283 episodios

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

    • Superación personal

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.

    Healthy Eating When You Don’t Have Time – TPW282

    Healthy Eating When You Don’t Have Time – TPW282

    Health matters for productivity, but eating well can be a challenge when you have a lot on your schedule.

    Healthy eating for better productivity

    This week's episode was sparked by a conversation launched in The Productive Woman Community Facebook group by a great question from Chiara: “What are your hacks for healthy eating when we are always so busy with 1000s of other things?” This is something I’ve been thinking about lately, so I was glad for Chiara’s question and the great suggestions offered by other women in the community.

    Why does it matter?

    It's just this simple: what we eat affects our health, and healthy people are more productive.

    “There have been countless studies on the effects of food and your productivity levels. The World Health Organization reports that “adequate nutrition can raise your productivity levels by 20 percent on average.” You’ll be better able to focus and accomplish tasks when you’ve eaten properly.”

    from Your Productivity Level Depends on What You Eat

    Why is it hard?

    Lack of time, money, and options. As one writer tells us:

    * You need a good market (that offers healthy food at reasonable prices)

    * You need time to shop

    * You need to transport all the food

    * You need time to cook

    * You need equipment, seasonings, and ancillary ingredients

    * You need cooking skills

    Tips and suggestions

    Ideas from the pros

    * Limit your processed foods. Junk food, cheap frozen dinners, and other packaged goods will give you a temporary spike in blood sugar, but you’ll crash hard and gain weight in the process. If you’re in a hurry, opt for a delicious organic frozen meal instead.

    * Eat the right foods. Berries, leafy greens, tomatoes, nuts and seeds, tuna, beef, dairy, whole grains, and green tea can do wonders for boosting your energy levels.

    * Eat breakfast every morning. As the study mentioned earlier points out, eating breakfast is key to high performance in the morning hours.

    * Drink plenty of water. Hydration is just as important as other nutrients while you’re trying to stay focused at work.

    * Make healthier snacks readily available. Pre-pack healthy snacks like carrot sticks, apple slices, nuts, and other healthy options so you reach for one of these rather than for a processed alternative.”

    ~ from Your Productivity Level Depends on What You Eat

    * Plan ahead. Make your eating decisions before you get hungry. Make healthy snacking easier to achieve than unhealthy snacking. Place a container of almonds and a selection of protein bars by your computer, near your line of vision. Bring a bag of fruit to the office on Mondays so that you have them available throughout the week.

    * Use an automated subscription service to restock supplies.

    ~ from What You Eat Affects Your Productivity

    * Simplify cooking. As one writer reminds us, “Meals don’t need to be elaborate to taste delicious.”

    • 27 min
    The Power of What We Can Control – TPW281

    The Power of What We Can Control – TPW281

    When it comes to making a meaningfully productive life, there is incredible power in focusing on the things we can control.

    Focusing on what we can control

    I've been reading a couple of books lately that have in different ways talked about how important our mindset is in accomplishing anything. One of them is a book by Ryan Holiday called The Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph. In this week's episode, I want to share some key reminders from this book (and others) that I've been pondering and trying to put into practice.

    For some of us, a lot of productive time is lost to either worrying about or fighting against situations and circumstances, real, imagined, or anticipated. I’ve been known to get myself worked up into tears or anger over something that hasn’t happened yet but might or things that have happened already and can’t be changed.

    For example...

    How someone might react to something I said or did or am thinking of saying or doing.

    How someone has reacted to something I said or did (or didn’t say or do, but they think I did).

    Neither of those is something I can do anything about, so spending a lot of time thinking about them will not help me be more productive or happier.

    We face obstacles and challenges - health, other people’s expectations, lack of funds, full-time job plus parenting, physical or health limitations, crises affecting us or the people we love, a difficult upbringing - and it might seem impossible. But consider developing the mindset of looking for any thing we can do, no matter how small. We can’t control our circumstances, or other people, or so many other things, but we can either use our energy to fight against the things outside our control or to look, on purpose, for something we can do . . . and then do it.

