Podcast Thoughts & Insights

Streamlining for Success

May 21, 2018

Just a few weeks ago as I was pondering the development of this podcast, the Lord put the word “Streamline” in my heart. Naturally I Googled the word and found this:  The word streamline is defined as a process in which “makes a system more efficient and effective by employing faster or simpler work methods.”

Before when I heard about the term streamlining, I often thought that this process solely relating to business, workflow, and productivity. As a minister of God, media director of my church, business owner, wealth coach, and real estate investor in a serious relationship with many hobbies and interests, I frequently get asked how successfully manage so many things simultaneously. Then I realized how I have personally been streamlining my own processes not only in my ministry / work / and business life but also throughout my personal life in order to ensure that I’m using all of my time and energy efficiently and effectively. It’s because of streamlining many facets of my life that by the end of every night, I can confidently say that I almost always feel that every day is fruitful, fulfilling, and rewarding.

Building these systems and putting them in place requires a lot of thought, consistency and self-discipline in order for them to produce successful benefits for your life. There is no one secret formula that works for everyone but rather something you can custom craft and personally create for yourself to work in the best way that you see fit.

I’m going to share with you several principles and personal examples from my own life that in hopes can inspire you to build your own systems and streamline areas of your life to ensure success for your every day. And of course there will always be some variations and I might slightly deviate from certain systems / routine as life throws curve balls!


01. Beginning of the Day

Every morning, I consistently wake up at either 6:30am or 7am depending on how much rest I need from the day before. My initial tendency is to grab my iPhone and answer to all the little red notification circles whether they be texts, emails, social media.. I’ll take a quick scan to see get a gauge of what needs immediate attention (usually none) and what can be put off till later. I’ll also go straight to my calendar to get an idea of what lies in store for the day and then immediately turn my phone screen off.

I’ll go straight to the fridge to take a few huge gulps of water while boiling some water to make some hot green tea. I ditched coffee entirely because the effects made me jittery and completely messes up my sleeping schedule. I typically skip breakfast entirely as I never have any sort of appetite that early in the day. I’l make my way to my table which has my bible already open from where I last left off. I’ll take a moment to close my eyes, and recite Psalm 100:4 which reads, “Enter His courts with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and bless his name.” Why do I do that? I believe it’s important to devote a portion of our time to put things into perspective as thanksgiving resets our hearts of gratitude while reminding ourselves not to take anything for granted.

I’ll then ask the Lord, “Father, your servant is listening. What is your will for me today?” This helps me place my heart and spirit in a posture and position of willingness to navigate my day the best God sees it. After consuming my tea, I’ll limit myself to reflecting on one chapter of the Bible rather than doing a heavy lifting plan. The reason for this is not to overwhelm myself with too much reading that early in the day and rather internalize one gem that I believe that I can actually live out that day in order to bring The Word of God to real life application.


02. The Change

Once I’m ready, I’ll go to get changed. My attire is simple.. I have a lot of neutrals in my wardrobe because I just love grays, silvers, and neutral hues. My girlfriend sometimes teases me that all my shirts look the same! But I’m inspired by Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg who keep their attires consistent and simple so that they can devote less time in front of the mirror and more into making bigger decisions throughout the day. Before I was known to wearing a lot of caps because I just love hats, but just so that again I wouldn’t have to spend too much time doing my hair and avoiding allergies in certain hair products. I more recently fancy a new buzz cut hairstyle that I can cut on my own to save almost $500 per year at the barber but also so I can be on the go while still looking clean. I’ll wash my face, brush my teeth, grab my backpack with my laptop, water bottle. I stopped wearing shoes with laces and bought a few slip ons or wear slippers so it’s easy for me to get out the door to rock it.


03. Workout & Reflect

Usually head straight to the gym 3-4 times a week before going work except for rest days for several reasons. Because I skip breakfast everyday, I workout on an empty stomach which avoids cramping and maximizes calorie burning. Getting my endorphins up early in the day while doing a routine combination of weightlifting and cardio boosts my overall confidence, keeps me healthy, and creates a sacred space where I can listen to a Podcast or two in order to fill my spiritual or educational tank depending on my mood.

I quite often bump into friends at the gym but keep conversations super limited or give them a quick nod so that I’m not spending hours talking story while avoid getting out of my zone. The gym is my sacred space where I am very focused on my exercise, reflecting on the words during my green tea time earlier, and a time to at least come out with one new revelation or learn one new thing depending on whatever Podcast I’m listening to. It’s a time where when prioritizing God and myself first, I’m now fulfilled, charged, and ready for game time!


