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A podcast intended to help busy women find the tools and encouragement they need to better manage their lives, their time, their stress, and their stuff, so they can accomplish the things they care about and make a life that matters.

The Productive Woman Laura McClellan

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    • 5,0 • 3 Bewertungen

A podcast intended to help busy women find the tools and encouragement they need to better manage their lives, their time, their stress, and their stuff, so they can accomplish the things they care about and make a life that matters.

    The Art of Balancing Solo and Social Time

    The Art of Balancing Solo and Social Time

    There is no doubt that alone time is an essential part of our self-care. But totally isolating ourselves can be harmful to our psyche. In this episode we're talking about the art of balancing solo and social time.

    Finding the right balance between solo and social time can help us be more productive (in all the best ways)

    After some recent conversations with my husband about introversion, solitude, and loneliness, I’ve been thinking a lot about the need for both time alone and time with other people--and how to balance those competing needs. I started researching what’s been written about that and thought I’d share a bit of what I’ve found. The general consensus seems to be that whether you're juggling a career, family, or simply the daily demands of life, finding that sweet spot between solitude and socialization is key to our well-being and productivity.

    The Significance of "Me Time"

    Let's start with why "Me Time" is not just a luxury—it's a necessity--and not just for introverts. According to a study published in The Journal of Personality in 2021, “extroverts also get exhausted from social interactions and need time to recharge themselves” [from Why you must strike a balance between socialising and me-time].  

    Why? In addition to just the rest and recharging we get, solo time is our chance for self-reflection, self-discovery, and personal growth. It's when we can really tune into our own needs, desires, and who we are at our core. This makes solitude important for fostering a strong sense of self-identity. 

    But it's not just about knowing ourselves—it's also about taking care of ourselves. Whether it's through meditation, a hobby, or just sitting quietly with our thoughts, these moments alone are vital for stress relief and emotional health.  

    Women often put their own needs last, focusing instead on caring for others. But taking time for oneself isn't selfish—it's essential. Solitude allows for deeper self-reflection, which is crucial for personal growth and understanding one's own needs.

    The Role of Social Interactions

    While solo time is very important, we can't underestimate the value of social interactions--even for introverts. Our relationships with friends, family, and colleagues not only offer emotional support but also help us feel connected and valued. According to Tanu Choksi, a counselling psychologist based in Mumbai, social interactions “release dopamine and serotonin and make you feel good about yourself, alleviating anxiety and stress, increasing confidence levels, self-esteem, etc.”  

    In the same article where Choksi was quoted on that point, another Mumbai-based psychotherapist is quoted as citing numerous studies indicating that “indicate people who have satisfying relationships with family, friends, and their larger community are happier, have fewer health problems, and live longer.” 

    And let's not forget about networking. In the professional world, building and maintaining connections can open up new opportunities and pathways for growth. Most professionals and entrepreneurs need to invest time in social interactions--whether through conferences, networking events, or even in-office events--in order to build their careers, their client bases, and even their knowledge base. 

    Finding that balance is crucial. Networking and socializing can lead to incredible opportunities, professionally and personally, but the experts I consulted agree it's about quality over quantity.

    • 22 Min.
    My Tools for Efficient Work

    My Tools for Efficient Work

    We all have specific tasks we need to complete each day, whether for our employment or in our home. The tools we use can make all the difference. In this week's episode I share some of the tools I use for efficient work.


    Having the right tools on hand can make for a more productive satisfying workday

    As I was working this past week I started thinking about the things I do--systems and tools I’ve set up over the years--to make sure I can get my work done effectively and efficiently. I’ve been doing this for a long time, but over the years I’ve learned so much from seeing how other people get their work done. I thought I’d take a few minutes to share with you what’s working for me

    By way of context, my job is as a commercial real estate transactional lawyer. This involves multiple clients and multiple transactions. Every client is assigned a number, and each transaction for that has its own number. There are lots of documents to draft, using forms and precedents. Lots of email and lots of phone/Teams/Zoom calls. I am required to keep track of my time on each matter in 6-minute increments.


