Celebrate The Productive Woman’s 2-year anniversary with me by looking back at some of the wise insights I’ve gleaned from interviewing the productive women who’ve joined me on the show.
Lessons learned from 2 years and 25+ amazing women
I started The Productive Woman with one objective in mind: to connect with other women, and to provide information, ideas, and encouragement to help them on their path. I am energized by the interactions I have with the wise women who are guests on this show, and by the listeners who reach out to me, share a bit of their lives, and encourage me to keep going.
As a result of producing this podcast, I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many amazing women, including the 25 (and counting) women who’ve agreed to have a conversation with me for your benefit, sharing transparently about their own lives, what works and what doesn’t, and what they’ve learned (or are still learning). They are single women and married women, business professionals, authors, stay-at-home moms, lawyers, professional organizers, marketing consultants, artists, bloggers, chefs, body image coaches, engineers, and more. They live in England, France, Poland, Israel, and several different states within the U.S.
Despite being different women with different personalities, backgrounds, interests, and responsibilities, I found 10 themes that kept coming up in my conversations with these women. (You can hear the full episode featuring each guest by clicking on her name below, and you’ll find more information about each, and ways to connect with her, by scrolling below.)
1. Resist the urge to try to do too much
- Jamie Clark Samples: Be realistic about what can be done in a day.
- Karin Beery agrees with Jamie: “If you didn’t accomplish too much today, don’t assume you’ll be able to do twice as much tomorrow.” In other words, don’t try to recover from a “less productive” day by doubling up the next day.
- Pick the one “MIT” (or just a couple) and focus time on that one Most Important Task. (Jamie Clark Samples, Ling Wong, and Eboni Nelson)
Focus on one thing at a time.
- Eboni Nelson reminded us no matter how many things you have to do, you can only do one thing at a time. Step back, evaluate, choose the MIT, and focus exclusively on that.
- Justyna Denham agreed: She suggested having no more than three priority tasks for a day.
- Leann Guzman pointed out that sometimes we have to disengage from some things to make time for what’s most important, which is hard for a lot of us. She says, “A lot of our stress often comes from other people’s expectations and our fear of disappointing them.”
- Katie Floyd urged us to keep things simple. Use tools (digital or paper) to help relieve your brain of the need to remember; save your brain power for creative thinking.
2. It’s okay to say no
- Demetra Liggins: You need to be okay with saying no.
The fact that I can do something doesn’t mean I should. (Cara Putman and Deedra Determan)
- Monika Kristofferson reminded us that we all have lots of options, but saying yes to one thing requires saying no to others, so make sure you understand the scope of what you’re taking on and choose wisely.
- Deedra Determan talked about considering the season of life you’re in. While her kids are younger and need her more, she’s saying no to anything that doesn’t directly benefit the family.
- Jennifer Lee suggested having a big-picture objective as a touchstone to measure opportunities, and be okay with saying no to things that don’t align with those values and priorities.
3. Take care of yourself
- Allison Sheridan: Women tend to do everything for everybody else but seldom do things for themselves.
- Priscille Livenais urged the importance of including time in our schedule for self-care (meditation, exercise, reading, etc.).
- Izabela Russell suggested planning “little treats” for ourselves — a massage, a manicure, whatever relaxes you or brings you joy. She said, “if you run yourself into the ground, you won’t be able to accomplish anything.”
- Jennifer Lee said something similar. She works hard but sets aside Fridays as a self-care day when she does something nourishing for herself, like getting a massage or going to her studio to paint.
- Melissa Toler encouraged us to actually block out personal time on our calendar.
- Jennifer Lee urged self-compassion: “Taking care of yourself and making a positive impact are more important than checking things off the to-do list.”
- Katie Floyd said sometimes when it all gets to be too much, what you need is to go to bed early, get some rest, and start afresh the next day.
- Emily Prokop agreed: Some days you just have to give yourself some grace and say, “Tomorrow will be better.” Bridgit Danner said pretty much the same thing.
Several guests have urged us to take care of our health.
- Women’s wellness professional Bridgit Danner: Health forms a base for making a life that matters, so take care of your body. Start the day with a healthy breakfast, eat better throughout the day, get some movement in (she encourages getting outside and lunchtime, getting some fresh air, and giving your mind a break).
