Let me tell you about the time I met a ninja

He wasn't in a half-shell, nor was I in any immediate danger. Instead of battling life-threatening villains, he fights against a villain we're all familiar with: the time suck.

Yes, Craig Jarrow is a Time Management Ninja. Pretty cool, huh? Remember when I unsubscribed from nearly all newsletters, daily e-mails, and alerts? It's been one of the best things I did for my organization (mental and digital). Signing up for Craig's newsletter has also played a key role in keeping me on task... he's become my time management coach (without even knowing it!) 

Craig was just one of the superheroes that spoke on Mindfulness and Productivity during SXSW Interactive. He was joined by Angel and Marc Chernoff of Marc and Angel Hack Life and Mike Vardy who lives in Victoria B.C., not Texas. I was way off. Without further ado...

Takeaways from Mindful Productivity in a World of Interruption 

  • Busy does not mean productive. 

When I heard this, I thought "duh." But then I thought about those days where I've hit the floor running and don't stop until I'm forced to eat dinner (thanks honey!) Yet when I look back, I realize I didn't actually accomplish anything besides wearing myself out. To combat this, I've started listing all of my to-do's in the Things app. It works for me, but I urge you to use whatever system fits your life best. I'm also a fan of the Post-It. By listing everything I need to get done I'm able to prioritize and set expectations for my day, and I waste less time. 

  • Work in 90 minute increments.

I've found that at the 90 minute mark my brain starts to wander. I've also repeatedly heard this number from time management professionals, so I feel like there's some credibility in this. When I've worked for 90 minutes I take a break, stretch, and grab another glass of lemon water. I've also found that getting away from the computer (i.e. not checking Facebook) makes me more productive when I start working again. 

  • Be ruthless with distractions.

This means turning your phone on silent or even putting it in your bag while you work. Close the door if you work in an office. Set boundaries for when you're available (open door) and when you're not (closed door). Even if your days are made up of three 30-minute sessions of "closed door" work, you may be surprised at how much you can get done in short periods of time. 

By being ruthless with distractions, you show yourself and others that you respect your work and your time. Now that the weather is nice, I put my dogs in the dog run while i write. I get more done (their cuteness is a major distraction) and we're all excited when I take a break. 

  • Ask yourself "Why am I doing this?"

This question should be asked several times a day. It can serve as a reminder to get back on task or remind you to keep going when you feel confused or defeated. If the answer doesn't serve your big picture, then it's time to switch gears. This has helped refocus me daily, and I can't wait to hear your experiences with it.

  • When you eliminate the wrong things, the right things are available.

Like many of the tips I picked up from this session, this one does not only apply to my work life. Getting rid of negative/toxic/distracting thoughts/people/habits makes way for positive/productive/fulfilling thoughts/days/projects. I'm all for that!

Thanks for sticking with me on this one. Let me know if you put any of these into action. We'll all be ninjas sooner or later!