Book Review: How to Be a Productivity Ninja

From email management to how to hold efficient meetings, this book is full of wisdom, leaving you feeling like a true Productivity Ninja

I’m a self-confessed organizing geek, and I couldn’t help myself but to be drawn to Graham Allcott’s How to be a Productivity Ninja displayed in WH Smith bookstand like a moth would be drawn to a light bulb.

At the first two chapters of reading I thought the book a little mediocre; they outlined the right ‘Productivity Ninja’ mindset to adapt (Zen-like calm, ruthlessness, weapon-savvy to name a few), and sources of stress (difficult decisions and conflict are one of them, in case you didn’t know). It just seemed a bit too obvious and unnecessary, and I briefly haggled with the idea of closing the book and never returning to it. But I persevered, and I’m glad I did.

The real chunky part begins from Chapter 3, packed full of practical tips on how to manage your work load by adopting an efficient workflow system and tool. Here is the gist of it:

  •  Attention Management – Schedule your work according to the attention level you are operating on (Inactive attention, Active attention, and Proactive attention), and protect your attention from interruptions and distractions.
  •  Email Management (AKA ‘Email Ninja’) – Instead of dealing with every individual emails as you open them, the trick is to briefly glance at them first and place them into either three of these folders:

            ‘Action’ – Emails that you need to take action on

            ‘Read’ – Where no actions are required but will need to read at a later stage (eg. Reports)

            ‘Waiting’ – Emails you are tracking and waiting the actions of others

You can then return to these each folders and process them at the appropriate time of your attention level.

  • CORD Model of Productivity – Get into the habit of ‘Capture & Collect’, ‘Organize’, ‘Review’, ‘Do’. Processing your workload in this order gives you clarity and creates a chain of effortless productivity.

What is also great about this book is that it provides you with recommendations of apps to aid your task management, and other books on productivity, so that we don’t need to waste our precious time trying out hundreds of apps trying to find the right one.

Each of these chapters are broken down into clear subheadings and bullet points, with additional flowcharts and tables that summaries the chapter visually. It is then followed by helpful exercises to put them into application. Everything is easy on the eyes and its information digestible without being too chunky with bulks of texts.

I kid you not – the book had me transformed. With a Zen-like calm and newly gained agility, I was zapping through my daily tasks with ruthlessness and stealth (all of which, by the way, are the ‘Way of the Productivity Ninja’mentioned in the Chapter 1).

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