How I Stay Productive: Nancy Smith
In our ‘How I Stay Productive’ interview series, we chat to people who have implemented Productivity Ninja skills in their work and personal life. From time to time we chat to time management training participants, but this time, we’ve had the pleasure to hear some productivity secrets from Think Productive North America’s Calgary-based Ninja, and Social Media Marketing Expert, Nancy.
Occupation: Social Media Marketing Strategist
Company: Think Productive North America
Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Other Job Titles in Life: University Instructor, Professional Speaker, Author of Social Citizens: A Positive Approach to Social Media & Parenting in a Digital World, Mom, Basketball Team Manager and School Council President, Beagle lover.
What’s important about your workspace?
Natural light. I swear I am solar powered! Did you know that Calgary is the sunniest place in Canada and averages 2400 hours and 333 days of sunshine per year? This is one of the many reasons I love to call Calgary my home.
Which ninja characteristic have you got nailed the most?
Weapon-savvy! As a social media expert, I stay current on all new apps and online technology. I am very comfortable using technology and have a passion for helping others embrace how it can help be more efficient and effective.
Which ninja characteristic are you still working on the most?
Stealth and camouflage. As a “solopreneur” I work from my home so I have some unique challenges in that I don’t have anyone I can delegate tasks to. I aim to hire a virtual assistant and a bookkeeper to help me with some admin tasks!
Which five apps could you not live without?
- Evernote – I use this as my “second brain”. I love the ability to collect website links, articles, and everything else I need and be able to access it online via my smartphone and my laptop seamlessly.
- Facebook – to stay connected with friends & family
- Twitter – to keep up to date on news and my network
- Google Play Music – for listening to music & podcasts. I LOVE podcasts, and listen to them frequently.
- Team Snap – a team management app I use to keep up to date on my son’s basketball practices, games and tournaments
What’s your favorite piece of stationery?
I like a paper planner. My favorite has a cult-like following; it is called the Erin Condren Life Planner. I am super particular with what I like about my planner, for example, the format must be a vertical weekly layout and it has to start with Monday as the first day of each week. My paper planner addiction dates from my very first “Filofax” purchase when I was a teenager.
When in the day do you have the most proactive attention?
My peak time for productivity is between 9 am and noon. I do my best not to schedule any meetings or appointments during this time so I can maximize my focus and attention.
What’s your trick for when you’re tired or struggling with attention in the day?
I use a timer and set it for 25 minutes and focus on one task. This is a time management technique developed by Francisco Cirillo called the Pomodoro Technique. Once the timer is done I take a break and get up, walk away from my desk and do something non-work related (and not on my phone or computer) for 5 minutes. I am always amazed at how much I can accomplish in that 25 minute period!
What’s your best advice for reducing stress?
Always make time for things that make you happy. No matter how busy I am, I know that a short walk outside with my beagle, Ivy is good for reducing stress. The walk allows me to clear my head, get some fresh air and some exercise too. I am fortunate to live close to the Rocky Mountains and have amazing walking trails with easy access from my home that I love to explore with her.
What’s your email regime?
Like many I operate a strict discipline around email. I check email 4 times per day, once as I get started work in the morning, mid morning, mid afternoon and at the end of my work day. And I used to have a terrible habit of responding as soon as any email arrived. This derails any project or task I work on and disrupts my flow. To manage this I turn off all notifications and the habit of no longer “check email”, instead processing email at set times.
What’s your favorite way to take a break in the middle of the day?
I love a good nap. I only need 20 minutes for a power nap, but does it ever make a difference in my energy and mood!
What’s the secret to your productivity?
I used to think that time management was what I needed to improve. However, Graham Allcott’s ‘How to be a Productivity Ninja’ book changed my mindset about this. The new key to productivity is attention management. I am working on protecting and managing my attention to the best of my ability for my optimal productivity.
Are you keen to find out more about the Think Productive North America team ? Get in touch with them through the contact page.