Think Productive Ninja: Zen-Like Calm

26/8/2013 |

The mindset of a ninja offers us some very useful ways to approach our work. Over the next several months we will introduce you to each of the Think Productive Ninjas. All reflective of a characteristic to nurture and improve upon to become more productive in our day to day lives. We aim to help you boost productivity, reduce stress and remain calm by nurturing your inner ninja. 

The mind is for having ideas, not for holding them.” – David Allen

So you want to be a Productivity Ninja?

Zen-like Calm NinjaThe first characteristic you need to nurture is Zen-like Calm. Good decision-making comes from the ability to create the time and space to think rationally and intelligently. Zen Ninja realizes this, remains calm in the face of adversity, and equally calm under the pressure of information overload. You might not believe this, but it is entirely possible to have a hundred and one things to do and still remain absolutely calm.

How do we beat stress and remain calm? This question is answered more fully in the ‘How to be a Productivity Ninja’ book (along with the practical skills needed for Ninja-mastery of email, tasks, projects and meetings.) Here are a few of the basic principles:

Use your head, don’t use your head!

Be sure that you’re not forgetting important items by keeping all of your support information in a system, not in your head. By using a system instead of your  head as the place where information and reminders live, you will be less distracted and stressed by what you might be forgetting.

Trust your system

You need to have trust that whatever system you use will work. Not fully trusting that your systems will help you deliver can cause unwarranted stress, but by sticking to what you trust and trusting what you stick to you can avoid this. The way to foster this trust and promote the Zen-like calm you need is to regularly consider not just your work, but the process of your work too. Briefly but regularly reviewing how you work will help you to promote clearer thinking in the work itself.

Lower your expectations

Realize that you’ll never get everything done. That’s not the game anymore. Be safe in the knowledge that you’re in control, selecting the right things to do. This does not mean ‘don’t be ambitious’; it does mean that if you have a sense of ambition, you’ll probably experience some time in your life with more on your plate than you can physically handle. The truth is that worry, stress and negative thought patterns are tiring and completely unproductive.

Keep your body in good physical condition

Eat porridge! Keeping fit and healthy will not only reduce stress and give your brain the focus and energy it needs to produce clearer thinking and decision making, it also means you’ll look hot! It’s a win-win-win! There are hundreds of theories about why physical fitness positively impacts the brain. We discuss a few of them in Chapter 3 of the book.

Be prepared & organized, ready for when times get rough

I don’t have the time to be organized,” is a common objection we hear when coaching clients towards Productivity Ninja status. But the truth is that when we experience periods of ‘flow’ – the times in our day or week when we’re most productive – the last thing we want to do is be thrown off track by being unable to find a crucial piece of information or by not having the tools we need readily available.

Usually, those people who naturally resist the idea of being organized are the very same people who experience the greatest mindset shift from getting their paperwork, projects, email inbox and everything else under control. It’s immensely calming if you do it regularly, but probably even more so if you don’t normally experience it. The realization that after each battle comes a period of rest and realignment, and the strategic value of preparedness for the battles to come, are central to the Ninja philosophy.

This is an edited extract from How to be a Productivity Ninja. To read more buy the book

Left Wanting More?

Sign up for our How to Get Things Done Public Workshop – September 27th, 2013 in Calgary.

Book one of our How to Get Things Done sessions for your workplace

Why teams need managers with Zen-like Calm « 

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