300 episodes

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

    • Self Help
    • 5.0, 4 Ratings

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.

    Intentional Priorities, with Elizabeth Benton

    Intentional Priorities, with Elizabeth Benton

    In this week's episode, Elizabeth and I talk about having a positive mindset and living according to your priorities.

    Setting intentional priorities to make your life that matters

    Elizabeth Benton is the owner of Primal Potential. Through her platform of podcasts, coaching, and live events, she has fueled her deepest struggles into a burning passion to help people create transformations and live more fulfilled lives. Elizabeth and her husband live in the northeastern United States with their dog and chickens. When she is not working, she enjoys reading and supporting her favorite football team.

    A life-changing decision

    Elizabeth has been in business for about six years. The decision to start a business came after years of pain and struggle. Elizabeth was depressed, deeply in debt, and obese. As a nutrition expert and educator who binged on junk food every time she put gas in her car, she felt like a fraud and a failure. Desperate to start her life, she decided to believe in her potential rather than her past.

    Elizabeth did this by making a mental shift and changing her perspective. She lost 150 pounds, paid off $130,000 in debt, and remains debt-free as a successful entrepreneur. From that point on, Elizabeth knew she wanted to help others who had been where she had been, stuck in the trying and wanting, but not seeing things through, and getting in their own way with excuses. Since starting Primal Potential, she has put out 800 podcast episodes and written her first book. Elizabeth's biggest passion is relationships with others and structuring her life around what matters most.

    Your mindset affects your life

    Elizabeth says that when it comes to making changes to our lives, most of us already know what to do. For example, we know that to lose weight, we need to exercise and eat right. The challenge we run in to, though, is that excuses, fears, and stories get in the way, causing us to change gears after a month and switch to a new plan or approach. We get stuck in a cycle of jumping from plan to plan but the same doubts, fears, stories, and excuses continue to follow us.

    Our mindset is what is preventing us from accomplishing our goals and making changes, and that is what we need to work on. We need to upgrade our mindset. Once we do this, everything gets easier.

    “We have to stop pretending that change is all about skill set. It’s not. It’s about mindset.” 

    A typical day

    Elizabeth says that on a typical day, she will wake up, put her shoes on, and drive down to the Cape Cod Canal for a 4-mile walk. She likes to get this done within 15-20 minutes of waking up.

    She will then come home, shower and dress, and get ready for her day. She will make herself a shake, walk to her home office (in a separate building on her property), and dive into her Primal Potential work.

    Elizabeth typically has 2 to 3 big projects she works on each day, which she prioritizes first, and then fits the smaller tasks in between those.

    In the mid-morning or early afternoon, she will head to the gym for a quick work out. After returning from the gym, Elizabeth will complete any leftover work tasks she may have. Before leaving work for the day, she makes sure she has a clear idea of her priorities and objectives for the following workday.

    Resources and tools Elizabeth recommends

    Due to all the roles Elizabeth fills as an entrepreneur, she uses a variety of simple but helpful tools to get her through her day. Her most used tool is Google calendar. Elizabeth uses this to schedule her whole day, including meetings and interviews, as well as exercise and personal time with her husband. Elizabeth's calendar is available to her whole team so they know when th...

    • 49 min
    Using Free Time Well

    Using Free Time Well

    When normal activities are suspended, whether during a pandemic or due to some other change in circumstances, we might find ourselves with more than the usual amount of free time. How can we use that unexpected free time in positive and productive ways?

    When times are strange, we can still use our free time in a positive way

    Since around March in the United States, life has been very different from normal. Even for those who are not ill, many of us have been staying home--some working from home and some not able to work at all. Many planned activities have been canceled. For many of us, the pace of life has slowed down and time that once was filled with activities we enjoyed is now unfilled.

    Slowing down a bit can be a good thing because it gives us the opportunity to evaluate how we are spending our time. However, with no end in sight to this "new normal", this can be difficult as well.

    During the crisis, individuals, depending on circumstances, may experience anger, anxiety, avoidance, boredom, confusion, decreased concentration, depression, detachment, emotional exhaustion, insomnia, isolation, grief, guilt, sadness or other symptoms,” says Michael Morgenstern, MD, who is board-certified in both neurology and sleep medicine by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. “The severity of these feelings, and our ability to cope with them so that they don’t interfere with our daily function, is important.” [from The Lasting Impact of COVID-19: How Will It Affect Our Mental Health?] 

