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.
This episode will be published the day before Thanksgiving. Here in the U.S., Thanksgiving day is historically a time set aside to give thanks for the blessings in our lives, like our family, friends, and provision for our needs. We don’t need to wait for a holiday to give thanks, though. Given the difficult year many of us have experienced, this holiday is a good reminder of how important it is to give thanks every day.
Give thanks every day, not just on Thanksgiving
Giving thanks and feeling grateful each day is important. And it's good for us. Our mental and physical health benefits from us being thankful for all that we have. During these challenging times, if you start to feel sad or frustrated, remember that you can turn your day around simply by choosing to be grateful.
"Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings."
~ William Arthur Ward, writer
5 ways being thankful is good for you (per studies cited in 5 Reasons Giving Thanks is Good for You):
* Counting blessings boosts your health. Research showed that grateful people had less depression and stress, lower blood pressure, more energy, and greater optimism.
* Slow down the aging clock. Studies have shown that in older adults, a daily practice of gratitude even slowed down some of the effects of neurodegeneration that often occurs as we age.
* Put the brakes on stress. Cortisol is often called the “stress hormone,” and when our bodies produce too much, it can deplete the immune system and raise blood sugar levels. A study conducted at the Institute of HeartMath Research Center in California found that positive emotions like appreciation significantly lowered levels of cortisol.
* Being thankful helps you bond. Research (by U.S. psychologists Sara Algoe and Baldwin Way) indicates that gratitude can also lead to better relationships. The explanation may be connected to increased production of oxytocin, sometimes called the “bonding hormone” because it fosters calm and security in relationships.
* Gratefulness = good for the heart and waistline? According to (some) research, people with high blood pressure who actively express thankfulness “can achieve up to a 10 percent reduction in systolic blood pressure and decrease their dietary fat intake by up to 20 percent.”
We’ve talked in the past about the positive effects gratitude can have on our life, our health, and more. Check out TPW167 (Gratitude & Productivity); TPW270 (Gratitude); and TPW311 (our conversation with Autumn McKay about Practicing Gratitude)
Some thoughts others have had about the importance of giving thanks:
"Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough." ~ Oprah Winfrey
"We would worry less if we praised more.
Getting and Staying Motivated
I've had several conversations recently with women who find themselves struggling to stay focused, stay on task, and keep moving forward with their projects and goals. I can relate to that, specifically when it comes to my efforts to get healthier this year. I thought this would be a good time to talk about getting started and moving forward on what is most important to us.
Motivation and productivity
What is motivation?
When doing my research for this topic, I first looked up the word motivation in the dictionary.
* Noun the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way. "escape can be a strong motivation for travel" [this addresses the question of why you’re doing what you’re doing]
* the general desire or willingness of someone to do something. [this addresses the question of how much you want to do the thing you’re doing] "keep staff up to date and maintain interest and motivation"
Another definition states: “motivation is a condition inside us that desires a change, either in the self or the environment” [from What Is Motivation? A Psychologist Explains] Motivation comes when our current situation, internal or environmental, is uncomfortable enough that we are motivated to do something to change it. This can apply to our health, our relationships, our jobs, or our goals.
Two basic sources of motivation
* Extrinsic (comes from outside): examples would be a trophy, job promotion, or attention from other people.
* Intrinsic (come from inside): this is something we do from the satisfaction of doing it, not from validation from the outside.
One writer explains that motivation has 3 components: activation, persistence, and intensity. As the article put it:
* Activation involves the decision to initiate a behavior.
* Persistence is the continued effort toward a goal even though obstacles may exist.
* Intensity can be seen in the concentration and vigor that goes into pursuing a goal.
These three components can apply to any action, such as the pursuit of a goal, completion of a task or project, development of a habit, or change of a behavior.
Why is it important?
Motivation is important because it's what drives us to act and keep acting.
“simply having the desire to accomplish something is not enough. Achieving such a goal requires the ability to persist through obstacles and endurance to keep going in spite of difficulties.” [from What Is Motivation?]
