The Productive Woman

By Laura McClellan | Network


A podcast intended to help busy women find the tools and the encouragement to manage their lives, their time, their stress, and their stuff so they can accomplish the things that matter most to them.


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Productivity Across Borders, with Christiane Kenny – TPW234

Christiane Kenny and her family have made several international moves in the past few years. She shares her thoughts on making a home, and being productive, across borders. Making a life across borders Christiane Kenny is a Chartered Company Secretary working for a corporate services company affiliated with a law firm that provides services to Bermuda companies in the insurance and reinsurance space. She is originally from Canada but currently lives in England with her husband, daughter, and pets. They are planning to relocate to Bermuda soon for her husband's career. A typical day On a typical weekday, Christiane is up by 6:30 am. She spends the morning getting herself organized; she gets dressed, makes herself a cup of coffee, does a few things around the house, and reviews her plan for the day. Around 7 or 7:30, she wakes up her daughter and makes her breakfast and gets her daughter to finish up any homework or violin practice that didn't get done the night before. Around 8:30, she drops her daughter off at school. After that, she'll either go for a run with a friend, walk the dog, or go to the gym if she didn't go for a run, or work out at home. After her workout, she takes a quick shower, sits down with her coffee and breakfast, and gets down to work for the day. Her job entails overseeing a team of 10 based in Bermuda and working directly with clients as well. She emails with her team, reviews the work her team had done, is on many board meeting calls, prepares minutes of the meetings, and has strategic management discussions. Because of the time difference between England and Bermuda, her mornings are quiet, but she can get very busy in the afternoon. With her upcoming move, she's cut her work back to part-time. She got a lot of her work done ahead of time so she can focus on moving preparation such as school paperwork for her daughter, preparing all the necessary requirements to move her pets overseas, getting movers quotes, and tying up all her living arrangements such as utilities. Preparing to move internationally is almost a fulltime job in and of itself. Around 4:30 in the afternoon, she picks her daughter up from school, supports her daughter to do her homework, practice music, go to swim practice, and they are back home by 8 pm. Once her daughter is in bed, she'll spend some time with her husband, and if she's had a particularly rough day, she'll stay up a little later to watch a tv show. Usually she'll drink some herbal tea and be in bed by 11 pm. On weekends, she is still up early to take her daughter to swim practice, and she runs with a friend one day and goes on a walk with her husband and dog to grab coffee on the other. Tools Christiane uses to manage a team from overseas To manage a team from another country, Christiane uses Zapzap Chat messenger app, Skype, Zoom, and email. Her firm is on a Citrix server, so her laptop looks exactly the same as her desktop computer in the office. When she visited the Bermuda office, she maximized her time there, almost like time-blocking, bonding with her team members by going to lunch or having coffee so she could still have that relationship with them when she was back in the UK or Toronto. Biggest productivity challenges The biggest productivity challenge for Christiane was allowing her work to take over her life. She felt personally invested in the company as she had pretty much grown it from the time it was set up, and it felt good to her to do anything for her clients at any time. But once she became a mom, and once she started working remotely,


How to Figure Out What Matters Most – TPW233

How do decide what matters most, so we can make a life that matters? What matters most? We talk a lot on this show about making a life that matters, and about accomplishing what matters. In fact, just last week, we talked about making a life that matters as you define it and some of the things that get in the way of doing that. We talk about how intentional living is necessary in order to make a life that matters--living on purpose, choosing intentionally how we spend our time, energy, and attention. These are all important parts of what this podcast is all about. Over the years, I've often gotten questions about how to figure out what matters most, when there are so many options and commitments available to us. The question is often asked as if the answer is “out there” somewhere, when in fact I believe the answer is within us. I thought it was worth talking about what that means and how we figure it out so we can apply it to our lives and actually create a meaningfully productive life. Can we really rank our priorities? Often, we want to come up with a list of what matters most that applies to life in general, with priorities or roles ranked in order of importance, that will guide all our decisions going forward. However, this is something I've always questioned. For me, it doesn't make a lot of sense. Can we truly rank our faith, self-care, husband, children, jobs, or other important factors in our lives? The idea that we can create a list of priorities to govern our lives may not be realistic or practical. What I don't like about it is that it puts important things in competition with each other. Is our husband more important or our children? Is our job more important or is it our family? I really struggle with the idea of what it means to create a list of "priorities" and rank them in order, deciding which one is most important, which one is second, and so on. What does it mean to put these things in order of rank?  That we spend most of our time on the thing that matters most--or that we should be doing so? Self-care is important, and maintaining a strong marriage is important, but at certain stages of our life our young children require more of our time, energy, and attention. Does that mean that our kids are more important than our health or our marriage? Work requires a certain number of hours a week, so most of us spend more time at work than with our families. Does that mean work is more important? Or if family is more important, does that mean we must adjust our time so we spend more time with them than at work? Again, for most of us, this isn't practically achievable. So is time spent the measure of what matters? The challenge is there when the way we spend our days, time, energy, and attention doesn't match up with the rank order of our lists and we end up feeling like we've done something wrong. Furthermore, priority is and has always been a singular word. In the article “Priority vs. Priorities”, the writer explains that the concept of having multiple priorities has only been around for the last 100 years. For me, there are two components to figuring out what matters: the first is to find out what matters, and then to figure out what matters most. But I'm not sure that we can pick one thing that matters most overall that will always apply in the sense of governing how we use our time. I think the concept of priority of asking what is the most important thing is useful in a very limited, specific area. What is the priority at this moment? In any given moment we can only do one thing. To give our best, to be our best, in any given moment, we can really only do one thing. So the question of figuring out what matters,


