How I Stay Productive: Marcel van den Berg

1/2/2019 |

In our latest ‘How I Stay Productive’ series, we chat to Think Productive Western Europe‘s director and Productivity Ninja, Marcel. He talks about how he mastered Ninja preparedness and how he continuously practices Ninja mindfulness. But don’t just take our word for it, see for yourself… 


Productivity Ninja Marcel



Occupation: Productivity Ninja

Company: Think Productive Western Europe

Location: When I am not at the office in Rotterdam I am traveling through Europe for our customers.

Other job titles in life: Husband, father, son, friend, entrepreneur, director, colleague, trainer, coach, speaker, author, traveler, explorer, student, cyclist, runner, musician.



What’s important about your workspace?

Light, space and order. I love an empty desk and I like to use good quality equipment. I use a Microsoft Surface computer and when I am at the office, I connect it to two large monitors via a Docking station.


Which Ninja characteristic have you got nailed the most?

Preparedness. I like to think ahead, and I also like to make sure that everything is correct. I am overall well prepared and because of that I usually don’t have to deal with nasty surprises that could have been prevented. At least when I haven’t been too busy… ????


Ninja Preparedness


Which Ninja characteristic are you still working on the most?

Mindfulness. I don’t think anyone will ever be done with this one. I try to be more conscious of the things I think about and the things that have my attention. I also ask myself why something went well or wrong and why I am in the mood for something or not.


Productivity Ninja Mindfulness

Which five apps could you not live without?

In my opinion, I have relatively few apps on my phone. I regularly tidy up, I only have one home screen and the apps are grouped together. Because of that I now have 64 apps on my phone, instead of 200+ apps. But if I had to choose my favorites, it would have to be:

Captio and Braintoss – to collect thoughts and tasks.

Apple music – so I can listen to music in the car.

Weekcal – the best calendar app for the iPhone. You have an overview of the whole week. This calendar works better for me than the standard Apple calendar app.

Uber and Yellowbrick – for a taxi or for parking.

Twitter – I mainly use this to follow news from all over the world. It’s direct, via a person, without media interference.

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What’s your favorite piece of stationery?

A flip chart that you can put on the table. This is a small model that you can easily take with you. It helps me think and I can make mind maps with it.


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

Usually between 08:30 and 11:30 in the morning.


Productivity Ninja Morning Routines


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

I regularly walk a little in order to keep my blood flowing. When I am tired or struggle with attention, I use a toilet that’s two floors down. That way I can move around a little again.


What’s your best advice for reducing stress?

Add breathing room with margins, don’t plan every day to the full. You can use margins for everything really… for your finances, when you agree on deadlines with people, etc.


Ninja Planning


What’s your email regime?

I like to start my morning with focus work, and I do that until about 11am. After that I check my emails. When I spend the day at the office, I usually check my inbox 3-4 times a day before I get my inbox to zero.


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

I like to go for a walk. It doesn’t matter where I am. Close to our office we have a forest (Kralingse Bos) and when I work from home I am outside the city in no time.


Productivity Ninja Break


What’s the secret to your productivity?

I have no idea. I don’t really believe that there is 1 secret or 1 trick. I believe in perseverance and consistency.


By Callista Vink
Callista is Think Productive Western Europe’s Marketing wiz and the voice behind our Dutch and some of our English editorial content. 

Before You Go...

Like the sound of these Productivity Ninja skills? Why not become a Ninja yourself and transform the way you work and live! A great starting point is our ‘How to be a Productivity Ninja’ book, which has been re-released for its 5th birthday. Grab your copy and start the journey!

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