What interferes with motivation?
Health--even people with health challenges can be highly motivated to take action in pursuit of their goals, but it makes it harder. And, poor health can interfere with our motivation. Choosing to follow a healthy diet can help us maintain the energy and general sense of well-being that can help us press on.
Fatigue--this is also tied to our health. If we don’t eat well, get enough rest, drink enough water, and generally care for our bodies, it’s hard to find motivation to do anything. One note for women: persistent fatigue might have physiological causes (e.g., for me, hypothyroidism). Schedule a check-up with your healthcare provider just to make sure it’s not something that needs medical attention.
Emotions--when we are experiencing strong emotions (especially strong negative emotions,
Prioritizing Your Time, with Elizabeth Hill
Elizabeth Hill is a busy mom, business owner, and lawyer who is trying to make the best use of her time, while also being careful to make time for herself. In this week's episode, we discuss how she manages her multiple roles and her tips for starting a small business.
Focusing on your mindset for maximum productivity
Elizabeth Hill is an entrepreneur, attorney, former counselor, and mother of four. In addition, Elizabeth recently launched the Legit Endeavors Podcast, focused on small businesses and entrepreneurs seeking to start or grow their business. Elizabeth is passionate about helping other entrepreneurs and small business owners level up their business by making sure it is done in a legit way. The Legit Endeavors Podcast focuses on small business strategies, as well as making sure that the common legal pitfalls are addressed and avoided.
In addition to recently launching Legit Endeavors, Elizabeth owns her own solo practitioner law firm, as well as a winery, bistro, and vineyard, Burklee Hill Vineyards. Elizabeth enjoys public speaking on various matters, including small business and entrepreneurial issues, women's empowerment, and wine.
She tackled law school as a non-traditional student, starting her law education at age 33, after finding herself as a single mom with three young children. Tackling law school while raising her children taught Elizabeth valuable productivity skills, which have carried over into her career and different business ventures. Elizabeth enjoys being involved in her local community in the Texas panhandle and spending time with family.
A typical day
Elizabeth's days vary greatly throughout the week but typically they start with her getting up and getting herself ready. She then makes sure her two youngest children are up and getting ready for their day as well. After everyone is dressed and ready to go, she takes the children to school and heads to her law office to begin the day.
Elizabeth considers her career as a lawyer to be her "day job", but she does have days where she will go to the vineyard for a half or full day, depending on what may be going on. Elizabeth spends her days working on cases with several businesses or working towards an ever-present deadline.
After she is done with her day, she might have meetings, staffing interviews at the vineyard, a child's volleyball game to attend, or other activity.
On the weekends, Elizabeth likes to go to the winery and help work the floor so she can get to know the customers on a personal basis and help the staff out. Whenever possible, she will also squeeze in a podcast interview or blog post.
In the evenings, after her youngest child has gone to bed, Elizabeth tries to do some mindset work because it helps her to focus on what is most important to get done, whether that be for her law practice, podcast and blog, or winery. She finds that even if she has her days perfectly scheduled and a focused to-do list, her mindset is what really makes all the difference. She also journals and writes down affirmations in the present tense of what she wants to accomplish. She has used affirmations in the past to develop skills and improve her productivity. Elizabeth likes to take her journal to work each day so she can review her goals throughout the day.
Biggest productivity challenges
Elizabeth's biggest challenge is dealing with unexpected events that detour her from her plans. For instance, when she needs to pick up a sick child in the middle of the day or if something comes up at her bistro.
It's hard to believe we're entering into the holiday season. Maybe you’ve already been thinking about it and preparing, but if not, let’s talk about some things we can do now to prepare for a joyous and safe holiday season, whatever holidays you celebrate at the end of the year.
Preparing for the holidays now can save you valuable time
The holidays can be a stressful time of year for people, even in the best of times, but especially so this year with all that has been going on. The pandemic has changed what our family get-togethers may look like but we can still have a good holiday season while being safe and healthy.
