Do you want to become a Productivity Ninja? Follow the Code, and you will surely advance to a whole new level of productiveness!
1. Truly productive and successful ninjas always use lists to get things done, so if you haven’t gotten into the habit yet, now is the best time to start. Lists can really help a person get organized, because you can actually see the things that need to be done. Writing down your tasks will also give you a sense of control over all the things that you need to accomplish, no matter how hard they may be. You can create additional lists for each big task if you want to, but always remember that you need a master list to be truly organized. Keep this master list with you no matter where you go, so you will always be reminded of your timeline. Set a reasonable schedule, and stick to this schedule to become a truly successful productivity ninja. Ninjas don’t break their schedules and neither should you.
2. If you aren’t sure with your list of priorities, seek the counsel of other ninjas. Talk to people that you trust, and ask for their opinion regarding your master list of things to do. Sometimes, talking about something can help clear the fog in one’s mind. Mental clarity is an important trait for a productivity ninja. If your mind is clear, you will be able to prioritize tasks more efficiently, and you will never have to worry about running out of time for your most important responsibilities.
Remember, though, that the opinion of others should always be taken with a grain of salt; always use your best judgment when someone tells you to skip or deprioritize something on your master list.
3. Ninjas are adept in swallowing elephants and frogs. What this means is that you must be ready to tackle the most difficult tasks, even if you feel like running away from them most of the time. The more you ignore or procrastinate doing these difficult tasks, the more challenging and impossible they will become over time. Do not allow yourself to wallow in relaxation, even if you have really important tasks. Every ninja knows that work comes before relaxation, always.
4. Change the way you prepare your day. If you are always complaining that you do not have enough time in the morning for all the things that you have to do or prepare, why not do some of those things the night before? Evening is usually slow time for many people. Devote 10−15 minutes every night to small preparations that will help you survive the next morning. You will be surprised at how effective this technique can be!
5. Love television? Turn it off when you are working at home! TV is a huge distraction for many people, because it represents relaxation and entertainment. Either turn it off, or don’t work where you can hear or see the TV.
6. Ninjas know when to ask for the help of other ninjas. There will be times when your own strength will fail, and you will really need the help of others. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Delegate tasks if you have to. You don’t have to accomplish everything by your lonesome if others are willing to step in to help. In the office, delegation might be trickier, so if you think you cannot handle it, talk to your project leader or manager and state your case. Emphasize that you are not interested in quitting, but rather, you need a bit of help so you can finish tasks in a timely manner. Your manager will probably understand, and will give you some slack (e.g. some tasks will be delegated to others, to give you more time to focus on priority items on your task list).
7. Ninjas need a break, too! I am not talking about the ten minute breaks from work. I’m talking about real rest and recreation. After a whole week’s worth of hard work, force yourself to step away from work. Genuine rest is always good for the mind and body. If you get enough rest after each challenging week, you will notice that your ability to manage stress will increase, and you will no longer feel like you are fighting a losing battle every time you set out to tackle your future tasks.
Having enough relaxation every week also protects you from toxic levels of stress, and from being burned out. Burn-out can drive things to a screeching halt. Where will you be then, if you get burned out? A ninja can’t help others (or himself) if he becomes so exhausted he can’t even think clearly.
8. Phone calls and visits can be problematic, especially when you are trying to finish something on time. You don’t have any choice: you have to tell visitors and callers that you need to get back to work after a few minutes. A general time-limit can be used for every distracting interaction during your work time. Fifteen minutes should be the maximum, not the minimum. Fifteen minutes of chatting can cause a whole hour’s delay, because you will have to find your bearings again after the interaction, and then you will have to establish momentum again. In short, we need time to focus again on what we were doing before we were distracted. As we have discussed earlier, focus is extremely important for a productivity ninja, and for anyone who wants to accomplish his tasks and goals. Don’t let other people break your focus, especially if your momentum is really good.
9. A true productivity ninja rarely puts off things he can act upon now. This applies most especially to things that require your decision. Statements like “I’ll think about it tomorrow” will not help you become productive. Be ready to sit down and make decisions, if the occasion demands it.
10. And finally, productivity ninjas know when to say no. Saying no doesn’t mean you are evil; it is just an admission that you are human and you can’t handle everything. Saying no can mean a lot of things, so make sure you provide a brief explanation to others when you refuse something, so they don’t misunderstand your refusal to help/do something for them.