Extreme Productivity Experiment: 60 Minutes

May 21, 2015

Productivity Ninja

Graham conducted a series of extreme productivity experiments in 2013 in his quest to find new ways of how he works, test the parameters of “productivity” and explore the idea of the “work/life balance”. Two years on,  Graham sat down to reflect on what he learnt from each experiment and how it’s changed the way he works now.

So far, Graham has been managing his extreme productivity experiments quite well – with Email Fridays in January, and The Diceman in February. However, March provided a completely new challenge that was probably as extreme as it could get. Graham would change the notion of the 9-5 / 5 day week and instead work just one hour for 7 days a week.

This week, Graham looks in-depth into his experiment – looking at how working a one hour day for 7 days a week pushed not only his work habits out their comfort zone, but had an effect on his personal life too.

‘It was surprising how much I was able to keep on top of things during the month. Only working one hour a day made me much more clear cut and ruthless in my decisions, knowing that I had to make a decision or I wouldn’t be able to come back to it till tomorrow.’

We hope you feel inspired by Grahams recap of his extreme productivity experiment! Check back next Thursday to hear all about April’s experiment: Pay attention.

You can read the original 60 minutes entry here:  http://thinkproductive.co.uk/back-to-work-back-to-reality/.

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How Doing 15 Minutes Exercise Improves Your Brain Power

May 19, 2015

Productivity Ninja

Regular exercise improves mental performance. One of the reasons for this is because exercising releases a protein in the brain called ‘brain-derived neurotrophic factor’ (BDNF for short) which is know to promote healthy nerve cells in the brain. Studies into BDNF have found clear links between high levels of BDNF and improved memory and recall.

Fifteen to twenty minutes is all you need to make a difference: a quick run or cycle, lifting a few weights or an aerobic workout in front of a DVD. As well as improving memory and recall, a study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine also found remarkable changes in heat maps of the brain, showing a huge jump in the level of brain activity after even such a small period of physical warm up.

A Productivity Ninja doesn’t need hours and hours down the gym or be running marathons (both of which our head ninja, Graham, can vouch for as extremely pleasurable activities, but ones that can be difficult to fit sustainably into a busy routine). It will almost feel like cheating, but doing ‘just enough’ exercise can actually be all you need.

Improve Brain Power With Regular Exercise

Need more tips like this? Read ‘How to be a Productivity Ninja’ by Graham Allcott or attend one of our workshops.

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FREE EBOOK: How Thinking About Sex Can Help You Write Your Essays

May 18, 2015

Productivity Ninja

One of the biggest challenges as a student is mastering the art of writing the perfect essay. Graham Allcott has found the secret that all students in universities, colleges and schools want to hear – when you’re writing your essays, articles or even dissertations: think about sex.

Find out more in Graham’s free ebook – which you can find by clicking on the image below or following this link.

You’ll learn that the best way to start an essay is by not writing anything at all, and how Ninja Preparedness can save countless headaches further down the track. He reminds us that the best essays are those where our personalities shine through, and shares his Ninja cheats.

Need expert tips on writing a last minute essay? Look no further.

Thinking_About_Sex Cover

This ebook is an extract from Graham’s latest book ‘How to be a Knowledge Ninja’, which gives you more tips on how to study smarter, focus better and achieve more. You can buy it by following this link – and find more study resources on our Knowledge Ninja site.

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Extreme Productivity Experiments: The Diceman

May 14, 2015

Productivity Ninja

Graham conducted a series of extreme productivity experiments in 2013 in his quest to find new ways of how he works, and test the parameters of “productivity” and explore the idea of the “work/life balance”. Two years on, Graham will spend every Thursday for the next twelve weeks reflecting on what he learned from each extreme productivity experiment and how it’s changed the way he works now.

Following on from his January experiment of Email Fridays, February brought round the idea of ‘The Diceman’. Influenced by the Luke Rhinehart book series of the same name, Graham would decide all of his decisions for the month by the roll of a dice, if there was something which had more than one possible outcome, the dice would decide the result.

This week, Graham looks in-depth into his experiment – looking at what he learnt and felt as he took the diceman challenge and how it has influenced his life since.

‘We have this great issue around decision making, and I think it can be a barrier to productivity’ Graham explains when talking about his experience ‘So much of the way we think about things, is really engrained in us. We think that we only have one or two options – but in reality we have lots of different options we could make’.

We hope you feel inspired by Grahams recap of his extreme productivity experiment! Check back next Thursday to hear all about March’s experiment: The One Hour Working Day.

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Think Productive Steps Up To Walk To Work Challenge

Productivity Ninja

As part of National Walking Month, the 11th – 15th May has marked Walk To Work Week – an opportunity for employees across the UK to make walking part of their daily commute. Everyone here at TPHQ has swapped their usual commute for a cheaper and healthier option this week, by travelling all or some of their journey to work on foot.

