466 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 • 448 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.

    Cultivating Flexibility and Resilience

    Cultivating Flexibility and Resilience

    Psychological flexibility and resilience are key components of a meaningfully productive life, helping us navigate change and bounce back from adversity.

    We can't predict the ways in which our life will change, but we can learn to respond and adapt in productive ways

    The modern world is unpredictable and constantly changing. And change is not something I’ve been a fan of throughout my life. In fact, it’s been a challenge for me to adapt to change.

    This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, as my husband and I have been discussing some big changes as we approach retirement--including downsizing from the house we love and considering plans to travel more in an RV to visit our kids around the country and see some parts of the country we haven’t seen before.

    While these changes are exciting, they also challenge my home-body-routine-favoring personality. As I’ve pondered all this, I’ve thought a lot about the importance of being flexible, adaptable, and resilient in the face of unexpected difficulties.

    As I dug into the topics, I’ve come to understand that flexibility and resilience are vital traits that can boost productivity by helping us accommodate change, navigate challenges with a positive mindset, and adapt to different situations.

    Definitions and Differences:

    What is flexibility?

    Oxford: “the quality of bending easily without breaking”; “willingness to change or compromise” 

    Dictionary.com: “the ability to bend easily or without breaking”; “the quality of being easily adapted” 

    Cambridge: “the ability to change or be changed easily according to the situation”; “the ability to bend or to be bent easily without breaking” 

    One self-described researcher named Anan Bari Sarkar, in a post on Quora, talked about “psychological flexibility” as “the ability to accept difficult thoughts and feelings without judgment, and to take action in accordance with your values. It is a skill that can be learned and developed over time.” 

    Another article on Medium describes flexibility as “the ability to adjust to changes in your life without creating stress or drama. [and notes that] Being flexible in life means that you can change your plans and adapt to new situations easily.”

    What is resilience?

    Oxford: “the capacity to withstand or to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness” 

    Dictionary.com: “the power or ability of a material to return to its original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched”; “the ability of a person to adjust or recover readily from illness, adversity, major life changes, etc.” 

    Merriam-Webster: “the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress”; “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change” 

    Cambridge: “the ability to be happy, successful, etc. again after something difficult or bad has happened”; “the ability of a substance to return to its usual shape after being bent, stretched, or pressed” 

    From the Medium article I mentioned earlier: “People more inclined toward Resiliency can maintain (or regain) functionality and vitality despite trouble or setback. They effectively combine strength and adaptability. Natural confidence and a positive outlook allow them to view difficulty as opportunity and failure as growth.

    • 36 min
    Productive Living: Creative Self-Care, with Mary Adkins

    Productive Living: Creative Self-Care, with Mary Adkins

    Author, writing coach, and creative self-care expert Mary Adkins encourages us to make time for creative self-care and to give ourselves permission to fully express our creative side. Amazing things can come from letting go.

    Making time for our natural creativity to come out can improve our productivity and enrich our daily lives

    In this episode of our Creative Living series, I’ll share with you my conversation with lawyer, novelist, and writing coach Mary Adkins about caring for our creative side.

    Who is Mary?

    Mary is a graduate of Duke University and Yale Law School and is now a writing coach and founder of The Book Incubator, a 12-month program to write, revise, and pitch your novel or memoir. She is the author of the novels When You Read This (Indie Next Pick, “Best Book of 2019” by Good Housekeeping and Real Simple), Privilege (Today.com “Best Summer Read,” New York Post “Best Book of the Week”), and Palm Beach (recently named one of the New York Post’s “Best Books of 2021”). Her books have been published in 13 countries, and her essays and reporting have appeared in the New York Times, The Atlantic, Slate, and more. I’ve been looking forward to talking with her about making time for creative self-care.

    How Mary got started

    Mary has always had the drive to be creative and carve out time for her creativity, a spark she has had since she was a little girl. The instinctive drive to make things and create has been a big part of her life but writing is where she really came alive. Whether she is writing a fun, whimsical story or something more personal, writing has always fed and nurtured her.

    On the other hand, Mary also had an interest in law and attended Yale Law School. Once she graduated and got her first job as a lawyer, though, her true purpose was made crystal clear to her, which was to pursue creative writing. Within 7 months of starting her job as a lawyer, she left to pursue writing full-time. Mary is proud of herself for making this decision because she followed her heart. Initially, Mary estimated that writing a book would take about a year but it took closer to 7 years before she received a contract and was a published author.