We've talked about holiday prep in the past, in episodes TPW159 in 2017. In that episode, we went into details of things we can do to prepare, so it's a good episode to review for ideas. In addition, here are a few steps to consider taking now to prepare for this year's holidays.
Prepare your home
Do some purging and de-cluttering of your home. Really focus on getting rid of the things that take up space and don't serve you anymore. If in your family it's traditional to give lots of gifts, you want to make space for those things. If you have children, take this time to go through their clothes and toys, dispose of (or recycle) things that are broken, and donate those things that are in good condition. (See if there are some shelters in your community that would like some of these items.) Use this time before the holidays to make space and clear out clutter in your home. Clear space makes for a clear mind.
Get some deep cleaning done. Do some cleaning of your baseboards, floors, bathrooms, etc. In anticipation of all of the cooking and baking you'll be doing for the holidays, take this time to do a good cleaning of your refrigerator and freezer. Throw out expired and old food, use up leftovers, deep clean the shelves and drawers, and defrost the freezer.
Do some decorating. Even if nobody’s coming to visit this year, decorate to lift your own spirits. I'll be putting up Christmas decorations starting December 1, even though I'm unsure of what our holiday will look like this year in terms of family gatherings.
Prepare for gifting
Check your gift wrapping supplies inventory. We all have people in our lives we'd like to give gifts to. If we check our supplies now and stock up early, we don't have to worry about running out in the middle of wrapping.
Think about your gift list. Make a list of everyone you plan to give gifts to and evaluate what you have bought so far. Make sure you’re keeping within a budget you can live with.
If you're ordering anything online, order SOON. Because of the pandemic, there have already been inventory shortages and delayed shipping times. This could get worse as we get closer to the holidays.
Wrap as you go. As you get gifts for different people, get them all wrapped and tagged as you go so nothing is put off until the last minute. For some folks, marathon gift-wrapping sessions are fun, but they can also be stressful.
Consider a few extra gifts for unexpected/spur-of-the-moment gifts. Think about people who you may want to encourage or bless with an unexpected present. Maybe a delivery person or service provider, maybe your child's teacher. Considering having a few extra things when a special person comes to mind so you'll have something on hand.
If you do a holiday letter, start writing it now. If you are someone who gives your friends and family a yearly update on your life through a letter, consider getting started on it now. With all that has happened this year and the feelings of isolation and loneliness that many have experienced,
Health Habits for Productive Living
I've been thinking a lot about health and productivity these days. I turned 60 in May, and because I want to remain as healthy and productive as possible, I’ve been researching steps I can take, and habits I can institute, to do just that.
Healthy habits make for productive lives
One key to being productive, both in the sense of getting things done and in the sense of making a life that matters, is being healthy enough, physically, mentally, and emotionally to do the things we want and need to do. Many of us live with illnesses or physical conditions that affect our health, and as we age our condition changes, so I am not suggesting that only the most physically fit and healthy can be truly productive. But regardless of our age or circumstances, I think we can agree that in order to maximize our health, we need to do what we can to be as healthy as possible.
We’ve talked about habits before (TPW216 - Habits that Help; TPW226 - Habits to Consider for This Year; TPW114 - Mindset Matters: Productive Habits; and TPW082 - Developing Healthy Habits, with Bridgit Danner).
A habit is something you do regularly. It's defined in one dictionary as “a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.” When we do something regularly enough that it becomes a habit, we do it almost without conscious thought. The great thing about habits is they eliminate the friction of decision-making. It’s easier to do what you habitually do, so it’s important to be intentional about the habits we develop. (Check out James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits - discussed in episode 230 -for help in purposefully developing habits that serve you.)
In thinking and researching I came up with a short list of key habits that can help promote health and productivity. It's likely that none of these are new to you, but we can always benefit from being reminded to think about our habits--especially those habits that can contribute to a strong, healthy body and mind. Spending time in the next few weeks developing healthy habits can reap productivity benefits in the coming year.
