How I Stay Productive: Peter Stark, Eden Springs

July 27, 2015

Productivity Ninja

This regular feature shares the secrets of the most highly efficient Productivity Ninjas. In this post, we spoke to the Marketing Manager of Eden Springs, Peter Stark, whose advanced time management skills and awareness of his whole team’s proactive attention levels are making him both a great Productivity Ninja and a great leader.

peter stark

About Peter Stark

Occupation: Marketing Manager

Company: Eden Springs – a leading supplier of eco-friendly coffee machines and water coolers to businesses throughout the UK

Location: Blantyre, Scotland

Other job titles in life: Franchise and Marketing Manager at S:CRAFT, Group Marketing Manager at Crewsaver and Cosalt International Ltd

What’s important about your workspace?

Organisation. I’m a firm believer that a tidy office equates to a tidy mind – so if my workspace is in order, I can manage my day more efficiently.

Which ninja characteristic have you got nailed the most?

Time management. I’m quite good at keeping everything organised and working to a strict schedule.

Which ninja characteristic are you still working on the most?

Self-criticism. I’m always wondering if I’ve been productive enough or if I could’ve done more.

Which five apps could you not live without?

Twitter, BBC News, WhatsApp, Skype and Toggl

What’s your favourite piece of stationary?

I take a lot of notes so I can’t live without a notepad and pen!

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

Both me and my team seem to be more alert before lunchtime, so I organise our days accordingly – with the more important jobs taking precedence. When I first arrive in the office I make sure my schedule for the day is in order, check my emails and make sure my team are set up for a productive day.

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

I always start the day with plenty of water to wake me up – but if I start to struggle, a strong coffee or going out for some fresh air helps me stay alert.

What’s your best advice for reducing stress?

While working longer hours is sometimes unavoidable, I find that keeping overtime to a minimum helps to reduce my stress levels. Where possible, I try to complete work within regular office hours to avoid work life spilling over into my personal life.

What’s your email regime?

My email account is open throughout the working day and I check my inbox about once every hour. That way, I can respond to any urgent requests in a timely manner and leave less important tasks until later in the day.

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

Regular breaks are a must if you want to stay productive – and in the middle of the day I break for lunch and make sure I leave the office and get some fresh air.

What’s the secret to your productivity?

I try to deal with one task at a time and focus my attention on that. At the start of each day, I plan my work for the day and the time I expect it to take – and this helps me stay on track throughout the day.

about_us

Huge THANK YOU to Eden Springs for naming us as number 2 out of the ’50 motivational twitter accounts that every manager should be following.

For more ideas on how to incorporate productivity techniques into your daily routine, see our entire ‘How I Stay Productive’ series here. 

Or read the most popular posts from the series…

Graham Allcott, CEO of Think Productive

Jim Hetherton, Productivity Ninja at Think Productive

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Unorthodox Productivity: Office Fika

July 22, 2015

Productivity Ninja

Productivity tips and tricks come in all shapes and sizes – and from every corner of the world. One of our favourite examples of unorthodox productivity, and one that you could even introduce to your own workplace, is the Swedish tradition of “fika”.

Did you know fika (1)

In Swedish culture, fika is essentially the idea of taking a coffee-and-cake style break at some point during the working day. According to Helene Henderson, author of The Swedish Table, to partake in a traditional Swedish fika you need “to impress, serve a variety of seven freshly baked items – and be ready to talk about the weather”.

The concept itself can be taken fairly broadly, though. You could fika with friends, family, or colleagues, with or without cake (although we highly recommend the cake), and you can easily switch out coffee for tea, juice, or anything else you feel like.

Fika in the workplace – why?

Fika is a formalised social institution in Sweden, with many workplaces encouraging the tradition and setting aside a specific time for colleagues to take a collective break. Taking a break might go against every one of your instincts when it comes to “getting things done”, but in fact – as any Productivity Ninja will tell you – the effect is exactly the opposite.

Improving productivity with formalised breaks

Formalised work breaks (like fika) demonstrate that managers and employees alike are actively acknowledging the importance of taking breaks. They provide an opportunity to slow down and remove yourself from the working environment for a few minutes, so that you can feel extra refreshed upon your return, and ready to get back to work.

While simply advocating social breaks helps to build better relationships between colleagues, the act of setting aside specific time for socialising helps to prevent other social distractions throughout the day. Colleagues have this break to look forward to, and so find themselves more able to work uninterrupted until their scheduled fika.

