My main business is Think Productive, which provides productivity training workshops for some of the leading companies in the UK, Canada and increasingly in other countries too.
How did you get interested in productivity?
I was bad at it! I was good at leadership, which got me by in my early career, but then when I went from being a Chief Exec to being a freelance consultant, I suddenly realized I couldn’t rely on other people to do the ‘completer-finisher’ part of the work. So I got obsessed with books and blogs and the like. The influential ones for me were ‘Getting Things Done’ and ‘7 Habits’. From there, I started to develop my own approaches and fell into teaching it to other people as part of my other consultancy work. And hence Think Productive was born!
How many meetings do you normally have each week?
We have a 15 minute daily “huddle” meeting, which cuts out the need for lots of long ones. I probably do no more than a couple of hours of ‘normal’ meetings a week, which means when you DO meet, you focus on making those meetings great. And meetings CAN be wonderfully productive.
What are some of your favorite productivity tips/apps?
I personally use Toodledo as my app of choice. For me apps have a downside too – regularly switching apps is a great way to avoid doing the real work! So I’ve stuck with Toodledo for a long time and I deliberately make myself a ‘late adopter’ to new stuff, which means when I switch to something, I know it will work! Away from list apps, we run our business finances through Xero and it’s great having a complete financial picture of the business accessible on my phone. I’m a big fan of Headspace for meditation, MapMyRun for fitness and SleepCycle is possibly the coolest alarm clock I’ve ever had! And genuinely, we use Doodle.com a lot too, and we even recommend it in some of Think Productive’s workshops.
What’s the most recent adjustment that you’ve made to your personal productivity routine?
Well, I’ve been doing a year of “extreme productivity experiments” on my blog this year, with a different experiment each month. Highlights have included working an hour a day, making decisions by the throw of a dice, eating the optimum productivity diet and only checking email on Friday. I’ve learnt loads from putting myself in these extreme situations and will be implementing less extreme versions of a lot of this stuff at the end of the year. I’m a big believer that no one is perfect at productivity and there’s always room for improvement. In my book, I say that “Productivity Ninjas are human, not superhero”.
Do you measure your productivity? If so, how do you do it, and what is your metric?
To be completely honest, I don’t pay this a lot of attention personally – as a company we’re doing some pieces of evaluation work with universities to measure the effects of our productivity training, but for me personally I just know I work better, get more done and feel better when I drink my own KoolAid! The ultimate measures for me are profit in the business and the social impact I make in the world through various charity and social enterprise projects.
What do you think the next productivity trend will be?
Well, I think from what I see from our work with businesses, we’re still in the middle of what I consider to be an unproductive trend: the obsession with connectivity rather than productivity. So I hope and expect the next big trend will be a push towards “quiet thinking spaces” and a rejection of the open plan office and digital noise cultures that have taken over in recent years. It might take a while, but I’m on a mission to do my bit to push it along – for the sake of everyone’s sanity and happiness!