- Deedra Determan agrees with Bridgit about the importance of health to productivity; she values starting her day with a workout — that’s her “me time.”
- Allison Sheridan said something similar: Think of gym time/workout time as your “selfish” time, the thing you do for yourself — but it actually benefits the other people in your life because you are stronger and healthier and better able to be present and helpful for the people you care about.
- Maia Olson urged the importance of physical activity for stress relief.
- Several guests suggested working out at lunchtime as a way to boost your energy for the second half of the day. (Allison Sheridan, Ling Wong, Jennifer Lee, and Melissa Toler)
- Ling Wong also noted that if you’ve worked on business projects in the morning, that mid-day workout time will give your brain time to think about and process your work projects, so when you come back, you can execute the solutions your mind came up with during the workout.
4. It’s okay to ask for and accept help
- Demetra Liggins really advocated for this: Time is finite; use services that buy you time for rest, relationships, etc., like delivery services, a housekeeper, or child care.
- Jamie Clark Samples: “Use your time where it’s best spent” and let others do the other stuff.
5. Build and be a part of community
- Deedra Determan: The key to managing the demands of a busy life is to build a community and a support system “so when those bad days do happen, you have someone who can help you out and lift you up.”
- Leann Guzman said that includes making time for the relationships that nourish us — “don’t discount taking time for yourself and finding some good people to connect with as a way of being productive” — relationships and friendships are important.
- Justyna Denham of Poland is a fan of mastermind groups as a way of creating a small community of like-minded women who will advise, mentor, or encourage you and help hold you accountable. She formed a mastermind for that purpose as she was preparing to return to work after her maternity leave. Form your own by approaching a small group of women you respect. Or you can find a paid mastermind that’s facilitated and coordinated by someone else. For more resources about starting a mastermind, check out Natalie Eckdahl’s website, BizChix, and her podcast.
A Little About The Productive Woman Mastermind Groups
These are small groups of women who meet weekly via Skype to support and encourage each other on their respective journeys toward a meaningfully productive life. Being a part of a Productive Woman Mastermind Group allows you access to a private Facebook group for communication, questions, and support in between meetings. Masterminds also include sharing resources like handouts and worksheets when appropriate.
New paid groups are forming soon, starting in early September. Each mastermind is a 12-week session, with no more than 6 women in a group, and for this fall’s groups the price includes one 30-minute private coaching call with me each month. If you’re interested in learning more, email me.
6. Stop feeling guilty!
- Maia Olson: Don’t worry about trying to be perfect at everything. “Allow yourself to be imperfect, accept it, and move on.”
- Eboni Nelson: “We feel guilty about getting assistance, when we absolutely should not.”
7. Value who you are and what you bring to the table. Develop confidence in that.
- Jamie Clark Samples: “You are the only you out there. Be you.”
- Karin Beery: Don’t compare yourself with others.
- Cara Putman: Comparison creates a barrier between us and others; we can’t be in community if we’re comparing. We should “learn from each other instead of trying to impress each other.”
- Demetra Liggins encouraged us: “Your life matters, and you can pull it all together, but try to do it one bite at a time.”
- Eboni Nelson: When we tend to procrastinate because of perfectionism or fear of failure, the key to overcoming it is to “Look at your past and let your past direct your future.” Take notice of the things you’ve accomplished in the past and let that boost your confidence in your ability to accomplish the new things you want to do. Past achievement is evidence of your competence to undertake and succeed at a new venture.
8. Plan for success and productivity
- Elsie Escobar believes in the importance of taking time to see the big picture and put a plan in place — being proactive instead of reactive.
- Monika Kristofferson said we can avoid “drift” in the morning by making a list at night of what you’ll do the next day.
- Allison Schaaf believes in the value of a morning routine that includes writing in a gratitude journal — this practice sets up the day well.
- Jennifer Lee plans blocks of time focused on either outward or inward-facing energy. E.g., Mondays and Wednesdays are her days to work with clients (outward-facing activities), Tuesdays and Thursdays are for planning, content creation and administrative work (inward-facing activities).
- Justyna Denham says: “You can’t have everything at the same time, but you can have it if you plan, if you prioritize, and if you follow through.”
9. The importance of awareness and being intentional
- Vanessa Hayes talked about living intentionally, thinking about what matters to you and organizing your life accordingly.