    Ideas for how to spend your time

    Each of us has to find her own way to cope with the uncertainty, the changes, and the resulting anxiety. One way to turn it around is to use this time differently. Give yourself something to look forward to or direct your attention away from the uncertainty. Use this time in a positive way.

    Improve a professional skill

    * Take some online training covering subjects relevant to your career or another area of interest. If you are required to get a certain amount of continuing education credits each year anyway, this helps to satisfy that requirement and expand your knowledge. Whatever your job or profession may be, is there a skill you rely on that you can work on improving during your downtime? 

    Revive an old hobby or interest

    * What did you used to enjoy that you haven’t had time for? Needlework, gardening, painting, playing an instrument? Working on family scrapbooks or photo albums? Reading books? (Our local library is open during certain hours, but if you can’t go to the library (but have a library card), most libraries make e-books and audiobooks available for checkout via apps like Libby from OverDrive.) Maybe you enjoy writing? How about some poetry, fiction, articles, or a blog? You could start a blog to chronicle this experience and share any knowledge you may have. Or even just journaling. Imagine reading your journal 20 years from now and remembering this experience.

    Renew friendships

    * Find creative ways to reach out to friends. This is a great time to renew friendships that are important to us and reconnect with others. Right now, social media is probably not the best option to do this. There is a lot of negativity and anger on social media sites and it’s easy to misinterpret things that are said. Mental health experts have been encouraging us...

    • 40 min
    Mid-Year Reflection

    Mid-Year Reflection

    We’ve just finished the first half of 2020 and have turned the corner into the second half. It’s been a year unlike any other I’ve experienced in my 6 decades and at this midpoint of the year I’ve been thinking about that, and you, a lot. 

    A mid-year pause to reflect on an extraordinary year

    How are you feeling right now? Are things going well, or are you and your family struggling? Perhaps emotionally, physically, or financially?

    At this mid-year point, I thought it would be a good time to pause, reflect, and regroup. It’s something I do every year, and for me, it’s even more important now.

    We talked about this several years ago, in episode 95. As I said then, a mid-year review is my way of pausing to make sure I’m on the right track for the year (while there is still time to adjust my course) and heading in the direction of accomplishing the right things by year-end. During this mid-year review time I can:

    * Regain focus and awareness. Reviewing my goals helps me to evaluate where I am and where my intention is focused. It’s easy to get lost in just getting from one day to the next. Taking the time to do a mid-year review gives me the opportunity to refocus if I need to. 

    * Evaluate or re-evaluate my goals. Do my goals still make sense? Or do I need to adjust my goals and strategy?

    * Get back on track. If I’ve gotten sidetracked from my goals, I can look at everything again and focus on why I set those goals in the first place.

    The process for doing my mid-year review is pretty straight-forward. Again, please refer back to episode 95  for a little more detail.

    The first half of the year

    To start, begin by carving out a little time when you can think. Sit down with a pen and paper and take a look back, then a look forward.

    Thinking back over the first half of the year, January through June, what went well? That may seem like a hard question given the current events, but it's good to have a positive mindset. Take out your calendar or journal and look back over what you did, what events you attended, places you went. What do you feel good about and can celebrate? What worked?

    Even in the most trying times, we can find something that went well.

    On the other hand, what did you plan to do that didn't happen and why?

    With all that has happened this year, our reason for not accomplishing our goals can be attributed to the Coronavirus and quarantine measures. But think a little deeper than that. What about the Coronavirus prevented you from accomplishing a goal or working on a project? Maybe there is a deeper reason, like your ability to stay on task and focus due to all the world events going on at this time, health concerns, financial problems, etc. These worries can really affect your motivation and ability to accomplish things. 

    Being distracted by things going on around you doesn't mean there is something wrong with you.

    Think back over all you planned to do and ask yourself if you want to try that plan again. Is this goal still important? Is it still worth pursuing? It's okay to rethink and re-evaluate your goals. During the first half of this year, many of us have had a change in our priorities. This is a good time to lay a foundation for moving forward in a positive direction.

    The second half of the year

    After you finish looking back over the previous six months, it's now time to look forward.

    Think about how you want to feel for the next six months. Where do you want to be at the end of 2020? Remember,

    • 32 min
    Reclaiming Your Creativity, with Majo Molfino

    Reclaiming Your Creativity, with Majo Molfino

    In this week's episode, Majo Molfino and I talk about (among other things!) reclaiming your creativity as an important component of a meaningfully productive life.

