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-Improvement
    • 4.5, 267 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.

    Mid-Year Reflection – TPW303

    Mid-Year Reflection – TPW303

    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 – TPW302

    Reclaiming Your Creativity, with Majo Molfino – TPW302

    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 & Tools – TPW301

    Favorite Productivity Tips & Tools – TPW301

    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 – TPW300

    Meaningful Productivity – TPW300

    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
    Using Your Voice, with Eva Jannotta – TPW299

    Using Your Voice, with Eva Jannotta – TPW299

    In this week's episode, Eva Jannotta and I talk about being the most productive version of yourself and boldly using your voice to advocate for what you want.

    Finding and using your voice to make a life that matters

    Eva has been self-employed for five years but never intended to be an entrepreneur. Prior to starting her business, Eva worked in the corporate world for a chain of grocery stores. She grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland, and earned her degrees in Gender and Women's Studies and English literature. Today she is a consultant providing marketing and communications support to North America's most recognized women entrepreneurs and leaders, offering thought leadership, marketing, and social media strategy to women who serve women. She lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her partner Steve.

    Eva's morning routine

    Eva has always been a morning person and starts her day between 5:30 and 6:30 am. It's important for her to start her day in a gentle fashion, meaning she puts no demands on herself for that time of the day. She spends a couple of hours each morning enjoying a cup of tea and will perhaps take a walk, stretch, meditate, or sometimes will "just be". This time is essential for Eva to get her day off to a good start.

    A typical day

    After Eva's early start, she will begin working around 8:00 or 9:00. Although as a self-employed person she could start working whenever she wanted, it's most beneficial to her to have a set schedule for each workday. She will work until 5:00 or 6:00 each evening. After dinner, she likes to get in an hour-long workout. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, she would go to the gym but for now she is working out at home. Getting in her workout helps Eva to disconnect from workday and ease into her evening. After her workout, she likes to make dinner with her partner Steve.

    Biggest productivity challenges

    One of Eva's biggest challenges is "doing the work" vs "being in the work". She's learned that finding the time to solve problems, think through projects, and be creative and then actually execute that work can be challenging.

    Eva also struggles with setting realistic expectations for herself when it comes to getting things done. Everything always takes longer than you think it will and your energy level can vary throughout the day. Knowing this, Eva tries to balance her expectations with what's realistic for any given day. Eva has been tracking her time for years and finds this data to be very helpful when scheduling her time. She currently uses a tool called Toggl on her computer to track how she's using her time.

    While trying out different time management tools over the years, she has found that tools aren't meant for achieving perfection, they are meant to be used at the right time for the right purpose.

    Tools Eva recommends

    Eva has found that the most helpful thing for her has been to be truly honest with herself about how much she is able to do and in what amount of time. She has to do things at a time of day when she is most productive and then have the discipline to finish those things. For her, this time is in the morning. There can be exceptions but mostly, Eva tries to respect these boundaries for herself.

    When it comes to having time to be thoughtful, creative, and intentional,  Eva has learned that she has to turn her phone off. She likes to use Airplane mode or will put her phone in a different room. She will not check her phone for texts or look at her emails until she is done with her work.

    Eva uses a tool called Boomerang, which she adds to her Gmail account, to prevent new emails from coming in while she is trying to focus.

    • 55 min
    Getting Back On Track – TPW298

    Getting Back On Track – TPW298

    Even those of us who purposefully set up productive systems and practice good habits struggle sometimes with getting off track. We are human, after all. (That’s part of why I ask this question of every guest, "What do you do to get back on track on a day when everything gets away from you?")

    Getting back on track when your productivity slips

    In this episode we discuss getting back on track after you've fallen off the productivity wagon, including helpful suggestions from past guests.

    What causes us to get off track?

    Any event out of the ordinary can throw us off our stride and interrupt our usual routine. For example, an illness occurring in yourself, a family member, or a friend. Even physical changes in our body can change our routine, such as a pregnancy or perimenopause. Big events in our lives such as weddings, divorces, graduations, the birth of a new baby, etc., can throw us off track too. These kinds of events can add new responsibilities and commitments to our lives which can disrupt our routines. Sometimes emotional events, such as a child leaving home or situations within your family can cause you to abandon your usual habits. And finally, unexpected bad news or the loss of a job (or starting a new job) can also greatly affect us.

    What can we do to get back on track?

    Give yourself grace

    A day or week or month of not getting stuff done isn’t a negative reflection on who you are as a person or your value. As Puja Madan (TPW - 119 Balancing Time & Energy) reminded us, “A bad day does not mean a bad life.”  What you do matters, but you are not what you do. Productivity itself isn't an end goal. It's a means to an end, a way for you to get a life that matters and achieve your goals. Being productive and getting things done is what gets us there.

    Take care of yourself

    If you’re feeling overwhelmed and like things are out of control, self-care might seem like a waste of time, but it’s crucial. You've often heard that you can't take care of anyone or anything until you take care of yourself. This is true!

    Get some rest - many of our guests have said when they’re in this situation one of the things they do is take a nap, or go to bed early. It’s nearly impossible to evaluate the situation rationally, let alone come up with good solutions, when you’re exhausted.

    * In episode TWP158-Ruthless Prioritization, Michelle Pfennighaus stated that she has realized how important how she eats is to how she feels, so eating right and getting enough sleep are top priorities for her. 

    * In episode TPW269-Boundaries, Helen Wright shared her tool of taking a “well-being day”. This started when she was feeling really run-down one day after not having taken a vacation for a while. She took a day off, sat in a cafe and read a book, got a pedicure, and went shopping. Basically, she did things she used to do before having kids and had some "me time" to re-charge her batteries. 

    * In episode TWP152-Making Time for What Matters, Sonia Harris states that she gives herself permission to not worry about what she was supposed to be doing if her day goes off track. Life happens to all of us, and we have to keep that in mind. Instead of filling every moment with back-to-back commitments, we can simplify and learn to say no when it's appropriate; this ...

    • 39 min

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5
267 Ratings

267 Ratings

Karen Briscoe, Author ,

Inspiration and Insights

Inspiration and insights that transform businesses and lives. Achieve a higher level of success by tuning in to the Productive Woman with Laura. -- Karen Briscoe, author and podcast host 5 Minute Success

Marina 'The Trader Chick' ,

So helpful for my business and daily life

I love listening to the tips, tricks, and tools from this podcast. I love listening to women share how they make the most out of their time. Aside from learning a lot from other businesses, I get to apply many to my own, plus it keeps me entertained.

WellnessWhileWalking ,

Great knowledge and motivation here

Laura is an amazing podcaster with endless amounts of information to share. She is incredibly approachable and very present and easy to reach in person. She really cares about her listener, it's clear, and is very much a role model for me. Thanks, Laura, and please keep the great work coming!

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