A Traveler's Guide to Vietnam

By: JK Hobson

The rich modern diversity of Vietnam can be traced back to its fascinating historical origins.

From Hanoi to Saigon, Vietnam’s regional differences may surprise you.

Knowing Vietnam’s seasonal changes will help you choose the ideal time to visit.

La Veranda luxury boutique hotel in Phu Quoc offers a unique experience of the cultural heritage of Vietnam.

Vietnam is fast becoming one of the world’s most sought out travel destinations. Just last year, Trip Advisor named it the 6th best destination for authentic travel experiences, just behind Greece, Mexico, Portugal and Morocco and overtaking Thailand for the first time ever. Foreign and local travellers alike love Vietnam for its pristine and natural beauty, vibrant nightlife, and excellent prices, all of which make for unique and memorable travel experiences.

Guide to Travel in Vietnam

Locals are considered to be exceptionally friendly, welcoming, and optimistic about the future of their country as it opens to global capital and foreigners. Travellers are also drawn to Vietnam’s growing economy, modern conveniences, and diverse culinary options with world-class restaurants such as La Veranda Phu Quoc’s top-ranked resort, featuring the Peppertree, one of Phu Quoc’s best restaurants offering gourmet experiences with local touches.

Add to that white sand beaches in places like Mui Ne, Phu Quoc island and Nha Trang, lush mountains in Sapa and hilltop villages, pristine valleys, and modern megacities, all woven together by a culture that is diverse and complex, and you have a one-of-a-kind travel experience in Vietnam.

The Origins of Vietnam’s Diverse Cultural Experiences

Vietnam’s Origin Story is a poetic tale that can explain both the strength and beauty of this complicated country. The legendary fable of the Dragon and the Fairy artfully explains the origins of the Vietnamese people. As the creation myth goes, the fairy Âu Cơ lived in the mountainous highlands of what is now known as Northern Vietnam, and fell in love with a dragon who came from the sea. She bore an egg, and from this egg were born the people that would come to be known as the Vietnamese. The dragon father gave the Vietnamese people their strength and perseverance while the fairy gave her mystical elegance, healing skills and sympathetic heart.

Guide to Travel in Vietnam

Beyond the poetic myths, Vietnam is quite complex in its history, with its culture being a manifestation of a variety of influences. It’s geographical position, south of China, and east of Laos and Cambodia, have made it a much sought after territory for millennia. The Chinese occupied Vietnam for over 1,000 years until the Vietnamese liberated themselves in the 10th century. Chinese influence is still ubiquitous in Vietnam, from Buddhist pagodas to culinary standards like rice and noodles, even some of the words have Chinese origins, though the Vietnamese language with its multitude of tones and Latin alphabet is utterly unique in the world.

During the colonial era, both the Japanese and French had a strong presence in Vietnam, which can still be seen in the architecture and culinary traditions present throughout the country. French-Indochine era homes can easily be seen in Hanoi, Hoi An and even on the island paradise of Phu Quoc. The heritage style architecture of the seaside mansion at La Veranda Resort takes inspiration from this bygone era. It is filled with authentic art and furnishings from Vietnam in the early part of the 20th century, creating a nostalgic elegance that travellers can experience along with inclusions of 21st-century luxuries.

It is easy for travellers to fall in love with this melting pot of influences embedded in the tapestry of Vietnamese culture, including its food, religion, architecture, and language.

Culinary and Language Traditions in the North, Central and South Vietnam

It is often stated that Vietnam can be considered three distinctly different countries delineated by the North, Central, and the South. It is often said that “The North is political, the South is open (to commerce, foreigners, innovation) and the Centre is secretive.”

These may all be traits that each region has adopted for political expediency, but the fact remains that a variety of influences have created a distinction between the three parts. Perhaps one of the more noticeable differences between them lies in spoken language. Many northerners speak with a strong accent that seems punctuated with z’s, whereas the southern accent sounds a bit softer with those z’s replaced by “y” sounds.

Some Vietnamese people from the North and the South might tell you that they find the central dialect difficult to decipher. Moreover, the culinary variances between the three regions are also vast. In days past, royalty in the Northern provinces preferred elegant dishes, and so it became the practice to refrain from the overuse of spices in foods. Also, since the summers in the North tended to be particularly sweltering, spicy food was not preferred.