    * Excellent work 

    * Responsiveness to clients 

    * Efficiency (to minimize clients’ legal bills) 

    The key to achieving those priorities is maximizing my use of time, energy, and attention--and my workspace 

    I've found that the best ways of doing that are establishing consistency -- always doing the same things the same way; always put things in the same places--and routines, which minimizes decision fatigue and allows my brain to settle into the work with less distraction

    Key tasks and tools for accomplishing them

    * Software: 

    * Basic software package the firm provides: Office 365 suite (Word, Outlook (for email, calendar), Teams, Excel, One Note); Litera package (for comparing documents); Net Documents (document management); Orion (time and expense tracking) 

    * My additional software tools: TextExpander, Dropbox, ScanSnap, Zoom, a href="https://www.lastpass.com/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=19546987156&utm_term=lastpass&utm_content=146499740633&gad_source=1&gclid=Cj0KCQjwk6SwBhDPARIsAJ59Gwc_SG8sHnoHOR0qawPMsgVSnDyMOHbgf9APWDcOPlti...

    • 40 Min.
    Productive Reading: Switch Craft, by Elaine Fox, PhD

    Productive Reading: Switch Craft, by Elaine Fox, PhD

    In this latest episode of our recurring Productive Reading series, we look at Elaine Fox, PhD's fascinating book, Switch Craft: The Hidden Power of Mental Agility.

    Dr. Elaine Fox's book, Switch Craft, helps us build the skills to help us navigate a constantly changing world

    This week we're continuing our Productive Reading recurring series. In the past, we’ve talked about the lessons and key takeaways I found in books about productivity-related topics that I’ve found helpful and thought-provoking, including books by authors like Gary Keller, Charles Duhigg, Brené Brown, Courtney Carver, Jeff Sanders, James Clear, Michael Hyatt, Maura Nevel Thomas, Joshua Becker, Greg McKeown, Cal Newport, Dominique Sachse, Laura Vanderkam, Nir Eyal, and most recently talking about an intriguing book by Dr. Anna Lembke, called Dopamine Nation (episode 474). (Scroll to the bottom of this post for links to the previous episodes in the Productive Reading series.

    This time I’m sharing some of my most important takeaways from a book recommended by someone in the TPW community: Switch Craft, by Elaine Fox, Ph.D. 

    Who is Elaine Fox

     The book's back cover copy tells us that “Elaine Fox, PhD, is a psychologist, author, and the head of the School of Psychology at the University of Adelaide, Australia. Prior to her move to Australia, Dr. Fox founded and directed the renowned Oxford Centre for Emotions and Affective Neuroscience (OCEAN) at the University of Oxford. She is a leading mental health researcher, combining genetics, psychology, and neuroscience in her work. Dr. Fox also runs Oxford Elite Performance, a consulting group bringing cutting-edge science and psychology to those at the top levels of sport, business, and the military. Her 2012 book Rainy Brain, Sunny Brain is an international bestseller.”

    Why did I read this book

    This book was recommended by someone in the TPW community in a discussion in the Facebook group--I’m sorry but I can’t recall who it was and couldn’t find the post. The title and description intrigued me, as one of my lifelong weaknesses is that I struggle to cope with change and especially with uncertainty. At the beginning of the book, she included two epigraphs--quotes that she clearly thought were relevant to the book’s topic. One is a quote from Gautama Buddha that resonated with me: “Freedom and happiness are found in the flexibility and ease with which we move through change.” 

    This is another book for which I first bought the Audible version, and there was so much in it that I wanted to be able to think about that I bought a print version of it so I could re-read and annotate passages I wanted to ponder more.

    The book is subtitled: The Hidden Power of Mental Agility. The more I looked into it, the more interested I became.  

    “Harnessing the power of an agile mind--what I call “switch craft”--can be transformative.” 

    What “switch craft” is:

    “Switch craft refers to those natural skills that are necessary to help us navigate a complex and unpredictable world.” It’s the ability to adapt to change and choose the right tools to cope with challenges, obstacles, and stresses of life. 

    An “agile” mindset: “the capacity to flex our thoughts, feelings, and actions” as needed to address the inevitable change and challenges life brings

    The book is divided into several parts

    There is a brief introduction that introduces the context of the book and the problem the book is intended to solve. The section called “The Fundamentals” consists of four chapters that explain “Why Switc...

    • 51 Min.
    Swedish Death Cleaning

    Swedish Death Cleaning

    Often, the belongings we have in our home reflect a life lived well, time spent with family and friends, and other cherished memories. But getting rid of an item doesn't mean we forget the memories.

