380 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
    • 4.5 • 353 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.

    Who Will You Be This Time Next Year? Setting Goals that Matter

    Who Will You Be This Time Next Year? Setting Goals that Matter

    On this week's episode of The Productive Woman podcast I discuss why setting goals for ourselves is so important and integral to helping us achieve all we want to in the coming year. I also share the five steps to structuring those goals in a way that has been effective for me. (And make sure to listen to the end for a special announcement.)

    Setting goals (and achieving them) is an important part of making a life that matters

    It’s hard to believe this is the last episode of the year. The last couple of weeks we’ve talked about some important practices that can lay a foundation for setting and achieving goals that matter--that have meaning for you specifically. This week I want to talk about incorporating what we’ve learned into meaningful goals for the coming year.

    Who we are in the world is largely a function of what we do. We have the ability to choose intentionally who we will be this time next year . . . by determining with intention and purpose what we will do--how we will use our time, energy, and attention in pursuit of goals that will reflect who we are, who we want to be.

    What is a goal?

    One dictionary defines "goal" as: “the object of a person's ambition or effort; an aim or desired result.”

    * Goals vs. dreams-a goal is something that is specific and achievable whereas a dream is something we fantasize about or accomplish in the future.

    * SMART goals-Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time Based

    There are lots of ways to structure your goals

    23 before 2023 - a list of things you’d like to accomplish or experience before the next year begins.

    Life goals/5-year goals/1-year 

    My preference: for each of the life areas/roles identified in the past exercises, identify one objective for each of the areas, then choose 2-3 to focus on for the first quarter of the new year.

    How do you decide which to focus on first? Try taking some insights from your annual review. What jumped out at you from that process--any regrets you’d like to address this year? Any good things you want more of? 

    Personally, I realized that when I thought about the year’s highlights during my year-end review, most of the highlights I identified were family-related, so I know I’ll want to prioritize creating more family experiences this year.


    1. Brainstorm: With the values and priorities you identified a couple of weeks ago in mind, along with the insights you gathered from your annual review, brainstorm a list of possible goals/dreams/objectives for the year--using whichever approach you want to use (23 before 2023 or the life areas)--write them down.

    Don’t censor yourself--write things down even if they seem crazy or impossible. 

    Don’t worry about formulating them perfectly right now--don’t worry about the SMART formulation or if what you’re writing down is an objective rather than a goal. There’ll be time later to rearticulate the ones you land on. 

    Take your time. This might take more than one session. Start the list, walk away, come back and add to it as you think of things. 

    For family/marriage goals, get the other family members involved. 

    When you have a good list for each life area, put the list away and do something else for a few hours or even a couple of days.

    2. Cull: Come back to your list with a fresh eye and scan through it. Which ones are you particularly drawn to? Start a fresh list with just those. Try to narrow it down to 1 or 2 in each area of your life-these will be your primary goal areas for the year. Remember there’s a difference between not now and never.

    • 50 min
    Laying a Foundation: Lessons Learned

    Laying a Foundation: Lessons Learned

    This week I want to talk about a process for identifying valuable lessons by taking a look at the year just ending--the good and the not so good--before finalizing our goals for the coming year.

    It's useful to look back over the previous year and see what lessons you can apply to setting your goals for the coming year (Just remember to give yourself grace in the process!)

    As I mentioned last week, I am spending these final weeks of the year taking some steps to prepare for a productive new year. For a lot of us, that involves setting goals for the year. We’ll talk about that process soon, but I believe it’s important to lay a strong foundation before actually setting goals.

    Conducting your own year-end review

    Set aside a time when you can be quiet and undisturbed. Get something to write with and your favorite beverage. Gather your calendar, your journal if you keep one, your planners for the year. If you set goals for this year and kept track of them, gather that as well. 

    Browse through your calendar, planner, journal, remind yourself of the key activities and memorable events of the year. 

    If you set goals for the year or parts of it, review those.

    As you do your review, look at the various areas of your life, personal, professional, etc. Blogger Hannah Braime, in a blog post about how to conduct a year-end review, suggests we look at the following areas of our life:


    Health and fitness 





    Fun and leisure 

    Home/physical environment 

    Personal growth and development

    * Journal answers to some or all of the following questions:

    * What are the best things that have happened this year? Would you like to repeat any of those experiences in the coming year? 

    * What were your proudest achievements--personal, professional, etc.? 

    * What knowledge or skills did you learn? 

