May 2, 2014

1) Know When You’re at Your Best

And plan accordingly. To be a productivity ninja focus less on time management, and more on managing your energy.

Charlie Munger, vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, used a system like this to make sure he was always growing.

He identified the hours when he was at his best and then routinely stole one of those peak hours for learning.

Via The Idea Hunter: How to Find the Best Ideas and Make them Happen:

Are you a morning lark? A night owl? Tired after lunch? Best after a nap? Track what works for you and plan around that.

2) Get Enough Sleep

No, you can’t cheat yourself on sleep.

Cutting corners on siesta time has a cascade of negative effects, not the least of which is to make you less proactive.

Via The Secret World of Sleep: The Surprising Science of the Mind at Rest:

In fact, some people’s emotions are so disturbed after a night of sleep deprivation that they could be classified as psychopaths.

That might make you into a good real ninja but not a productivity ninja. Wrong ninja.

Via The Secret World of Sleep: The Surprising Science of the Mind at Rest:

What’s the best way to improve your sleep? Learn how astronauts sleep.

3) Distractions Will Make You Stupid

Students whose classroom was situated near a noisy railroad line ended up academically a full year behind students with a quiet classroom.

When the noise was dampened, the performance difference vanished. (Silence, vanishing — all very good for productivity ninjas.)

Via Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much:

Distractions might mean you don’t notice gorillas walking by. Seriously.

Here’s how to improve focus.

4) Work Somewhere That You Usually Get Things Done

Have a spot where you’re usually productive? Go there. How about a place where you always screw around and waste time? Avoid it.

Wendy Wood, a professor at USC, explains how your environment activates habits — without your conscious mind even noticing.

Via Habit: The 95% of Behavior Marketers Ignore:

Context matters more than you think.

5) Believe in What You Do

Sounds like a corny cliché, but the research supports it.

What happens when you see your work as a calling, not just a job that pays the bills? You are more thorough, engaged — and happier.

(So maybe we should drop the productivity ninja metaphor and be more of a dedicated productivity samurai? Whatever. Ninja metaphors are lame anyway. You get it. Keep reading.)

Via Choose the Life You Want: The Mindful Way to Happiness:

How do you do this? It’s about interacting with the people who experience the benefits of your work.

Wharton professor Adam Grant did research trying to motivate employees at a university call center.

When call-center workers were shown letters written by grateful students who had received scholarships funded by the workers’ calls, their motivation soared.

What pushed their motivation even higher? Speaking with those students.

Via Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success:

Productivity ninja, productivity samurai, productivity Ewok — whatever.

Never, ever underestimate the power of the right attitude.

Join 45K+ readers. Get a free weekly update via email here.

Related posts:

Time Management Skills Are Stupid. Here’s What Works.

Checklist: Are you doing these five things to be the best?

What 10 things should you do every day to improve your life.

This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

SPONSORED FINANCIAL CONTENT

Read More From TIME

EDIT POST