Walking for just half an hour each day can transform your fitness levels, reduce stress, and vastly improve your concentration levels for the day ahead. With stress being the biggest cause of work place absence, a walk to and from work or a lunchtime stroll can make all the difference to employee wellbeing. Physically active employees are also less likely to suffer from major health problems, less likely to take sickness leave and less likely to have an accident at work.

When you take a step, you are using up

Even for those of us at the office that live too far away to walk to work, we have still been finding ways to make sure all of us can take part! We make sure that we go for a daily stroll from the office at lunchtime – which is made even better when the sun is shining bright along the seafront of course!

So with just a few days left of the week to go – we challenge you to step up and get walking – it’s easier than you think!

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The Growth Of Think Productive Canada, So Far

May 13, 2015

Productivity Ninja

Graham Allcott has left the Think Productive Headquarters by the sea in Brighton, UK, and flown over to Canada to see the productivity ninjas out there. For those of you who are new to Think Productive, we’ve had a base in Canada for over two years, run by Dawn O’Connor – who had been training for 12 years prior to hearing about Graham and his productivity ninjas.

We, the digital ninjas, had a chat with Dawn as she awaits Graham’s arrival, to give you all an even bigger insight to who she is, why she decided to set up Think Productive Canada, and how the last two and a half years have been for her.

Think Productive Canada DirectorHow did you develop an interest in productivity?

It came from feeling personally disorganized and needing to get my own home in order.  I watched an Oprah show and saw Julie Morgenstern talk about her book ‘Organizing from the Inside Out’.  I bought it and applied all the ideas.  This inspired me to start an Organizing business, which became very successful, and was eventually sold to one of my staff. After that, I began consulting on Productivity in offices to build on my training background from 10 years in corporate Learning and Development. I did that for a total of 12 years before Think Productive.

How did you first hear about Graham and Think Productive?

I was researching productivity training companies who were looking for expansion to Canada, and came across Think Productive. I started to keep an eye on them because the workshops and brand really appealed to me and seemed like something I could introduce to the Calgary market. I followed Think Productive for about two years – finding all the ninjas on Linked In and Facebook – before reaching out to Graham and asking if I could help grow the company in Canada.

Why did you decide to set up Think Productive in Canada?

I was looking for workshop material to meet the demands of my clients and I didn’t feel I had the time or skill to develop a full suite of workshops.  I had fallen in love with the Ninjas (secret obsession with office supplies), and so began the journey to Ninjafy Canada.

What makes Think Productive different to other productivity companies in Canada?

We really focus on our niche, specializing in sharing skills and in-depth knowledge related to productivity. The Ninja theme.  We’re hands on and practical – ninjas rather than trainers

What have been your greatest highlights of the last few years?

Tough question! There have been so many, but there are four that particularly stand out.

1. Working at Gates foundation and supporting an organization who makes so much good happen in the world.
2. Taking trips to the UK to play with other Ninjas where I learn that client pain points are universal and our solutions apply equally in Russia as in Calgary.
3. Recruiting Tracy to run the US and having someone close by to collaborate with.
4. Hosting the first International Ninja Bootcamp in Calgary – attended by 3 Ozzies, 2 US, 4 Canadians and 2 Brits.  So much fun.

If you’re based in Canada and would like to enquire about workshops, email hello@thinkproductive.ca. You can also follow TP Canada on twitter, @ThinkProdCanada

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Extreme Productivity Experiments: Email Fridays

May 7, 2015

Productivity Ninja

Graham conducted a series of extreme productivity experiments in 2013 in his quest to find new ways of how he works, and test the parameters of “productivity” and explore the idea of the “work/life balance”. Two years on, Graham will spend every Thursday for the next twelve weeks reflecting on what he learned from each extreme productivity experiment and how it’s changed the way he works now.

The first experiment was ‘Email Fridays’, where Graham only checked his emails on a Friday, using different methods of communication through the week. This was a flip on the idea of ‘No Email Friday’, which was the reaction of most companies to email overload, where they encouraged their employees to focus on collaboration and face-to-face communication by ignoring their emails on Friday.

Great things happen when you step away (1)

“What if you only checked your email between 9 and 5 on a Friday and didn’t check it at all through the week?” Graham explains that he tried to prove that ”great things happen when you step away from the inbox” and further experiment his idea that most of your email is low-value noise.

Graham had also discussed in How to be a Productivity Ninja about how connectivity can be great for getting decisions quickly but can create a constant distraction. “If I was able to take away the distraction, how would I work?”

