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.
This is the second in a series of posts defining the Characteristics of a Productivity Ninja…
“Begin with the end in mind.”– Stephen Covey
As well as needing to make more and better decisions, we need to be choosy, processing information to sort the wheat from the chaff and the big opportunities from the even bigger ones. Ruthlessness isn’t just about how we process information, it’s about our ability to protect our time and attention, focusing only on the things that add the greatest impact, even at the expense of other things that are ‘worth doing’.
Time Management Tip #1 : Be choosy, say “No” to ourselves
The abundance of information available to us can be a problem- being choosy is the only way to make it work. It goes against the western, protestant work ethic culture that we’re so familiar with to decide not to do things, but that’s exactly what we must do. Being much choosier about what we say “yes” to is an important skill – and learning to say “no” to ourselves means not biting off more than we can chew. If you do get into situations where you’ve bitten off more than you can chew (and I do this regularly, by the way!), it’s about realizing that and then renegotiating your commitments to yourself and others.
Time Management Tip #2 : Unwanted work: saying ‘No’ to others
Picture this. You’re in a meeting that you thought you were attending purely to contribute to, and the meeting discussion begins to come around to some decisions and commitments about actions people could take at the end of the meeting. There’s a particular set of actions that you’re renowned for being good at, and just as it’s mentioned, several pairs of eyes turn and focus on you. Saying “No” to others is tricky. It requires steely resolve, a ruthless streak and some great tactics so that you come out smelling of roses.
Time Management Tip #3 : Interruptions
Our attention – particularly that proactive attention when we’re most alert, in flow and on top of our game – is arguably our most precious resource. It needs to be nurtured and valued. At the same time, there are a million interruptions out there: emails, phone calls, thoughts, stress, colleagues, social media, the next big crisis, the next big thing.
We often like to be distracted because it’s the perfect excuse for procrastination and thinking less. Facebook or Twitter win over the report we’re supposed to be finishing simply because it’s easier to be in those places, having conversations, than it is to get into the difficult thinking we’re supposed to be engaged in.
and one extra! Time Management tip #4 : 80-20 and the power of impact thinking
Using the 80-20 rule, we can start to recognize that not all of what we do creates an equal amount of impact. 20% of what we do accounts for 80% of the impact. Often, there’s a temptation to aim for perfection. In some areas of our work, this perfection is healthy and even necessary but in other cases, it can be avoided and the impact on the final result hardly even noticed. So we need to be ruthless in our planning. What are we trying to achieve? Has someone else solved this problem before? Could we beg, borrow or steal?
This is an edited extract from How to be a Productivity Ninja. To read more buy the book
Left Wanting More?
Sign up for one of our How to Get Things Done Public Workshop – Next one is November 29th, 2013 in Calgary.
Book one of our How to Get Things Done sessions for your workplace
Ninja Productivity Character #1 – Zen-Like Calm
Subscribe to Think Productive’s free Time Management newsletters Click here to subscribe.