    Swedish Death Cleaning can benefit us now and our loved ones after we're gone

    Swedish Death Cleaning, or "döstädning" in Swedish, is a methodical approach to decluttering that encourages individuals, especially (but not only!) those who are older, to simplify their lives and possessions to ease the burden on loved ones who will handle their estate after they pass away. The concept has been around for a while in Swedish and Scandinavian cultures but began to gain international attention when the book The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, written by Swedish artist Margareta Magnusson, was published in 2017. 

    This method gains profound significance when considered within the context of women's lives. Historically, women have often been the custodians of family heirlooms, caretakers of homes, and the keepers of family memories. This role, while rich and fulfilling, also comes with the responsibility of managing a multitude of possessions that accumulate over a lifetime. Swedish Death Cleaning offers a dignified, practical approach to managing these possessions, ensuring that the legacy left behind is one of love, simplicity, and thoughtfulness, rather than a burden of clutter for loved ones to sort through. 

    I had heard of the concept a while ago but only recently decided to look into it. I read Ms. Magnusson’s book and other materials and thought I’d share with you what I’ve learned regarding its principles, benefits, and practical steps.

    Introduction to Swedish Death Cleanin

    Definition: The concept of "döstädning," a hybrid of the Swedish words for death ("dö") and cleaning ("städning"). A Good Housekeeping article describes it this way: “Swedish death cleaning is a well-known concept in Swedish and Scandinavian culture, where you work on eliminating unnecessary items from your home, so loved ones won't be burdened with the task after you pass.” 

    Origins: As I understand it, the concept of Swedish Death Cleaning developed within the context of Swedish culture, which prioritizes simplicity, efficiency, sustainability, cleanliness, order, and a considerate attitude towards family and friends. If you’ve been listening for a few years you might remember our guest in episode 231, Swedish journalist Jane Andersson, who introduced us to the Swedish value of lagom, roughly translated as “not too much, not too little.” Swedish death cleaning reflects that value in its focus on eliminating anything that’s unnecessary, both to make your own life simpler and to make things easier on your loved ones after you’re gone.  

    The Swedish Death Cleaning Bible notes that “By tidying up one’s life systematically, people ensure that their loved ones are not burdened with the task later.”

    Philosophical Underpinnings 

    Mindfulness and Materialism: Swedish death cleaning encourages mindfulness about the accumulation of possessions and challenges societal norms around materialism. 

    • 35 Min.
    Productive Living: Having It All, with Brooke Bentley

    Productive Living: Having It All, with Brooke Bentley

    This week's episode features my conversation with Brooke Bentley, mother, author, and former television anchor and award-winning sports reporter, talking about "having it all" and how to manage a busy life and be productive, without feeling overwhelmed.

    Having it all--possibility or myth? Brooke Bentley has some thoughts.

    I'm excited to share with you my conversation with mother, author, and former sports journalist Brooke Bentley as part of our Productive Living series.

    Who is Brooke?

    Brooke is a former television anchor and award-winning sports reporter. After graduating with a master’s in journalism from the University of Southern California, she spent two years working for the Houston Texans as a media personality and over a decade working in sports journalism. She recently released her first novel, Sideline Confidential, inspired by her work as a journalist in the NFL. Brooke now devotes her time to championing local nonprofits, including Homemade Hope, where she serves as the development director. She and her husband live in Houston and are raising two young boys. 

    How Brooke got started

    Brooke was born and raised in Houston, Texas, and always loved playing sports growing up. She also loved going to Houston Rockets games, which is where she saw a female sports reporter for the first time. Brooke decided that she would be a sports reporter someday too. She went on to Davidson College, where she played volleyball. She also got her Master's Degree in Journalism at USC and pursued her dream, despite her fears of being a female in the male-dominated industry of sports. She wasn't sure there was a place for her. Right out of college though, she did end up getting a job with the Houston Texans, which was both an exciting and humbling experience. Brooke was one of the few females working for an NFL team at the time but she learned a lot about herself and how to navigate tricky situations. Brooke realized that all the experiences she was having would make a great book. She wrote small stories here and there, but writing an entire book was hard to make time for.

