From ‘Nana to Ninja

4/1/2012 |

Guest blogger, Claire Bradford, shares her experience with us following her recent attendance at one of our “How to Get Things Done” Workshops.

When I attended the Think Productive UK day course, I came away heady with excitement about being ninja-like in my productivity and thirsty for the Zen-like state that would come from knowing that I need not worry about forgetting things again. I was confident about my shiny new system, which would cut, razor like, through my chaos and transform my life. All I needed to do was sort out my projects, my next actions and my weekly reviews and the world, nay the Universe, would be mine!

Then I got home.

Mess reigned supreme, there were bits of to-do lists spread amongst various different apps and notebooks, a big pile of backlog and an overwhelming sense of ‘where the bleep do I start?!?’ I laughed bitterly at what a ‘nana I had been to even think I could be a ninja. Somehow, applying my shiny clean system to this big ol’ mess didn’t seem possible and I resolved to clear the backlog somehow and then begin my initiation into the ways of the Productivity Ninja.

I don’t really need to tell you that didn’t work, do I…?

It took me a few weeks before it dawned on me that I hadn’t even made a dent in the pile of stuff that needed doing. I thought wistfully about the Zen-like state I’d craved, and wondered what a Productivity Ninja would have made of me, sitting in the midst of the chaos.

Then a thought occurred to me. I would be ninja-like about becoming a ninja. The Wise Elders at Think Productive UK had shown me the mystical pathway. It was up to me to begin the journey. And so I did. And I’m back from my travels to pass on my wisdom to you. The tips below will, in the future, form the ancient and mystical scrolls of ‘nana to ninja mastery, so read them well, young one…

• A ninja uses stealth and cunning to creep up on the enemy

Don’t let your chaos see you coming. Lull it into a false sense of security by adopting a cat-like stealth to adopting productivity habits. One small change at a time should do it, e.g. breaking today’s to-do list down into ‘projects’ and ‘next tasks’. Get into that habit over a few days and, when you’re ready, introduce another one. The effect of these small changes will be like a wave gathering force. It will be swift. And devastating to your backlog.

• A ninja uses many cloaks of disguise

Your chaos gets worse every time you tell yourself that you’re not organised, or that you’re a right ‘nana when it comes to productivity systems. Disguise yourself to fool the enemy. Remember – the walls have ears. Don’t put yourself down or give up, either in your self-talk or to other people. Act (and speak) ‘as if’ you’re a Productivity Ninja, even if you don’t feel like one. Your to-do list won’t know what’s hit it.

• A ninja remains in a Zen state with a clear and focused mind

When feeling at your most ‘nana-ish, it’s likely that your mind is in overwhelm and that you have many things all screaming for your attention. Writing everything down helps to clear the mind and enable you to step back and take a more objective view of your situation. This includes (especially) things that don’t fit on your ‘to-do’ list such as feelings, decisions to be made and reflection. Also, take time each day for at least 5 minutes’ meditation or focused breathing. This will sharpen your ninja’s sword to make you even more deadly to the deluge.

• A ninja has patience and tenacity

On days when the ‘nana to ninja scale is registering a very big NANA, it’s easy to give up and be consumed by the chaos. Don’t concede victory to such an unworthy enemy! Pick your battles and celebrate each fight won. You slashed through 100 unwanted emails today? You are NINJA! You completed a weekly review? You are NINJA! You have learned much, young one. Train your attention on to the journey you have taken so far, not to how far you have to go. The path to mastery is taken one step at a time.

So there we have it. These days, I’m registering much more NINJA on the ‘nana to ninja scale, but I still have my off days. The important thing now is that I don’t put myself back at the beginning of the pathway each time. I’d be a real ‘nana to do that, wouldn’t I…?

Claire is a qualified professional life coach, NLP practitioner and a member of the Coaching Academy.
Straight Forward Coaching



  1. Kyla Cromer

    This is great. Thank you for admitting your temptation to give in, and that you need to disguise yourself to fool the enemy. I love that.


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