Next up in our ‘How I Stay Productive’ series is Think Productive Australia’s new Productivity Ninja, Julie Jones. Julie tells us about her Productivity Ninja skills and the importance of unplugging and taking breaks.
Occupation: Productivity Ninja (and small business owner)
Company: Think Productive
Location: Central Coast, NSW, Australia
Other job titles in life: Business Owner, General Manager, Marketing Manager, Brand Manager, Market Research Manager, Applied Research Scientist
What’s important about your workspace?
For me, my workspace must be organized and inspiring. I know they say chaos is a sign of creativity but for me the clutter becomes overwhelming. I’m more efficient and creative with loads of quirky and thoughtful things on my desk – I currently have sharks’ teeth and shells (from my recent adventure shark diving in Fiji), inspirational quote cards and books (including a pile of How to be a Productivity Ninja), creativity spark cards, my glass light bulb with flowers inside, pots of colorful pens, and of course, my daily sticky note with my priorities on it! I also love handwriting so a journal and a weekly planner are also always at hand.
Which ninja characteristic have you got nailed the most?
I’m not sure I’ve nailed any yet! Which have I nailed the most, I would have to say, probably agility. I am able to move well between tasks and ensure I prioritize to achieve results. BUT, I have learned to stop multi-tasking and remain focused on one thing at a time, such an important ninja trait! Mono-tasking.
Which ninja characteristic are you still working on the most?
Weapon-savvy – once I’ve cracked this one it will mean I can get better at zen-like calm….
Which five apps could you not live without?
- Wunderlist – my 2nd brain (newly discovered and loving it)
- LinkedIn – networking and keeping up with industry trends
- Mindvalley – for mindfulness and meditation
- Blinkist – awesome for speed reading loads of books and learning and exploring new themes and ideas
- Facebook – sorry, love to keep connected to my tribe 🙂
What’s your favorite piece of stationery?
My kikki k desk diary, at a glance, I can see the weeks ahead and I make a real effort to always have cool fun stuff mapped as well as work events/appointments. I use highlighters to make things really pop too.
When in the day do you have the most proactive attention?
First thing in the morning, usually really early around 7 am. The early bird does catch the worm!
What’s your trick for when you’re tired or struggling with attention in the day?
I focus on getting just one thing done that I can’t NOT do that day and then re-prioritize everything else that can be. Most of us don’t work in life or death type roles and if we don’t get to it that precise moment, it really won’t be the end of the world. I do like to push myself if I can to do that one thing though, so I finish with a sense of achievement.
What’s your best advice for reducing stress?
OK, here’s where it gets personal. I’ve had 2 brushes with cancer and it’s not fun, I can tell you. I truly believe that for the last 20 odd years, my career focus on being driven and action-oriented, led to my illnesses (amongst other things). I was always putting myself under pressure to achieve and to support my family, causing huge personal stress and I didn’t take enough time to stop and smell the roses, always believing that I had to do everything, be everything to everyone, until I got sick…. If you don’t listen to your body, take time out to breathe and check in with yourself, and change the things that aren’t working for you, your body will eventually make you STOP! Simple breathing exercises and mindful moments are key. I have an alarm on my phone twice a day at 10 am and 2 pm, that prompts me to be mindful – it just pops up “Mindfulness Check In” and it make me stop and think…. “How am I doing right now?”
What’s your email regime?
Umm, this is one I’m still working on, as a new Productivity Ninja, I still have lots to learn and will come back to you on this one….
What’s your favorite way to take a break in the middle of the day?
I currently work from home and I live near the beach, so my favorite is to go for a walk with my dog at the beach, being out in nature is such a great way to balance the day and feels like such a reward. If I don’t have time for a beach walk, then a stroll around the garden or if I’m in the city I find a park. You can even do this with a pot plant in the office or a flower arrangement. Stand quietly and capture that childlike awe you used to have and appreciate the beauty of a leaf, a flower, or the crazy antics of a bug!
What’s the secret to your productivity?
Go with your energy, if you can listen to your body and mind and ensure you’re driving forward when you have the right energy and resting when you don’t, you will achieve far more than pushing yourself when you feel crappy! Create moments each day to tackle the hard stuff and have fun with the easy stuff. I also make a little time each day for what I call, an everyday adventure! Go on a quest to find something new, drive or walk to work a different way, read something amazing, watch a TED Talk on something you know nothing about. A little adventure every day keeps me positive, energized and excited about life!
By Hannah Urbanek
Hannah is Think Productive’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 on LinkedIn.
Before You Go…
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Productivity Ninja skills?