Next up in our How I Stay Productive series, in which we discover Productivity Ninja secrets, we have Think Productive Western Europe’s very own Callista. Callista tells us all about her attention management strategies, her constant Productivity Ninja skills development as well as her review tips. Enough from us, let’s find out what she does to stay productive.
Occupation: Social Media and Marketing manager
Company: Think Productive Western Europe
Location: Aguascalientes, Mexico
Other job titles in life: Freelance translator, Writer of blogposts and Adventurer
What’s important about your workspace?
I do all my work from home since I need the assurance of a good internet connection, which is not only vital for my work but also for my stress levels as I found out recently by moving house and not having a stable internet connection for a little while. It’s also important for me to be comfortable, to have plenty of space and to have everything close by so that I don’t waste valuable flow time. For that reason, I usually have everything ready before I start work; water, tea, pen, highlighter, notebook, laptop, phone and Graham’s “How to be a Productivity Ninja” all have to be there so that I can ease into the start of the day.
Which ninja characteristic have you got nailed the most?
Unorthodoxy. It kind of goes against my nature but I subconsciously enjoy it and really benefit from it. Especially since I come from a different line of work all together (first archaeology and then healthcare), it helps me to give it my all and to develop a great working relationship with my colleagues in which we have mutual respect for one another.
Which ninja characteristic are you still working on the most?
Ruthlessness. I find it really hard to say no since my brain turns it into incompetence on my part and on top of that I have the fear that I am disappointing people/ letting them down. So, I am really trying to work hard on this since for me it is kind of a meeting point for all the other characteristics, as in each characteristic has an impact on the other characteristics in some way. In order to become stronger as a Productivity Ninja I feel you need to keep on working on all your skills.
Which five apps could you not live without?
Nozbe – my preferred method of communication since projects are listed and you know immediately what needs to be done.
Skype – Always handy for meetings.
YouTube – a great variety of music that you can listen to whilst being at work or during your breaks.
Facebook/ Facebook Messenger – A way to show my family that I am doing well and it is a great help to stay in touch with friends all over the world.
WhatsApp – A great tool to stay in touch with family, friends and colleagues.
What’s your favorite piece of stationery?
My notes and thoughts diary and a separate notebook with pen. I am quite the stationery nut so to stick to just one piece of favorite stationary is simply impossible.
When in the day do you have the most proactive attention?
It goes up and down throughout the day but I have noticed that the best time for me is between 8 in the morning and 12 in the afternoon. After that I usually have a little dip which picks up again between 13:30 and 15:00. From past experiences, I know that my proactive attention can peak again at night but I have been trying hard to have more of a work- life balance which also includes getting plenty of sleep. It took some effort but after two years I think I finally got the hang of it.
What’s your trick for when you’re tired or struggling with attention in the day?
When I become tired or when my attention seems to fade, my productivity goes down rapidly. In that case I try to do the tasks that don’t require intensive thinking and if possible I would put on music that best goes with my “brain mood”. If that doesn’t help, I take a mini break where I just catch up on day to day activities that have nothing to do with work, just so I can gain some perspective again.
What’s your best advice for reducing stress?
I think it is important to step away from your computer and to do the things that you know will help you to calm down. In my case a spearmint tea with honey usually does the trick. I also find it important to focus on my breathing and I tend to take my mind of what stresses me by doing something completely different, like playing with my two dogs. It’s also a big help for me to talk about what stresses me out with my husband, who usually also works from home. Some comforting words, good advice or just a listening ear is all it takes sometimes.
What’s your email regime?
I am usually not swamped with emails so I always check my emails at the start of my day and reply when needed. During the day I tend to check it 2-3 times when it suits me and I actually have time for it. Email has to work for me, not the other way around.
What’s your favorite way to take a break in the middle of the day?
By putting some music on and just listening to it but my preference goes to singing and dancing to it when no one is watching…
What’s the secret to your productivity?
Planning. To be honest, it goes with ups and downs, the whole idea of planning has never really appealed or worked for me but every Friday, I sit down to review what has been done the past week and what needs to be done the following week. I visualize deadlines and the amount of time that is needed for those activities. Other tasks are being planned around it, making sure that there is still time for breaks. I usually plan everything in such a way that the weekend is free, so I can do what I want and need to do. So far it is working out.
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.