This week we’ve had the pleasure to chat to Mary Lau, a Digital Marketing Manager who knows the value of implementing Productivity Ninja skills and focusing on work-life balance. Mary talks us through how she splits up her days and how she divides work from her personal life. Over to you, Mary!
Occupation: Digital Marketing Manager
Company: Action Storage
Location: Milton Keynes
Other Job Titles in Life: Tea Maker
What’s important about your workspace?
Storage! Seriously, we have a lot of hard copy marketing literature and event materials – keeping them orderly, archived and clearly labelled makes the rest of my day run a lot more smoothly. Some opt for organised chaos, others for pure chaos – but I also find that a clutter-free desk is the best way for me to stay focused and stress-free.
I keep a whiteboard on the wall behind me, which helps me to get any creative ideas down quickly and opens them up for discussion with my team. To get my priorities right, and keep my mind calm, I always spend 5-10 minutes every morning to write a to-do list, which is stuck in full view on my monitor. A quick review with a nice, hot cuppa and I’m ready for the day.
Which ninja characteristic have you nailed the most?
Ninja Preparedness! I am the queen of to-do lists. I literately have to-do lists of to-do lists, for both work and home life. My brain attempts five things at once by default – which it isn’t very good at – so making a list helps me prioritize and tackle each task, one at a time.
Which ninja characteristic are you still working on the most?
A lack of memory! I wish I could have the memory of a computer, simply erasing useless information and safely storing all the things I really need in life. In the meantime, I rely religiously on note-taking and my second brain.
Which five apps could you not live without?
Umm, if I can only pick five, it would be:
Notes – where I keep my to-do lists, memos and quick ideas
Calendar – how I organize my life, work and social!
Google Maps – the ultimate life saver for someone with no sense of direction
Fitbit – no better way to remind me to stay fit
WhatsApp – saving me a small fortune to keep in touch with friends/family who don’t use an iPhone
What’s your favorite piece of stationery?
Muji is my favorite stationery brand and I love their basic ballpoint pen. I just find it to be the most comfortable to write with, and my handwriting is actually made legible by that pen!
When in the day do you have the most proactive attention?
I’m definitely not a morning person – most of my colleagues would agree with this. I generally do admin tasks in the morning, which require the least serious attention, and save all the heavy creative thinking or web coding for the afternoon.
What’s your trick for when you’re tired or struggling with attention in the day?
A little pick-me-up cup of tea and/or a short break from the computer works like a charm for me (the unhealthiest office snack pile – all cakes and biscuits – doesn’t hurt, either). I wander away from my desk and gaze out the window for a few minutes. We are lucky to have quite a nice patch of green outside – sometimes you can see squirrels.
What’s your best advice for reducing stress?
Meditation: like the last 10 minutes of a yoga class, where you simply lay there and try not to think about anything at all. Even better, do something you love and enjoy. Whether it’s sports, parties, spa visits or even lazing at home, binge-watching Netflix, enjoy doing what you love and do it without guilt – it’s your free time so wind down!
What’s your email regime?
I never check work emails outside working hours or during annual leave. I have made the mistake and learnt the hard way. Always keep your personal and work emails separate – no work-life balance is a false economy!
What’s your favorite way to take a break in the middle of the day?
Going for a short walk or driving to the shops during my lunch break. Basically just getting out of the office. I think seeing something different and getting fresh air is important.
What’s the secret to your productivity?
Having the work hard, play hard mentality and maintaining the work-life balance. I try to keep my mind work-free during my days off to keep my mind engaged and fresh at work. Making sure I set the day up right with my to-do list first thing in the morning also really helps – prioritize each item and stick to one thing at a time.
Would you like to turn yourself and your team into Productivity Ninjas? Have a look through our Time Management Workshops and see what fits best for your team.
Already a Productivity Ninja? Let us feature you in our How I Stay Productive series.
By Hannah Urbanek
Hannah is Think Productive’s Head of Outreach and is the voice behind a lot of our blog and social media content.