- Cara Putman talked about “being intentional about what I say yes to so I don’t lose the living in the middle of all that activity.”
- Heather Creekmore talked about intentionally planning for time together with her husband and children.
- Allison Sheridan encouraged us to make conscious choices and accept the consequences, rather than just falling into whatever life happens around us.
10. Trust yourself and do what works for you
- Jill Kemerer: “Don’t fight your personal style; do what works for you.”
- Ling Wong: “It’s a losing battle to try to squeeze some obligatory routine or framework or rules designed by someone who knows nothing about my life into my life.”
- Julie Sheranosher: Go ahead and take action; you can learn even from mistakes. Course corrections are easier than the push it takes to get moving.
- Emily Prokop: There’s not a single tool or app out there that’s going to change your life; find what works for you and stick with that.
- Elsie Escobar and I talked about that at length: It’s so important to not try to paste somebody else’s solution onto your life, but find what works for you.
- Eboni Nelson: We need to “look to ourselves for happiness and fulfillment and not anywhere else. … Only you can decide what works for you.”
I have the best listeners in the podcasting world
There are so many women out there who want to grow and advance and make life that matters, and there are so many who are open and transparent and willing to share both their struggles and what they’ve learned, and to encourage others.
I’m grateful for those who have written to me to share their stories and to offer encouragement and ideas for show topics and guests and suggestions for how I can make the show better and serve the community better. Thank you so much. I don’t think you realize how much it means to me to hear from each one of you.
I encourage you to continue to reach out to me with suggestions and feedback and to share what you’ve learned about productivity. Email me, connect with me on Twitter and Facebook, and through The Productive Woman’s website.
About The Productive Woman guests
Jamie Samples — Talking Productivity, with Jamie Clark Samples
Entrepreneur at Yellow Barn Media, helping other business people with their marketing strategies, including social media.
Connect with Jamie:
- On her website – sign up for her newsletter and download a free ebook full of helpful tips
- On Facebook
- On Twitter
- On Instagram
Karin Beery — Writer Karin Beery Talks About Productivity & Health Challenges
Writer, editor, and coach.
Connect with Karin
- On her website
- On Twitter
- On Facebook
- Check out her other websites – Life with Linda and Yooper Stewart.
Allison Sheridan — Choices for Productive Women, with Allison Sheridan
Host of the NosillaCast Podcast, a podcast about tech-related topics; retired engineer; fitness enthusiast.
Connect with Allison
Cara Putman — Nobody’s Perfect – Connection Instead of Comparison, with Cara Putman
Author, lawyer, and home-schooling mom
Connect with Cara
Monika Kristofferson — Guarding Your Time, with Monika Kristofferson
Professional organizer, operator of Efficient Organization, single mom
Connect with Monika
Vanessa Hayes — Simplicity & Intentional Living, with Vanessa Hayes
Certified Professional Organizer and owner of Get Simplifized, also host (with husband Dan) of the Simple Life Together podcast
Connect with Vanessa
Heather Creekmore — Body Image & Productivity with Heather Creekmore
Speaker, writer, mom, and pastor’s wife, writes the Compared to Who? blog focused on encouraging women who struggle with body image issues
Connect with Heather
Priscille Livenais — Productive Travel, Self-Care, & more, with Priscille Livenais
French business woman, productivity enthusiast, and host of the Productiv’You podcast
Connect with Priscille
Izabela Russell — Business & Babies: A Chat with Izabela Russell
Managing Director of Music Radio Creative, co-founder of New Media Europe, both of which she leads with her husband Mike in Britain, mom
Connect with Izabela
Jill Kemerer — Managing a Busy Life, with Author Jill Kemerer
Author, blogger, wife, and mom
Connect with Jill
Leann Guzman — Grace for the Busy Working Mom, with Leann Guzman
Lawyer, author, speaker, wife, and mom
Connect with Leann
Katie Floyd — Keeping Things Simple, with Katie Floyd
Lawyer, blogger, and co-host of the very popular Mac Power Users podcast
Connect with Katie
Ling Wong — Defeat Distraction Through Clarity & Discernment, with Ling Wong
Creative business marketing consultant and coach
Connect with Ling
Demetra Liggins — Professional & Personal Priorities, with Demetra Liggins
Lawyer and co-founder of Corporate Homie
Connect with Demetra