04. Hustle & Flow 1 of 2

Since I work for a church, my schedule is unique where I work during the weekends, and I’m off on Mondays and Fridays. I’ll split those off days to take a Sabbath to get rest while using the other portion to work jobs for my freelance business. On the days when I do step into the church office, my day will look more like this:

Once I step into work, I’ll use my email as my to-do list for all the different projects I’m working on. My days can vary from running from meetings, video shoots, editing, designing, web site updates, creating newsletters, and answering more emails. One thing that our church has been great at is limiting using our devices (laptops, iPhones) during meetings. There will be times that I’ll be running around and needing to take notes for tasks whether it’s a change to a video, setting up a meeting with someone, etc.

I’ve developed a system where I email myself reminders so that nothing falls through the cracks. I know that my to do list always falls back to my email so that if I don’t have certain notifications made to myself then they probably weren’t that important. It’s easy for me to get distracted, but this practice has really helped me be more engaged while respecting others.. and I feel that the take away is mutual.

I’ll schedule a few lunches throughout the week with our church staff, a few accountability buddies or business meetings. I’ll really try to keep my phone in my pocket throughout the entire lunches to respect their time and sharing. Depending on my workload, I’ll at times bring in my own lunch to I can work while eating to make the most use of my time. The fact that lunch is the first meal of the day means that I can eat pretty substantially as my early workout is still allowing me to burn calories even as I consume a pretty hearty meal.


05. Time Out

I typically wind down my work day around 3pm. At this point, I’ll shut down my laptop and allow notifications to accumulate through my email and answer only outside work related texts or phone calls. I’ll try to sneak in a 20 minute power nap which usually gives me a jolt to carry on for the remainder of the day. I’ll use the next 20-30 minutes to read articles or watch the latest videos to YouTube channels that I’ve subscribed to for educational purposes. I love watching finance and cooking shows, or I might sneak in an episode of a series I’m watching on Netflix.

At 4pm, I’ll head over to pick up my girlfriend from work and devote the next few hours attending to her needs. We’ll either dine out, cook dinner, go shopping, watch a movie, hang out with friends, or even do yoga. Yoga has been something that has helped us take 90-minutes of the day shutting down our devices and focus on meditating with Jesus while stretching. Whatever stresses, anxieties, or annoyances we come with, this time usually helps us relax, calm down, and recenter while getting our blood flow going.


06. Hustle & Flow 2 of 2

After dropping of my girlfriend at her place in the evening, I’ll come back home to work on either freelance projects for my business. Living in Hawaii isn’t cheap. Having a few side hustles have helped me tremulously feel comfortable paying my bills but also generating additional income for investment, so I’m willing to devote this time for this particular season to get ahead so later on, I won’t have to work as hard. I’m looking forward to the day where I can pour more of my time and energy into realizing new passions and reaching other goals.

The night time is where I have no distractions, and for me this is where my creative energy is at its best. It’s even a time that I can devote to managing my accounting / finances / real estate, and also work personal projects such as this Podcast. I find that writing has served as a great outlet to help me process and write down my thoughts or things that I have been learning which I just love to share.

I usually keep my television off during this time except for 10pm where I catch about 15-20 minutes of news before shutting it off for the night. I never spend hours on my couch senseless watching random television. In times where I do want to enjoy a movie or a Netflix show, I’m more intentional with my selections so that my entertainment time will be of more value while avoiding internalizing things that I could care less about.


07. Preparation & Lights Out

Before showering, I’ll spend a portion of time to peek at my calendar and see what’s on deck for the next day. The worst thing is coming into something the next day unprepared.Whether its for a meeting, project, video shoot, etc., I’ll think through preliminary thoughts and prepare whatever I need to at this time to ensure success. For meetings, I’ll put together my notes and thoughts so that I’m coming into that time knowing what I need. For video shoots, I’ll lay out all my camera gear, charge my batteries, clean my lenses, and lay out my monopods / tripods, pack up and place everything right by my door so these items are visible before I leave. I’ll scout out locations on Google Maps and review emails so that I know what I’m shooting. For the next days wardrobe, I’ll steam any shirts or pants that require any kind of pressing and then place my clothes at the end of bed for the next day.

After showering, I’ll use my WaterPik to eliminate hassle from regular flossing. This small investment in itself not only makes my mouth and teeth feel cleaner, but saved me hundreds if not thousands of dollars. I’ve never had a cavity or any required major dental work needed since using my WaterPik on a daily basis. I’ll then brush my teeth and head straight to bed to quickly set my alarm on my phone. I’ll usually set 3 alarms, say my prayers, turn off the lights, and knock out ready to do it all over again tomorrow.


About Alex
Honolulu, HI

Unseen is an online experimental sandbox of Alex Cheng where he will be discussing the Word of God, personal experiences and thoughts. He is Media Director / Pastor at C4 Christ Centered Community Church, founder / creative director of instaMERSION studios LLC.