Productivity training is all about good attention management, and scheduled breaks are a great way of working around your most and least active levels of attention, to ensure that you get the most from them.

Why not try introducing the Swedish coffee break to your workplace, and see for yourself?

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How I Stay Productive: Katy Bateson

July 20, 2015

Productivity Ninja

This regular feature shares the secrets of the most highly efficient Productivity Ninjas. In this post, we spoke to our own Productivity Ninja, Katy Bateson, whose ruthless email regime and mindfulness approach is helping to keep her stress levels low and productivity levels high.

Katy Bateson
About Katy

Occupation: Productivity Ninja

Company: Think Productive

Location: North West (Heysham)

Other job titles in life: Office Manager for Hyfire, Improv teacher, performer and founder of We Are Improv

What’s important about your workspace?

It reflects me, with lots of nice objects that make me smile/happy. I also have a window so have light and can see the world outside.

Which ninja characteristic have you got nailed the most?

Mindfulness. I’m pretty good at recognising what I really need to worry about and when it’s my lizard brain getting at me.

Which ninja characteristic are you still working on the most?

Human, not superhero. If I have a day where I feel I haven’t achieved as much as I’d have liked, I still find it difficult to not be annoyed. I’m still practicing giving myself a break!

Which five apps could you not live without?

Whatsapp, Netflix, Twitter, Banking App and Iplayer radio.

What’s your favourite piece of stationary?

I love stationary! Either a lovely notebook or a sharpie!

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

In the morning, between 8:30 and 12.

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

Go for a walk! Get a bit of fresh air and some space.

What’s your best advice for reducing stress?

Have lots of play in your life and have things to look forward to. Fill your life with fun and laughter!

What’s your email regime?

Log in a few times a day (depending what I’ve got going on) and making sure I achieve Inbox Zero every time I log on.

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

An episode on Netflix – it feels like a real treat!

What’s the secret to your productivity?

Making sure I have lots of down time in my life – watching a TV series, reading, going out with my boyfriend, seeing family and generally having fun!

about_usFor more ideas on how to incorporate productivity techniques into your daily routine, see our entire ‘How I Stay Productive’ series here. 

Or read the most popular posts from the series…

Graham Allcott, CEO of Think Productive

Jim Hetherton, Productivity Ninja at Think Productive

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Extreme Productivity Experiments: Ruthless Kindness

July 16, 2015

Productivity Ninja

Following on from the difficulties of September, October 2013 continued to be difficult for Graham. Think Productive was busier than ever, increasing stress levels in the office to the highest they had ever been and with Graham having to balance his time between his work and his family, times were becoming more and more difficult. What was needed amongst all the stress and everyone around him was some ruthless kindness. 

‘If you can resolve stress, then you can resolve and improve productivity. They are pretty much the same thing in many ways. I wanted to use ‘kindness’ as a secret weapon and tool for productivity.’

After a few months of difficulty and problems, everything worked out well in the end. We hope you feel inspired by Graham’s recap of his extreme productivity experiment!

As you heard towards the end of the video, Graham took the month of November off so check back with us next Thursday to hear all about Grahams final month in the Extreme Productivity Experiments series.

Are you feeling out by constantly having to be switched on and finding no time to find your work-life balance?  Want to achieve more during your day in the office? Look into our Stress Less, Achieve More workshops.

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Extreme Productivity Experiments: The Lemon

July 9, 2015

Productivity Ninja

September 2013 was supposed to be Graham’s first trip to Australia. Planned for over a year, Graham was going to give a keynote at Australia’s biggest volunteering conference, run some productivity masterclasses in Oz’s coolest cities and go and meet his new Australian publishers ahead of ‘How To Be A Productivity Ninja’ launching there in 2014.  A really exciting work trip, popping in on my friends at ProductiveMuslim.com in Dubai on the way back home.  A final, pre-fatherhood work fling!

Yet as the time approached, with a pregnant wife whose hospital visits were becoming more complicated and frequent, it became clear that Australia would be too far away.  He needed to be here for September.  At that moment in time, “life” was getting in the way of all of those best-laid plans. He wondered how much of a stretch it would be to continue with September’s scheduled productivity experiment “Global Office”, in which the intrepid ninja runs his office as normal with just a laptop bag and an internet connection.  No matter how hard he could try, Costa Coffee in Kings Cross doesn’t have quite the same ring and excitement as the Sydney Opera House.

And then Graham remembered the words of his coach, Rasheed Ogunlaru, from a time a couple of years ago when he was panicking and scared.  He stopped him in the middle of his paranoid rant and said “Graham, this is your material”.

