475 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

    • Education
    • 4.6 • 457 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.

    Productive Reading: Dopamine Nation, by Dr. Anna Lembke

    Productive Reading: Dopamine Nation, by Dr. Anna Lembke

    This week features the next installment in our recurring “Productive Reading” series, this time talking about key takeaways from Dopamine Nation, by Dr. Anna Lembke.

    There is a delicate balance between pleasure and pain. Finding that balance is esssential for our leading our best quality of life.

    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, and most recently talking about Nir Eyal’s interesting book Indistractablle (episode 454). We’ll include links to past episodes of the Productive Reading series below. This time I’m sharing some of my most important takeaways from an intriguing book by Dr. Anna Lembke, called Dopamine Nation. 

    Who is Anna Lembke?

    Book cover flap copy:

    “Anna Lembke is the medical director of Stanford Addiction Medicine, program director for the Stanford Addiction Medicine Fellowship, and chief of the Stanford Addiction Medicine Dual Diagnosis Clinic. She is the recipient of numerous awards for outstanding research in mental illness, for excellence in teaching, and for clinical innovation in treatment. A clinician scholar, she has published more than a hundred peer-reviewed papers, book chapters, and commentaries in prestigious outlets such as The New England Journal of Medicine and JAMA. She sits on the board of several state and national addiction-focused organizations, has testified before various committees in the United States House of Representatives and Senate, keeps an active speaking calendar, and maintains a thriving clinical practice.”

    Why did I read this book?

    I don’t recall where I first heard of the book, but the title and description intrigued me, as one of my ongoing interests is puzzling out the reasons we so often struggle to do the things we need and want to do, including achieving goals we so meticulously and hopefully set for ourselves.

    On our last installment of the Productive Reading series we looked at Nir Eyal’s intriguing book, Indistractable, subtitled How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life. As we discussed in that episode, the book asks us: “What could you accomplish if you could stay focused?” and then goes on to discuss the psychology of distraction and offer solutions to help us manage and maintain the focus needed to achieve our goals. 

    This episode’s book digs even deeper into similar issues, looking at both the psychology and the physiology of addictive behavior that can interfere with our ability to accomplish the things that are important to us.

    The book is subtitled: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence. This was intriguing to me, as I seek a better sense of balance in my own life.

    The book is divided into several parts

    The introduction introduces the problem the book is intended to address:

    “This book is about pleasure. It’s also about pain. Most important,

    • 54 min
    Productive Living: Sacred Rest, with Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith

    Productive Living: Sacred Rest, with Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith

    This week's episode features my conversation with Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, author of Sacred Rest, about the 7 types of rest we all need and why they're so important.

    Honoring sacred rest can make a big difference in our quality of life

    I'm excited to share with you my conversation with internal medicine physician, author, and speaker Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith as part of our Productive Living series.

    Who is Saundra?

    Saundra is a board-certified internal medicine physician, speaker, and award-winning author. She is an international well-being thought leader featured in numerous media outlets including Prevention, MSNBC, Women’s Day, FOX, Fast Company, Psychology Today, INC, CNN Health, and TED.com. She is the author of numerous books including her bestseller Sacred Rest: Recover Your Life, Renew Your Energy, Restore Your Sanity. Saundra lives in Alabama with her husband Bobby and their two kids. 

    How Saundra got started

    About 15 years ago, despite having a fulfilling career and a busy family life, Saundra became burnt out. She was in one of the busiest times of her career and didn't want to quit her practice or anything else she was doing. Rather, she wanted to learn how to thrive (and not just survive) in her career while still enjoying her family and maintaining her personal life. This desire has inspired her journey and life's work, which is to learn more about her own rest deficits and teach others about how important rest is in their daily life, especially when it comes to productivity.

    A typical day for Saundra

    There is no such thing as a typical day for Saundra, mostly due to her busy schedule. She considers herself to be a multi-passionate woman, meaning she doesn't limit herself to one area of interest. She wants to explore all her passions without limitations. As a result, she has a lot of freedom and for her, this produces a meaningful life. When she is free, she is able to be her most productive and happiest.

    She does have some structure in her day when it comes to her morning routine, though. Each day, she tries to do a self-assessment to determine how she is feeling (something she never did before, contributing to her burnout). Is she tired or stressed out? What areas of her life are taking up the most energy for her and how can she restore this energy? If she can identify the area in which she is feeling the most depleted, she will focus on that area during the day. In the evening, she takes time to wind down her sensory input, simply because she tends to be on sensory overload a lot. She's an introvert who enjoys space and peace and quiet. Because of this, she has to create white space in her evenings in order to relax. This allows her to sleep deeper and longer.

