How I Stay Productive: Hayley Watts

Although Halloween is right around the corner, we’re not here to scare you but to share some more Productivity Ninja secrets with you. This time we got the chance to chat all things Productivity with our very own Hayley Watts

Productivity Ninja Hayley




Occupation: Productivity Ninja

Company: Think Productive

Location: London, South East and anywhere else my travels take me!

Other job titles in life: Mummy, Chief organizer of social events, Cook, Afternoon Tea Expert and Makers of Lists.


What’s important about your workspace?

If I’m training, then natural light, space to move about, and a clock so I can see that I’m keeping things on track!

When I’m working at a desk, I need to be comfy. I have some back issues so sitting with a laptop doesn’t work for me. I like to be sat at my desk with my Chair or exercise ball. If I’m speaking to you on the phone I’ll be stood up for that! I like some light, my green tea to hand, and a lack of clutter (the last bit is a work in progress). My main priority is not to have interruptions from other people. When I am working from home my partner is usually at work and my son at nursery. When I am out and about I’ll often work from a nice hotel, to make calls, catch up with reading and do those little bits and pieces of admin.

Which ninja characteristic have you got nailed the most?

Stealth and Camouflage has always been my favorite since I worked in an office environment. I found this really helpful and have no issue with not being available by email or other means in order to concentrate on the work I am doing. I sometimes work in hotels, libraries and coffee shops. Parks and open spaces are a favorite in the summer.

Ninja stealth

Which ninja characteristic are you still working on the most?

Ruthlessness. And Weapon Savvy to some extent. I have got much better at saying no, although I still don’t like to say no. I know it’s important and I can’t take it all on as much as I would like to. I’ve learnt the hard way, but it’s still a work in progress for me. Weapon Savvy because I find learning how to use new technology boring. I like stuff to work, and if I have to put in effort I lose interest I suppose.

Which five apps could you not live without?

To-do-ist – I use as my second brain and I love it. It’s color coded which I like, and easy to use. Even I can do it.

Headspace – A meditation app. I do a guided meditation for 10 minutes per day, I am nearly at the 180 stage. I spent a long time doing headspace a few times a week and I noticed when I was falling behind. I’ve set myself a challenge to manage 365 days. I’ve noticed by patience with my son and others increase, I have more perspective and make better decisions.

First Direct – I love being able to do my banking on the go, and love even more that I can use my finger print to log in!

iCloud photo sharing. A lovely way to update the family and keep in touch with friends about who is up to what!

Sleep Cycle – wakes me up when I’m in a less deep sleep. Which definitely helps me 🙂

What’s your favorite piece of stationary?

My carriage pen with purple ink (very Productivity Ninja!) or my silk note book my friend Claire brought for me. It’s very elegant – and orange, see a theme here? 

When in the day do you have the most proactive attention?

Early in the morning. I’m experimenting with getting up before everyone else in my house. Otherwise my best times are 7-9am which is when everyone else is eating breakfast, wanting help to get dressed etc. This is the only thing I might come close to missing about working in an office, getting in before everyone else and not being distracted.

What’s your trick for when you’re tired or struggling with attention in the day?

Go for a walk, meditate, or go for a swim. Sometimes all 3. If that’s not possible I do a task I enjoy and set a deadline to work in short sharp busts.

Productivity Ninja Break

What’s your best advice for reducing stress?

Note all, and I mean all of the things that you need to remember to do. Use a second brain tool to help you. This helps empty my head. And meditate. I’m so surprised about the difference that this makes. 

What’s your email regime?

On days where I am delivering a workshop, I process emails at the start and end of the day. On days at my desk I process emails twice a day. I deal with the quick things straight away, and add the rest to my second brain. I archive when I’m done and only leave it in the inbox if I am doing it today. 

What’s your favorite way to take a break in the middle of the day?

I take a proper lunch break. I sit outside if it’s nice. I often go for a swim, a yoga or Pilates class. I know if I take the time out for these things I will be more productive when I am at my desk.

Productivity Ninja Lunch Break

What’s the secret to your productivity?

I don’t think that there is any 1 thing. Being productive is really about creating a collection of small, little habits. Mine include: no notifications for my email, using a second brain to record all of my work and non work actions. When I’m not working I make a conscious effort to be mindful with whatever else I am engaging with, the same applies to work too I guess. So when I’m on holiday, I take my work emails off my phone and truly unplug. I try to be either working, or not at work. Blending the 2 doesn’t work for me, although being a human being I get this wrong sometimes!

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