Guide to Travel in Vietnam

The Central regions were once dominated by the Cham kingdom, which used a lot of spice and so the food there tends to be the zestiest. The Southern region was dominated by the Khmer, who also populated Cambodia. Their preference for sweet additions to their savoury dishes influenced the Southern palate. The South has always been the most fertile of the three regions, bearing the majority of the fruits, vegetables and herbs in the country. It has also historically been the most international of the three regions, so it has the most diversity in its cuisine.

When Are the Best Times to Travel to Vietnam?

When planning a trip to Vietnam, perhaps the first thing that must be put into consideration is the climate and the best time of year to visit. Much of Vietnam experiences what local people consider to be two seasons, rainy season and dry season, depending on the region.

Generally speaking, the optimal times for travelling in Vietnam are the spring and autumn, specifically from February to April and then from August until October. During these times, the temperature is moderate and rainfall is minimal. March and April have the least rainfall of the entire year across all destinations and for the most part, temperatures are pleasurable during these months. Other times of the year can be challenging for travellers, whether it’s the heat and humidity of the South, the relentless dry heat and then cold winters (including snow!) in the North, or the torrential downfalls of rain flooding the Central regions. The climate and weather in Vietnam can make or break your holiday plans so take them into strong consideration when you’re bringing clothing as well.

Guide to Travel in Vietnam

A Beach Resort Paradise to Experience the Cultural Heritage of Vietnam

Motorbiking across Vietnam has become a popular “bucket list” travelling experience, with western foreigners often driving over the course of weeks from the North to the South, and then venturing off the motorbike trail for a trip to Phu Quoc island at the southern end of Vietnam for some much-needed rest and relaxation.

Phu Quoc is well-known for its pristine, blue waters, luxury and boutique resorts dotting its coastlines and is referred to by many as “the Maldives of Asia”. Phu Quoc is a destination that has the versatility of being both a family-friendly and romantic getaway. The island is especially popular with Saigon residents who need only board a plane for an hour-long flight in order to enjoy majestic ocean views and the serene sounds of the seaside. One of the best features of this island paradise is that it can be enjoyed year round and is easily accessed from anywhere in the world.

It is on the island you can find one of the top luxury boutique hotels in Vietnam - La Veranda Phu Quoc Resort. As an AccorHotels Group MGallery Collection Heritage hotel, it has quite a reputation to uphold as a one-of-a-kind destination for travellers seeking to immerse themselves in a place of refined beauty that provides high-calibre culinary experiences. This seaside mansion offers a glimpse of the cultural heritage that we mentioned before. French Indochine stylings set in the lush beauty of Vietnam’s tropical biosphere.

La Veranda Boutique Beach Resort Phu Quoc

La Veranda’s sumptuous layout includes an organic garden, spa, beachside villa, a wellness sanctuary, as well as top-notch fine-dining options in a five-star environment. This sophisticated, colonial-style mansion has been thrilling guests in need of deluxe downtime in secluded solitude. La Veranda Phu Quoc provides a perfect way to start or to cap-off your cross-country Vietnam experience!

Image source: La Veranda Resort Phu Quoc


Traffics Fines and Penalties in Vietnam: Know the Risks!

By: City Pass Guide

We tell you what happens if you are caught speeding, not wearing a helmet or seatbelt or using a phone while driving, plus, the cost of parking fines in Vietnam.

traffics fines and penalties in vietnamImage source: Chris Goldberg

You break the law and you are arrested

If you are caught red-handed — for instance if you have forgotten a turn signal or crossed into the wrong lane — in the sight of a policeman, they will walk into the street, point at you with their brightly colored torch, and motion for you to pull over. Beautiful girls and owners of brand new motorcycles have the reputation of being arrested more often.

Good to know: Traffic policemen are obliged by law to salute you when they stop you.

Do not try to escape

Some expats will advise you to pretend not seeing the policemen and ignore them or run away. We think you shouldn't. Trying to avoid them could possibly lead to an accident with another motorist or worse, the police getting on their bikes to chase you down. This will almost definitely lead to your bike being impounded on top of a hefty fine.

Pay a fine or pay a bribe?

Once you have been pulled over, the amount you pay will depend on how much Vietnamese you speak and what paperwork you have. If you pretend to not know Vietnamese, English, or even French, you might be able to get away without paying anything in some cases.

Another trick that seems to work is to talk gibberish and gesticulate: If they feel they are losing their time with you, they might let you go. This will only be an effective way to dodge a fine if the infraction you committed is minor.

traffics fines and penalties in vietnamImage source: baocantho.com.vn

If you are not a good actor/actress, then you will have to pay.

