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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How I Stay Productive: Jim Hetherton

March 30, 2015

Productivity Ninja

The Think Productive blog offers different ideas on how you can increase your productivity on a daily basis, but we thought it would help to show you how our favourite Productivity Ninjas apply these tips to their daily lives.

JimJim Hetherton

Occupation: Ninja

Company: Think Productive

Location: Yorkshire

Other job titles in life: Husband, Father, Mentor, Coach, Teacher, Church Leader

What’s important about your workspace? 

Light, and with two work levels, one must be standing up! As sitting is the new smoking!

Which ninja characteristic have you got nailed the most?

Unorthodoxy and Stealth and Camouflage

Which ninja characteristic are you still working on the most?

Ruthlessness  -I’m still too nice with others.

Which apps could you not live without?

Balanced – Pacer – Dropbox – Tube Map

What’s your favourite piece of stationary?

Bic pen with 4 colours

When in the day do you have the most proactive attention?

Between 6 – 10am

What’s your trick for when you’re tired or struggling with attention in the day?


What’s your best advice for reducing stress?


What’s your email regime?

I process my emails three times a day.

What’s your favourite way to take a break in the middle of the day?

Stop, walk and eat real food.

What’s the secret to your productivity?

JFDI – Just flipping do it!

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How I Stay Productive: Graham Allcott

March 23, 2015

Productivity Ninja

The Think Productive blog offers different ideas on how you can increase your productivity on a daily basis, but we thought it would help to show you how our favourite productivity ninjas apply these tips to their daily lives.

GrahamShoot-7-2Graham Allcott

Occupation: CEO of Think Productive, Author

Company: Think Productive

Location: Brighton, UK

Other job titles in life: Trustee of Centrepoint (youth homelessness charity), father, son, husband, Villa fanatic

What’s important about your workspace?

Clear space and a nice view. My new home office space is surrounded by trees and birds. Being surrounded by nature or gazing out to sea are what inspire me most.

Which ninja characteristic have you got nailed the most?

I’d probably say Stealth and Camouflage. I spend a lot of time working on my own and disconnecting. Luckily I have the autonomy to do that.

Which ninja characteristic are you still working on the most?

I think I can improve on pretty much all of them (which you might think is an odd thing for me to say, given that I wrote them, but my philosophy is that no one ever ‘perfects’ productivity, so I believe we always have lots more to learn, as well as lots to teach) but being Ruthless with my choices is probably my weakness. I think everyone struggles with saying ‘No’, but I often have a pathological desire to help and add value. I don’t know why, I’ve just always been a bit like that.

Which five apps could you not live without?

Nozbe, Dropbox, Xero (for my company finances), Headspace, Runkeeper (I’m currently training for my second marathon!).

What’s your favourite piece of stationary?

My Dymo label-maker. When I get started with that thing, it’s my productivity porn moment of Weapon un-Savvyness.

When in the day do you have the most proactive attention?

Around 10am until around 12 noon. Hence why I try and work from home and solo at that time as much as possible.

What’s your trick for when you’re tired or struggling with attention in the day?

I know you’re expecting me to give some super-Ninja thing here, but I truly believe there are only two answers to this: 1. Save up things like email and easy tasks to do when your attention is waning (preferably on a list called something like ‘inactive attention’ or ‘mindless crap’), and 2. Have the mindfulness to take care of yourself in that moment, without beating yourself up about what you’re not doing or not able to do. That’s it.

What’s your best advice for reducing stress?

Well again, lowering expectations certainly helps! But the main habit that will reduce your stress (and increase your productivity) is to treat thinking as the important work it is, rather than as a luxury for when you’re “less busy”. There’s no substitute for weekly and daily Review periods, with a nice checklist for each so that you get into a good rhythm with it. When I miss a weekly review, I feel more stressed – until I catch up and run through that checklist again, and then all is well in the world.

What’s your email regime?

Since my productivity experiment of only processing email once a week (back in 2013), I’ve been setting aside time on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. In practice, this has had varying degrees of discipline and rigidity, and I also have an assistant screening email much more regularly, so we’re on top of the big stuff. But what it means for my own attention management and the expectations of others is that I don’t need to live in my inbox.

