The Don't Quit Podcast

Never Leave a Trace: Productivity like a Ninja

“When you do something you should burn yourself completely, like a good bonfire, leaving no trace of yourself.” ~Shunryu Suzuki

What if I told you how performing like a ninja can increase productivity? Sounds fun and bit misleading? What if isn’t though?

Suzuki Roshi, a zen master who spoke about a philosophy of leaving no traces very much like a ninja. Why? So you can move on to the next thing without being held up by the previous task.

It’s the art of having a clear mind without having anything else disrupt you.

The way he states is to just clean up whatever mess your task created fully. In order words to leave without any trace. While Roshi says specifically for the mind but it applies to our lives easily.

So now you can clean up what you’ve done so you don’t think about it when you move to something else.


Clean up your table and dishes after dinner.

Put your clothes in a dirty pile when you take a shower.

Put whatever materials away you had to use for work.

Make your bed after you woke up

This is a retroactive mindfulness and habit forming tasks that I’ve said in previous episodes but in a way that makes sense. This also allows you to know why you are motivated for because purpose helps us feel more of ourselves.

Now let’s look at the benefits of this mindset:

You don’t have any messes to clean up later

Things are now easier to understand and concentrate on

Life doesn’t seem as stressful

Spend the time of knowing where you are at and how you can transition it next.

Here’s how you can form the leave no trace like a ninja

Have reminders wether it be in The One Step Journal, sticky notes, or on your computer. If you don’t know what to do then you won’t be able to leave it’s trace.

First notice every task you do during your day and when you consider it finished.

Then consider the reasons why you’re doing your tasks.

Next clean up whatever you need to do remove your trace in that project.

Practice makes perfect

You may forget or start slow which can and possibly will happen. That’s ok. Just remind yourself and makes progress every day.

Eventually it’ll get easier and you want even have to think about it to become more like a ninja and never leave a trace.


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