If your paperwork is in order (valid license, vehicle registration, insurance, passport), the only right and legal way to follow is to take the ticket and pay it within a couple weeks at the tax office. However, if you choose this solution, the police officer has the right to confiscate your vehicle’s registration. He may also take your license for extreme cases (read Tips for Buying or Renting a Motorbike in Vietnam for more information).

According to Circular No. 48/2014/TT-BGTVT, any foreigner or Vietnamese citizen residing overseas that wishes to drive in Vietnam shall:

a) Follow procedures for replacing an equivalent driving license of Vietnam if that person already has a national driving license;

b) Be permitted to operate the types of vehicles written on the international driving license without having to replace it with a Vietnam’s driving license if that person already has an international driving license issued by a competent authority of a member state of Convention on Road Traffic 1968;

c) In case an international agreement on driving license to which Vietnam is a signatory prescribes otherwise, such international agreement shall apply.

Even though it is the correct way to do things, it is usually a hassle for both the policemen and for you. To exacerbate the situation, the place to pay your fine might not be where they are keeping your registration license.

Because of these complications, most people choose to pay the fine directly to the cop and to get on with their day. These ‘fines’ can range from VND100,000 - 200,000 for motorbikes and VND500,000 - 1 million cars. Beware that they can be higher than the actual cost of the ticket. The amount will vary depending on your language proficiency, the type of vehicle, and the condition that it is in. Please note that only police wearing brown uniforms are allowed to issue fines and handle traffic violation. Without it, they cannot legally pull you over.

The Consequences: How much will you be fined?

Concerning fines, below is a breakdown of what you can expect to pay if you’re fined according to Decree No. 171/2013/NĐ-CP

 

Behavior or violation

 

Fines (VND)

Temporary keeping your motor (day)

Taking away driving license (day)

Excessive speed from 5 - under 10 km/h

100,000 - 200,000

0

0

Excessive speed from 10 - 20 km/h

500,000 - 1,000,000

0

0

Excessive speed over 20 km/h

2,000,000 - 3,000,000

0

30

Passing at the prohibited area

500,000 - 1,000,000

0

0

Driving in prohibited area, opposite side

200,000 - 400,000

0

30

Driving in wrong path of road or lane

200,000 - 400,000

0

0

Non-compliance with the signal of traffic lights

200,000 - 400,000

0

30

Non-compliance with the command of traffic controller

200,000 - 400,000

0

30

Changing direction without reducing speed

200,000 - 400,000

0

0

Changing direction without the signal informing turning direction

200,000 - 400,000

0

0

Level of alcohol in the blood over 0.25mg - 0.4mg/l

500,000 - 1,000,000

7

30

Level of alcohol in the blood over 0.4mg/l

2,000,000 - 3,000,000

7

60

Non-compliance with checking for the levels of alcohol in the blood

2,000,000 - 3,000,000

7

60

Not carrying Registered Certificate of motor, Driving License

80,000 - 120,000

0

0

No carrying insurance Certificate of Motor

80,000 - 120,000

0

0

Not owning a driving license

800,000 - 1,200,000

7

0

Not owning a Registered Certificate of motor

300,000 - 400,000

7

0

Driving a motor with capacity over 175 cm³ without driving license

4,000,000 - 6,000,000

7

0

No wearing helmet

100,000 - 200,000

0

0

Using phone when driving

60,000 - 80,000

0

0

Pulling or pushing other vehicles

200,000 - 400,000

0

0

Taking off 2 hands while driving

5,000,000 - 7,000,000

7

60

Weaving when driving

5,000,000 - 7,000,000

7

60

Driving on one wheel (to 2-wheel vehicle)

5,000,000 - 7,000,000

7

60

Driving self-assembly or self-produced vehicles

800,000 - 1,000,000

confiscating vehicle

60

Overall, after several years living in Vietnam, policemen have only stopped me a few times. Unlike some other Asian countries, it does not seem that the local police are targeting foreigners in particular. If you have all your documents in order and follow the traffic rules, you don't have to worry about being arrested or harassed. If you’ve had a different experience to me, please let us know by posting a comment below!

More information about traffic and driving in Vietnam:

Top 5 Tips for Renting a Motorbike

How to Cross the Road in Vietnam?

Banner Image source: blog.hoozing.com


What is the Year of the Pig in Vietnam?