What’s your favourite way to take a break in the middle of the day?

Our office is five minutes from Brighton Beach. I have to say that we don’t make use of that as often as we should! I think getting a little bit of fresh air clears the head. I’m always jealous of the smokers: as an ex-smoker, I know they’re killing themselves with their filthy habit, but I also remember that all those enforced “five minute think” times were very grounding.

What’s the secret to your productivity?

I think about the efficiency of everything. I don’t know where this came from, but I’ve always had a weird thing where I can’t stand waste, so I’m constantly thinking “is this the easiest way to do this?”. It’s a blessing and a curse – at work it makes me productive, at home it makes me annoying, I’m sure!

The other thing that helps me with things like writing and starting businesses is that I’m pretty single-minded when I lay my eyes on something I want to do, which is a very important trait for writing, because writing ALWAYS has a tricky period in the middle of the process where you just want to give up, and of course the same is true for starting businesses.

And finally, of course, applying my nine ninja characteristics! Having written that book, there’s a constant sense that I need to live up to what a Productivity Ninja should be – so that creates its’ own pressure but is also very motivating. But of course, the final of those 9 characteristics is that a Productivity Ninja is a human being, not a superhero. Rest assured, I screw it all up regularly too, but that’s all part of what makes productivity such an interesting subject for me – we’re all on a journey, improving, one day at a time.

Follow Graham on twitter at @grahamallcott for more of his productivity expertise.

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Top 10 Ways To Stay Happy At Work

March 20, 2015

Productivity Ninja

We meet thousands of workers every year from a diverse range of different industries who, despite their differences, have one desire in common: they want to feel happier at work. Our ninja’s teach you how to be more effective, efficient and in control at work. The feedback from these workshops report a similar outcome: “your ninjas have taught me to feel happier at work, and improve my work-life balance.”

To celebrate the International Day of Happiness, which is taking place today, we thought we’d give you our 10 favourite tips on how to stay happy at work.

1. Decorate the office

Happy Office 6

Improve your office culture by creating a nice environment to work in. You spend a lot of time in there, you want it to feel good! Most people who come into our office love the stationary pick’n'mix (pictured above), but our office is also covered in fairy lights, pictures and posters, and has a mini zen garden.

2. Office Pets

Happy Office 5

Who doesn’t feel better after hanging out with a pet?! Admittedly, we can’t fit live pets in our office, but soft toys do the trick too.

3. Take regular breaks

Take regular breaks

You’ve all heard it before – and you’ve probably rolled your eyes at the thought whenever you’ve been particularly stressed. You have NO TIME for a break right? Wrong. Work doesn’t stop coming, but your attention can stop at any point. Step away from your desk, have a cuppa, breathe, recollect, then get back to it. You’ll feel better and more in control.

4. Meditate in the mornings

meditation google

Anyone who’s read our books, been to our workshops or follows our social media channels will know a lot about the great power of meditation when it comes to increasing productivity. Taking ten minutes out of your day to focus on what’s going on inside your head will help you to regain focus and control over your day – and, in turn, make you feel happier.

5. Review your projects weekly

Keep Calm - Weekly Review!

Taking time to reflect on where you are with your projects sounds a little daunting – especially if you’re concerned that you’re running behind – but reviewing your projects will make you feel more in control. You’ll be surprised at how much you’ve already done and you’ll have a better idea of where to focus your attention for the following week.

6. Leave your chocolate on your colleagues desk – with the instruction that they must eat it

Happy Office 2

Pippa left a little treat for her colleagues this morning… she felt good, we felt good, happiness was all around.

7. Label everything

Happy Office 3

Not only is labeling everything a great guidance for everyone in the office, it also looks great – Paula was particularly happy when more labels arrived today. (This goes back to number one too.)

8. Make a happiness board

Happy Office 4

Remind yourself of what makes you happy and pin it to the board! No, not the pinterest board – an actual board! Ours is in the ‘chill-out space’ in our office – with the kettle, the sofa and the zen garden.

