Last week when I was pondering the problem of having too many fun things to do, I came across the best titled book ever, How To Be A Productivity Ninja: Worry Less, Achieve More And Love What You Do.
I knew the author and I were going to get along when I read this description of his natural style of work:
“Flaky, ideas-based, more comfortable at the strategic level than the ‘doing’ level, allergic to detail, instinctive, crazy-making and ridiculously unrealistic about what’s achievable in a given time period.”
(Naturally organised people don’t need productivity systems.)
What a productivity ninja looks like
Here’s the fantasy future-me I was imagining about after I’d zipped through the opening chapters:
– I glide through my days with Zen-like calm and clarity
– I am mindful of my energy and attention levels and use them wisely
– I can focus with serene efficiency because I find it easy to stay either in boss mode or worker mode at any given time
– because I always know the most important things I want to do, I enjoy a sense of completion each day when I’ve achieved them
– I reach Inbox Zero at least once a day. (I’ve missed several payment deadlines recently because of an email inbox that ran to many screens, so this one was very appealing.)
How to become a productivity ninja
The backbone of the productivity ninja system is your list of projects and your master task list.
A project is any ‘to do’ item that requires more than one physical action (task) to achieve. If you’re not able to commit to doing at least one task on a project in the near future, you need to either scrap the project or move it to your good ideas list.
Once a week, wearing your boss hat, you review your list of projects. This means that when you’re in worker (doing) mode, you need only refer to your master task list, which will show you with ninja-clarity what you need to do – you don’t get distracted by having to do any high-level thinking about what the next step is.
Example: I’m in the process of making various photo products – a wall calendar, desk calendar and various Christmas albums as gifts for family members. I tend to procrastinate about working on my photos, mainly because I can never remember where I left each project. Have I put my selected pictures into an iPhoto album yet? Do I need to edit any photos? Have I uploaded them to PhotoBox? But by spending a few minutes once a week noting exactly what needs doing on each photo product, when I have a spare moment I can go straight to my computer and get editing, sorting or uploading.
How can being a productivity ninja make you a more relaxed homeschooler?
You’re probably wondering how all this ninja talk relates to relaxed homeschooling.
Thanks to the ninja-productivity process, my master task list contains every homeschool-related activity I want to do, as well as all my other upcoming responsibilities and hobby-related goals.
I have sub-lists of the activities I need to do with my children – buddy maths, writing games and science experiments, for example – and what I can do without them, like research, planning, or setting up an experiment. I can also see what non-homeschooling activities or jobs I want to get done that day.
I use Toodledo to sort these lists because I find automated lists thrilling (it’s a geek thing), but you could just as easily use a pen and paper.
The reason the productivity ninja system is such a powerful tool for child-led homeschooling is that I’m not dependent on getting anything specific done with my kids in order to feel a sense of completion.
Thanks to my master task list, I find it much easier to respect how my children choose to spend their time and resist pressuring them into fulfilling my agenda. My daily list might include ‘do copywork with J, do buddy maths with C, read aloud from Waves’ – but my kids get to choose which, if any, of those activities get done.
So if C(11) wakes up inspired to take photos for her Arts Award project or record herself singing, or J(9) wants to spend the morning making a stop-motion animation film, I can save my ideas for another time. Meanwhile I can easily see from my daily checklist how I can make best use my time without that child or alone.
Thanks to my master task list, even on rare days when both my kids want to spend the whole day doing their own thing, I still end the day with a sense of achievement because I know I’ve spent my time doing tasks which take me closer to my goals.
And if the children invite me to join them on one of their projects or in a game, I can shuffle my list with ninja-like flexibility and go and play.
You can get a free kindle sampler of How To Be A Productivity Ninja here.
*This post contains affiliate links but I bought my own copy of the book and wrote this because when I love something I want to share it with all my friends and my husband says he’s heard enough Productivity Ninja talk for now thank you very much. 🙂
I’m appreciatively linking up here:
Weekly Wrap-Up – Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers
Collage Friday – Homegrown Learners