    It's easy to want to give up, and if our attention is on the things we can’t control we likely will give up. We certainly won’t make any progress at all.

    Attitudes and ideas to keep in mind

    * What matters more than our circumstances is our perception of them.

    Two people with the same circumstances may have two very different experiences, based entirely on how they perceive the situation.

    We are wired to find evidence for what we believe. If we believe we are powerless, we’ll find evidence to support that belief. If we believe we can make a difference, we’ll find evidence to support that belief.

    Life coach Brooke Castillo points out that our feelings are generated, not by the circumstances around us, but by what we think about those circumstances.

    “You will come across obstacles in life-fair and unfair. And you will discover, time and time again, that what matters most is not what these obstacles are but how we see them, how we react to them, and whether we keep our composure.”

    ~ Ryan Holiday in The Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph

    I am trying hard to learn this lesson. My initial reaction to the unexpected challenge often is not to keep my composure. Even though I’ve learned through hard experience that freaking out, especially over things I can’t control, never helps and usually makes things worse.

    “Too often we react emotionally, get despondent, and lose our perspective. All that does is turn bad things into really bad things.”

    ~ Ryan Holiday in The Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph

    • 36 min
    Capitalizing Optimal Hours of Productivity, with Min Choi – TPW280

    Capitalizing Optimal Hours of Productivity, with Min Choi – TPW280

    Professor MinKyung Choi protects her most productive time--those optimal hours--for the work that matters most to her.

    Capitalizing on your personal optimal hours to accomplish what matters

    MinKyung Choi is an Assistant Professor at Bronx Community College ("BCC") at the City University of New York in the Department of Education and Academic Literacy, where her research focuses on literacy development in both adolescents and adults. Min has taught at BCC for the past five years, teaching mostly freshmen students. Before that, she studied creative writing, which is a passion of hers. She has taught creative writing workshops for middle and high school students in New York as well. Min lives in New Jersey with her husband and two energetic children, ages 5 and 3.

    Min grew up in South Korea. At around the age of 10, she was thrown into a new schooling environment that used a different language than the one she had grown up in, so she has first-hand experience of what it means to "become literate," not just in the sense of being able to read words phonetically, but really understanding the text.

    As she studied creative writing, she had opportunities to teach at middle schools and high schools in Queens & Harlem, and to court-involved youths,  which exposed her to a wide variety of populations and students. It was here that she really fell in love with teaching literacy--specifically, teaching students not just how to read, but also about the value of reading in the world today.

    In her research, and in working with professors from other disciplines such as mathematics or chemistry (areas that most people do not associate with reading being a strong component), Min learned that literacy isn't just about the text itself, but about how to create a "transaction" between the reader and the text. She believes a lot of it lies on the instructor's approach to teaching literacy - not just to absorb text, but to really have an interaction with the text. So it's important that instruction focus on those aspects as well.

    A typical day

    Min is a morning person, usually up between 3 and 4 am. In her 20s and before she got married, she would be up by 6 am. But as she was writing her dissertation, while working, while having and raising kids, she realized the hours between 3 and 6 am worked best for her because it's when she is at her maximum productivity level and her brain is sharp and ready to go. So that is when she gets the bulk of her work done for the day.

    Between 6 and 7 am, she gets ready for work, prepares breakfast for the family, & packs school lunches. From 7 to 8, she and her husband wake the kids and gets them ready for school, and get everyone out the door. She then goes straight to work and works until she has to pick up the kids at 5 pm.

    From 5 to 9 pm, it's all about the family: getting dinner ready, supervising homework, washing up the kids, and putting them to bed.

    At 9 pm, Min is in bed. At first, this was difficult for her to come to terms with because she felt that she had to do something after the kids were in bed, but then she would struggle to stay up and realized she didn't have the energy or focus at that time of day to get any meaningful work done. She doesn't fight it anymore.

    Basically, she recognizes the time when her brain works best and then orders her life in such a way that takes advantage of her most productive hours. During these hours, she writes, reads articles, writes literature reviews, writes grant proposals, plans curriculums, or anything else that requires some creativity and brainpower. She tries not to catch up on emails at that time.

