I have now read quite a few business books, so I was starting to wonder if I would be able to find new, interesting books which I could learn from. Or, if they would be all based around the same business principals and not share anything new that would be useful or be inspiring.
Flicking through Amazon’s wide range of books, I came across ‘How to be a Productivity Ninja‘ by Graham Allcott. With a catchy title, (how could anyone not want to be a ‘Productivity Ninja‘?) I bought it and got reading straight away.
Over all, it’s a very well written book, getting to the point of how to be a ‘Productivity Ninja‘. There is also a whole philosophy behind the book, and a website that you can refer to: Think Productive.
I think the most important part of the book, that I took and implemented straight away into my business, was the Zero Inbox technique.
Although I had heard of working to get your email inbox down to zero, I had understood this as just answering all your emails until your inbox was empty. But there is actually a lot more to this technique which makes it work.
I now have four new folders (I adapted the technique to work for me):
- !Action – This is where I add all the emails that I need to take ‘Action’ on. In my case this would mainly be changes to a clients website, or feedback from a client about their site.
- !Enquiry – If I have received an enquiry from my website form, or a potential client has contacted me directly, their email goes into this folder. I can easily see all new leads I have to follow up, and I like to keep this folder empty, as that means I have contacted all potential clients.
- !Read – Anything that I think is interesting to read, or needs my attention at a later date. It won’t get lost, and when I have time I can go back and catch up on my reading.
- !WaitingOn – All emails I have responded to and now am waiting for the clients response goes in here. Easy to see who I need to chase after if they haven’t gotten back to me.
Using these four folders has helped me organise my time much better. At a glance, I know I am in control of all my emails. When I sit down to take ‘Action’, I just go into the ‘!Action’ folder and can focus. Not getting distracted by other enquires, or being unsure what I need to do with a certain email. Straight away I have seen a difference in how I work.
When planning my work days, I already implemented the use of time blocks during my day, planning an hour or two to focus only on a certain task. But, the book ‘How to be a Productivity Ninja‘ helped me see that the time of day to focus on a certain task, depended very much on my level of attention. There is no point wasting time when I am most alert to do boring, repetitive tasks, I should be spending this time focusing on the harder, more challenging task, or what I have been putting off from doing.
There a three different types of attention during your day:
- Proactive attention – Fully focused and alert, when you are able to tackle the most complex tasks.
- Active attention – Ticking along but easily distracted.
- Inactive attention – Lacking totally in brainpower, but still able to do the simplest of tasks.
Master To-Do Lists
The last thing I want to mention is the use of a Master To-Do list. This is part of the books ‘CORD Productivity Model’. Which includes: Capture and collect, Organise, Review and Do.
The Master To-Do list, is your one list with everything in it, all your tasks, chores, diary dates…. everything! Keeping everything in one place means nothing will be forgotten, misplaced and at a glance you can see what needs to be done. No time will be wasted wondering what to do next, as you have already captured and collected everything into your Master To-Do list. I use Asana for this, I have a business to-do list and a personal to-do list. Keeping it updated is crucial but well worth the time.
This book also covers how to cope with stress, habits, the importance of reviewing, meeting, management and how to keep momentum.
How to be a Productivity Ninja really is a great business book, packed with loads of useful content, examples of how to apply techniques and there are exercises to do throughout the book.
I got a lot of practical business help from this book, so I hope you find it just as good and are able to apply new techniques to your business too.