October just started and we already have more Productivity Secrets to share with you.We are lucky to get insights from yet another one of our Productivity Ninjas, Grace Marshall. Over to you, Grace!
Occupation: Productivity Ninja
Company: Think Productive and Grace-Marshall.com
Other job titles in life: Head coach, Chief encourager, author, speaker, singer, mum, mummy, MOMMMMMY, wife, Maker of Meals, Keeper of Lists, The Accounts Department.
What’s important about your workspace?
Good lighting. I can usually pitch up and work anywhere (sometimes to the detriment of my posture and the exasperation of my Osteopath!) but bad lighting I notice quite quickly.
Which ninja characteristic have you got nailed the most?
Agility or Human not Superhero – I get to practice both regularly. Thanks to my kids I get plenty of opportunities to practice anti-perfection and plot twists! The parenting motto I adopted early on was: Forget perfection. Be good enough, most of the time, with intermittent lapses into brilliance and helplessness.
Which ninja characteristic are you still working on the most?
Ruthlessness (can you tell?) – I’m an instinctive ‘yes and’ girl – I love variety and I also love being helpful, so it’s very easy for me to overcommit. But i know that when I do, I don’t do anyone any good, so I’m a massive convert and apprentice of Ruthlessness.
Preparedness – being naturally disorganized, so my inclination is not to write checklists and build spreadsheets, but I know that agility and preparedness go hand in hand. The more I invest in preparedness, the more agile I can be. I think I impressed my fellow Ninja colleagues lately with my summer childcare spreadsheet and my weekly accounting checklist – but it was all in the name of sanity!
Which five apps could you not live without?
- National Rail – for checking live departure time, platform information and alternative routes, and Google Maps to stop me from getting lost once I get off the train!
- Xero & Expensify – have made my life SO much simpler. When I’m on the road delivering workshops my mind needs to be on my clients and delegates, not paperwork. But if I don’t keep on top of the paperwork I don’t get paid, so these two apps turn a huge frog into something I can get done and dusted in an hour at the end of the week – and my VAT return now gets done in about four clicks.
- Evernote – For ages, all I had in Evernote was the local library opening times, but since I discovered its last year I started using it much more – for meeting notes, ideas, blog post drafts – I’ve started using it recently to store school letters and home paperwork too, as invariably I’m never at home when I need to refer to this stuff.
- And of course, Todoist, which I use for my second brain. Oops did you say five? Still working on that Ruthlessness…
What’s your favorite piece of stationery?
Just one? My most treasured piece of stationery ever was a personalized notebook a dear friend sent as a surprise present in the post one year. I was sad when I got to the end of it!!
Other than that, it’s probably Sharpies and Post-it notes. Anytime my brain feels like spaghetti, these are my trusty tools for detangling – it felt like a rite of passage the other day when I passed this onto my son to get to grips with his first week of high school homework overwhelm.
When in the day do you have the most proactive attention?
I’m a natural owl, so if left to my own devices it would probably be late in the evening. But as family life and Ninja travels now make a lie in a very rare thing, I’d say it’s usually mid-morning although it does depend on the kind of day I’ve had before and after.
What’s your trick for when you’re tired or struggling with attention in the day?
I’ve ! Music, movement, food and people are generally my pick me ups. I have a few trusty go-to songs that I know will get me out of limbo, and I have been known to get on the kids’ trampoline before when I’ve needed a serious wake-up call! When I’m physically under the weather I’ll go to the local supermarket and grab a load of fresh veg and make myself something garlicky for lunch! I’ve also noticed that I tend to come out of coaching calls, webinars and interviews on a high, so I’m exploring how I can be more strategic with harnessing that.
What’s your best advice for reducing stress?
Perspective. It’s all about how I see things. If I can find another way of looking at it, I can change how I experience it. Sometimes it’s about reframing or clarifying the thing itself, sometimes it’s about taking a step back and engaging in life beyond that thing. Laughter is an instant stress release too.
What’s your email regime?
I do it when I choose. My Ninja travels sometimes mean I work unconventional hours. So you might get an email from me at 7am from a hotel room, or 7pm on a train but as it says on my email signature, please feel free to read and respond in your own time zone!
What’s your favorite way to take a break in the middle of the day?
Lunch or coffee with a friend – physically or virtually. Or if I’m on my own, then cooking something nice to eat, then watching a TED talk while I eat it (it’s almost always about the food!)
What’s the secret to your productivity?
Not sure I have anything that’s a secret! I share pretty much everything I learn on my and in my 😉 But if you want one thing, I think it’s this – know yourself. You are brilliant – productivity isn’t about improving yourself, it’s about finding ways to let your brilliance out to play more often.