    At the beginning of each semester, Min challenges her students to figure out their own optimal hours of productivity in a 24-hour span and try to organize their days to allow them to do their most im...

    • 44 min
    Getting Stuff Done – TPW279

    Getting Stuff Done – TPW279

    What gets in the way of getting stuff done, and how can we overcome those obstacles?

    Overcoming obstacles to getting stuff done

    We all have stuff to do - things we need to do, things we want to do. But a lot of us feel like we’re always behind. Sometimes our to-do list becomes an accuser or a sign of failure. I don’t think it has to be that way, but what can we do about it? How do we decide what needs to be done and overcome the obstacles to getting it done?

    How do we decide what to do?

    * Make a list of all the things you’re doing or need or want to be doing

    * What’s MOST important to you?

    * WORK: What are your key responsibilities, the key tasks you’re getting paid for

    * PERSONAL: What is most important to you? (This might change depending on the stage of life you're in.)

    * Identify what’s getting in the way of you taking action on those most important things.

    * What can you change to make sure your best time, energy, and attention are devoted to the things that matter most? Examples:

    * Say no more often

    * Learn to let go - Get others involved (family, co-workers, etc.)

    * Do you have the resources available to hire help?


    * Overwhelm - You have too much to do or you have projects that are too big so you don’t know where to start.

    * Fatigue - You just don’t have the physical or mental energy it takes to do what needs to be done.

    * Lack of confidence- You’re simply not confident in your ability to do what you need or want to do.

    * Disorganization

    * No place to capture those to-dos, so you’re not really sure what needs to be done

    * Rather than taking purposeful, efficient action, you’re reacting to whatever’s making the most noise

    * Disorganized space makes everything take longer because you can't find the supplies you need your you have to work around clutter.

    * Unrealistic expectations

    * About what we need to or “should” do

    * About what we are or “should be” capable of doing - taking on things we need not do, that other people could do

    * About how long it will take (how much we can do in a set period of time)

    * Lack of preparation - Not getting the information or resources we need

    * Interference (whether internal distractions  or interruptions from other people)

    How do we overcome the obstacles?

    * Overwhelm

    * Triage - learn to identify the tasks that are most important and need to be done by you, and delete/delegate the others. The clearer you are on your key values and priorities, the easier it is to weed out those projects and tasks that don’t reflect those values.

    * Listen to TPW Episode 175 on Delegation

    * Break the big things down into small components

    “There are four types of tasks: unnecessary work, distracting work, necessary work, and purposeful work. With a finite number of things we can focus on, he urges us to choose “purposeful work” that’s both productive and attractive. Purposeful work involves activities that are simultaneously engaging and impactful. . . .

    ~ Chris Bailey, author of The Productivity Project and Hyperfocus, quoted in

    A Masterclass in Getting Stuff Done,

    • 50 min
    11 Ways to Keep Your New Year Motivation Going – TPW278

    11 Ways to Keep Your New Year Motivation Going – TPW278

    Achieving our goals requires consistent action. Does your motivation to take productive action fade as the year goes on?

    How do you keep your motivation strong as the year continues?

    Many of us get inspired at the beginning of a new year to set ambitious goals or dive into projects aimed at improving our health, our career, our home, our relationships. But it usually doesn’t take long for the day-to-day of life to take over and that initial enthusiasm that propelled us starts to wear off. It’s so common as to be a joke how gyms are packed in the first week of January and nearly empty by the first week of February.

    But all the best, most valuable accomplishments take consistent action over time - sometimes a lot of time.

    So how can we keep going after that first-of-the-new-year motivation starts to fade?

    “Motivation is not magic. It does not come in a bottle. There is no little blue pill for it. But it's something you can tap into by design then harness.”

    ~ Suzanne Gerber

    from How to Stay Motivated and Accomplish Anything

    “All motivation is self-motivation.”

    ~ Lolly Dascal, President and CEO of Lead from Within

    from 19 Highly Effective Ways to Stay Motivated

    Ways to stay motivated & refresh your motivation 

    ◊ Remind yourself of your why and write it down in detail. It’s easy to forget in the day-to-day bustle why we’re doing what we do; some things to journal about

    * Where did the idea come from to do this thing?

