Sales professional and single mom Shelly Clayton shares her approach to creating productive days and making a life that matters.
Finding your own way to create productive days
Shelly Clayton is a sales professional in the healthcare industry, an avid mountain biker and runner, and single mom to 8-year-old twins. As a matter of survival she has developed routines and systems to help her make the best use of her time throughout the day.
A Typical Day
Shelly’s day starts very early. She jokes that she goes through the stages of grief before she fully wakes up in the morning. She knows what lies ahead and goes through denial, and then acceptance, and then realizes she needs to get her running shoes on and get out the door. She feels that a sense of humor has helped her to keep things moving along because there is so much to pack in a day.
Rising early helps Shelly to set a good tone for the day. After her early-morning run (while the kids are still sleeping), she takes a cold shower to cool down, then gets the kids breakfast and gets them ready for the day. The kids are able to walk to school and to their before-school program at the nearby YMCA, so once they’re off to school, it’s off to work for Shelly.
Shelly’s day is full of transitioning between roles. She spends her day out meeting with clients, then picks up her twins from their after-school care at the YMCA. Back home, it’s time to get dinner on the table. Time is precious, but their health is important to her, so she’s learned some ways to prepare food ahead of time so she can quickly put a healthy meal together.
After dinner and homework, the kids bathe and they all read for 30 minutes. This is a win-win for Shelly as she gets her reading time in as well.
Bedtime for the twins is 8 p.m. Shelly shuts her screens down by 9 p.m. and is usually in bed by 9:30 p.m.
Like a lot of us, Shelly tends to focus on what doesn’t go well rather than what does. She is striving to look for the positive. Her biggest challenges are the multiple transitions from one role to another and dealing with unanticipated changes. Both mental and physical transitions are challenging for her.
She tries to focus on the positive things that have worked well, anticipate some things in advance, and have a plan for when things don’t go as expected so she can negate some of the damage.
Shelly also struggles with consistency. She admires the military and their consistency and discipline. She tries to incorporate those ideals, but it is difficult for her.
To make life easier at home, Shelly has devised creative ways to get the kids to do their chores in the morning. She didn’t want to have to remind them to do their chores all the time. Since they love Minecraft, she printed some Mine Chore Charts, and it has streamlined the morning routine for their family. The chore chart has worked well for her twins, but it has also helped her own productivity and routines.
Shelly really likes Google applications — Google Calendar, Keep, Drive, Sheets, etc. These tools help make her transitions easier because she can take her work with her, access her documents on the go, and have the information she needs readily available no matter where she is. It’s almost like her personal assistant.
Shelly uses Google Keep to pin a “Master” list and a “Today” list. She checks her lists each morning and then again in the evening, moving tasks between those two lists. The tasks on the Today list are those that need immediate attentions, while the master list is where she captures ideas and tasks that come up during the day.
Shelly recommends Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. The process and principles taught in the book have helped Shelly know the “how” behind deciding what is needed and what is not, so she’s been able to take on a more minimalist lifestyle, saving time and energy for things more important than organizing, cleaning, and maintaining “stuff.”
What happens on a day you feel gets away from you?
Shelly has found that there are times during the day when she is more productive, and other times of the day she is more creative. She tries to plan her day around those times, and she knows by the end of the day she is out of energy. One way she has learned to counteract that derailing that can happen is by implementing a breathing exercise to help her to relax, and she even uses it sometimes when she’s driving.
For a long time Shelly felt she couldn’t implement meditation successfully, but she found a guided meditation that is a series of podcasts led by Mary Maddux. The meditations vary in length, so she’s able to customize which episodes she listens to and meditates with depending on what’s going on that day (i.e. tiredness, give yourself more grace, etc). She’s found those to be extremely helpful at recentering and weathering the remainder of the day.
What’s on the horizon for Shelly?
“The only thing that is constant is change,” says Shelly. When Shelly was going through her divorce, a good friend told her to imagine her life in five years, write that vision down as goals, and to work toward those goals. So she wrote them down on an index card, but then set it aside. As it happens, she was moving to a new home just when that five-year mark had arrived. In packing for the move, she came across that card and was astounded to realize that all of those things had come true. She has continued to do this exercise on an index card, an approach that helps her to keep her focus.
Shelly is looking to retire early, and would like to work at a nonprofit that helps single parents with support and advocacy. She is also hoping to invest in real estate, an interest born out of her having done a full scale remodel on her home.
Last Words on Making a Life That Matters
Shelly agrees that we need to extend grace. She reminds us that “you are enough.” She also believes in advocating for yourself and for what you believe, and for your children. At times when she has acquiesced or hasn’t pursued her ambitions or goals, then that is when struggles and difficulty have set in. Just trying to find avenues and supportive resources has helped her to move forward.
Shelly reminds listeners that if you’ve found something that has worked well in one area of your life, it can sometimes help you to find creative solutions in other aspects of your life.
Connect with Shelly:
More about Shelly
As a sales professional in the healthcare industry, Shelly works out of her home doing outside sales, and also spends time in medical offices and enjoys being of service to them. She also has eight-year old ‘spirited’ twins, and they give meaning and purpose to her life.
She’s an avid mountain biker, runner, and soccer mom. She’s recently begun broadening her investing to include the biotech sector and real estate, working toward her early retirement goal. Shelly belongs to a local chapter of the charity organization Dining for Women.
Resources and tools Shelly recommends:
- Treadmill desk ($100 used treadmill purchased on Craig’s list + free wood panel and screws)
- Google Keep
- Google Drive
- Google Sheets
- Tsh’s daily docket
- The Sweet Spot: How to Accomplish More by Doing Less, by Dr. Christine Carter
- The Knack: How Street-Smart Entrepreneurs Learn to Handle Whatever Comes Up, by Norm Brodsky
- The MoneySmart Family System (Annette and Steve Economides)
- Meditation Oasis Podcast
- For phone texting and email: SwiftKey
- Breathing Techniques for relaxation and stress relief
- To block Ads when on-line: Get Ad Block
- Inspiration: Success.com
- Remodeling: Homewyse.com
What do you think?
Announcements & Reminders
- Are you looking for support, ideas, and encouragement as you pursue your goals? Would you welcome someone to come alongside you in your journey to making a life that matters? My greatest privilege is working with women to clarify, strategize, refine, and accomplish their goals. Check out the Work with Me page for more information about The Productive Woman Mastermind groups and personalized one-on-one productivity coaching. I’d love to work with you!
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.
Royse City, Texas