In this video, he talked about the surprises of the experiment, recalling that Thursday nights felt like Christmas eve. He also discusses what could have gone wrong, how he dealt with the lack of connectivity and how it’s shaped how he works.

Feeling overloaded by your emails? Learn the secrets of inbox zero with our ‘Getting Your Inbox Down to Zero‘ workshops, or Graham’s latest ebook.

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Did Procrastination Nearly Kill Harry Potter?

April 27, 2015

Productivity Ninja


Productivity Ninjas focus by practising monotasking. Staying focused means staying focused on ONE THING, until that thing has reached a conclusion. This single thing, when we coach business leaders, is one of the biggest light bulb moments for a lot of people. And while it sounds so simple, it’s harder to do than we think. It’s also incredibly powerful from a ‘user experience’ perspective.

How did JK Rowling achieve her success? She sat in a coffee shop, thinking only of one imaginary world, for hours and days and weeks at a time. She monotasked. The same will be said for almost everyone whose work you admire or respect. Be thankful that JK Rowling was not sat in a coffee shop sending Whataspp messages or checking her facebook status every five minutes, while also trying to do some freelance graphic design work and learn French from a Youtube channel, because she probably wouldn’t have finished the first book yet.

Want to learn the secrets of managing your attention like JK Rowling did? You should do our ‘Stress Less, Achieve More’ productivity workshop, which is available to organisations and individuals. Or, buy Graham’s book, ‘How to be a Productivity Ninja’

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Sitting Is The New Smoking

April 10, 2015

Productivity Ninja

How sedentary are we? In a typical day we spent on average between 7 and 8 hours sleeping, sitting at work 7 ½ to 9 hours, leisure time anywhere between 1 ½ and 4 hours versus active about 3 hours.

This sitting epidemic is wreaking havoc on our health, even daily exercise is not enough to counteract excessive sitting. Key fat burners shut off the minute we sit. Every two hours spent just sitting reduces blood flow, raises blood sugar and drops good cholesterol levels by 20%.

Health experts are now describing sitting as ‘the new smoking’, a ticking time bomb of ill health just waiting to explode. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) cost to the UK economy of more than £1bn every year in sick days due to back, neck and muscle problems and that figure is still rising. Compelling research has also found that those who sit for eight hours a day are twice more likely than those sitting for under four hours to have cardiovascular disease.

In 2010, a study by the American Cancer Society found that women who sat more than six hours a day were 37% more likely to die prematurely than women who sat for less than three hours. This rate is 18% higher for men.

 Sitting Is The New Smoking

Campaign group Get Britain Standing aims to get the nation back on its feet and help turn back the rising tide of ill health that is caused by spending too much time sitting down. They’ve organised national ‘On Your Feet Britain‘ day on 24th April with their official charity partner British Heart Foundation. Offices across the country will take part in a day challenge that focuses on people looking after themselves more at work.

Everyone in the office who wants to get involved donates £2 to British Heart Foundation and agrees on a series of challenges that they must all meet in the day. The official ‘On Your Feet Britain’ challenge page, suggested the following ideas…

  • Run a lunchtime fitness workshop for the office.
  • An alert will sound at random times and everyone must stand up when it does. A fine for those caught napping.
  • Take regular breaks from your computer, stand up, stretch and walk around the office. Ignore the bemused looks.
  • Make phone calls standing up.
  • Use the stairs.
  • Have standing or walking meetings.
  • Have one less chair than people at meetings.
  • Get everyone to move around with each new agenda item.
  • Ban internal emails. Everyone must walk to colleagues to discuss work. Be prepared that some people may have aged – depending on how long you’ve left it.
  • Organise a lunchtime walk. Walk to work, or get off a few stops earlier and walk the rest of the way.

The Remedy: Sit less. Stand more. Start now.

Written by Jim Hetherton

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Get Your Essays Done With Microgoals (Video)

April 1, 2015

Productivity Ninja

Having trouble getting that essay started? Are you feeling paralysed by procrastination? Then fear no more, as Graham Allcott has some tricks up his sleeve to share with you that may just save your day!

Over the next few weeks, every Wednesday at 3pm, Graham will be revealing another anti-procrastination strategy designed to help give you and your work that boost it needs to get started. From Microgoals to Lizard Brains, Pomodoros to Dopamine – Graham will be giving out his 20 top tips for getting started.

For the first video, Graham explains why setting microgoals will help you to be more productive in your working day. He talks about the benefits of breaking a big project down into smaller goals, through explaining what happens in your brain when you achieve a goal.

Keep track of our tips by subscribing to our youtube channel or liking our facebook page.

Can’t wait for the next weekly tip? Read all about procrastination strategies and other productivity techniques, in Graham’s latest book, ‘How To Be A Knowledge Ninja‘, available to buy now.

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