Julie Sheranosher — Managing Time & Energy, with Julie Sheranosher
Writer, speaker, and productivity coach; host of the Time Hackers podcast from Israel
Connect with Julie
- On her website (be sure to pick up Julie’s free planning outline while you’re there)
- On Twitter
- Check out Julie’s podcast, Time Hackers
- Via email
Allison Schaaf — Stress-Free Meals, with Chef Allison Schaaf
Chef and registered dietitian; owner of PrepDish, a meal-planning service that features gluten-free and paleo meal plans for busy families
Connect with Allison
- On the PrepDish website
- On Twitter
- On Instagram
- On Facebook
Jennifer Lee — Creative Living, with Jennifer Lee
Creative entrepreneur, author of The Right Brain Business Plan and other resources for creative business planning, and business coach; owner of Artizen Coaching
Connect with Jennifer
Justyna Denham — Motherhood and Work, with Justyna Denham
Wife, mom, and business professional in Poland
Connect with Justyna
Emily Prokop — ADHD & Productivity, with Emily Prokop
Editor and host of the Classy Little Podcast
Connect with Emily
Bridgit Danner — Developing Healthy Habits, with Bridgit Danner
Women’s wellness professional; runs an online women’s health community called Women’s Wellness Collaborative
Connect with Bridgit
- On her website
- Her podcast Women’s Wellness Radio
- The clinic she works with is Blue Sky Wellness Studio in Portland, Oregon
Maia Olson — Time-saving Tips & Tools, with Maia Olson
Writer at Smile Software
Connect with Maia
Deedra Determan — Focusing on Priorities, with Deedra Determan
Marketing professional and owner of D2 Branding
Connect with Deedra
Elsie Escobar — Personalized Productivity, with Elsie Escobar
Entrepreneur, yoga instructor, and co-host of the very popular She Podcasts and The Feed podcasts. Co-founder of the thriving She Podcasts online community of women podcasters, and of the Podcasting School for Women
Connect with Elsie
Melissa Toler — How Body Image Affects Productivity, with Melissa Toler
Body image coach
Connect with Melissa
Eboni Nelson — Defining Success & Trusting Yourself, With Eboni Nelson
Law professor, wife, mom
Connect with Eboni
As you may know, The Productive Woman was a finalist in the 2016 People’s Choice Podcast Awards, and I was incredibly honored to have been nominated. Even though we didn’t win, I wanted to be able to give thanks to those who help make this show possible, so here is the speech I had prepared:
I want to thank a few people without whose support The Productive Woman wouldn’t exist.
My husband, Mike. Even though he’s not much of a talker and still doesn’t “get” why people would want to listen to, much less create, podcasts, he’s still my biggest cheerleader, my tech support guy, and the brilliant musician who gave his time and talent to compose, arrange, and record the show’s theme music. Far more important to me than his support for the podcast, though, is the fact that he gives my life meaning and joy, and I’m grateful for every day of the 37-plus years we’ve been married.
Thank you to Emily Prokop, host of Classy Little Podcast, for her weekly help with show notes and continual words of support.
Thank you to John Bukenas, for his excellent audio editing, his sense of humor, and especially his friendship.
Thank you to Cliff Ravenscraft, for his generosity in sharing his expertise at the birth of this show 2 years ago — without his support and his excellent Podcasting A to Z course, The Productive Woman would never have happened.
Special thank you to Daniel J. Lewis, who saw something worthwhile in the show early on and invited me to join his Noodle.mx podcast network, and since then has provided invaluable advice, support, and encouragement. Thank you, Daniel.
The other members of the podcasting community — your generosity and kindness continually inspire and amaze me, and I’m so proud to be a part of this community.
Every guest who’s given of her time, experience, and expertise in appearing on the show to help with its mission to provide listeners with the tools and encouragement they need for their journey toward a meaningfully productive life.
Finally, and most of all, thank you to the listeners. You are the reason The Productive Woman exists, the reason it continues. I cherish every email, every Facebook post, every kind review. It’s a privilege to be part of your life, and to have you part of mine. Thank you.Click here to discover my favorite apps!
I would love to have your help!
- Subscribe, rate, and review The Productive Woman in Apple Podcasts or subscribe in Stitcher.
- Join the conversation at The Productive Woman on Facebook.
- Your feedback matters to me. Please share your comments, questions, or suggestions.
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