    * What were the most fun events or activities? 

    * What are the best books you read? 

    * What were the toughest challenges of this year? How did you respond to them? 

    * If you had to describe this year in a word or phrase, what would it be? Why? 

    * Is there anything about this year that you’d like a do-over on? 

    * What did you hope to do or experience this year that didn’t come to fruition? 

    * Great questions that someone (I don’t recall who) has suggested:

    What do you want to stop doing? 

    What do you want to keep doing? 

    What do you want to start doing?

    * Looking at the goals you set for yourself for this year, how do you feel about those you did and didn’t reach? For those you didn’t reach, can you identify why? (Did you abandon them in favor of something you valued more? Did unanticipated obstacles arise? Were they the “wrong” goals for you? Maybe you set them as goals because you thought you should but didn’t really care about them? Maybe some other reasons?) Are any of those unmet goals ones you want to reactivate for the coming year?

    What lessons have you learned this year--those that come to mind from the months past and those you can draw from your answers to the questions above?

    • 28 min
    Laying a Foundation: Primary Values & Guiding Principles

    Laying a Foundation: Primary Values & Guiding Principles

    This is the time of year when we focus on our goals and things we want to get done in the new year--and that's important. But this is also a good time to get back to basics and think about our values and the principles that guide us.

    Our values and guiding principles lay the foundation for setting and achieving meaningful goals

    As I mentioned last week, I am spending these final weeks of the year taking some steps to prepare for a productive new year. For a lot of us, that involves setting goals for the year. We’ll talk about that process soon, but I believe it’s important to lay a strong foundation before actually setting goals. 

    When people think about productivity, they often think about calendars and to-do lists and project management, and all of those things are a big part of what we discuss on this podcast. But there’s a big difference between being busy and being productive. True productivity requires a purpose to guide the activity.  

    In order to be truly productive, it’s important to spend the time living that life we want and maximizing our positive impact on the world around us. To help do that, think about who you are, who you want to be, what kind of life you want to create for yourself and for those you love. 

    In this episode we talk about a process for identifying principles to guide our decisions in such a way that our activity is consistent with our true values.

    The basic steps:

    1. Set aside a time when you can be quiet and undisturbed. Get something to write with and your favorite beverage. Spend some time thinking about what matters to you--who you want to be in the world, and why.

    When I think about values, I think of character qualities and about people. For example, it's important to me to act with integrity, to have my life reflect what my faith teaches me, to be authentic and transparent, to be kind, to notice others and help when I can.

    Contribution is important to me--I want to make the world around me better.

    Building community is important to me.

    When I’m honest, self-preservation is important to me--which sometimes conflicts with the desire to be authentic and transparent.

    2. List/describe the roles you play in life and the relationships that are part of your life.

    * Example: I’m a wife, a mom to adult kids, a grandmother, a lawyer, a citizen, a friend, a podcaster. I’m a human being. 

    3. Taking into account your personal values, prioritize these areas of your life. (Don’t forget to make your physical, mental, and emotional health a priority.)

    I’m not one who believes in ranking people in some sort of numbered order. But looking at each role or commitment, how important is it in relation to the others.

    We’re all juggling multiple roles and goals, and the truth is, sometimes they conflict with each other in terms of demands for our time, energy, and attention. That’s why doing this thinking is so important--how do we decide what to do when. 

    From an article by John Maxwell, quoting Brian Dyson (then the CEO of Coca-Cola) from a university commencement address:

    Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling five balls in the air. You name them – work, family, health, friends and spirit – and you’re keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls – family, health, friends and spirit – are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged, or even shattered. They will never be the same.

    * If we drop the rubber balls,

    • 33 min
    Making Space for the New Year

    Making Space for the New Year

    As we wrap up this year, we want to be present in the moments -- family, friends, celebrations. But we can also be looking ahead to the coming year. This week we're talking about things we can do now to prepare for a productive new year.

    Thinking ahead--and preparing now--can make space for a productive new year

    There’s nothing magical about the 1st of January--life continues from one day to the next, and we’re not going to wake up on Jan 1 as a new and different person. BUT we can take advantage of the psychological weight of turning the calendar from one year to the next as a signal to give some thought to what we’re doing and why. 

    As time passes we often have the tendency to accumulate things--possessions, expectations, assumptions, maybe regrets. These last weeks of the year might be a good time to take a look at some of that accumulation, clear out some physical and mental clutter, and open up space in our homes, lives, and minds for good things to come.