    Since then, Mary has continued to enjoy her career as a novelist and writing coach. She teaches others not only the fundamentals of writing but how to make time for creativity.

    When Mary is not writing, she enjoys spending time with her husband and 5-year-old son, who has just started Kindergarten.

    A typical day for Mary

    Mary makes a concerted effort each day to make time to write, in spite of what other things she needs to get done. She wants to write from her heart, whether that be journaling, working on a novel, or another piece she wants to publish. Mary tends to get this writing done very early in the morning, around 5:00 am. This is her quiet time with her coffee when she is at her most creative, which she likes to take advantage of.

    Mary also tries to get some exercise in during these early hours.

    Between the hours of 10:30 and 3:00, she is focused on running her business - coaching her clients, teaching classes, responding to emails, and other tasks.

    At 3:00 she picks her son up from school and then tries to wrap her day up by 4:00. This is when Mary wants to focus on her family, cook dinner, and wind down for the evening. In the past, Mary would work continuously up until it was time for her to go to bed, which would lead to anxiety and poor sleep. This caused her to have an unhealthy relationship with productivity so now she completely stops working in the evenings (with only a few ...

    • 50 min
    Productivity Slumps and What to Do About Them

    Productivity Slumps and What to Do About Them

    What are productivity slumps, what we can do to avoid them, and how to manage our minds to be our most productive when they inevitably happen?

    Productivity slumps will happen (we're human) but there are things we can do to bounce back

    Recently I read an article published on Forbes.com about the fact that workplace productivity “plummets” on Mondays. I found the article interesting and started looking into the research on what the article referred to as “productivity slumps”--periods of low productivity.

    One article I read on Linked In described a productivity slump as a time when we spend more time thinking of what we need to do (but not doing it) than the time it would take to do the task.

    Another described it as a time when “You can feel a lack of creativity, physically tired, mentally distracted, or emotionally undervalued. Essentially, it’s just a severe lack of motivation. You’re probably in a slump if you’ve noticed your productivity and ambition decline.” 

    Interestingly, a lot of the materials I came across as I was researching this topic had to do with business productivity in a global sense. An article published on Inc.com described statistics regarding U.S. worker output, noting recent years have shown a huge drop in U.S. worker productivity--the biggest slump since 1947.

    According to the Forbes article, “Mondays and late afternoons are the worst days for stress, productivity and motivation.” A poll cited in the article found that 35% of the respondents said they’re most productive on Tuesdays and 39% say Wednesdays. Furthermore, the poll results found that 9 - 11 a.m. are the most productive hours, and 3 - 5 p.m. are the least productive.” 

    Productivity slumps can occur at certain times of day or days of the week, as discussed in that Forbes article, or they can be longer stretches. Either way, avoiding productivity slumps is crucial for maintaining consistent performance and achieving long-term goals, whether personal or professional. Here are some strategies to avoid or overcome these downturns:

    1. Identify the cause 

    * Is it physiological--due to physical exhaustion, hormonal imbalance, hunger, dehydration, or illness? Are you recovering from childbirth or surgery? Do you need to get a checkup with your doctor? 

    * Is it emotional--are you in the midst of, or just coming out of, a difficult time dealing with grief, worry, fear, or other strong emotions? Are you distracted by something--or many somethings--on your mind? 

    * Is it burnout--are you experiencing work overload, or have you just finished an extremely busy period professionally or personally?  

    * Is it overwhelm--either too much to do, or impostor syndrome--a lack of confidence regarding your ability to do the things you need and want to do? 

    * Is it loneliness? Especially those of us who work remotely, including moms at home with young children, a sense of isolation and loneliness can lead to a productivity slump.

    2. Address physiological issues 

    * Exercise regularly. Physical activity can boost mood, energy, and cognitive function. Even a short walk can make a difference. 

    * Eat healthily: 

    • 33 min
    Productive Living: A Holistic Approach to Productivity and Impact, with Angela Shurina

    Productive Living: A Holistic Approach to Productivity and Impact, with Angela Shurina

    Coach, nutritionist, podcaster, and author Angela Shurina advocates for a holistic approach to productivity. I'm talking with Angela this week as part of our newly resumed Productive Living series.

    Being balanced in all areas of our life can increase productivity

    After a long hiatus I’m excited to bring back the Productive Living recurring series, in which I speak with women who have special expertise and insights to share in various areas that reflect components of a life that matters. This week I'm sharing my conversation with coach, nutritionist, podcaster, and author Angela Shurina.

    Who is Angela?

