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Productivity Ninja

Zen-like calm meets stealth and camouflage

It’s fair to say that in our digital, on-demand age the weakest link in the chain is likely to be the human being in the middle of it all.  And there’s a subtle clue here in the wording: we’re human beings, not human doings.

The Productivity Ninja offers us a way to recapture that essence of being in an increasingly crowded workplace of overflowing inboxes, to-do lists and endless, pointless meetings.

Using a fascinating combination of mindfulness, zen-like calm and stealth & camouflage the Productivity Ninja aims to get your inbox down to zero, make the most of your attention (rather than your time) and teach you to work smarter, not harder.

The author Graham Allcott’s loftiest aim being to teach you how to love your work again by making the bold statement that “time management is dead.”  Attention management is the key to understanding productivity, and that means acknowledging that you have periods of low attention when you don’t have the mental focus to tackle the day job.

Allcott explains that there are 9 characterises of a Productivity Ninja and we’ll touch on a few of our favourites here:

Zen-like calm

If you want to remain focused and not be stressed by all the things you’re not doing, you’ll need to create a ‘Second Brain.”  Basically, it’s a system built around lists, checklists or productivity apps where you can store your ideas.

It’s there to share the load of a busy mind, helping you to think more clearly because you’re not getting distracted by all the other things you need to do.

Ruthlessness

Saying no.  Not something many of us are entirely comfortable with but if we first acknowledge that saying yes to everything is the beginning of our never-ending to-do list, we’ll soon feel a lot more comfortable with the word no.

Thinking like a ninja means being ruthless with your attention and focus.  And as other commentators have pointed out over the years, it’s helpful to consider what is most important to say yes to so that you feel more comfortable about choosing to say no to other things.

Weapon-savvy

This is about using the right tools for the job.  Which tools save you time and don’t provide distractions?

The challenge we face with productivity software (in particular) is that it encourages networking and social sharing.  How often does that turn into a few hours fiddling with dashboards or instant messaging colleagues?  So we need to manage our use of such tools so that they help our focus rather than hinder it.

Stealth and camouflage

The introvert’s personal favourite and something the extrovert would be encouraged to consider now and again.  Get out of the chaos occasionally.

“One of the worst things you can do is always make yourself available,” writes Graham Allcott.

Research suggests that a 2-minute interruption to your thought process can take at least 30 minutes to undo.  Are there times when working alone and away from others, technology and the phone could be useful?  How could you build these into your day?

Making mistakes

It’s ok to make mistakes!  Perfectionism is a long way from perfect as we explored here.

Perfection is one of those wonderful ideas that we might aspire to, but it can often lead to drastically negative behaviour.  Perfectionism continually points to our failures, no matter how small, and it undermines our achievements.

Are you at your most productive when you are undermining yourself?

If you can combine that last point in particular with the other characteristics of a Productivity Ninja, we wholly support Graham Allcott’s view:

“You’ll feel more present in your work, more engaged, calmer and more at ease with the world around you.”