How I Stay Productive: James Allen

31/8/2018 |

As you’ll know from Productivity Ninja Unorthodoxy, productivity and creativity go hand in hand. In fact, they are so tightly connected that we’ve developed a Creative Thinking and Innovation Workshop  and have had the pleasure to discuss all things productivity with our Productivity Ninja, James Allen. James chats to us about attention management, email processing and productivity tools. 


James Allen


Occupation: Creative Thinking & Innovation Specialist

Company: Think Productive

Location: United Kingdom

Other job titles in life: Super Dad, Loving Husband, Doting Son




What’s important about your workspace?

I like to work from lots of different places: cafes, armchairs, co-working spaces, trains, aeroplanes, the occasional beach. Some places help me focus, others inspire me. I’m very lucky!


Which Ninja characteristic have you got nailed the most?

It would be a mix of Unorthodoxy and Agility. Creative thinking involves coming up with unexpected, original ideas, and being agile and flexible with it.


Unorthodox productivity training

Which Ninja characteristic are you still working on the most?

Ruthlessness – I can be easily attracted by new, shiny projects and ideas – sometimes I need to say no to distractions and stay on track.

Productivity Ninja Ruthlessness

Which five apps could you not live without?

Todoist – all my work & personal tasks go in there

Gmail – with standard inbox

Strava – for recording running & cycling stats

Kindle & Audible – I always have 3 or 4 books on the go


Become a Gmail Inbox Zero Hero

Chances are, there are lots of tools sitting right there in your Gmail inbox which you’ve never seen before. Getting your Inbox to Zero is so much easier once you know where all those tools are hiding. There’s an easy to follow step-by-step tutorial over on The Productivity Ninja Academy. What are you waiting for?


What’s your favorite piece of stationery?

Sharpies and post-it notes (essential for creative brainstorms).


Project Teams


When in the day do you have the most proactive attention?

In the morning.


What’s your trick for when you’re tired or struggling with attention in the day?

I’ve learned not to struggle for too long – once I notice I’m losing focus, I need to quickly get up and about, do something different and then come back to the task feeling refreshed.


What’s your best advice for reducing stress?


Productivity Ninja Exercise

What’s your email regime?

I tend to stay on top of my inbox – I never let it go to two pages. If something doesn’t need an immediate reply I turn it into a task in Todoist, and archive the email until I need it later.


Remote Team Collaboration


What’s your favorite way to take a break in the middle of the day?

I tend to eat lunch early and go for a run mid-afternoon. After that I’ll clear up any outstanding emails or tasks for 30 minutes or so before knocking off for the day at 5pm.

What’s the secret to your productivity?

I try and get up early and spend quite a lot of time prioritizing things. I focus on a few important things and make sure I do them really well.


By Hannah Urbanek
Hannah is Think Productive’s Head of Marketing and the voice behind our social media and editorial content. You can connect with Hannah directly here or on LinkedIn


Before You Go...

How do you ensure your ideas are as original as possible? How do you make sure you solve problems without relying on conformity and the rulebook? It’s certainly not an easy task, but our Innovation Workshop will help you develop a creative mindset and practical toolkit for generating brilliant ideas and solving tricky problems.

Leave a Comment