    1. Your space 

    Lots of studies provide evidence that decluttering our space has more benefits than just a tidy space. Generally, living in uncluttered space contributes to lowered stress, high self-esteem, greater productivity, and a better quality of life. It can also set the stage for “breaking” bad habits, by removing from your environment items or conditions that trigger those habits. (Check out the links in the resources list below for some articles that talk more about these benefits.)

    Examples of things to consider purging now to make space:

    * Since we know holiday gifts are coming in, it's a great time to clear out space for them and, even more, create a cleaner slate for the new year, with respect to:

    Children’s toys 

    Household items (decor, small appliances, linens & towels, even furniture) 

    Games, puzzles, 


    * This is also a good time to go through cosmetics and medications (expired, unloved, unused).

    2. Your habits and routines

    Whether intentional or not, we have habits and routines that get us through our days. Take a fresh look at them--what do you do regularly, without consciously thinking about it? Do those habits and routines serve you? Do they make your life better? What do you want to add, subtract, tweak?

    Morning routine--what time do you wake up? What time do you get out of bed? What do you do first thing when you wake up?

    What other daily habits of action and/or thoughts do you have? (For myself with working at home, I often find myself wanting a mid-afternoon snack because I'm tired, droopy, or distracted. This has become a habit for me but I could replace it with a 10-minute walk outside.)

    Work start-up routines? 

    Work shut-down routines? 

    Evening routines? 

    Bedtime routines? 

    Weekly routines? 

    Habits of communication with your spouse, kids, boss, coworkers?

    3. Your schedule

    Track your time for a week and evaluate how you’re spending it. This was something that was suggested in  Laura Vanderkam's book, I Know How She Does It, which I am currently listening to.  Look ahead to the regular and one-off commitments on your calendar, think about how you feel about them. Were they intentionally added? What’s missing? Self-care time? Relationship nurturing time? Anything you want to subtract? Clear out the “clutter” of activities and events that were added for reasons you don’t like. Make sure there’s enough white space in your schedule to allow you to take advantage of opportunities that you can’t even ...

    • 36 min
    Favorite Productive Gifts for Yourself & Others

    Favorite Productive Gifts for Yourself & Others

    In this episode we’re talking about a few productivity-related things I love that could make great gifts this holiday season.

    How about a few ideas for productive gifts?

    As we're in the midst of the holiday season, I've been thinking about gift-giving. I thought I would share some productivity-related gift ideas that might be perfect for someone on your list--or for you! 

    Tools and gadgets 

    1. Scanner  

    What I use: Fujitsu ScanSnap

    2. Wide-screen monitor 

    What I got recently and am loving: LG 34WN80C-B UltraWide Monitor 34” 21:9 Curved WQHD (3440 x 1440)

    3. Instant Pot 

    What I use and love: 6-quart Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1  

    4. Planner and/or notebook & nice pens 

    Resources I can recommend:

    * Planner: Happy Planner

    * Fountain pens, notebooks, and paper: Goulet Pens 

    * Planner supplies, inserts, and more: Cloth & Paper

    Apps & programs 

    1. TextExpander 

    2. VPN (virtual private network) to provide a secure connection to the internet) - I use Encrypt.me

    3. Password manager - I use LastPass 

    4. Recipe manager - I use Paprika

    Services & subscriptions 

    1. Audible - access to lots of audiobooks, fiction and nonfiction, plus other materials; can listen while driving, folding clothes, etc. I listen while I’m getting ready in the morning 

    2. Calm - for all the reasons I’ve talked about before, can help you sleep better, manage stress, etc., all of which boost productivity. Great gift for someone you love who has trouble sleeping.

    3. Meal service - I use Hello Fresh 

    4. Storyworth - one question a week emailed to the person. They answer by replying to the email. At the end of the year, the answers are bound into a book. 

    5. Cleaning service 


    * Tickets to a movie or show (I haven’t been to a theater since before COVID, but plan to go see a movie called Redeeming Love in January, hopefully with my daughter, who also loves the book) 

    * Spa sessions - massage, etc. 

    * Museum pass (art, history, technology, . . .) 

    * Season tickets -- sports team, theater, ballet, opera . . . 

    * Plan a series of local outings--what do tourists come to your area to see? 

