We all face challenges in our journey toward making a meaningfully productive life. Dr. Kesha Moore reminds us how we choose to approach those challenges will make all the difference.
A productive life created through purpose and positivity
Educator, author, and executive coach Kesha Moore, Ph.D., believes choosing a positive perspective and living with purpose lead to a life that matters. She shares a bit of her why, and her how, in this episode.
Like most women, Kesha wears multiple hats, and she sees them as different facets of expressing her personality. As an educator and entrepreneur, she gets to develop the hearts and minds of our nation’s youth. As an executive coach, she helps professional women take control over their lives. Both of these roles give her a chance to invest in others and to nurture–skills she also uses as she parents her 13-year-old twins, one of whom has autism.
Kesha sees each phase of parenting as her own personal development course. Her children are very forgiving and supportive, and yet they challenge Kesha to step up to the task. As they grow and change, she gets to grow and change as well. Her twins are just now embarking on their teenage years; rather than being worried about the challenges of that phase of life, Kesha is excited about who they are becoming, and who she is becoming through the process of interacting with them. Through her parenting journey she’s learned important lessons about embracing difference, how to create structured systems that allow people to be successful, how to celebrate very small wins, and to embrace the uncertainty of the future. She also knows what it means to refuse to accept other people’s limits on yourself or your children.
A Typical Day
Kesha’s morning begins at 6 a.m. She wears her exercise clothes to bed, so she can just get up and go downstairs and immediately do a workout DVD. She then enjoys a smoothie with supplements and veggies while getting her kids ready for school. After they’re gone, she does her morning meditation and devotional and prepares for her day. Kesha keeps a list of her personal affirmations in the bathroom so she can easily read them to be reminded of her intentions for the day while brushing her teeth and getting ready.
Kesha’s work day varies throughout the week, but she tries to organize her work day around certain principles and routines.
One is to group her activities into buckets. For example, in the morning she might be networking, and in the afternoon she might be teaching or running errands.
She also tries to alternate external and internal days, where her focus will vary from herself to others.
She always keeps focused on accomplishing her “MIGS” (most important goals) for the day. To identify her MIGs, Kesha asks herself what three things would make her feel the most proud to have completed at the end of the day.
When she has a significant amount of uncommitted time (i.e., no appointments), she schedules deep work sessions in two-hour time blocks. She will shut down all social media and other outlets during that period so she can focus on her work.
After her kids’ after-school activities, she sometimes has a coaching call with a client, but typically she spends her evenings with her children. After they go to bed at 9 p.m., she completes her bedtime routine, which includes checking her finances for the day and her calendar to see what’s on the next day’s schedule. The last 40 minutes or so before her 10 p.m. bedtime are her personal time to relax, read, or journal.
Balancing availability to others with the need to get that deep work done
Kesha mentioned that she doesn’t check email for the first two hours of the work day. I asked her how she resists the temptation to always check email–a constant source of distraction for a lot of us–and the expectation many people have for immediate responses to their emails. She made an intentional choice about how quickly she needs to respond to emails. She feels that if she responds within 12 hours, she can appropriately meet the needs of her clients and students. She manages expectations by letting her clients and students know about her email response policy, and she’s made sure the appropriate people (e.g., her children’s school) know that if something urgent arises she can always be reached via her cell phone. Kesha recommends we put boundaries around our phone and social media usage, in order to create the time and mental space to do our most important work and make a truly productive life.
When it comes to being a productive woman, Kesha’s biggest challenge is becoming too busy. She has so many things on her plate, all of them important to her, so even with all of her systems in place, she still feels rushed sometimes, and doesn’t take the time to be thoughtful and plan. When that happens, her anxiety and stress levels rise, leading to tension in her relationships. She learned that being busy is not the same as being productive. In fact, she said, sometimes her busyness was keeping her from really being efficient. It took a while to get clear on what really mattered to her, and then she decided to do less, and say no much more often.
These days a productive life seems to be defined by being busy, busy, busy–it seems that being busy is a badge of honor, which can make you feel that having white space in your life means you’re not productive enough. But filling up every moment of every day is not being productive. “Doing” is not an end unto itself; it’s a tool to create the life that has meaning to you.
Kesha’s top three productivity tools are:
- Google Calendar
- Paper and pen for writing down her “MIGS” (most important goals) for the day.
- Scheduling leisure activities such as a family activity, a massage, etc. When you have a plan for your leisure time, Kesha said, you are happier, because then you enjoy it more. Instead of just letting the time float by, she plans activities that bring her joy to do during her leisure time. “We need to be intentional about our leisure time,” Kesha says.
What happens on a day you feel gets away from you?
Kesha’s go-to answer to an overwhelming or over-stressful day is to pack it in and go to bed. She calls sleep a free vacation — it is her reset button. The next day she wakes up feeling more refreshed and optimistic.
She then looks to address the cause of the stress and overwhelm by creating more margin in her schedule. If she’s feeling anxious, that’s a signal that she has allowed herself to get too busy, so she examines how she can get out of some obligations that are making her feel stressed and create some white space in her life. She reconnects with her why, and asks herself what person she wants to be.
Kesha will sit with her “vision,” and examine why she is doing everything she is doing. Each year Kesha makes a vision board, and periodically during the year she just needs to sit there, look at it, and meditate. This allows her to reconnect with her purpose. She can cut some things from her schedule that are not central to her mission, which helps her to get back up and keep trying.
What is on the horizon for Kesha?
Kesha plans to do some free webinars on goal setting in the near future. She doesn’t want people to give up on the resolutions they set for 2017. It doesn’t matter what time of year it is; you can still make progress and accomplish your goals for the year.
