Book Review: How to Be a Productivity Ninja

One should always tread carefully around any self-help or advice book that proclaims to help you “work smarter. Not harder.” This tired cliché should generally serve as a warning sign that any advice to follow is the same-old stuff with a fresh coat of paint. If you have never been involved in any sort of time management training (or in the current parlance “attention management”), then How to be a Productivity Ninja: Worry Less, Achieve More and Love What You Do is a decent primer. But despite all claims to the contrary, there is nothing new or groundbreaking suggested in this work. That doesn’t mean the book is not worthwhile, only that readers should set the proper expectations before investing attention (see what I did there?) in yet another productivity book.

Author Graham Allcott’s writing style is accessible, with a personable quality that makes reading the book entertaining. Allcott divides the book up into sections for quick reference. He starts with discussing the qualities of a “Productivity Ninja.” He then looks at subjects like how to manage email, getting the most out of meetings, staying organized, and the CORD Productivity Model. As is the norm for this type of book, it serves as marketing materials for Allcott’s proprietary CORD model, the subject of fee-based seminars and programs Allcott runs through his Think Productive workshops.

As a starting point for those looking for an easy-to-follow guidebook, or as a refresher for those that just want a reminder of best practices, How to be a Productivity Ninja fits the bill. But the advice presented here is rather common sense and, in some cases, falls under the “easier said than done” category. Some of the advice assumes that you are working for perfectly reasonable managers and with co-workers who share your commitment to the process. Sure, questioning whether or not a meeting is really necessary sounds logical in theory, but in practice it might get you labeled a troublemaker or worse. But if you go into the book with realistic expectations of what you can genuinely expect, it’s a good book that can provide a basic guideline to follow.

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