Productivity Ninja Preparedness underpins and strengthens so many of our other Ninja skills and characteristics. It’s all about practical preparedness, through using the right tools, planning and getting organized; as well as mental preparedness. Practicing Ninja Preparedness will mean you’re always prepared to tackle whatever comes your way. And let’s face it – life is unpredictable and so is work from time to time, so being able to rise above the chaos and keeping a cool head could be one of the most crucial skills in today’s world.
1. Planning & Preparation
We want to replace constant firefighting and confusion with a purposeful structure and plan. Being able to do your best work requires planning, preparation and having a deliberate setup. Before diving straight into the various projects you’re working on, make sure you take the time to look at the bigger picture, collect ideas and organize your thoughts.
2. Make sure you have the right tools
To truly embrace Productivity Ninja preparedness, you need the right tools. Set up and refine your workspace with the kit that you need (physical and digital), whether that’s for your fixed desk, your home office or in your travel bag. Once you’ve got all your tools setup and organized, make sure you get to know them as much as possible. A lot of people tend to spend a considerable amount of time on choosing their tools, such as their second brain platform, which is understandable knowing how many options there are, but this leaves only a fraction of the time for getting acquainted with your tools. Once you’ve made your choices, make sure you spend time on really getting to know the ins and outs of the platforms. Become an expert on your chosen tools, so you can streamline, simplify and automate as much as possible.
This also applies to your email management, by the way. Yes, we all know how to send and receive emails, we do it oh so often every day, but there are so many hidden (and not so hidden) functionalities within Outlook, Gmail, etc. Really get to know your system and you’ll end up saving yourself so much time in the long-run.
3. Reflect & Redesign
Things go wrong and that’s absolutely fine. Remember, you’re human. You are a Productivity Ninja, but not a superhero. Instead of throwing in the towel when things go wrong – debrief, reflect and redesign. It’s OK to make a mistake once, but let’s make sure you’re all set up to protect yourself against the same mistake happening twice. Include a ‘debrief, reflect and redesign’ section in your Weekly Review Checklist, where you look at what went well and what didn’t go well. That way, you can trust that as long as you’re sticking to your weekly review schedule, you’ll be prepared for whatever life and managers will throw at you.
4. Put a boot-up routine in place
Start your day with a well-established boot-up routine. Getting into the office and checking your emails first thing, isn’t really what we had in mind here. Try and pick the best combination for your productivity and wellbeing. Here are some options to choose from:
– Start with some quiet time. A lot of research has gone into the positive effects of having some quiet time each morning. Whether that’s reading, meditating or yoga.
– Get your worst task out of the way. Look at the day ahead and pick the task you’re least looking forward to. By getting it out of the way, the rest of the day suddenly seems so much more manageable.
– Catch up with your team. Hold a team huddle first thing in the morning to get everyone motivated and set for the day ahead. Here’s how our Think Productive HQ team runs the daily huddle.
– Do a mini review. Have a daily checklist which lets you review what’s current, what’s a priority, your deliverables, dependencies or potential pitfalls.
5. It’s all about taking breaks
Preparedness isn’t just planning and organizing, but also resisting and regrouping. We can have lots of top-notch systems in place but if we don’t allow ourselves periods of rest, our bodies, minds and productivity will suffer. Listen to your body – if you keep getting distracted, or keep flitting between tasks, go for a walk. Some fresh air will be so much more beneficial to your productivity and creativity than mindlessly scrolling through social media ever will.
Don’t just wait until your body tells you it’s time to stop. Work will never stop, so actively plan in time to recharge. That includes taking several breaks throughout the day, using the Pomodoro Technique, regular lunch breaks away from your desk, or using up your annual leave.
By Hannah Urbanek
Hannah is Think Productive UK’s Head of Outreach and the voice behind much of our global social media and editorial content. You can connect with Think Productive North America directly here or with Barbara Green, our President, on LinkedIn.