Productivity is nothing to do with perfection.  It’s about making the best reality.  And as the old saying goes, “when life throws you a lemon, make lemonade”.

So this month is no longer “global office”, or “out of office” as he was planning to rename it.  This month is “the lemon”.

We hope you feel inspired by Grahams recap of his extreme productivity experiment! Check back next Thursday to hear all about October’s Experiment: Ruthless Kindnesss!

Are you feeling out by constantly having to be switched on and finding no time to find your work-life balance?  Want to achieve more during your day in the office? Look into our ‘Stress Less, Achieve More’ workshops.

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Extreme Productivity Experiments: Abyss

July 2, 2015

Productivity Ninja

How many of us really switch off during our holiday time anymore? Even when we’re abroad and trying to relax, the temptation to check our emails and keep on top of everything thats going on before we get back can sometimes just be too much. After the last seven months of productivity experiments, I felt like I needed a break. A rest. A recharge. I need to stop feeling slightly frayed around the edges and feel sharp and energised again.

But how could I do this? I love my work and it energises me (for the most part!). So I decided it was time for a month of ‘Extreme rest’  – a month off of the internet in its entirety, a month of no work, a month of no smart phone, a month of no laptop. No demands, no expectations, nothing to check, nothing to do. Bliss for many, scary as hell to many others.

This is the Abyss.

We hope you feel inspired by Grahams recap of his extreme productivity experiment! Check back next Thursday to hear all about September’s Experiment: The Lemon!

Are you feeling out by constantly having to be switched on and finding no time to find your work-life balance?  Want to achieve more during your day in the office? Look into our Stress Less, Achieve More workshop.

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The Productivity Ninja’s Unorthodoxy Challenge

July 1, 2015

Productivity Ninja

The Produtivity Ninja's Unorthodoxy

One of the most striking Productivity Ninja characteristics is using unorthodox practices to improve their productivity. What do we mean by this? Well, to name a few examples, having standing meetings, leaving the office without your smartphone for your lunchbreak and working somewhere new once in a while. Our blog post on how unorthodoxy could boost your productivity will explain it further.

This month, we want to encourage all of you to be more unorthodox with your approach to work by setting daily challenges that help you to explore how you work best even further.

These tips will be released on our social media challenges at 8.30am everyday, and updated on this post shortly afterwards. To keep up with our challenge, either bookmark this post or follow us on twitter and facebook.

DAY 1: PUT SOMETHING FUN AT THE TOP OF YOUR TO DO LIST

DAY 2: DELEGATE ONE DECISION TODAY

DAY 3: HAVE A LUNCH BREAK OUT OF THE OFFICE AND WITHOUT YOUR SMARTPHONE

DAY 4: DRINK SOMETHING NEW THROUGHOUT THE DAY

DAY 5: DOCUMENT YOUR TO DO LIST ON TWITTER

DAY 6: MEDITATE FOR 10 MINUTES TODAY

DAY 7: TAKE A NEW ROUTE HOME

DAY 8: WORK SOMEWHERE NEW

DAY 9 – STORYBOARD YOUR DAY

DAY 10 – DRINK A GLASS OF WATER EVERY HOUR

DAY 11 – DOCUMENT YOUR TO DO LIST ON TWITTER

DAY 12 – TIME HOW LONG YOU DO EACH TASK

DAY 13 – SAY ‘YES’ TO EVERYTHING TODAY

DAY 14 – WORK TO MUSIC YOU’VE NEVER HEARD BEFORE

DAY 15 – AVOID EMAIL FOR THE WHOLE DAY

DAY 16 – TAKE SOMETHING YOU’VE BEEN AVOIDING AND PLAN IT LIKE A TREAT. TAX RETURNS & CREAM TEA ANYONE?

DAY 17 – MAKE DECISIONS BY THINKING “WHAT WOULD MY HERO DO?”

DAY 18 – SAY ‘NO’ TO 5 THINGS TODAY

DAY 19 – LOSE YOURSELF IN A BRAND NEW BOOK

DAY 20 – HAVE A TEAM SILENCE HOUR

 

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How Unorthodoxy Could Boost Your Productivity

Productivity Ninja

Unorthodoxy

Unorthodoxy is the fifth characteristic of the Productivity Ninja – and the theme of the month here at Think Productive. When applied properly, an unorthodox approach to work can have profound benefits on your productivity, defying the conventions of traditional time management training.

