Productivity isn’t about getting more things done; it’s about getting the right things done. It's about making a life that matters to us. Recently I was part of a panel comprised of women from three countries, all of us podcasters who focus on productivity. Priscille Livenais of France, Julie Sheranosher of Israel, and I had a great conversation about our different approaches to creating the life you want for yourself.
It really was a diverse panel comprised of a long-time married mom of 5 adult children, a single mom of 2 boys, and a young entrepreneur, each bringing her own experiences and perspective to the conversation about productivity.
How Do You Make the Life You Want?
Every couple months, Julie sits down and takes a big look at her life. Questions she asks herself include:
- How do I want my life to be?
- What do I want to have in my life?
- What do I want from my life?
Realize that life changes. It takes many little steps to accomplish what you want from your life. Making time for this regularly and being mindful of the changes in your life helps readjust your goals and objectives.
One of the biggest hacks to help me to become more productive is knowing it’s not going to be a one-stop shop. I have to constantly take a look at what I want my life to be.” ~ Julie
Rituals and routines are the foundation to a good and productive day. Priscille reminded us of wise advice from an historic American statesman:
By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” ~ Benjamin Franklin
We all have hectic mornings that get away from us. We wake up late, the morning is spent rushing around, trying to get yourself and others in your family ready, and it may seem like the whole world is conspiring against us. This not only affects us, but everyone in our homes.
This is not a good start to the day. One of the first steps to help us have a good day is having a routine to build a good foundation to the day.
Rituals and routines
A routine is about fulfilling the basic needs.
- Going to the bathroom
- Getting dressed
- Taking care of the family/kids
- Leaving on time
A productive routine starts the day before. It’s always easier to prepare yourself in the evening to avoid rushing in the morning. Getting up on time and having a routine that suits you will help you leave on time. Depending on the season of your life, you can make this as simple as you need. For instance, taking these small steps in the evening will greatly improve how the next day will start:
- Look at your calendar to prepare for the next day. It helps you start the next day knowing what the first thing you have to do first thing.
- Prepare your bag accordingly.
- Check the weather forecast to adjust clothing choices for you and your children.
- Prepare to have a good night by switching off devices 30 minutes or so before going to bed.
- Calm your mind by reading, meditation, journaling, or whatever works for you.
- Try to get the amount of sleep you need.
Rituals help keep your routine. Rituals are activities you do for your mind and body. Priscille, for example, enjoys self-massage in the morning. That ritual has become part of her routine and, even if she needs to wake up to catch a plane or train, doing that helps her feel better.
Other rituals can be jogging, pilates, tai chi, yoga, journaling, reviewing your goals, reading (not your Facebook page), or anything else that prepares and nourishes your mind with positive feelings.
Productivity for men vs. women
Although the principles and tools of productivity have universal application, often women experience it differently than men, on a more personal and relational level. Many of the most well known productivity experts are men, and many of them strongly urge people to get up earlier for practices like meditation, reading, journaling, exercise, etc.
While these may be good practices, they might not be practical for all–being able to take that morning quiet time depends on your stage in life as a woman. As a mother of small children, for instance, you may get up many times during the night and you would need that extra sleep in the morning. Julie, Priscille, and I agree that your routine should fit the basic needs of yourself and your family.
Everyone has to adapt the different advice for themselves. It’s not a magic tool box.” ~ Priscille
Are women naturally more productive than men?
Laura: It depends on how you define “productive.” I define it as ordering your life in such a way as to accomplish the things that matter to you most and allow you to create the life you want for yourself and the people you care about. I'm not sure I think women are naturally more productive than men. I do think that often men are better at focusing on one thing at a time and excluding everything else. Women, on the other hand, always seem to have an eye toward the other obligations in their lives–you may go to work, but continue thinking about what needs to happen at home.
Julie: We can’t define it in terms of all men or all women, but in general, women are naturally intuitive planners whereas men are often more apt to dive into the pool and then learn to swim. Neither approach is intrinsically better than the other, but she notices with her boyfriend how he fails to see how being late for one thing will eat into other areas of his daily schedule.
Priscille: Women may be a bit more oriented to multitasking, which is not actually a benefit to true productivity. We need to learn to resist that impulse.
Why multitasking is counter-productive
Julie compared our brain to a computer processor. We can do only one thing at a time with 100% attention or we can do five things at once with only 20% dedicated to each. On the other hand, not all tasks are born equal. Julie divides her tasks into categories, depending on how much attention each one requires.
- Full attention tasks – Tasks that require 100% of your attention.
- Important tasks – Tasks that can have some quality given up in order to squeeze something else in, like proofreading on her phone and walking the dog.
- Multitasks – Tasks that can be done simultaneously, like driving to work and listening to a podcast.
You can do more than one thing at a time if neither one of them takes focused attention.” ~ Laura
What do you think?
Did our conversation spark any questions? Or can you share a tip that might help the rest of us? Please share your questions, comments, and suggestions in the comments section below or on The Productive Woman's Facebook page, or email me.
Connect with Julie
Connect with Priscille
**Note: Most of what Priscille posts on her website is in French, but she does include English versions of many elements of her website and blog. As you hear on this episode, she speaks English very well and would love to hear from both French-speaking and English-speaking listeners!Click here to discover my favorite apps!
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