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.
2) Get Enough Sleep
Cutting corners on siesta time has a cascade of negative effects, not the least of which is to make you less proactive.
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.
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.)
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.
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.)
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.
Productivity ninja, productivity samurai, productivity Ewok — whatever.
Never, ever underestimate the power of the right attitude.
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This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.
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