Last Words on Making a Life That Matters
Kesha encourages each of us to make a life that matters to us personally, and to not live out someone else’s vision. You can create a life that makes a lasting impact on the world and that rewards you greatly — financially, emotionally, and spiritually. That is a life that is a celebration of you. Focus on your own personal vision of success, and cultivate that to create the kind of life that celebrates your own unique gifts, talents, abilities, and values.
More about Kesha
Kesha Moore, Ph.D., is an educator, author, speaker, and executive coach who helps professional women maximize their productivity while creating lives of balance. Dr. Moore is the CEO of Life In Focus Coaching. She is also the author of Your Life as a Celebration: Accomplishing your goals with less stress and more joy.
Through her writing, teaching, and coaching activities, Dr. Moore provides female professionals with the most effective, research-based strategies for their personal and career development, presenting this information in a manner that is easy to understand and apply. Dr. Moore recognizes and has compassion for the significant challenges professional women face in fulfilling the competing demands of career and family. She discusses her challenges in this area and openly admits that “I was my first client.”
Kesha is a divorced single parent of 13-year-old boy/girl twins. She enjoys dancing, reading, and travel, saying “Both reading and travel are ways in which I stretch myself, engage new cultures, and learn more about myself and my world.”
Kesha also does volunteer work around issues of affordable housing and community development, social inequality, and human rights (domestic and international).
Connect with Kesha:
On her website
Kesha on Twitter
Resources and Links:
- Visit Kesha’s website to sign up for her free Ultimate Guide to Stress Relief
- Watch Kesha’s YouTube video on How to Create Your Flow with Inspired Action (difference between being busy and living a life of purpose)
- Sign up for Kesha’s FREE webinar: Make 2017 Your Best Year Ever (busting the myths of goal setting and sharing 3 success secrets to effectively set and achieve your most important goals this year)
Announcements & Reminders
- New The Productive Woman mastermind groups will be forming soon. If you’re looking for support, encouragement, ideas, and accountability in your journey to accomplishing your goals, join us and be part of a small group of motivated women who are committed to making a life that matters–and to helping you do the same. Find more information–including audio testimonials from other women like you who’ve participated in the TPW mastermind–on the Work with Me page.
- Join us in The Productive Woman Community Facebook group.
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Kesha Moore says
Thanks Deanna, what a wonderful example of using Lent to practice new skills! We often feel like the world will fall apart if we are not always “plugged in”. Practices such as the FB fast you described remind us that it is our choice how we participate in media. It also gives us a taste of freedom and pleasure that comes with exercising our choice. I often feel more relaxed after taking such media fasts. Thanks for sharing your experience, I’m sure it will inspire others as well.
Excellent episode! I agree that social media and technology have greatly influenced our ability to focus. Last year I gave up Facebook for Lent. Well, sort of. I have some pages and groups I operate for business and community groups so I can’t just ignore those. However, I gave up my personal profile and the reading of the newsfeed. In order to do this I removed the FB app from my phone and rely on the Pages and Groups apps whenever I need to deal with them away from my computer. Lent begins next Wednesday and I’m planning to do the same again. I’m so looking forward to this!
Laura McClellan says
Thank you, Deanna. I’m glad you liked the episode. I really enjoyed talking with Kesha. I love your idea about “time out” from Facebook. I’d be interested to know how it goes, and what benefit you feel you gain from doing it.
Kat M says
Again, thinking about the pod cast and had one comment about the social media interruptions and competition of number of likes etc… however, I would like to add that the interruptions include just about any website. If you go to a page to shop, immediately a pops up box to sign up for a discount or sign up to view the page. News websites pop up ads constantly. It really interrupts your thoughts. I thought it was just me! I took the facebook app off my phone. While, I can go in via the internet app – I have to remember to do it. It helps not to see the updates. I am also thinking of removing my email too….
Laura McClellan says
Very good point (about the pop-ups, etc.). Some sites I need to visit periodically are really bad about that, with pop-ups getting in the way every time I try to navigate from one page to another.
I still have the Facebook app on my phone, but I’ve turned off all the alerts–even the little badge that shows I have a message or something–so it’s less disruptive than it used to be.
Kesha Moore says
Thanks Kat, I too get frustrated with all the pop-up ads. Although I must admit that I have some on my site as well 🙂 In this media saturated world we struggle with how to hold people’s attention above the noise. Unfortunately, too often we are actually contributing to increasing the noise. Thanks for the reminder to be more cautious. Thanks also for providing concrete ways in which we can limit our exposure to media interruptions. I always shut off all my notifications (email, FB, twitter) and put my phone on do not disturb before beginning my deep work sessions. Helps me to stay focused.
Kat M says
What an AMAZING podcast! I loved this one! MIG = Most Important Goals and I loved best the section of “I’m soooooo busy”. When people say that to me, I say in my head – they aren’t organized.
Dr. Kesha, thank you so much for sharing your anxiety experience. I am going to keep moving forward on slowing down and not over scheduling.
Great job, ladies!
Laura McClellan says
Thanks, Kat! I’m glad you enjoyed it. Kesha was a great guest with a lot of wisdom to share.
Kesha Moore says
Thanks Kat, I totally agree with you. I used to proclaim I was soooo busy like it was a badge of honor. Now I understand that being busy limits my productivity and robs me of my joy.
I too loved the idea of MIGs when I first learned of them from Stephen Covey. You may enjoy reading his book “The Four Disciplines of Executive”. I loved it!