    Angela Shurina is a coach whose approach combines current knowledge from researchers and experts and her experience from multiple disciplines - including integrative health, brain nutrition, fitness, sleep, stress resilience, neuroscience, flow states, and high performance - to help change-makers to make bigger impact AND have higher quality of life. 

    In addition to her coaching practice, Angela is an author of “Fit-and-Focused Brain-Body Blueprint for Remote Pros and Digital Nomads”, host of “Your Brain’s Coach” podcast, and offers an online 12-week group coaching program to help ambitious entrepreneurs over 40 dial in all aspects of health, fitness, and stress resilience to build a strong foundation for success and high quality of life in the upcoming decades. 

    How Angela got started

    Angela started her career as an IT professional and economist, quickly transitioning into coaching. She began with fitness, nutrition, and sleep and then transitioned into things like productivity and flow states. Angela is from Russia and had always been a "professional nomad" but after many years decided to settle down in one place; Cape Town, South Africa.

    Since Angela was a teenager, she was always fascinated with the question of "What is human potential and how can we apply it to the goals we have for our life?" She has pursued the answer to this questioin since then and it is the main focus of her professinal work.

    Routines can provide security during our busy days

    When you work for yourself, you have a lot of flexibility to do what you want with your day and the time in it. This can be good but when you don't have a deliberate routine, things can often feel chaotic. This is why Angela has made an effort to create a typical day for herself to help her manage her time and prioritize tasks.

    Angela begins her day at about 5:00 am and uses the morning hours to focus on herself, which is very important to her. She will meditate, drink her water, get in a bit of movement, and take a shower. She also uses this time to think about her schedule and what she would like to do with her day.

    By 6:00 a.m., Angela will begin the most productive time of her day and focus on tasks that require the most focused attention. She knows if she doesn't get tasks completed before noon, they won't get done with the same amount of quality because Angela is a self-professed morning person. She believes that we serve the world when we are at our best. Helping a person discover when they are most productive is a big part of her work. After working on focused tasks all morning, Angela will take a break, have some lunch, and then maybe go on a walk.

    The second half of her day is dedicated to business issues and her clients, taking care of any needs they might have. By 6:00 pm, Angela has dinner and then dedicates her evening to social life or reading a good book.

    At this point in her career, Angela feels like she has her routine down pretty well,

    • 53 min
    Getting It All Done, Part 2 (Some "Best Practices")

    Getting It All Done, Part 2 (Some "Best Practices")

    Let's follow up on last week’s episode and talk a bit more about getting it all done. What do the "experts" have to say about best practices?

    What are some of the best practices for getting it all done?

    Last week we started a 2-part series on getting it all done--not doing it all, but deciding what matters most to us and then getting all of that done. Last week I shared some things I do personally to help me get the things done that I need and want to do. This week we’ll be talking about some so-called best practices--some approaches, strategies, and tools recommended by many of those we might call productivity experts.

    1. Prioritization

    A key to getting it all done is being intentional about what we do. Learn to evaluate the tasks you’re doing and, to the extent you can, spend your best time, energy, and attention on the ones that are highest priority for you. 

    One tool that can help is called The Eisenhower Matrix. This is a matrix with four quadrants. Using these quadrants we can categorize tasks as Urgent & Important, Not Urgent but Important, Urgent but Not Important, and Neither. To make the most progress toward accomplishing your highest-priority objectives, focus your time, energy, and attention primarily on the Important tasks.

    from Introducing the Eisenhower Matrix (https://www.eisenhower.me/eisenhower-matrix)

    2. Time Management

    As we’ve discussed before, this might better be thought of as energy management or attention management. Learning when we’re best able to focus on work that requires it, we can then allocate our time accordingly. For example, if, like many people, you’re more energetic and focused in the morning, use those hours for tasks that require energy and focus, and save the droopy afternoon hours for administrative tasks. 

    One tool that can help with this is The Pomodoro Technique: Work intensely for 25 minutes, then take a 5-minute break. Repeat. Every fourth break should be longer (15 minutes). 

    3. Task Management

    Most of us have far more things we need or want to do than we have time to do them. Managing those tasks is a primary piece of a productive life--keeping track of what needs to be done, figuring out what’s needed in order to get them done, deciding when we’ll do them, all are important. We recently talked about this in more depth in our series on the GTD Methodology (see episodes 440 - 446 for more). Some of the tools and approaches that can help us manage and accomplish tasks efficiently and effectively include: 

    To-Do Lists: Start each day by writing down the tasks you need to accomplish. Digital tools like Trello, Todoist, or even simple sticky notes can be used. 

