Be a Task Killer Ninja

How do we get from Victim to Captain and Commander in our productivity?

In his book Making it All Work David Allen describes the matrix of self-management.
In the mire of little perspective and little control, in the lower left quadrant is the Victim. A feared state of hopelessness and inertia.
In the upper right quadrant is the widely admired state of Captain and Commander. That’s the perfect state in which we are if we have both perfect perspective and control over what we do. Of course these states can alternate per week, day or even hour…

Sometimes I can get into a slump and I must admit: the label Victim best suits me in that situation. Sigh…

So what do I do to drag myself out of it and start doing?

Last Wednesday I wanted to knock a whole lot of tasks off my to-do-list.
I started with the Most Important Task, which was adjusting six similar reports. Instead of spreading the energy and focus thin, I gave myself an extremely tight time limit for each report: 10 minutes. So I started chopping away at my reports like a ninja chops his wooden boards. I even had to suppress some of the little ninja-yells. Immediately I saw myself from a helicopter vision and thought: I am a Task Killer Ninja, that’s what I am!!! I was exhilarated and in great flow.

Here’s what defines the Task Killer Ninja GTD-style:

  • clear vision of the outcome: next action thinking
  • extreme focus
  • compressed energy
  • speed
  • bold task killer attitude
  • black suit is optional

Later that day I applied my Task Killer Ninja-attitude to my Weekly Review. I grabbed my intray and started chopping away at all the little Collected notes. Within 30 seconds I divided them between actionable and non-actionable items. You should’ve seen me! I looked like a ninja movie played fast forward. This was my record in Clarifying!

The Task Killer Ninja-attitude I can also recommend for cleaning your house or chopping wood.

Let me know if you’ve ever felt like a productivity-ninja or if you identify with something else. I’m so curious!

Post a comment or find me on Twitter

p.s. I googled task killer ninja and I saw that Leo Babauta also has an excellent blog post on Task Ninja’s (without killer)

2 thoughts on “Be a Task Killer Ninja

  1. Wow that I think the outcome setting samurai is a good sparring partner for the task killer ninja. They should be friends within everybody!

    thanks for sharing Brian!!!!

  2. I can relate! Moving through tasks like a ninja taking out targets, focused and precise going from one to the next is a place I have been.

    Last night I was an outcome setting samurai.
    I was getting caught up in whining about what I had to do, 4 big commitments with equal priority. I thought long and hard about how to handle this. How do I get out of the victim state? I couldn’t be a ninja because I was in the wrong state of my mind, I may have taken out the wrong target and the consequences would be dire indeed.

    I captured my biggest commitments and lined them up by priority and realized that the outcomes weren’t clear but the deadlines were too soon, could I move forward without a clear outcome? That is when it hit me.

    The outcome of the moment is what mattered. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath and brought all my energy to center, I was the zen master, I was the outcome setting samurai.

    It is hard to describe what happened next, I just started working, typing up drafts of ideas one project at a time. It was sort of like the next evolution of the natural planning model but it was happening by itself, not on purpose. My desired outcome became becoming fully engaged in the absolute moment. I started on one of the commitments at random first and the next action just came brainstorming started and the outcome came. Once I Had an outcome I was able to start the engagement process for the next project, I became engaged starting the first action that came to mind which allowed me to capture an outcome for that project. Once the outcome was set, I moved on.

    I am having trouble describing the process because it is almost like it occurred on another plane of consciousness but i can tell you by the time I was done (about 2 hours of focused work) I had no completions but I had established 4 outcomes for my previously scary commitments.

    My state of my mind – The outcome setting samurai.

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