turned out on this front.

I’m also starting a Finnish time management bog called AjanhallintaVelho (time management wizard) and it’s geared towards information workers. This blog is clearly meant to fill a gap in the Finnish blogging scene as there really aren’t that many productivity blogs written in my native language.

With the Finnish blog, I’m also looking forward to other opportunities in the form of coaching, writing books or creating information products.

Finally, I’m getting started in June with writing Kindle books about productivity and I have already planned a few titles. I think that this is a very exciting opportunity to build my brand and also my authority. I almost started to ghostwrite productivity books for someone else, but then I realized that I’d rather write the stuff for myself in order to strengthen my own brand.

Thanks for talking to Alpha Efficiency Magazine!