    Task Batching: Group similar tasks together to tackle them in one go, minimizing the mental load of switching tasks. Whether it’s cleaning all the bathrooms, returning phone calls, prepping all the veggies for the week’s meals, or any other group of tasks that require the same tools and attention, batching them saves time both because you’re not losing time to task-switching and because you have one set-up and clean-up rather than many. 

     Time Blocking: Allocate specific blocks of time in your day for specific activities or tasks.

    • 28 min
    Getting It All Done, Part 1 (How I Do It)

    Getting It All Done, Part 1 (How I Do It)

    There is always something that needs to get done. This week we’re starting a 2-part series about getting it all done, with Part 1's focus on some of the things I personally do to accomplish what matters most to me.

    Getting it all done is not the same as doing it all!

    Does being a productive woman mean we’re going it all? Sometimes it seems like that’s what the world thinks. We’ve all seen the articles, the books, the portrayals on the screen of women “doing it all,” and if you’re like me, you’ve sometimes felt discouraged, because that vision of a productive women seems impossible to achieve. 

    I’ve often thought that it’s possible to do it all (whatever that “all” might be for you), but not all at the same time. I tend to believe that instead of trying to "do it all," we need to decide what’s important to do at each stage of our lives, and then find ways to get all of that done. This is, I believe, somewhat different from “doing it all.”  

    This week is part 1 of a 2-part series on getting it all done--accomplishing the things we need and want to do today, this week, this month, etc. This week in part 1 I’ll share some of the things I do personally to be as productive as possible. Next week I’ll talk about some “best practices” recommended by others.

    I’ve been asked many times how I “do it all,” especially when I had kids at home and was working, podcasting, etc. I usually tell people I don’t do it all, but I have gotten a lot done over the course of my life so far. I’ve been thinking lately about what that means, and how I’ve done it. 

    For me, it’s crucial to start with thinking deeply about what I want in my life and, even more important, who I want to be in the world, and to do my best to order my life accordingly. Finding ways to be both efficient and effective is key--to use my time well. 

    Family has always been the most important thing to me, although I’ll confess that priority hasn’t always been reflected in my calendar and to-do list. Nevertheless, much of my thought over the years about productivity has been focused on finding ways to be as efficient as possible, to allow me to get the necessary stuff of life and/or my job done as quickly as possible, leaving time for the things that matter to me 

    Another priority has been to foster and preserve my own peace of mind. I’m by nature a worrier, always looking ahead to how things might go wrong. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about ways to be at peace and to manage my time, space, and life to make that easier for me.

    With those two priorities in mind, I’ve compiled a list (in no particular order) of things I do to help me get it all done.

    1. I don’t do it all  

    At each stage of my life there have been things I wanted to do but deferred. For example, when my kids were young and I was having babies and home-schooling, I didn’t have a full-time outside job, and we limited the outside activities for us and for the kids so we could protect family time. Now I have a demanding career and a podcast, but my kids are grown and gone (so don't require my daily attention), we don’t socialize much (and I miss that), and I’ve deferred writing until I retire. 

    At each stage of my life, I think hard about what matters most, about what my personal limitations are in terms of time, energy, and attention, and I intentionally focus my time, energy, and attention on those important matters for that stage of life and let other things wait.

    2. Most of the time, I put things away right away (don’t put it down, put it away)

    * Open mail at the trash can. 

    * Put my purse away when I get home instead of dropping it on the kitchen counter. 

    * Dishes into the dishwasher  

    * Clothes in the laundry or hung up as soon as I take them off 

    * When I cook,

    • 35 min

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5
448 Ratings

448 Ratings

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!

Momeramas ,

Best Advice

I really enjoy this podcast because it focuses on women. The men’s podcasts always emphasize how to grow your business. Laura covers all the bases - whether you are retired, a stay-at-home mom, single person, married, a career woman or any combination thereof. She offers practical tips and reminders of what we may already know but forget to do. I listen to her podcast in the morning while taking a walk and I will often do something she suggested later on in the day. Thanks Laura!

annietags ,

One of my favorite podcasts

I am a productivity / intentional-living podcast junkie and Laura is one of my favorites. Her voice Is calming and soothing but at the same time is very motivating. Her episodes are well thought out and packed with helpful suggestions, actions steps and -most importantly- examples of concepts in action. I don’t know how this woman manages to pull off a high quality show like this and at the same time run a law practice and spend quality time with her family. But she does it all…and I am all ears!

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