Besides sharing our top productivity tips and key messages from our Time Management Training, we also enjoy checking in with Productivity Ninjas in training. In our latest interview, we chat to Jackie Carter, the Head of Business Development & Client Care at Browne Jacobson LLP. Jackie shares her experience of distancing herself from multitasking and how she still manages to stay on top of a heavy workload. Over to you, Jackie.
Occupation: Head of Business Development & Client Care
Company: Browne Jacobson LLP (law firm)
Other job titles in life: BD manager, accountant,
lady captain at Rufford Park GC, deputy head girl
What’s important about your workspace?
That it is tidy! I can’t work if there is a mass of papers around me; we have an agile work space and I set my desk up for the day when I first get in, with the papers I need for meetings in one pile and things I’m going to work in on another. I always have a daily to do list in front of me (along with my master action list for the week). Having a tidy space helps me focus and concentrate on the task I’m working on – and I love ticking something off the to do list!
Which Productivity Ninja characteristic have you got nailed the most?
Preparedness – I’m a big ‘planner’ (although I can be over-zealous in this regard!), I have a lot of things on the go at any one time and the only way I can stay vaguely in control (and try to get to that zen-like state of calm!) is to plan, plan, plan. I’m not so good at the ‘switching off’ bit of this characteristic but I’m getting better – largely through the proper use of my email inbox and the action, waiting and read folders.
Which Productivity Ninja characteristic are you still working on the most?
Ruthlessness – this one is really hard for me to implement; my first instinct is to say ‘yes’ when people ask if I can help with something and I know I strive for perfection far too often (even though I tell others that they don’t need to do that!)
Which five apps could you not live without?
The first one is my fitbit app – it keeps me active during the day and being able to see my sleep patterns has been really interesting; then I’d say the app for our golf club which keeps us up to date with things that are going on; I have the headspace app on my Iphone too – I don’t use it every day but I like being able to dip in and out when I need to; the weather app is also an important one as the weekend is approaching so I know if it is going to be good for golf! And then it would be one of my social media apps, which isn’t really on message as a Productivity Ninja but I love Twitter!
When in the day do you have the most proactive attention?
Early in the morning – I’m usually in the office by 7am and that first hour or so, before anyone else arrives is when I do my best work. I have to really resist the urge to get side-tracked with admin during this time or it is totally wasted.
What’s your trick for when you’re tired or struggling with attention in the day?
Get up, move, talk to people (I’m a Myers Briggs E so I am energized by others) and also sing – my colleagues aren’t so keen on the singing as I’m not that tuneful but it picks me up and makes me feel alive. And, if nothing else has worked, chocolate!
What’s your best advice for reducing stress?
Get as much rest as you can – sleep is great for so many things and it not only helps your body repair itself but it helps your mind as well.
Yoga – I try to do hatha yoga once a week, it’s a fantastic way to realign and really relaxes me.
Pets – my cats are a fantastic way to relieve stress, they are so cute and watching them brings me endless hours of amusement!
Exercise – that’s my final thing – golf on a weekend with my mates, if I’ve had a really bad week and someone has upset me, I pretend their name is on my ball on the first tee, the sense of satisfaction when you then tee off is a great release!
What’s your email regime?
It’s much better than it was! I use the action/waiting/read folders that are recommended in ‘How to be a Productivity Ninja’ and that has changed my relationship with my inbox a lot. I’m much less stressed by the fact things are in the action folder than I would be if they were in the inbox! I try to restrict the times I’m in the inbox to certain times of the day but it’s hard – I’m in a lot of meetings and can often be away from my desk for hours at a time so I need to find the time between meetings to check in. In an ideal world, I check it at about 8.45am, 12noon and about 4pm.
What’s your favorite way to take a break in the middle of the day?
I tend to be in meetings a lot over lunch time but, if I’m not, then I’ll try to get out of the office and walk into town for a quick look round the shops. Or I will sit and have a chat over a sandwich with one of my friends at work. When I’ve not been able to get time in the middle of the day, I try to leave the office early (about 4pm) to get home.
What’s the secret to your productivity?
It’s slipped a bit recently but the secret has been focusing on one thing at a time. I used to be a big ‘multi-tasker’ and always thought I was really good at it but I realized after attending one of Graham’s talks that I was actually kidding myself. Since then, I’ve tried to do one thing at a time and focus on it properly. That helped in so many ways – I got things done quicker (as I wasn’t distracted) and I also did them better – because I was thinking more clearly. Recently, this has been harder due to the amount of work I have on, but I’m determined to get back to that approach after my summer holiday. Multi-tasking really is a myth!
Thank you, Jackie, for the great insights into your productivity secrets. Do you have any questions following this interview or would you like to share your own productivity tips with us? Leave a comment below or drop us a line here.
By Hannah Urbanek
Hannah is Think Productive’s Head of Outreach and the voice behind a lot of our editorial and social media content. Would you like to hear more about Think Productive or share relevant content with us? Get int ouch with her directly here or connect with her on LinkedIn.