    The importance of sacred rest

    Saundra was inspired to write her book after seeing so many patients in her medical practice who were suffering from lack of rest, just like she was. She would check the patient's vitals and remind them to relax but this wasn't helpful long term. What the patients needed and wanted to hear from her was how to fix the exhaustion they were feeling.

    Saundra began to have conversations with her patients about rest and how they are restoring themselves. This type of conversation was uncommon to have at a doctor's visit and wasn't always easy for her patients to understand. But, Saundra used her own real-life examples, which really helped her patients to see what was happening.

    When writing her book, Saundra was sure to include her own experiences as well, recognizing the relief that comes when you realize you are not the only person going through a particular experience, especially when it's your own doctor.

    People pleasing work-aholic go-getters don't excel at rest ...

    • 54 min
    Preparing for a Joyful Holiday Season

    Preparing for a Joyful Holiday Season

    In this episode we’ll talk about preparing for joy in the upcoming holiday season, all while remaining productive and keeping our most important priorities in mind.

    How can we reduce our stress and increase our joy this holiday season?

    I think I mentioned in an episode early this year (actually late last year!) that my word for this year is joy. It’s something I’ve tried to turn my attention to throughout the year, reminding myself to look for and intentionally cultivate joy.

    I’ve been thinking about joy in the context of the coming year-end holidays--for our family, that mostly means Thanksgiving and Christmas, but for you that might include Hannukah, Advent, Las Posadas, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve, or others. Whatever holidays you celebrate during this time, we all look forward to them with anticipation and expectation of joyful gatherings, but the year-end holidays can also be stressful, especially if family situations are complicated or, like me, the last weeks of the year are also a very busy time in your job or career. I was surprised by one article I read that cited a study that found “49% of Americans report feeling anxious during the holidays, with two in five saying it negatively impacts their mental health. Their biggest concerns include inflation, gift shopping, and dysfunctional family dynamics.” 

    So in looking ahead to this time, I started thinking about, and then researching, ways to minimize the stress and amplify the joy of this year-end holiday season. Preparing for a joyful and productive holiday season can be especially important for women who often shoulder a significant portion of the holiday planning and organizing responsibilities.

    1. Set the foundation for a joyful holiday season

    The importance of mindset and intention-setting for a joyful holiday season. 

    Like any time or year, it’s important to remind ourselves that we and how we feel are not at the mercy of our circumstances. Our emotions--whether joy or anxiousness or anger or any other--result not from our circumstances, but from what we think about our circumstances. We can choose our thoughts and manage our minds. It’s not easy--certainly not for me--but it can be done. Start now to practice both awareness and intentionality in this area:

    * Be aware of your feelings. 

    * Remember it's not a matter of right or wrong; they just are. 

    * Identify the thoughts you are thinking that create those feelings. 

    * Decide on purpose whether you want to keep thinking those thoughts or choose others: 

    * How do I want to feel right now in this situation? 

    * What thoughts do I need to think in order to feel that way?

    Manage expectations and reduce holiday stress.

    One writer reminds us to “be realistic and upfront about what your family can do. Make a list of what is possible and prioritize your most important events and activities for you and your family. Then, pace yourself. Organize your time. Keep in mind that it’s the holiday “season” (not “day”) and spread out your activities to lessen stress and increase enjoyment.”

    Again, this comes down to awareness and intentionality. What do you want to do during this holiday season, and why? Do you like your reasons? If not, then rethink the plans.

    Staying present is more valuable than giving presents. I read a great reminder from a href="https://www.linkedin.

    • 39 min
    Productive Living: Productive Business Communications, with Elizabeth Pearson

    Productive Living: Productive Business Communications, with Elizabeth Pearson

    This week I talk with author, speaker, and executive career coach Elizabeth Pearson about developing systems to manage how we communicate with others and why this is important to our productivity and peace of mind.

    Managing business communications is a key element of a productive professional life

    I'm excited to share with you my conversation with author, speaker, and executive career coach Elizabeth Pearson as part of our Productive Living series.

    Who is Elizabeth?

    Elizabeth is an executive career coach who helps women navigate job changes, succeed in male-dominated fields, and launch their own companies. Elizabeth has contributed to Forbes, Entrepreneur magazine, Yahoo, and HERMoney.com and has been an expert guest on national networks including NBC News.  She has been a keynote speaker for women in business talks at Meta, Oracle, Marriott, Northwestern Mutual, Amazon, and many more. Elizabeth recently released her first book Career Confinement: How to Free Yourself, Find Your Guides, and Seize the Fire of Inspired Work, and is the host of the Working Moms' Guide to Sanity Podcast. 