    * How did you feel about the idea when you first had it--what emotion? (excitement? fear? nervousness? confusion? anticipation? joy? determination?)

    * What did you think you would get as a result of accomplishing this goal or completing this project?

    ◊ Take care of yourself - it’s hard to stay motivated if you’re exhausted. Eat food that fuels you, drink plenty of water instead of caffeinated beverages, move your body daily, and don’t sacrifice necessary rest for a few more hours of work. Be ruthless about identifying and cutting out the less important so you can make time to both take action toward your most important goals and take care of yourself.

    ◊ Create habits and routines that bypass your resistance and keep you taking automatic action. Habits work in a different part of our brain and become almost unconscious action.

    “First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won’t. Habit is persistence in practice.”

    ~ Octavia E. Butler in How are habits formed in the brain?

    What actions do you need to take in order to accomplish your goal? Turn them into habits on purpose. Form the habit of doing the things you need to do

    * Examples:

    * Drink a glass of water as soon as you get out of bed

    * Write 5 sentences or work on your new business while you’re drinking your coffee

    * Make a phone call to a prospect each morning when you sit down at your desk

    * Stop at the gym on your way home from work, or go up and down the stairs 3 times during your lunch break

    Once you do this often enough, it will become a habit that you won’t have to think about - habits are stronger and more powerful than willpowerbr /...

    • 43 min
    10 Things to Declutter – TPW277

    10 Things to Declutter – TPW277

    The beginning of a new year is a great time to declutter your space. This week's episode offers some ideas and inspiration to get you started.

    Declutter to make your space more peaceful and functional

    The beginning of a new year is a time when a lot of us are thinking about fresh starts, such as setting goals, and getting our lives and our homes in order, and decluttering. I thought this would be a good time to talk about decluttering and 10 categories that we can consider decluttering in.

    Why do we hang on to things we don’t use or love?

    * Fear of lack (what if I need it?)

    * Guilt for how much we spent

    * Sentiment (gifts and memories associated with them)

    “Clutter is no more than postponed decisions”

    10 categories to consider decluttering

    1. Books

    Ideas for decluttering books

    * A good place to start: old/outdated reference books

    * Consider setting limits for yourself: a certain number of shelves and no more--once those are full, if you bring new ones home, some have to go

    * Donate to your church library, a senior housing center, kids books to a daycare center or preschool

    * You can take them to Half-Priced Books (or your local used-book store) to get a little cash for them.

    2. Clothes

    Ideas for decluttering clothes

    * Items that don't fit

    * Anything that’s stained or snagged or generally shabby looking

    * Things that need buttons or other repairs - either get them repaired right away or get rid of them

    * Multiples of the same thing: Keep the ones you wear regularly, but let go of the others

    * Anything you haven’t worn in the past year


    * More space = more peaceful

    * Less laundry to wash/fold

    * Less feeling bad from looking at overstuffed closets and drawers, clothes you spent money on but don’t wear

    * Fewer decisions to make = less stress

    * Someone else can enjoy the things you don’t wear

    * Extra money if you sell on resale apps such as Poshmark or Mercari

    The same applies to your children’s clothes. Also, check out former guest Courtney Carver’s book, Project 333, which is all about her experiment of keeping only 33 items in her closet. Listen to episode 169 for my conversation with her.

    3. Kitchen stuff

    When you declutter the kitchen, you'll have a more efficient and workable kitchen. You'll also spend less time cleaning and organizing stuff.

    Ideas for decluttering kitchen items:

    * Appliances you don’t use

    * Even if you spent a lot of money, it’s not an asset if you’re not using it. It’s costing you in terms of space, aggravation, and guilt.

    * If you haven’t used it in a year or more:

    * Sell on Facebook Marketplace

    * Give it to a friend or relative

    * Donate to your church kitchen or a local charity that helps single moms or women who’ve left abusive homes

    * Food storage containers - how many do we really need? Get rid of old, chipped, or plastic containers.

    • 55 min

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