    Brooke went on to work as a sports anchor and a sports reporter and also had her two children. During this time, she hung on to the dream of writing a book and was able to put in time here and there, but again, it was hard to get any real work done.

    In 2020, Brooke left sports reporting and began working in the nonprofit sector. She was no longer in the hectic space of the sports world and had some time to devote to her book. She set goals, disciplined herself, and learned more about productivity. She was able to finish her book, which came out in 2023. Brooke considers writing this book to be the most rewarding part of her career. Brooke wrote this book to share a message; it is very difficult for women to be a part of a male-dominated industry but it is possible to succeed. This book is a combination of Brooke's personal experiences, as well as those of other women. There is some fun, juicy fiction in there as well.

    A typical day for Brooke

    Brooke is a morning person and does her best work at the earliest part of the day. She typically gets up before 5:00 am so she can begin writing before her children wake up. After writing for a while, she gets her children up, makes them breakfast, gets their lunches ready, and then takes them to school. She then comes home and continues to write until lunch time. She will use her lunch break to not only eat but to exercise, take a walk, or be involved in the community in some way. She is very involved in the nonprofit organization she and her sister formed, Homemade Hope, which teaches at-risk children how to cook healthy foods.

    • 55 Min.
    Work-Life Integration

    Work-Life Integration

    Most of us have many responsibilities outside of work. How can we balance it all, though? Join me as we talk about a term that was new to me: work-life integration.


    Work-life balance . . . or work-life integration?

    Of course we’ve all heard and read about work-life balance, a phrase I’ve known for years but never much liked to use because to me it implies, first, that work and life are separate things, and second, that balance--in terms of having just the right amount of each--is possible. And in my experience it hasn’t been. So then I’ve felt like I was doing it wrong. 

    Recently, though, I read about the phrase “work-life integration,” and did some investigating into what it means and how it differs from work-life balance. Interestingly, most of the articles I found addressed the topic from the employer’s perspective, rather than the employee’s, offering suggestions for how business owners or managers can create a workplace that meets individual needs in a way that boosts both individual and company productivity. The concept and discussion are, nevertheless, worth considering for employees and the self-employed.

    Understanding Work-Life Integration

    Definition: The concept of work-life integration is perhaps best understood by how it differs from the traditional concept of work-life balance.

    There is a difference between work-life balance and work-life integration: 

    “Work-life balance is focused on keeping your work life and your personal life separate, but equal, whereas work-life integration is centered on the belief that there is no distinction between the two and that both must coexist in harmony.” [Stephen Kohler, CEO and Founder of Audira Labs, quoted in Work-Life Integration is the New Work-Life Balance. Is Your Team Ready?] 

    Another way of saying it: “While work-life balance typically emphasizes maintaining a healthy divide between our professional and personal life, work-life integration seeks to find a way for both aspects to coexist peacefully. . . . As opposed to work-life balance, which implies scales tip in one direction or another, work-life integration suggests finding harmony.” [from Work-life integration: What it is and 5 ways to develop it - emphasis mine] 

    “Rather than having distinct periods where you work for hours and then go home to do personal activities or spend time with your family, work-life integration involves working and doing personal activities when they make the most sense. An example of this is completing more work early in the morning so that you can attend a dentist's appointment in the afternoon without taking time off.” [from Work-Life Integration vs. Work-Life Balance: Key Differences]

    Evolution: The concept of work-life integration has developed in response to changing work environments, technology, and societal expectations.

    Remote work, flexible hours, and technology have blurred the lines between personal and professional life, necessitating a shift toward integration. This is magnified by the diverse needs of the workforce, including different generations, parents, singles, and those with caregiving responsibilities, and how integration accommodates these varied needs. 

    “The pandemic spurred a work-life integration that spiraled into a brimming burnout crisis. 95% of human resources executives admit that employee burnout is a leading cause of workforce turnover. Thus, enabling a healthy work-life balance is a major challenge for organizations today.

    • 29 Min.


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3 Bewertungen

So inspiring and authentic! ,

Awesome Advice

I love how knowdedgable Laura is, and she clearly knows where she's coming from as she speaks from her own experience. I get so inspired by listening to her tips, and I am always amazed at all the facts she has researched. A must-listen-to for anyone who sometimes feels overwhelmed and wants to take control of their life!

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