Secrets of SA’s most productive people: Lorraine Steyn – Co-founder, Khanyisa Real Systems; simplifier-in-chief, I’m Bored
Lorraine Steyn founded her bespoke software and mobile application development company over 29 years ago and is still going strong. She was the first woman outside the US to become a Delphi Certified Developer. Her latest venture is the social media channel for toddlers to teens, I’m Bored, which focuses on family-friendly events and places in Joburg, Cape Town and Durban. Passionate about utilising technology to make life better, Steyn loves the way social media brings content to one’s mobile device when and where needed. The constant changes influenced by millennials and Generation Z keep her and the KRS team on their toes.
The meaning of productivity
“Using my time productively is all about finishing tasks. Too many things on the go at once is a focus drainer, and half-finished tasks just mean you have to figure out where you were before you can make progress again. It’s about not wasting time. It’s definitely not about multitasking—that’s a myth!”
“I check emails before I get out of bed, then get my son ready for school. I spend about 20 minutes on the iPad before shower-thinking time. Doesn’t matter where, that first hour or two before everyone else gets going is the most productive for me.”
“I don’t have notifications. I do whatever I’m doing and then I set aside time to handle email. It’s an explicit activity, and I keep my inbox small—just what I have to deal with.”
Tidy desk, tidy mind?
“To a point. I’m fine with a messy-looking desk, so long as I know where everything is. Once I can’t find things, I have to stop everything I’m doing and sort it out before I can continue.”
“I don’t usually take regular breaks. If I’m doing thinking tasks, I can deep-dive for two to three hours, but when I come up I like human company. None of it is to a routine.”
“Proper food is critical to being productive, so KRS provides a full, cooked, nutritious meal every day to all staff for free, with high focus on vegetables and salads—fresh stuff that’s always available, including fruit. It’s very important.”
“I’m a deeply lazy person! Because of that, I like to get things done as efficiently as possible. I will never make work. I think that being productively lazy is an asset: It’s part of my simplifying approach, and need to get things right the first time. I’m a bit of a last-minute merchant, but I work well to deadlines.”
“There are some games that my young son plays which I play too—partly to understand what his interests are and partly to make sure I have that connection as he progresses through his teenage years, to show I’m interested. So I feed my dragons or check that my clan is doing okay (laughs).”
“Get some exercise and be fresh and ready to go. Look after your body as well as your mind. There’s nothing like pumping blood to be productive; you can’t do it if you’re run-down and demotivated or lacking in energy. As a mum, energy is my currency. I hoard and protect it, and it’s what gets drained by the multiple demands of raising a family and running a company, especially as one gets older.”