By: Angee the Diva

This is my second year in Saigon for Tet holiday. I love being in the city when it’s quieter and less chaotic. I ride leisurely through District 1 and try to feel the zen of its relative calm instead of annoyance when my favorite places are closed for a few days. No traffic, no queues, no incessant horn-blowing, no crowds. My narcissistic mind just enjoys being the first and only for a brief period in a city that is otherwise basically a hive. But, true to my expat ignorance, it only recently crossed my mind to try to understand what’s happening and why all of my neighbors go away for the biggest holiday in Vietnam.

year of the pigImage source: izwanshahmin.com

Enter the Year of the Pig. The origins of its story lie in the Chinese zodiac. Like eons ago, the Jade Emperor called for a race of 12 animals. The cunning, creative, and uniquely beautiful rat (by the way, apparently, I’m a rat) was first to finish. The other animals arrived at the palace one by one. Just when the Emperor is thinking the pig is never going to make it, in he strolls like whatevs.

Seems the pig got hungry and stopped for a big lunch and a casual nap for a few hours. No big deal. Seriously, it’s a pig, so the Jade Emperor shouldn’t have been that surprised. Honestly, I get it. I’d totally choose a pizza and Netflix binge over a stroll in the Ho Chi Minh City’s humidity any day.

year of the pigImage source: sapo.vn

Anyway, this is where you gotta throw out all those preconceived notions. Kudos for the positive spin on that “lazy pig” fake news, Vietnam. Don’t even think of fat shaming the pig, cause according to the Vietnamese zodiac, pigs are total bosses! A quick look at Vietnamese food proves they hold pigs in high regard. There are no losers here. Pigs like to have full bellies and pockets, so they do what it takes to get the paycheck. They are patient, tolerant and hard-working. It might take them a bit longer to get the job done, but they’ll be rewarded with all the dongs.

year of the pigImage source: sapo.vn

And since they like to eat with others, pigs are the coolest kids at the party. Legendary for a taste for the luxe life and a friendly attitude, people love to be around pigs. Add in optimism, good luck, generosity, and loyalty - sounds like it’s time to find a new bestie!

If you’re lucky enough to be born in the Year of the Pig, get ready to be living your best life in 2019. This year is a good time to start a new business or make important business moves. Try to secure a new bae or get to work on creating a little piglet of your own wink. Even if you’re not a pig, this is supposed to be a prosperous and productive year. Be like the pig - take your time and be aware of obstacles for optimal results.

Maybe you believe all this or maybe you don’t. Either way, remember to be respectful of our host country and its gracious people. It’s always a good year to learn something new about the people around you smile.

Best wishes for long life, health, and wealth to all in the Year of the Pig! Chúc Mừng Năm Mới 2019!

year of the pigImage source: kenh14cdn.com

If you’re staying in Saigon during the Tet Holiday, be sure to check out the Best of the Week: Special Tet Edition for some fun events.

Banner Image source: mspoweruser.com


7 Saigon Bloggers You Must Bookmark Now

By: Aleksandr Smechov

Saigon’s tourism scene is stuck on a plateau. Unlike other popular destinations like Bangkok, New York, Paris, etc., all is not revealed – secrets remain and an air of mystery still permeates even rudimentary tasks like going to a doctor and understanding traffic patterns. There’s a severe lack of official documentation and foreign language support that grants Ho Chi Minh City an air of impenetrability at times. Some times, to the point of utter frustration.

Our only hope, it seems, are the bloggers who brave the alien terrains of shouting ladies and incomprehensible signs to discover, transcribe and inform the confused community of expats and visitors. 

To save us all from bashing our heads against the wall when we order sautéed beef and get an avocado smoothie instead, we present a motley group of Content Heroes who provide us with the ins and outs necessary to experience the oohs and ahhs, without as much of the ughs and pffts. 

 

Rusty Compass

Cool stuff about Mark’s blog:

• A one-man powerhouse who produces consistent quality content on HCMC and around

• Well-structured website makes navigation easy

• Great pictures

• Observations are candid and nuanced

Rusty Compass features the lovable shiny-head Mark Bowyer, an Asia explorer since 1988. Mark has some cool guides for Vietnam and Cambodia, but his blog section is where his personality really sparkles. 

You get articles carefully eyeing the good and the bad of Saigon’s idiosyncrasies, with sensitive issues like the Cu Chi tunnel’s firing range and a potentially bland future for the city brought to light and discussed in Mark’s signature erudite manner. 