1. Drink plenty of water (more than you think you need)
Water matters because it is a principal component of our bodies and makes up 50-75% of our body weight. We can go much longer without food than water. Every part of our body uses water to work properly.
This article from the Mayo Clinic goes into greater depth about why water is so important. A lack of water can lead to dehydration, which can drain our energy and make us feel tired. Because we naturally lose water every day, we need to replenish every day.
“The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that an adequate daily fluid intake is:
About 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids a day for men
About 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women
These recommendations cover fluids from water, other beverages and food. About 20% of daily fluid intake usually comes from food and the rest from drinks.”
Searching for Balance, with Sarah Im
Like so many of us, Sarah Im is searching for a workable balance between work and family. This week she and I talk about that search, and about raising children in a thoughtful and intentional way.
Searching for balance and building a productive life
Sarah Im is a mom of two young kids under five, a wife, and a Realtor serving Philadelphia and its surrounding suburbs. She grew up in Chicago, Seattle, and Seoul, South Korea. After graduating from college in Korea, she moved to Tokyo, Japan for a year, after which she spent a year in Florence, Italy, and another year in New York City. She now lives in Glenside, PA with her family, but is planning a move to Souderton next year where her family is building a new house.
Currently, Sarah's main interests in life are her Christian faith, living well with ADHD, how to be an awesome Realtor, minimizing her possessions, Montessori education, making children’s clothing, and searching for the elusive balance between work and personal life. She says she tends to have a wandering soul, and she has aspirations to world-school her children, and would really like to order her family’s life to make that happen.
When it comes to her realtor work, Sarah says the Covid-19 pandemic has not negatively impacted the housing market. On the contrary, there has been a boom and a huge demand for homes for sale. Sarah says this a great time to sell and buy because the interest rates have never been lower. She also says that it is a good time to be a Realtor, but she is presented with the challenge of trying to balance her very busy job with also spending time with her husband and children.
A typical day
Since the pandemic started, Sarah's typical day has changed a lot. In the past, she would wake between 7:00 or 8:00, but now she is waking up earlier--between 4:00 and 5:00--when the house is quiet.
During those early morning hours, Sarah likes to sit down with a glass of water and listen to her favorite devotional, Solid Joy. by Pastor John Piper. She also subscribes to a service called Sendoutcards.com, which allows her to make a custom card to send to a friend or loved one. Sarah tries to send out one card a day.
Next, Sarah likes to plan her day. If she has appointments or meetings that day, she will get out her planner and review all that needs to get done. If she has no plans on that particular day, she will make a list of things she would like to do. If she is feeling a bit anxious or restless, she will take out her Morning Pages notebook and gets her thoughts out on paper, which helps her to feel less overwhelmed.
Around 7:00 a.m., Sarah's family starts to get up and around so she will make them breakfast. On the days they go to daycare, she will get them ready and have them dropped off by 9:00. On the days the kids are home, Sarah will do a bit of homeschooling with them using Montessori materials she purchased at the beginning of the pandemic. They also like to get outside and play in the park.
In the afternoon the kids nap for a while, which gives Sarah some time to work.
By about 5:30, if the kids are in school, she will pick them up and head home to have dinner. Sarah and her husband Sam then spend time with the kids, playing games, or listening to music and dancing.
Then it's time for baths and bed. Sarah and her husband have a system in place where they take turns getting the kids ready for bed. When it's Sarah's night to get the kids to bed, she will go to sleep when they do at 8:30 (this makes it easi...
the only one podcast I am subscribed to on productivity
This podcast is a perfect blending between "hard facts" about productivity, like book and tool tips, and reflections on the "human side" of productivity, like empowerment, wellbeing and resilience. Laura is a wonderful speaker, a good listener (I am referring to episodes when guests were invited) and most of all a compassionate soul, far from a "productivity robot" that would not definitely serve as an inspiration for managing my time in a way that matters to me.