9. Have an office mascot – and dress him/her up

Happy Office 1

Meet TP Sheepie, our office mascot. You may recognise him from all our social media channels – he enjoys a good selfie. His wardrobe is also arguably bigger than most of ours. Having an office mascot brings more fun to the office and provides good entertainment in lunch breaks.



If you’re not happy with your job role, find yourself another one! We know it’s easier said than done, but don’t get yourself trapped into the idea that you have to stay where you are.

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Productivity Ninja Tip: Taking a break – because you need it

March 19, 2015

Productivity Ninja

When you’re juggling a lot of different things, it’s difficult to justify a moment to sit down, close your eyes and just breathe. It’s easy to fool ourselves thinking that switching activities, from a full-time job to a hobby, for instance, is giving ourselves the break that we really need. You may be doing something different, but you’re still active and switched on. UK-based Productivity Ninja, Katy Bateson, exhausted herself a few weeks ago and was forced into taking a break – she’s since written about why rest is something we should do more of.


Sometimes we just need to stop, listen to our body and take action.

A few weeks ago, I traveled to Bristol to perform at the Bristol Improv Festival, which inevitably became a very busy weekend.

The morning after I got back, I just couldn’t get back into the swing of things. I felt tired but restless and unable to focus on anything. During the afternoon it became obvious that I was fighting off a cold. I had the sniffles, a head that felt like it was stuffed full of cotton wool and I was feeling very, very tired.

So I made the decision to take the rest of the afternoon off. I curled up on the settee with a blanket and listened to podcasts. And today, I’m still not feeling 100% but I’m sure that I’m feeling better than I would have done if I had carried on working.

I could have quite easily pushed on yesterday, forced myself to carry on working. I could have carried on working even though the quality of my work would have been poor. My attention levels were below even inactive (possibly at a dormant level of attention). So I wouldn’t have achieved anything by carrying on working.

But we’ve all been there, working when we’re not well. Battling through the day when what we really need to be doing is resting and letting our body recuperate.

When I used to work in an office I would feel incredibly guilty being off work unless I had sickness and/or diarrhoea, when being off ill would feel justified because I couldn’t physically get into work. I never felt that I was ill enough to justify being off and I hate to admit that I had been known to sit with a microwaveable beanie penguin held on my ear when I had earache.

I learned over time that I needed to take more care of myself and take time off work when I wasn’t well. I know how difficult this is with sickness monitoring policies in place that in my experience seemed to work for people who skived but not for people who were genuinely unwell. But we need to take care of our bodies and it takes a lot longer to get over being ill when you carry on as if everything is normal.

If you do have to go into work when you’re ill, here are a few tips that might help:

  1. Tell your colleagues that you’re under the weather so they understand why you’re not being as productive as you can
  2. Keep yourself well hydrated, drink lots of water
  3. Keep taking the cold and flu medication (it really does help!)
  4. Cancel plans for the evening, go home and get some rest
  5. Don’t put pressure on yourself by expecting to achieve what you would when you’re well

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Ninja Hayley’s Top 5 Productivity Tips

March 12, 2015

Productivity Ninja

HayleyOur productivity ninja, Hayley Watts, is running a ‘Stress Less Achieve More’ public workshop in London tomorrow, which our digital ninja Pippa will be attending, armed with her social media weapons to give you all a taster of the day. Before the mad rush, we asked Hayley to share her five top productivity tips.

1. Do the jobs that you have been putting off or don’t enjoy doing first thing.

You’ll feel like you’ve achieved loads and moved mountains. Sets you up for a productive day.

2. Lunch time? Get away from your desk.

End your lunch break with a brisk walk, giving you time to change your view, get the blood flowing and returning back to your desk ready to roll.

3. CC emails

If you really must CC people include a note in the mail explaining why eg Sarah: paragraph 2 might be useful info for project x etc. Most of the time you’ll realise you don’t need to send it to them. Ask people to do the same when CC ing you into emails.

4. Arrange a daily time with colleagues for you to catch up with each other

This saves email chains that can be replaced with a conversation and means that you don’t interrupt each other when you’re in the flow. Some good old fashioned talking with one another!

