There are 9 different characteristics to being a Productivity Ninja, ranging from agility to ruthlessness. Being productive – and staying sane – requires you to find balance within these characteristics. One of our London-based Productivity Ninjas, Hayley Watts, has written a post on her favourite characteristic, Stealth and Camouflage, to give you some ideas on how you can use the skill of hiding to be more productive.
One of my favourite characteristics of a Productivity Ninja has to be Stealth and Camouflage. It’s essentially the art of tactical hiding. Hiding, that is, from interruptions. Interruptions such as other people, social media and alerts that means our attention wavers.
I like it because it gives me focus. Focus to get the stuff done that will make the most impact. It helps to give me a sense that my work is moving in the right direction. I like it because it can involve being creative, coming up with a different solution and that appeals to me as well.
For me, one of the things about Stealth and Camouflage is that it needs to be used wisely. It’s a tool to protect your attention at those times when that attention and focus is at it’s best. It means that you can get in the flow or into the zone and really get some of your best work done. Or perhaps read a chapter of your favourite book, or even just have some time to yourself to reflect on where your life is at.
There are different types of Stealth and Camouflage. The type that is about not being available to other people, to chat, to be interrupted. The other is walking away from digital communications to get stuff done. I’m not at all suggesting that you would want to use Stealth and Camouflage all day everyday. It’s a tool to be used daily for sure, for big chunks of time to get important work done, perhaps also for breaks, or ways to get a 10 minute meditation into a busy day.
Turning off your email and phone notifications might seem strange, unnatural even. But I think it’s the route to retaining your sanity in today’s we want it now culture (which doesn’t mean you should provide it now). I challenge you to give it a try. Even if it’s just for 2 hours at a time.
I wanted to provide here some ideas, things I have tried, things that my clients have tried, to inspire you, and to encourage you to share ideas that have helped you do some tactical hiding.
The most obvious is perhaps working from home. Something that I do often and it really works for me. Not so much for my partner who can tell I’ve been on my own all day from the constant chatter the moment he walks through the door! Try it. Just 1 day a week can make a difference and give you some really good focused and attention time.
Some offices have a quiet space, for just this purpose. Some include an agreement that there is no chatting in this area or that calls are to be taken elsewhere. A space where interruptions are simply not accepted. One of my clients has introduced ‘talking time,’ a daily time in the office where it’s encouraged to talk to one another with an expectation that anything non urgent can wait till talk time.
This reduces not just interruptions, but internal email too. On the flip side, when people are working on something they don’t want to be interrupted from, they wear their Mickey Mouse ears. A clear sign to colleagues that they are in the zone and not to be disturbed.
These aren’t options for everyone, but Libraries and coffee shops can also provide a healthy dose of Stealth and Camouflage. People don’t know who you are, so they won’t be interrupting you to ask if you have read their email yet. It worked for JK Rowling, and she produced some pretty amazing work. I’ve recently been spending time in London between workshops and meetings and have found that some of London’s hotels have bars and lounge areas are frequently less busy than your average coffee chain, these are perfect for getting some stuff done and not being interrupted.
Clients have shared with me some of the great places they go to for their Stealth and Camouflage, which have included the roof, the park, an empty meeting room, and even sitting in their car to get away from it all.
There is plenty of evidence to support that regular meditation can help concentration, focus and well being. But it’s rarely possible to meditate in an office. Easy in the summer to pop to the park for some well deserved peace and quiet. But in the winter? Try the church? Nice architecture, certainly quiet and you wont be disturbed.
If you’ve not yet tried Stealth and Camouflage I encourage you to give it ago. And if you are already a convert it would be great to hear the creative ways in which you have managed to get yourself some uninterrupted time to do your best work, to meditate or just enjoy your lunch in peace.