Productivity doesn’t have to be complicated.

In fact, productivity shouldn’t be complicated. If it’s complicated, you’re not going to do it.

Time management shouldn’t require a flowchart. It doesn’t need Zen philosophies. Or memorizing matrices of next actions (whatever that means).
Craig Jarrow, Time Management Ninja

In Time Management Ninja, Craig Jarrow makes productivity approachable. And fun. Because ninjas.

For example, he presents the concept of a trusted system as the four basic producitivy weapons you need to master. Why weapons? Because ninjas.

Something I really like about how the chapters are structured is the Ninja Wisdom and Ninja Training at the end of each chapter.

First, the Ninja Wisdom. These are the key takeaways from each chapter. If you remember nothing else, remember these. If you practice nothing else, practice these principles and you’ll see a significant improvement in your time management skills.

Second, but more importantly, the Ninja Training. Stephen R. Covey said, “To learn and not to do is really not to learn.” If you read a book (especially one on productivity) and don’t do anything differently as a result of it, all you’ve done is waste your time.

This is where the Nina Training comes in. These short sections—a few bullet points that take up barely half a page—are your guided steps to start applying what you’ve learned. These are the secret weapons to productivity that Craig teaches, and I call them secret because most people are going to look right past them.

Most people are going to think of them as superficial, rhetorical questions. True, Craig is trying to guide your thinking in a certain direction, but they’re anything but fluff. If you want to get the most out of this book, answer the questions. Be as open and honest with yourself as you can be. These would be great questions to dive into during your weekly preview, quarterly preview, and journaling.

Of the 21 tips, these are probably my favorites:

  • Tip 1: Time Management SHould Make Time, Not Take Time. So many people get this wrong. Including, at times, yours truly.
  • Tip 6: Planning is Good, Preparing is Even Better. There’s a big difference.
  • Tip 10: The ABC Method of Cleaning. Cleaning tips in a productivity book? You betcha!
  • Tip 12: Never Confuse Busy with Productive. Keep these concepts separate!
  • Tip 18: Passion Makes You More Productive. You have to have a hobby to be productive. And, you know, enjoy life.
  • Tip 20: Don’t Create Your Own Life Friction. Productivity is about more than putting out fires. You have to stop and ask yourself why so many fires are breaking out in the first place.

If you skim the book, don’t skip the last chapter (tip 21: Live Your Life or You Won’t Have One). It’ll get you right in the feels. The only thing standing between you and the life you want to live is you. You’re not making the right choices. It’s brutal to hear because it’s true.

If you want to get more familiar with Craig’s writing, head over to Time Management Ninja (the website). He’s very down-to-earth and has a great focus on giving you advice you can put right to work.

Then pick up Time Management Ninja (the book). Read it. Learn its wisdom. Follow its training. You will quickly level up your productivity skills, grasshopper.