In our ‘How I Stay Productive’ interview series, we chat to people who have implemented Productivity Ninja habits and 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 talk to one of Think Productive North America’s Canadian Productivity Ninjas, Nick Aiello.
Occupation: Productivity Ninja
Company: Think Productive North America
Location: Toronto, Canada
Other job titles in life: Facilitator, Keynote Speaker, Beer Sommelier, Mall Santa Claus (Seriously!)
What’s important about your workspace?
Background Music. I like working to piano jazz or classical. I need some natural light and ideally a window for some fresh air.
Which ninja characteristic have you got nailed the most?
Unorthodoxy. A long time ago, I was taught the “Lens Game”. This method says that whenever you are stuck on a task, or just trying to get a different result, look at things through someone else’s eyes or lens. How would a millionaire approach this? How about a college student? What would Walt Disney do in this situation? I use this method all the time and it always provides some out-of-the-box thinking.
Which ninja characteristic are you still working on the most?
Mindfulness. This has been a goal of mine for a while, and it’s getting better. I was always too much in my head. My big breakthrough was realizing mindfulness is not about having no thoughts, it’s about being aware of the thoughts you are having.
Which five apps could you not live without?
From a Ninja / Productivity perspective: Evernote and Todoist are the two I’m diving into and trying to master.
For personal use: The Podcasts App, Google Maps for directions and Duolingo so I can (re)learn French and Italian.
What’s your favorite piece of stationery?
After delivering a year-long leadership training program, my client gifted me a portfolio. That’s where my day-planner and calendar live. It’s quite special to me.
I love writing in a soft-tip black ink gel pen. Also, I’m a big highlighter guy, preferably green. I feel like green helps me remember better.
When in the day do you have the most proactive attention?
I’m a nighthawk. Years of theater training and running restaurants have programmed me this way. So, I have weird peak times. 10-11am, 1:30pm -3:30pm, then again from 9pm until midnight.
What’s your trick for when you’re tired or struggling with attention in the day?
Shake it out! A good stand and stretch. Getting some fresh air.
What’s your best advice for reducing stress?
1) I have an audiotape for muscle-relaxation, it’s phenomenal.
2) A “Happy Mix” playlist.
3) I’m a big hugger.
What’s your email regime?
I try to limit how often I check email to 4 specific times a day, 5 max. Batch tasking is essential and of course maintaining Inbox Zero.
Learning Inbox to Zero was eye-opening, implementing it changed my life.
What’s your favorite way to take a break in the middle of the day?
I love cooking, so going to the market or doing some meal prep.
What’s the secret to your productivity?
Keeping a work hard – play hard mentality.
Remembering that getting work done now, means free time later to spend with my family and friends.
Want to find out more about Nick and the rest of the Think Productive North America team? Get in touch with them here.