Podcast pro, entrepreneur, and yoga instructor Elsie Escobar is a passionate advocate for women finding their own voice and their own way, even when it comes to productivity. She shares some of her tips for managing a busy life, and a lot of encouragement, during our conversation for this episode.
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Finding your own productivity path: a secret to a truly productive life
Elsie Escobar and I met through our shared interest in podcasting, and you may remember her from 25 Productivity Tips From and For Productive Women — TPW025, in which she shared the tip: Remember there’s no tip or answer that works for everybody; other people’s solutions should be adapted to your lifestyle and needs.
In this episode, she expands on that thought by talking about what works best for her busy lifestyle, and how she’s adapted her productivity tools to work for her, instead of the other way around.
Elsie wakes up between 6 and 7 a.m. and her morning ritual includes a walk, meditation, pranayama (breathing exercises), journaling/Bullet Journaling and planning, drinking hot water, and sometimes yoga.
Following that, she works for two hours, then gets breakfast ready for her family, then spends time homeschooling her two daughters.
In the afternoon, she records interviews or attends business meetings with clients, then more homeschooling work, followed by dinner and another few hours of work, then her family generally is asleep by 10.
Elsie says her biggest challenge recently was the realization that she was constantly working but feeling like life was out of control. She found herself without a vision of what needed to be done and in a state of pure reaction, dealing with things as they came at her, instead of working with purpose and intentionality.
She would find out about tools, apps, or workflows that others promised would help boost her productivity. Although she found some were helpful, there were many that didn’t align with her workflow and simply didn’t work for her. An example she gives is an app that she spent a lot of time setting up, only to question whether she would really use it. She realized this wasn’t a good use of her time.
She began meditating on how to shift her mindset when everything came to a head when she and her daughters became sick, and she realized she needed to get back to the basics in order to become healthy again. She started slowly, focusing on getting enough sleep. Then she found some time to take a walk or sit on her yoga mat and breathe or meditate, which was what she was telling her yoga students to do. She decided to be her own student. Elsie found these baby steps of doing one pose or breaking for just a few minutes helped make a place for habits that lasted longer as she kept doing them.
Give yourself permission to start small.” ~ Elsie Escobar
The next step was addressing the behaviors her brain had become programmed to do, such as having her phone on her at all times or mindlessly moving her thumb to different apps or clicking on tab after tab on the computer without actually getting anything done. It had become normal, even though it wasn’t necessarily productive. She began trying to go more analog, hand-writing lists of what she needed to get done and checking things off. When she found Bullet Journaling, it gave her the tool that helped her the most.
When Elsie discovered the video at bulletjournal.com, she saw how clean and simple it was, and she studied different techniques for a month, watching videos, reading articles, and picking what worked best for her. By the time she was ready to begin, she had a basic framework in mind for how she was going to use Bullet Journaling for her needs.
When you use apps on the computer or phone, you have align with the app — you have to learn how the app works, … whereas, the Bullet Journal is more of a framework around very simple concepts. It’s not rigid.” ~ Elsie Escobar
Bullet Journaling also morphs and becomes what you need at the time you need it. Elsie says there isn’t a level of guilt you might have with other calendars or planners if you forget a day or two.
Bullet Journaling has also become Elsie’s log of what has happened, as well as her task list of things to do. Even though you could look up the last time you did a certain task in Google Calendar or DayOne, you have to search within those apps. With Bullet Journaling, there’s a tracker to help remind you when you did a certain task.
More links about Bullet Journaling:
Productivity tools Elsie uses
To collaborate with her She Podcasts co-host, Jessica Kupferman, she uses Facebook Messenger to chat and send pictures, but more recently, they’ve begun using Trello. Trello can be compared to a digital bulletin board with “cards” that can be filled out with tasks or, in Elsie’s case, topics she and Jessica want to cover in their weekly show. Links, pictures, and text can be added to each card, and they can be as simple or complex as needed. Cards can also be moved around by a simple drag-and-drop process, including cards that represent segments and topics they use for more than one episode.
Jessica and Elsie also used Trello for working with their clients. Each client gets an individualized private Trello board that's tailored to the client’s individual needs.
Other tools and resources Elsie recommends
- Leuchtturm1917 Notebook A5 Medium Dotted Hardcover (comes in other colors)
- Staedtler Back-to-School 12 Brilliant Multi Colors Triplus 0.3mm Fineliner Pens with Case
- Sakura 30062 6-Piece Pigma Micron Ink Pen Set, Black
- Uni-ball Jetstream Extra Fine & Micro Point Click Retractable Roller Ball Pens
- The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Months, by Brian P. Moran & Michael Lennington
- The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, by Charles Duhigg
- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, by Marie Kondo
What happens on a day you feel gets away from you?
You have to go back to the basics and what matters most.” ~ Elsie Escobar
It’s easy to beat yourself up and push yourself harder, thinking you’ll wake up earlier the next day. But Elsie says she wants to work on cutting herself some slack and taking the time to sit down and meditate, rather than waking up and immediately starting to work. Taking that little bit of time to start the day with quiet can make all the difference, but can sometimes be the hardest thing to do.
Final thoughts from Elsie
I don’t believe that leaps of excellence can come without the slack.”
What do you think?
Do you have questions for Elsie? Did anything she said particularly resonate with you? I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments on this episode. Please feel free to ask your questions or share your thoughts with me by emailing me, commenting on our Facebook page, or leaving a comment below.
Connect with Elsie
Elsie Escobar works in the cross-section of technology, digital media & holistic living with a heavy bias on podcast strategy and creative use of audio. As a podcaster since 2006, she was one of the first female “indie” podcasters using audio to teach yoga.
Her obsession for podcasting got her a job working with Libsyn, the largest podcast host and distribution network created in 2004. She has been there since 2007 and has had the pleasure of working with hundreds of podcasters, giving them tools for better production, educating them in the space as well as cultivating a strong community, through The Feed: The Official Libsyn podcast which she both co-hosts and produces.
Elsie also co-manages, with her friend Jessica Kupferman, the only community for women in podcasting with a corresponding podcast called She Podcasts. Its sole mission is to empower women to share their voices while creating a safe community of education and support. Elsie and Jessica also co-run the only how to podcast course for women only, Podcasting School For Women!
Reminders and Notices
- Don't forget to vote for The Productive Woman (and our friends) in the People's Choice Podcast Awards!
- I’m available to speak at your events — women’s retreats and conferences, productivity workshops, business teams, etc. Send me an email or call me at 972.638.0308.
- Visit the new Resources tab at the website. Links to resources we produce, like the project planning template, the digital toolbox, Emily Prokop’s weekly docket, the decluttering questions tool from episode 83, and a printable of the 13 Questions to Improve Productivity from episode 87. I’ll also be adding info about books and other resources I recommend.
I would love to have your help!
- Subscribe, rate, and review The Productive Woman in iTunes 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.