    Reclaiming your creativity and making a life that matters

    Majo is an Argentine-American author, designer, and women’s leadership expert. She is the host of the HEROINE podcast, featuring top female leaders, creatives, and visionaries. Her leadership program, IGNITE, guides women to design and share a creative dream with the world. She lives in California with her husband. 

    When Majo was 2 years old, she emigrated from Argentine to Canada. Moving around a lot as a child, Majo never quite felt she belonged anywhere. She coped by being the "good girl", getting straight A's, figure skating, playing the piano, and winning competitions. She did everything that was expected of her until hitting a turning point in her 20's. She became depressed and disillusioned, feeling like she was playing a role and never being her true self. Inside, however, she felt very passionate, creative, and free.

    Since that time, Majo has been on a journey of reclaiming her creativity and sharing that with other women. One way she has shared her journey is through her first book, Break the Good Girl Myth, which is available for preorder now on Amazon. In this book, Majo discusses "5 Good Girl Myths", which are subconscious tendencies ingrained in women which need to be unlearned in order for us to do the work we need to do.

    A typical day

    Majo says that given the current Covid-19 pandemic, as well the Black Lives Matter protests and other world events, her productivity has decreased and she has no "typical" day anymore. Everything has been thrown for a loop.

    One thing that really helps her, though, is thinking back to when she was writing her book, and learning what time of day she has the most energy to work and be productive. For Majo, this time is in the morning. She has the most energy and focus in the morning and then it begins to decrease after lunch.

    Therefore, Majo does her deepest work in the morning and puts strict boundaries in place. For example, she keeps her phone in her bedroom and does not turn it on until noon each day.

    After Majo's morning work is complete, she will schedule all other activities such as meetings and calls for the afternoon.

    Now that she is promoting her new book, she has changed her day around because she needs all of her energy to go towards talking about the book, not writing about it. All interviews regarding the book (even if they are calls, which would normally be in the afternoon) are in the morning when she has the most energy.

    By being flexible, Majo is able to maximize her positive impact for the season she is in right now.

    Majo also struggles with perfectionism and this has manifested in her desire to always be achieving things. She's been hard on herself these last few months as her productivity hasn't been the same. She is trying to expand her definition of productivity and give herself grace when it comes to what she accomplishes on a daily basis.

    Biggest productivity challenges

    One of Majo's biggest dreams is to write fiction. However, when that dream becomes really loud, she internally resists the dream because it's uncomfortable creative work. She avoids it and procrastinates by starting new projects, or numbing herself with food or social media, anything that will distract her from the hard work. Her own resistance is her biggest productivity challenge.

    She also deals with her inner critic saying "this has already been done" or "it doesn't matter".  Or she will have scattered attention and become easily distracted.

    • 51 min
    Favorite Productivity Tips and Tools

    Favorite Productivity Tips and Tools

    As we celebrate 6 years of The Productive Woman podcast, here are a few productivity tips and tools from the TPW community and from me!

    Happy podiversary! and a few favorite productivity tips and tools

    This week we’re celebrating TPW’s 6-year “podiversary” and talking about some favorite productivity tips and tools.

    How TPW began

    In 2013, I decided I wanted to try podcasting. I took Cliff Ravenscraft’s online "Podcasting A to Z " course in December 2013, with the intention of launching this podcast on January 1, 2014.

    When January came, I had everything ready to go . . . but I stalled.  I was terrified of launching, wondering if people would think it was a dumb idea.

    After 6 months I still hadn't launched the podcast and I felt guilty for spending the time and money to prepare. Finally, thanks to the encouragement of some important people in my life, I pushed through my fear and published that first 5-minute introductory episode on July 1st, 2014, which is exactly 6 years ago today (as of the date this episode is published)!

    One more thought from the TPW community on what it means to make a life that matters

    Last week, for episode 300, I shared some feedback from the community on what it means to make a life that matters. One wonderful answer unfortunately came in after that episode had published, so I want to share it now. This came via email from Elisabeth from Toulouse, France:  

    “When you asked us to define what matters in our life and how to know, I immediately thought about war (strange mind!). In France, we were quarantined or almost quarantined for about three months, so we had a lot of time to pause and reflect. Many things and actions were not possible to do. So we had to choose what to fight for. In a war time, I know for what I would have fought: my family, my faith, my freedom and and my access to culture (same as my grandpa who was a 2nd world war Red Cross "soldier"). These are the things which really matters to me. In the daily mundane tasks, that means I’ve chosen to leave my job, to be a stay-at-home mother and wife. Having no job, I’ve got less money but more free time and more creativity. I have now an edible garden, I sew and mend a lot, I cook from scratch, have time to find ways to entertain the family for free (or almost): library, podcast, art exhibition, street festivals, I also have time to help at school or at church.”