5. Go Dark

Disconnect and don’t be available for a period of time. This allows you to get your stuff done, without interruption from others.

Do you apply these tips to your work practices? What’s your top productivity tip?

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How To Be a Knowledge Ninja: The Digital Book Launch

March 10, 2015

Productivity Ninja

Grab a coffee, a slice of cake and a front row seat to the launch of productivity expert and Think Productive CEO/our boss, Graham Allcott’s latest book. Unlike traditional launches, where the author stands and talks about his book for a bit, thanks the relevant people, then leaves on a ‘buy the book’ note, we’ve decided to spice it up a bit and try something new. Tonight, the location of that front seat is your choice.

From 7.30pm, Graham will be talking to an audience at the Presuming Ed Coffee House in Brighton, as well as an audience in the likes of Australia, Canada, Benelux, USA, India, and anywhere else with an internet connection (almost everywhere, these days).

Graham Invite

For those of you unfamiliar with Graham’s work, he’s an expert in productivity, who’s already written two books about applying productivity techniques to the workplace. His last book, ‘How to be a Productivity Ninja’ was a number one best-seller and has since been referred to as an ‘essential’ read for those wanting a better work-life balance and sustainable success at work.

How to be a Knowledge Ninja is aimed towards anyone in a learning environment. It’s already a hit amongst student bloggers. Graham talks about tackling procrastination, exam stress and improving your learning capacity and writing ability.

How will it work?

The event will be hosted by successful youtuber, Leena from Just Kiss My Frog, who has an incredible 21,000 subscribers on her channel. Graham will spend a little time at the beginning talking about the process, inspiration and findings of the book.


It’s then over to you guys to ask a tonne of questions, which you can do via the official twitter hashtag #KnowledgeNinja. Although the book is specifically for students, Graham will be answering any productivity-related questions – he’d also happily to discuss his love of football, writing and running businesses if you wanted to get to know him a little more.


What’s a party without a bit of competition? Don’t worry though, we’re not going to go bragging that our party is better than yours, or tell you what amazing places we got our outfits from, we’re going to host a load of social media led competitions with lots of prizes up for grabs!


  • Best Tweet (Book)
  • Best Picture  (Book)
  • Best question (All 3 books)
  • Most engaged in the audience (Public workshop)
  • Most engaged online (Public workshop)
  • First five people to ask a question on twitter (Book)
  • Funniest tweet (Book)
  • Best instagram picture (Book)
  • Screenshot of book purchase goes into prize draw (Public workshop)
  • Anyone who shares the facebook status about the launch event *to be published at 6.30pm* gets put into a prize draw (5 books to win)

How it works

Simply use #KnowledgeNinja whenever you post any eligible content – with the exception of the facebook competition, for which you will automatically be placed into the prize draw.


If you’d like to join us in person, the London Road car park is close to Presuming Ed.

London Road Car Park

Want a real, physical, Brighton-based front row seat?

If you’re Brighton based and want to be sit amongst the buzz of conversation around the world, join us at Presuming Ed – the new coffeehouse on London Road. For us Brighton-based TPHQ folk, they’re the first choice of ‘stealth hangout’ outside the office when we need a change of scenery.


We’ll be opening the doors to you all at 7.15pm to give you time to grab your coffee and cake, find a seat and have a little natter before it starts just after 7.30pm.

If you fancy buying the book then and there, we’ll be selling How to be a Knowledge Ninja and a coffee for £10, and all three books and a coffee for £20.

Any questions? Comment below or tweet us, @thinkproductive!

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How Think Productive Australia Began

March 6, 2015

Productivity Ninja

Do you ever stand at a bookstore and wonder if any of the books could really change your life?

mattcowdryLinchpin by Seth Godin definitely had a strong impact on me. The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris also got me to think about things differently.

Then in June 2014, it happened…I bought “How to Be a Productivity Ninja” by Graham Allcott at Sydney airport.