    How Elizabeth got started

    Elzabeth's professional background is in corporate sales, where she spent about 15 years in consumer package goods sales.  Then one day, like a lot of women, she wondered whether this was all there is. She seemed to have everything she could ever want but it still didn't seem like enough, no matter how hard she worked to convince herself. She was a working mom who was secretly suffering, going through a sort of spiritual bankruptcy. Elizabeth was angry with herself for not feeling as fulfilled as she thought she should, but also recognized that her dissatisfaction came from suppressing an entrepreneurial spirit she had had for many years. Elizabeth finally decided to make some major changes by moving her family to central California and leaving her safety net behind to follow her dreams. She is now an executive career coach helping women at all stages of their lives and careers.

    A typical day for Elizabeth

    There really is no typical day for Elizabeth and she enjoys it that way. However, a usual day for Elizabeth starts between 5:30 and 5:45 in the morning. She walks to Starbucks first thing (a 3-mile round-trip walk), listening to an audiobook or music along the way. Once she's back at home, she'll get the kids off to school, shower, and get ready for her day. Regardless of the work that goes on during the day (client meetings, interviews, or writing), she tries to be wrapped up by 4:00 and focuses on family and personal activities. She enjoys watching TV, writing or journaling, cooking, and spending time with her daughters. In the evenings after getting her kids to bed, she tries to be in bed herself no later than 8:30 or 9:00. Sleep is incredibly important for Elizabeth and she strives to get as much as possible. It's one of the most important things that contributes to her productivity.

    Productivity tools Elizabeth recommends

    Elizabeth uses a mixture of pen and paper and technology to manage her busy days. She makes a daily to-do list because she enjoys checking boxes and crossing things off.

    She uses habit trackers to see where she is spending her time, which is something she writes out and color codes on paper.

    Elizabeth likes to use calendar blocking to set aside time to do specific things, like creating social media posts (specifically LinkedIn, which she likes to treat as a personal website where she represents herself and her brand.) Elizabeth encourages women to regularly post on LinkedIn, write articles and posts,

    • 51 min
    Seasonal Productivity

    Seasonal Productivity

    In this episode I talk about ways to stay productive in different seasons and how to feel (and show up as) our best year-round.

    Staying productive through seasonal changes . . .

    After my conversation last week with Lahana Vigliano about hormones and productivity, I’ve been thinking a lot about the cyclical nature of our lives as women--not just hormones, although hormones and their effects do create a cyclical rhythm to our lives--but also the cyclical nature of our world, as we cycle through one season after another. How does that affect our productivity?

    There are different meanings of “seasonal”

    * Hormonal seasons, especially for us as women 

    * Seasons of life (like childhood, college, career building, child-rearing, empty nest, retirement) 

    * Nature’s seasons -- fall, winter, spring, and summer

    I did some research and found some tips for productivity in any season. I'm mostly talking about nature’s seasons, but many of these apply to the other types as well

    Recognize the Seasonal Changes

    Productivity can naturally fluctuate with the changing seasons due to factors like daylight hours, weather, and temperature. It's essential to be aware of these changes and adapt your routine accordingly. 

    Some studies show, for example, that in general people tend to be more energetic and productive in the spring, more creative during the fall, and less productive and more likely to procrastinate during the summer 

    On the other hand, Forbes cites a Harvard Business School study that indicates workplace productivity can improve during crummy weather, speculating that there are fewer alternatives to work during bad weather than when the weather outside is warm and sunny. When we’re stuck indoors during beautiful weather, we’re more likely to be distracted by daydreaming about what we could be doing outside. 

    To the extent seasonal weather affects our health, it can also affect our productivity. For example, that same Forbes article refers to Bureau of Labor statistics that “while less than .5 percent of workers miss a day of work because of the weather during the warmer months, that percentage increases to almost 2 percent during the colder months.”

    Stay Flexible

    It's okay--even necessary--to adapt our routines as the seasons change. Flexibility is essential in maintaining productivity and mental health. As noted, I mostly want to talk about how this applies to nature’s seasons, but in my research, I came across several articles about something called cycle-syncing, which specifically talked about increasing overall productivity by adjusting your activities and routines to your menstrual cycle.

    A Forbes article advocates the idea that women’s four hormonal phases can serve as a “blueprint to launch, execute, and finish projects of all kinds,” saying that “each phase of your cycle provides you with amazing brain superpowers,” and encouraging women that “By synching our professional life to our females...

