Up next in our ‘How I Stay Productive’ series, is juggling-master, Caitlin. Caitlin is Think Productive’s Campaign Manager and Executive Assistant. Her days are filled with lots of tasks in both areas and you’ll still find her with a big smile in the office – often helped by a freshly brewed cup of coffee. Today, Caitlin tells us her Productivity Ninja secrets and how she manages to stay productive day in and out.
Occupation: Executive Assistant and Campaign Manager
Company: Think Productive
Other job titles in life: Crazy cat lady, wannabe yogi
What’s important about your workspace?
It has to have a pen and paper! My ideas come to me at the most random (and often least convenient) of times, so I keep a notepad nearby to jot them down while I’m in the middle of something else to come back to later.
Which ninja characteristic have you got nailed the most?
That would have to be Agility! As Campaign Manager and Graham’s assistant, I wear a few different hats at Think Productive. As much as I can plan my day to focus on one or the other, sometimes little unavoidable emergencies will pop up which will mean I need to shift my attention from one to the other a few times in one day.
Which ninja characteristic are you still working on the most?
Ruthlessness! I’m terrible for saying yes to everything- and I’m not always realistic about my capacity to get it all done.
Which five apps could you not live without?
Google Maps – I could get lost in a cardboard box, so this little app is absolutely essential for me!
Instagram – My social media activity can be described as ‘lurking in the shadows’. I don’t post a lot, except on Instagram. How else would the world know how cute my cat is?
Spotify– I spend my life on buses, so having my music to pass the time is essential, and at work- I find I’m most focused when I can pop my headphones in and get in the zone.
Shazam – I’ve found most of my favorite music from adverts or songs playing in shops, so Shazam is a must!
Whatsapp – I keep in touch with all my friends and family with Whatsapp. We even have a ‘TPHQ Ladies’ group chat! (This is mostly for us to share pictures of our cats..)
What’s your favorite piece of stationery?
That’s an easy one – definitely my 2016-2017 ban.do diary! I don’t mean to brag… but it does come with stickers.
When in the day do you have the most proactive attention?
Weirdly- usually the last few hours of the day. It can take a while for me to wake up in the morning, and I find it harder to focus on the big stuff if I know there’s something small I need to do. So I try to get the small annoying tasks out of the way first -so I can focus on the bigger projects in the afternoon.
What’s your trick for when you’re tired or struggling with attention in the day?
I’ll message Jessica (our Logistics Manager) on Slack to go grab a coffee or a tea down the road from the office at our favorite coffee shop. The combination of a little walk and a hot drink always helps me to re-focus!
What’s your best advice for reducing stress?
Review, review and review again! If I’m ever feeling overwhelmed or under pressure, it’s a sure sign I need a review. Knowing I’ve captured everything I have to do and having a plan for the week – and being able to trust that system- is essential for me.
What’s your email regime?
As a PA I do need to check my email first thing in the morning, as that’s often where most of my tasks come through. I use my @action, @read and @waiting folders religiously to process my emails first thing, then I can tackle them in order of priority for the rest of the day.
As Campaign Manager I’m also in charge of handling any enquiries that come in, so I do need to keep a close eye on my email to make sure we’re not keeping people waiting. I have a special folder for enquiries, so I check my email a couple times a day and store them in there- then twice a day I’ll spend an hour or so working through just these.
What’s your favorite way to take a break in the middle of the day?
I like to read the news (although less so lately), read Buzzfeed articles or just listen to music for a few minutes while I have lunch. If I’m in the middle of a good book I might sneak in a chapter as well!
What’s the secret to your productivity?
The secret to my productivity is knowing how to prioritize! Having two job titles can be stressful because there’s always lots to do, but knowing what really can’t wait and what can is essential for me to stay productive. It’s taken some time to learn the ropes and get that system down – but like anything, practice makes perfect!
Are some of Caitlin’s productivity secrets also yours? Think you know someone we should interview next? Get in touch with us by leaving a comment below or emailing us.
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.