Half way to Hong Kong I’d read up to chapter 4, which covers email management, and couldn’t wait any longer. I got out my laptop and set to work. By the end of the flight, my inbox was zero, my to do list was organised, I’d cleared my head of nagging thoughts and I felt great!

How to Be a Productivity Ninja is a great read and definitely life changing. This is how it changed mine.

I launched a business!

I found the book so insightful, down to earth, relevant, practical, and motivating, that I decided to approach the author about launching a business in Australia. The response was positive. Great news. Graham was interested in launching in Australia as he had already successfully launched in the USA, UK, Canada, and Benelux. Think Productive have a long list of clients around the world including eBay, Barclays, the Cabinet Office (UK), American Express, The National Trust, GlaxoSmithKline, Universities, and charities such as SecondBite (Aust).

This brings me to today… eight months have passed, I have left a great job behind and embarked on business ownership. Feeling pumped! Drawing on the collective knowledge of Think Productive globally we are now in the position to offer Australian businesses and individuals our no-nonsense, fun, Ninja approach to productivity and information overload. Our workshops range in duration from 90 minutes to full-day and cover emails, attention management, stress reduction and of course, developing “Ninja like” productivity.

Graham is visiting Australia in March and will be running public workshops.

Early Bird tickets are currently available and spaces are limited due to venue restrictions.

What books have changed your life?

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Why Curiosity Makes You Successful – And How Being Childish Will Get You There

March 5, 2015

Productivity Ninja

It’s often said that the role of learning is to grow – that by acquiring knowledge we somehow grow up, grow old or grow wise. But I actually don’t think this is true. When learning truly excites us, we might grow as a person, but actually we don’t grow up, old or wise. The more we learn, the more we become curious, childlike, and questing of mind, as we seek answers and begin to seek yet more questions.

But to be a Knowledge Ninja, curiosity is a wonderful thing. So here’s my invitation to you. At every stage of your learning and at every stage of your life, be curious. Be annoyingly curious. About everything. Because indeed every single thing that’s pushed the human race forward was born from curiosity. It was born not from a grown-up, sensible person who knew it all; it was born out of a childlike sense of wonder. In an age where the facts are at our fingertips (as soon as the exam is over!), the paradox of learning is this: only from working out what we don’t know do we learn new things.

Curiosity is an important trait of a genius. I don’t think you can find an intellectual giant who is not a curious person. Thomas Edison, Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, they are all curious characters. Richard Feynman was especially known for his adventures which came from his curiosity.

In the future, businesses and societies will reward the innovators, the entrepreneurs, the creatives – the people who ask a lot of questions and seek answers and solutions. It is precisely for this reason that you owe it to yourself to be devilishly curious and childish. Here’s a few ways you can do this:

1. Be comfortable with messy. Reject the perfection brainwashing from school and don’t be afraid to do things differently. ‘Good enough’ beats ‘perfect’ every time.

2. Don’t be afraid to experiment. If you don’t know how to do something, mess about. Play with ideas, try new things. If something doesn’t work, you can always tear it up and start again. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

3. Stand out, don’t blend in. Ignore your lizard brain. True, the old rules say creativity and difference are shame-inducing threats to the status quo. The new rules are that creativity and difference will become the status quo. The things that make you stand out are your gifts to the world and it’s your duty to share them.

4. Play. It’s one of the most childish things you can do, but some of the most sophisticated ideas in the world have come from playing freely – from beautiful designs to tech solutions to works of art. Muck around, play games, be weird, be silly.

5. Remember what it is you want to be when you grow up. This will remind you why you chose to learn – because it’s always a choice. Stay motivated by recalling what inspired you to start in the first place and the things you’re hoping for when you reach the finish line. But above all, enjoy the journey , and gaze out of the window often, because you never know what you might miss.

6. And finally, do one thing that we tend to not be so good at when we’re children: share. Share what you learn. Share what you do. Share what you love. Share your curiosities and your sense of wonder with the world. Who else is going to push the human race forward just that tiny bit more, if not you?

Read more about how curiosity can make you successful, along with other productivity techniques, in Graham’s latest book, ‘How To Be A Knowledge Ninja‘, available to buy now.

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