In this month’s ‘How I Stay Productive’ interview, we sat down with our remote Head of Outreach, Hannah Urbanek. Hannah tells us about the perks of being a remote worker, her own Productivity Ninja strengths and her productivity top tips.
Occupation: Head of Outreach
Company: Think Productive
Location: Manchester, United Kingdom
Other job titles in life: Head of Cooking, Photographer,
Social Media & Marketing Geek, Stationery addict and Foodie
What’s important about your workspace?
My workspace definitely needs plenty of natural light, plants and some color. I am a remote worker, so it’s really nice that I’m able to design my own office space, but if you ever get the chance to see Think Productive’s Head Quarters – it ticks all of the above. As you’ll find out further on in the interview, I’m really into stationery, so my workspace definitely needs enough desk space to have notepads, my calendar and sticky notes close by.
What’s also important about my workspace is that it’s changing from time to time. I enjoy going to coffee shops or even co-working spaces, not only to be surrounded by people but also to change scenery and get a bit of a productivity and concentration boost out of it.
Which ninja characteristic have you got nailed the most?
It constantly changes but right now, I’d say Agility and Preparedness. I know I have a system in place I can rely on and constantly develop as time passes. Working in marketing, there are constantly new developments in the industry which you need to be prepared for and able to adapt to. The combination of Ninja agility and Ninja Preparedness helps me to stay on top of my everyday tasks as well as help me stay calm when there are fires which need to be put out.
Which ninja characteristic are you still working on the most?
I’ve gotten much better at this, but Ninja Ruthlessness and being able to say “No” can still be quite the challenge. I think a lot of people struggle with this, but it’s so essential that we all learn to say No and be a bit more ruthless with our time and energy – everyone will benefit from it. The other ninja characteristic I still need to work in is Human not Superhero – really internalizing that making mistakes is OK and I can’t constantly be in control of everything. I’m getting there though 🙂
Which five apps could you not live without?
- WhatsApp – My family lives in Austria and my friends are spread all over the world – so without WhatsApp staying in touch would be difficult and potentially expensive as well.
- Google Maps – Since I even manage to get lost when using Google Maps, I’d probably never get anywhere without it.
- Skype – Being a remote worker and part of a global team, Skype makes it really easy to stay in touch with everyone.
- Instagram – Being a social media geek and a photographer, Instagram always offers an entertaining 5 minute break throughout the day.
- Spotify – Working remotely and most days from my home office, I always need a good playlist to keep me going.
What’s your favorite piece of stationery?
I’m a huge pen & paper lover. I go on bi-weekly visits to my favorite stationery shops, so it’s hard to just pick one item. My top three stationery bits which I hardly ever leave the house without are:
- My calendar which tracks almost everything I do and keeps everything color-coordinated, so I keep on top of important dates and appointments.
- Colorful pens – having moved around a lot in the past 2 years, my boyfriend would always laugh at our always growing stationery moving box, which is mainly filled with notepads and colorful pens.
- Post it Notes – all shapes, sizes and colors please!
When in the day do you have the most proactive attention?
I’ve tried to become a morning person, but I’ve come to a point where I just accept that that’s not me.
I have an energy peek right before lunch (around 11am – 1pm) where I burn through lots of tasks. Other than that I peek again at around 2.30pm until dinner time and if I’m still awake, I will have another energy rush past midnight which can help with life admin, but gets difficult when I really need an early night (because I always struggle to get up in the morning).
What’s your trick for when you’re tired or struggling with attention in the day?
I don’t push myself too hard. I try to accept times when I have a bit of a slow day and find an easier task to get back into the groove. I also like to break down big tasks so they are easier to get done and simply change scenery when I’m really struggling. It also helps to have a little dance, but I only do that when I work from home. 🙂
What’s your best advice for reducing stress?
Accept that you can’t do everything and be a part of every project. We all only have 24 hours in the day and that’s OK. Also, make lots of time for “fun” activities and things that make you happy.
What’s your email regime?
I process my emails in the morning and the hour before I finish work for the day. For my personal emails, I will usually check them in the morning and right after dinner. I used to get really distracted by emails, so going offline or closing Outlook when I’m not processing emails, has really helped me get more done. I also don’t have my work emails coming through on my phone and don’t check any emails while I’m off (that includes personal emails when I’m on holiday) which has made all the difference to me.
What’s your favorite way to take a break in the middle of the day?
Since I have friends living in different time zones, it can be a nice break to give them a call as they head to work and catch up for 10 minutes. Other than that, it’s moving around – going for a walk, blasting some music and dancing around the house or going out and browsing through some shops.
What’s the secret to your productivity?
I think it’s helpful that I naturally love lists and breaking down tasks. But also really knowing how my attention levels work in my favor – knowing when to tackle what kind of tasks and taking plenty of time to recharge batteries.