Mark also takes excellent photos.

Standout article: The Last President’s Driver

 

Andy Goes to Asia

Cool stuff about Andy: 

● Articles are written for the everyday expat

● Includes travel blogs, but also what it’s like to live here and work for a living

● Focuses a lot on storytelling

● Explains details that may seem confusing to expats, like the motorbike culture

● Well written, fun, blunt and helpful

A simple Wordpress blog, Andy Goes to Asia details the AsiaLIFE writer’s observations and travels in Vietnam. 

The blogs steady between practical and entertaining, are well written (Andy’s an English literature major, after all), easy to read and quite useful. “The Motorbikes of Saigon” sheds some light on Ho Chi Minh City’s chaotic motorbike culture, giving nuanced advice on where to rent, the 2007 helmet law, unpredictable obstacles and more. 

Standout article: The Motorbikes of Saigon

 

Adventure Faktory

Cool stuff about the AF duo: 

● Best layout/presentation of the bunch

● Content is broken down by topics

● Cool pictures

● Content is both practical (who expats date in the city) and related to experiencing the city (restaurants, bars, clubs, etc.) 

The cleanest, most well-laid-out site on the list, Adventure Faktory is a sexy travel blog with quality photos and a simple writing style that’s easy to get into. 

Written by world travelers Mitch and Thuymi, the blog is broken down into simple categories like “Travel,” “Sports & Adventure,” “Lifestyle” and more. Articles are practical and for the most part focused on venues and experiences (like “Fashion Boutiques in Saigon,” “Oktoberfest in Saigon” and “Ho Chi Minh City’s Coffee Culture”), and are chock full of cool Instagram-worthy shots. 

Standout article: The Ultimate Saigon Cafes List

 

Elka Ray

Cool stuff about Elka: 

● Tends to focus on short pieces targeted at the day-to-day goings-on

● Includes nicephotos and interesting stories – even a dash of humor thrown in

● Great writing

Elka Ray is a storyteller, and thus provides a more personal account of her daily life in Vietnam. Author and illustrator, Elka moved to the country in 1996, and has since started a family. 

The blog rotates around her family life at home, daily observations and insights and random musings. It’s a much different tone than others on the list, and the information leans more towards musings rather than practical advice, although there are some venue profiles.

Entries are fun, very well-written and a great read for anyone living in and experiencing the ups and downs of Vietnam.

Standout article: Scraps of history

 

Hello Saigon

 

Cool stuff about HS:

● Articles tend to focus on reviews of different attractions, hotels and venues around the city

● Site is streamlined and mobile friendly – tons of pictures and short-form content

● Does a lot of work with food discussions and where the best places to eat are

● Blogger is active and a regular poster

Hello Saigon boasts a constant stream of entries on Ho Chi Minh City’s active scene, including venues, events, food trips and travels to other cities. This is the most streamlined site of the bunch, and consists of a continuous river of bite-sized articles broken up by relevant pictures (1-2 sentences + picture, 1-2 sentences + picture, repeat). 

It’s really freaking easy to read, is fun to scroll through and is quite practical, especially with the flood of photos. The writing is simple and light-hearted, and the content is very snug on mobiles.

Standout article: A Relaxing Stay at Salinda Resort

 

City Pass Guide

Cool stuff about City Pass: 

• Self-explanatory (kidding)

• Large back catalog of blogs from a diverse team of writers and guest bloggers

• Long-form content may put off the ADD crowd, but articles are informative and delve deep into their subject matter

• Interview with experts on various destinations

• Blogs cover tourism industry, various lists, events and more

We City Pass Guide is known around town as the free guidebook distributed at fancy shmancy resorts and hotels. Their online counterpart is focused on venue listings, but there is a dedicated blog section that is quite useful if you want to dive deeper into Vietnam’s tourism market, learn about grand opening, unique events, or scroll through various lists (ex. top 5 Vietnamese love sayings, top 7 honeymoon resorts, etc.).

Articles are written by staff writers or guests from various industries, are relatively lengthy but go well with a glass of pinot noir and a bag of Poca chips.

Standout article: The Declining State of Tourism in Vietnam – And How We Can Help

 

Sketchpacker

Cool stuff about Zoe:

● The blog features creative sketches of Saigon’s life and locals

● Zoe’s gonzo, down-to-earth observations are fun to read

● Blogs are both informative and very well written

Like Wix-using Andy above, Zoe hardly needs anything more than a free Wordpress blog to suck in readers with surreal sketches, disarmingly honest prose and a gonzo wit about her observations.