    * Coaching (in a business or personal area) or mastermind group 

    * Retreat or conference that will help you move forward on an important goal 

    See links below to a couple of articles with great ideas for experience gifts for all ages. 


    * Atomic Habits, by James Clear

    * Lightly - How to Live a Simple,

    • 42 min
    Giving Thanks and a Life That Matters

    Giving Thanks and a Life That Matters

    In this episode of The Productive Woman, we're talking about the history of Thanksgiving, what it means to give thanks and be truly grateful, and what I am most thankful for this year.

    Giving thanks for what matters most

    This episode will be published the day before Thanksgiving here in the United States. This year my husband and I will be hosting a family meal on Thursday. My mom and stepdad will be here, my youngest sister and her husband and son, and three of my five kids will be here, along with five of our grandchildren. I thought I’d share some thoughts about Thanksgiving--both the holiday and the practice.

    The holiday--a brief history.

    Those of us in the U.S. know what it’s about, but it’s been a long time since I looked at the story behind it.

    According to an article on the History Channel website, “Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday in the United States, and Thanksgiving 2021 occurs on Thursday, November 25. In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and the Wampanoag shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.” (The article goes into the history of the original colonists and the indigenous peoples who helped them survive.) 

    I’ve learned that Thanksgiving is not solely an American holiday. According to Wikipedia, “Thanksgiving is a national holiday celebrated on various dates in the United States, Canada, Grenada, Saint Lucia, and Liberia. It began as a day of giving thanks and sacrifice for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year. A similarly named festival holidays occur in Germany and Japan. Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday of October in Canada and on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States and around the same part of the year in other places. Although Thanksgiving has historical roots in religious and cultural traditions, it has long been celebrated as a secular holiday as well.” 

    My childhood memories of Thanksgiving center around home and school. At school we learned about what was often described as the “first Thanksgiving feast” shared by the colonists in New England and the nearby indigenous people to celebrate a successful harvest. At home, Thanksgiving was always about food and family. My mom would cook a turkey and the trimmings. When we lived near extended family, we’d often gather together, with all the moms in the kitchen cooking up all the traditional foods, and then the family would gather around the table to share the meal. 

    • 36 min

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5
353 Ratings

353 Ratings

MamaDoc VC ,

TPW is one of my favorites!

I have been listening to TPW for almost 2 years. I am ashamed it has taken me so long to write a review, but here it is at long last! I stumbled upon TPW during the early days of the pandemic when I was looking to organize my life and become more productive as a woman, wife, mom, and physician. I started binging TPW and never looked back! I eagerly anticipate new episodes each week. During my recent personal goal setting session for the beginning of 2022, the goal planner I am using challenged me to identify important podcasts that I could turn to on my productivity journey and TPW was the only one on my list. I have no less than 110 podcasts in my feed (please don’t judge - they satisfy many niches!) many of which are geared toward productivity and organization, but honestly TPW takes the cake. Each episode is thoughtfully researched and presented. I appreciate Laura’s authenticity, compassion, and easily digestible advice and perspective. In addition, her voice is soothing and comforting and feels like I’m hearing from a longtime friend. TPW is without a doubt one of the few podcasts I really look forward to listening to. While I enjoy the many different guests she brings, my favorite episodes are the ones with just Laura discussing her thoughts and ideas. She has a unique voice and perspective that I appreciate hearing from each week! Thank you Laura for the love and energy you pour into each episode!

patischk ,

Un femme de sagesse

The best podcast regarding productivity by far for me! Ms Laura has so much wisdom and knowledge.You can feel her sincerity and authenticity by the way she shares and talks about her topics and discussion. She research, read books , articles and so much more to present each episode very well. You really have to listen to this podcast to know what I’m trying to say.
Ms Laura pls dont stop recording you are an inspiration to me. I want To be like you when I grow up 😁. Haha un femme d’une certain age’! You are making a difference in this world. I hope i can be one too. God bless you and your family! Cheers!

redshift8 ,

TPW fan

I am very grateful for Laura and TPW podcast. I am currently on episode 120 and determined to get to the current episode. The podcasts are very useful to me. Laura truly provides helpful tips and encouragement in managing life, stress, and stuff. I love her insights on creating a life that matters.

I look up to Laura as a role model. I value the practical tips that she and her guests provide.

Listening to the TPW podcast has been part of my life. I listen to TPW during my daily walks, and while doing chores (cooking and folding clothes)

Laura, thank you very much for investing time, energy, and resources in creating TPW podcast.

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