    • 32 min
    Productive Living: Hormones & Productivity, with Lahana Vigliano

    Productive Living: Hormones & Productivity, with Lahana Vigliano

    This week's episode features my conversation with clinical nutritionist Lahana Vigliano about the importance of balancing our hormones and getting our gut health in check in order to feel our very best and boost our productivity.

    Hormones and productivity

    I'm excited to share with you my conversation with clinical nutritionist and CEO + founder of Nuvitru Wellness, Lahana Vigliano, as part of our Productive Living series.

    Who is Lahana?

    Lahana is the CEO + founder of Nuvitru Wellness and a board-certified clinical nutritionist with a passion for helping women realize that there is a root cause for their symptoms, even if they have been dismissed by healthcare before. Her company Nuvitru Wellness specializes in women's hormones and gut health and uses functional medicine lab testing to personalize the patient's journey. She is obsessed with creating natural remedies, researching, reading romance books, lifting heavy, and cooking meals for her family. Outside of work, she is a mother of two and a wife. Her family is the inspiration behind Nuvitru and continues to encourage her through everything. I’ve been looking forward to talking with her about hormones and productivity.

    How Lahana got started

    Lahana has worn multiple hats since she was very young, so being a wife, mother, PhD student, and business owner comes naturally to her, although it's not easy.

    As for how she got started with wellness and nutrition, Lahana can trace it back to discovering her love for health at age 5, when she decided she wanted to become a doctor someday. However, while on the pre-med track in college many years later , she realized that was not what she wanted to do after all. She didn't like the concept of being diagnosed with something and then given a pill to fix it, without any further research or thought put into it. She preferred having more of a prevention mindset. How can we prevent things from happening in the first place? How can we use food and lifestyle habits to improve our health?

    Of course there is a time and a place for emergency medicine, medications, and the more traditional medical approaches, but in general, Lahana wants to approach health in a more hopeful way, with the focus being on prevention. We cannot do and achieve what we want to if we are not feeling well. Lahaha's work is centered around helping others feel their best so they can live the life they want to.

    A typical day for Lahaha

    Lahana says the beauty of entrepreneurship is that every day is different, but she still has a sort of template that she follows. On an average weekday, she gets up, gets the kids ready for school and off to begin their day. Then she makes herself some breakfast and tries to fit in some "me time", doing a bible study or listening to a podcast. Other times she will just sit in silence, especially if she's experiencing a more stressful time.

    Lahana enjoys habit stacking, but also recognizes when she may need a break. During the mid-morning,  she does a bit of work, gets some exercise in (she does this 5 days a week and includes strength training), and returns to work again.

    In the afternoon, Lahana takes the time to schedule a lunch break for herself, which she feels society has gotten away from. She uses this time to read, watch TV, or do something else she enjoys.

    After her lunch break she works for the rest of the afternoon, stopping to get her children from school.

    In the evenings, she makes dinner for her family and then works a bit more. She also sometimes does some homework or any reading that needs to be completed, although she tries to do most of her school work on the weekends.

    After a long and busy day, she tries to be in bed by 10:00 p.m.

    Productivity tools Lahana recommends

    • 58 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
457 Ratings

457 Ratings

bellpwrr ,

Free Medicine 😊

I recently gave birth to my baby girl and was feeling quite overwhelmed . My maternity leave allows me to have a lot of free time which is not really my own . My free time is filled with getting my six year old son through the challenges of first grade, my husband who has a challenging career in the food industry , completing my MBA online and nurturing my new baby girl . Most days I find myself feeling unproductive as I need time to just sit and complete preparations. This podcast provided a fresh prospective on how to cope with my anxiety . It was helpful knowing that I’m not alone and that it is possible to have good days . Thank you for the insight !

Cariwac ,

My go to for motivation and celebration

Laura celebrates women. Laura motivates women. I started listening to this podcast near the time I was faced with having to go back to school at age 50. I needed to find a way to do it all. Two teenagers still at home, full-time job and going back to school to get my paralegal degree. The Productive Woman podcast helped motivate me, but also gave me tips on how to be more productive, when faced with so many tasks. Fast forward to working at my dream job, I still look forward every Wednesday seeing that new episode notification. This podcast has truly inspired me to be all that I can be. Thank you Laura.

amandal7 ,

I love your tips.

This podcast always helps me when I’m dealing with lack of motivation, when I’m feeling in a slump and when I need someone to listen to. I thoroughly enjoy this podcast and I don’t mind the sponsored ads at all!

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