Blogs detail living on a severely limited budget (eggs, baguettes and VND 10,000 drinks every day? No problem), unspoken rules of the road, living in a shack on Phu Quoc for a week, children helping administer heroine to their mothers (yep…) and many more gems.

Standout article: Saigon’s Darkest Secrets

 


5 photo tips for travelers in Vietnam

By: Vinh Dao

How to capture and keep the Vietnamese breathtaking moment?

For shutterbugs, Vietnam is a paradise full of photographic opportunities. Whether you are into landscapes, street or even food photography, Vietnam has it all. We have put together five tips for taking photos in this picturesque country.

1. Be respectful. When taking photos of people, take the slow approach. Usually a smile or a gesture to your camera is all it takes for someone to allow you to take their photo.

Local insight: Monks and nuns make for great portraiture subjects.

2. Wake up early. When the first rays of sunlight head across the horizon, the light created is softer and colours are warmer and more saturated. Though this effect lasts usually lasts longer than one hour, photographers call this the Golden Hour.

Local insight: The Golden Hour is a great opportunity to snap some images of Hanoians exercising around Hoan Kiem Lake.

3. Take a tripod. This is a must for taking landscape photos and when the light is fading when shutter speeds are slower.

Local insight: Light streaks from the manic traffic in Saigon’s District 1 will create an ethereal feel to any image.

4. Read up about your destination. Finding a relevant tidbit where you are shooting can make the difference of turning a great shot into something stunning.

Local insight: The best time to take photos in Sapa is before the harvest from mid-September to early October when the rice fields are a bright yellow.

5. Use your camera strap. Sling the strap around your neck or across your shoulder to prevent an opportunistic thief from nicking your camera.

Local insight: When walking around in major cities, this is a must as motorbike thieves are drawn to cameras like moths to a flame.


Other articles:

Top 5 tips for crossing the street in Vietnam

Top 5 photo tips for travelers in Vietnam

Top 5 tips to rent a motorbike in Vietnam

5 tips to manage your online reputation on Tripadvisor

5 tips of preparation for better score at golf

5 tips to take pictures of fireworks in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi

Top 5 tips for preventing theft in Vietnam

The art of bargaining in Vietnam

Tips to spot and avoid scam and pick pocket


Increase Your Effectiveness by Managing Your Time

By: Victor Burrill

“Effectiveness is a habit and that you can improve through practice.” - Peter F. Drucker

We all have the same amount of time so why does it seem that some people are able to get more out of their day. Believe it or not, they have learnt the skill of how to properly manage their time to build their effectiveness. You too can learn this valuable skill and no matter how long you’ve been in the workplace, it’s never too late to learn.

Goal Setting

After getting to know my clients, one of the first things I ask them is ‘where do you want to be?’ One way I sometimes ask this is ‘What would be different say in two years’ time from now?’

Setting goals, or knowing which direction you are going is fundamental in clarifying your ideas, focusing your efforts, use your time and resources productively, and increase your chances of achieving what you want in life. To make sure your goals are clear and reachable, each one should be SMART which is:

- Specific (clear and concise).

- Measurable (the ability to track your progress).

- Achievable (challenging yet attainable).

- Relevant (set goals that are relevant to your overall plan).

- Time bound (goals should have a target finish time attached).

The Power of Focus

Tim Cook, the COO of Apple said “We are the most focused company that I know of or have read of or have any knowledge of. We say no to good ideas every day. We say no to great ideas in order to keep the amount of things we focus on very small in number so that we can put enormous energy behind the ones we do choose.” Like Apple’s success, you too can achieve amazing results on focusing your efforts and doing a good job on those things you decided to do and eliminating unimportant opportunities.

Time Management

Keeping the amount of goals you have to less than three increases the likelihood that you will reach them all with excellence. Statistics show that those who have more than four goals are likely to achieve only 1 or 2 of them. If you have over 11 goals, you are unlikely to reach any.

Learning to say ‘NO’ is a skill many successful people have mastered. Take billionaire Warren Buffett, for example. With all the demands on him, Buffett learned a long time ago that his most valuable resource is his time. He has mastered the art and practice of setting boundaries for himself. The mega-mogul once said, "The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.