So, what exactly does Unorthodoxy mean to the Productivity Ninja?

Knowing that it’s the end result that counts

A Productivity Ninja approaches work with the mindset to focus on the end result first, and work backwards from there. Don’t feel inclined to stick to the conventional way of doings things – if it ultimately works out to be more efficient, there’s nothing wrong with a little unconventionality!

Being prepared to think outside of the box

Sometimes it can be helpful to inject some fresh thinking into a situation, and try to look at a problem through the lens of somebody completely different. Think: how would an accountant/a six year old/your favourite superhero/your mother approach this problem? Be creative, and let yourself take inspiration from unusual or unlikely places.

Learning from others

It’s important to not be too proud or embarrassed to ask for advice, and to take every learning opportunity that you can. Allow yourself to be mentored, to model success on that of others, and to learn from their mistakes. There’s no shame in adopting this kind of collaborative approach, either; the only thing that matters is whether you get there, not how.

Asking questions

Unorthodoxy is all about challenging the status quo, and being on a constant lookout for new and innovative ways of doing things. This means not being afraid to question current methods and practices. If something is done a certain way just because “that’s the way it’s always been done”, be open to effective alternatives!

As part of Unorthodoxy Month, throughout July we’ll be sharing 31 unorthodoxy-related challenges on Twitter, to aid you in your personal productivity training.

Learn more about unorthodoxy (and the other eight Ninja characteristics) in Graham Allcott’s How to be a Productivity Ninja.

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Why Inbox Zero Is The Best Way To Be

June 26, 2015

Productivity Ninja

Our ‘Getting Your Inbox To Zero’ In-House Workshops have been a big hit in offices across the world. By keeping our promise of having the whole team’s inbox to zero by the end of our email training, our Productivity Ninja’s have seen the relief on people’s faces when they realise that an empty inbox really is a thing.

The concept of ‘Inbox Zero’, introduced by Merlin Mann in an hour-long Google Tech Talk as an effective strategy for dealing with high volume email, has always been met with cynicism. Mann originally said that the best way to handle this inbox influx is to put “some kind of system in place that’s going to be simple and repeatable, and is going to allow you to have an actual life outside of email”. However, critics have said it was ‘easier said than done’.

They’re right, it is easier said than done, but once you’re in the habit and have had a few ‘ZERO EMAIL’ victories, you’ll inevitable say otherwise.

At Think Productive, we practice our own way of getting your inboxes down to zero – through @action, @read, @waiting and reference folders – and many more little tricks to make you feel on top of your work and not swallowed by your inbox. If you want to find out more, this post is a good place to start.

INBOX ZERO-THE BEST WAY TO BE (1)

But don’t just take our word for it.

Kevin Henrikson, entrepreneur and co-founder of Acompli employs an Inbox Zero policy in his day-to-day email excursions. Our workshop attendee’s have also spoken about how significant the switch to an Inbox Zero lifestyle can be…

IBZ-Webinar-testimonials

We asked our social media followers, too: Why is Inbox Zero the best way to be? This was our favourite answer…

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Want to feel like Melissa? This Monday is The Inbox Zero One-Day Challenge!

Productivity Ninja Grace will be running a virtual training webinar (tickets available here) at 9:30am, before kicking off the challenge to claim your Inbox Zero badge. Winners to be announced at 4pm.

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Extreme Productivity Experiment: Fuel

Productivity Ninja

Graham Allcott, our founder and best-selling author of ‘How to be a Productivity Ninja’, spent 2013 delving into 12 different extreme productivity experiments. Those of you who follow our blog will know that we’ve been looking back at the experiments and asking Graham how they’ve made a difference to his own productivity two years on.

Last week, we looked at playing around with time constraints and attention management in June’s experiment, ‘Flipping The 9-5’. Now we’re looking at July’s experiment, focusing more on the idea of the brain and body being a tool, and how physical condition influences productivity. To narrow down this subject, Graham decided to look into Nutrition and how the food we eat affects our productivity.

Graham also spent part of the month fasting – an idea inspired by his friend Mohammed at ‘Productive Muslim’, which gave him a way of reflecting on productivity being affected by religious cultures and how he could stay productive whilst fasting.

We hope you feel inspired by Grahams recap of his extreme productivity experiment! Check back next week to hear all about August’s Experiment: The Abyss!

Read more on how to eat healthily (like a ninja).

Is your working day increasing your stress levels? Want to achieve more during your day in the office? Look into our Stress Less, Achieve More workshops.

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