    Favorite productivity tips and tools

    A couple of mine

    Before sharing productivity tips from our TPW community, I wanted to share a few tips of my own that have really made a difference in my day to day life.

    * Making good use of my calendar-when I put an appointment, conference call, or meeting in my calendar, I add any information I might need for that appointment, such as an address, phone number (in case I need to call because I’m running late or need to reschedule), notes about the purpose, or the people involved. I try to label the meeting in a way that reminds me of what it’s about. So for example:  “Phone conference with [name] to discuss [deal name] purchase terms” or something like that. I do this because I have lots of deals going with lots of different people and can forget the name of the person I’ll be talking to, or which deal it’s about, or which aspect of the deal. If it’s a call or meeting about a particular document, I’ll attach a copy of that document or any reference material I need for the call. I use a digital calendar, specifically an app called DigiCal, which is very helpful for me.

    • 48 min
    Meaningful Productivity

    Meaningful Productivity

    It's not enough to just get lots of stuff done. We want to make lives that matter--we want our productivity to be meaningful. In this milestone episode, we discuss what meaningful productivity means and how we can order our lives so as to maximize our positive impact on the world.

    What does meaningful productivity mean?

    It’s the difference between being busy and being productive. But there is more to it than that. Truly meaningful productivity is about producing worthwhile results, results that are in line with your values and represent who you want to be in the world.

    It's also about more than just efficiency, such as using the best tools and best practices. Meaningful productivity is also about the outcome. While doing research for this episode, I came across an article by Shawn Blanc where he states:

    “Productivity hacks, daily routines, automation tools, and the like are all great, but they are a means for optimizing how you’re already spending your time. They’re just faster horses. And what good is a faster horse if you’re on the wrong road, headed to the wrong place? We need clarity about who we are, what our values are, our vision for life, what’s important, and what we can do every day to stay steady in our aim of doing our best creative work.”

    No matter how much stuff we get done, we’re not truly productive in any meaningful way if what we’re doing and producing doesn’t line up with our values. The key to making a life that matters, a meaningfully productive life, is knowing where we want to go and taking consistent actions targeted to getting us there. 

    How do we make a life that matters? 

    It starts with awareness. We have to know what we want. That comes from time spent thinking deeply and honestly about some fundamental questions:

    * What kind of life do I want to live?

    * What kind of person do I want to be?

    We need to be conscious of whether the things we are doing are in line with who we want to be. An important thing to remember is that our life does not have to look like everyone else's.

    Following awareness is intentionality. However we choose to spend our time, we need to choose on purpose and make the most of that time and spend it doing things that matter the most to us. The first step is to acknowledge that the choice is ours. If you don't like where your life is headed right now, you can always make another choice. It may not be easy, but it really is that simple. We need to recognize the difference between urgency and importance and be willing to ignore the urgent in favor of the important.

    Making a life that matters requires us to sort through the voices in our head and evaluate their truth (or lack thereof).

    For example, "I don’t have time" is a phrase we often tell ourselves, but it’s seldom true. There is always time for what really matters. Maybe not as much time as we’d like to have, but even if we can find only 10 minutes a day, progress can still be made.

    Another voice tells us "I can’t," meaning "I'm not capable. That's a mindset issue. Often it’s a symptom of Impostor Syndrome (which I discuss in  TPW063 and TPW293). We can learn to counter these questions by asking “what skill do I need to learn in order to accomplish this? Where can I go to get the help I need?”

    Another voice in our heads tells us "I'm not sure what matters." Usually even when we tell ourselves that, we actually do know, but might have a hard time admitting it to ourselves or others or saying it out loud.

    • 38 min

Customer Reviews

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🌸AQuins ,

Just what I need

This podcast is a must listen to! If you get caught up to busyness but still want to manage what matters most to you, this podcast is for you. It so encouraging and just what I need juggling momma work duties. Kudos!

Saoirse Sky ,

Amazing show. Love it!

Good insights and perspective! Never a dull moment. A podcast for anyone who enjoys a good listen.

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