Executive coaching guru, Dr. Marshal Goldsmith says that one of the greatest lessons Peter Drucker taught him is:

“We spend a lot of time helping leaders learn what to do. We do not spend enough time teaching leaders what to stop. Half of the leaders I have met don’t need to learn what to do. They need to learn what to stop.”

As a coach, I have found that much of my work is helping leaders work out what they need to stop doing in order to focus on their most important priorities.

You may also want to start by looking at your schedule or to-do-list every day and for simplicity try to get down five tasks you need to accomplish. Using the principle you can probably eliminate the majority of the items on your list. It may feel unnatural at first but overtime this will condition you to scale up effort on the most important tasks.

Learning How You Spend Time Will Help You Save Time

When it comes to managing your time, you may need to find out where your time actually goes. You may believe that you only send 30 minutes on emails, but in reality that task might be eating-up an hour of your day. The easiest way to keep track of your time is to download an app like RescueTime, Toggl or my app Calendar to track everything you do in a week. You can then find out what’s stealing your time and make the appropriate adjustments.I've found that setting a time limit to each task prevents me from getting distracted or procrastinating. if I don’t complete the task on time, I can still work on it without eating into the time reserved for something else.

Virtual meetings - thanks to rapidly advancing technology, we have more and more choice on ways to run a meeting. Of course, to say that online meetings can simply replace all face-to-face meetings is unrealistic.

Batching similar tasks together such as emails and phone calls. I know effective managers who schedule a specific time to handle these tasks such as late morning and towards the end of the day.

I also plan my week to avoid wasting time waiting. If I do find that I have a delay, I make the best of it. For example, whist waiting I’ll read an inspirational book, listen to a podcast, or make those important calls.

Time Management

Delegation and outsourcing can get a bit difficult for some but are real time-savers since it lessens your workload - which means you have more time to spend on more important tasks. Either hand over responsibilities to team members who are qualified or hire an experienced freelancer. Time training will be worth-it in the end.

Leaving a buffer-time between tasks and meetings can help performance. Jumping immediately from one task or meeting to the next may seem like a good use of your time, but it actually has the opposite effect. We need time to clear our minds and recharge. After all, the human brain can only focus for about 90-minutes at a time. Without that break it’s more difficult to stay focused and motivated. Scheduling buffer-time also can prevent running late to your next meeting.

The Power of Planning

A lot of successful leaders spend time thinking on how they will achieve their priorities. Spending time planning keeps you focused on your goals as well as giving you the opportunity to build contingency for a possible crisis and help you work out how to avoid interruptions.

One of the worst things that you can do is wake-up without a plan for the day. Before leaving work for the day, spend the last 15-minutes organizing your office and composing a list of your most important items for tomorrow. During your morning routine write down the 3 or 4 most urgent and important matters that need to be addressed today and work on those when you’re most productive.

Spend your mornings on your most important tasks (MIT’s). Mark Twain once said, "If it's your job to eat a frog, it's best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it's your job to eat two frogs, it's best to eat the biggest one first." Gross? Sure. But, the point that Twain was making that you should take care your biggest and most-challenging tasks in the morning, aka your most important tasks (MITs) of the day.

There are a couple reasons why this is such an effective time management trick. For starters, you usually have the most amount of energy in the morning. So it’s better to tackle these tasks when you’re not drained. Also, you can use that feeling of accomplishment to get through the rest of the day.

Be Energized and Inspired

There is a reason why successful leaders exercise regally. Even a short burst of fun cardio activity works wonders, especially in the morning. This is because exercise releases endorphins, serotonin, and other happy chemicals in your brain. According to renowned psychologist Shawn Achor, the reason why exercise is so key to your morning routine is that it literally trains your brain to believe "my behavior matters," which then carries (positively) into other activities throughout the day. And for procrastinators, exercising when you least feel like it is when it does the most good.

Time Management

I use inspirational sources like a TED Talk or biography. It’s a simple way to reignite that fire to get me motivated and back-on-track.

Change your schedule. If you’re reading this article then it’s obviously because you want to discover some useful time management skills. If you’re struggling with being effective, the solution may be as simple as changing your schedule around. For example, instead of sleeping-in until 6:30am, wake-up an hour earlier. Personally, I find 5:15am to be the most productive time of the day since it gives me time to exercise, plan-out my day, go through my emails, and even work on side projects without being disturbed.

*Victor Burrill is an internationally certified coach, leadership trainer and is Chairman of the Business Executive Network Vietnam.

Image source: Shutter Stock

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