Making a Life That Matters, YOUR Way – TPW232

You know I like researching and trying new productivity tools and systems, but they're just tools. They're a means to an end, not the end itself. The end we're going for is a life that matters, as each of us defines it for herself. And no matter how popular a tool or system is, it's only worth using if it makes your life better. How do you make a life that matters? This episode was inspired by recent conversations in The Productive Woman Community Facebook group about various productivity tools and systems and whether and how they might work for one person or another. I thought it was important to talk about this issue: whether and how and why to make changes to our lives to adopt an approach or perspective that’s raved about by others. One of those conversations was about Greg McKeown's book --one of my favorite productivity-related books of the past few years. Lucy commented that though she had read the book multiple times, she found it incredibly difficult to implement. My response to her was: I think each of us has to decide for herself what she wants her life to look like. Although I see a lot of value in what McKeown says in this book, the bottom line is if you like how your life is working, then there's no reason you have to change it to conform to what McKeown (or anybody else) teaches! Making a change based on a book (or podcast or webinar or any other teaching) is a good idea only if the change addresses and improves something you're not content with in your life. Another conversation with Ruth reminded me once again that we need to decide for ourselves what to do, how, and why. Ruth commented on a group discussion about my conversation with Natalie Eckdahl (Episode 225 - Mindset Management) and said she is going a different path from Natalie's methods of childcare and household chores because she has different values and is creating a different life for her family. What a perfect reminder that there is no one-size-fits-all solution! Does it work for you? There are countless good resources out there, but no matter how good they are, what matters is whether YOU want to incorporate the concepts or principles into your life. If your life works for you, it doesn’t matter what anybody else does or what any expert says. Marie Kondo's , and her new Netflix reality show have made decluttering a big thing recently. There are lots of benefits to decluttering, but you don’t have to get rid of a thing if you don’t want to. If you are happy with your space, that’s what matters. by Greg McKeown and  by Gary Keller ae thought-provoking books with many good ideas. Personally, I see value in the things these books teach because I’ve found I want more space in my calendar, less full days. I’d rather do less, but do it better, rather than spreading myself out over several things (even if they’re really good things). That is MY choice. If you like having full days and juggling multiple projects, if you’re happy about how your days are spent and satisfied with the results of your efforts, then it doesn’t matter what Greg McKeown, Gary Keller, or I say. If you like how you feel at the end of each day and generally during the day, then that’s what matters. Remember that productivity tools, systems, and resources all are just tools. They are a means to an end, not the end itself. The end is a life that matters, as you define it for yourself. “All tools, whether digital or analog, are only as valuable as their ability to help you accomplish the task at hand.”


Lagom (Just Enough), with Jane Andersson – TPW231

Jane Andersson recommends the Swedish concept of lagom (just enough) as a key to making a meaningfully productive life. A meaningful life with just enough of what matters Jane Andersson is a journalist at Swedish Television, Sweden’s largest television network. She is also a wife and a mom to two daughters. She enjoys reading, traveling, and planning. A typical day Jane works with local news, so she gets up very early in the morning--as early as 3:15 am. She jumps into the shower, gets dressed, makes herself a few sandwiches, and goes to work around 4 am. At 4:30 she starts work, which is to create four editions of local news for a large part of southern Sweden. She has some stories pre-made, but others she has to do on her own. She reads all the other news outlets, select stories from her area, selects clips from their archive, edits, records, and broadcasts the show. Jane works on the first versions between 4:30-7 am, makes updates to the news between 7 and 9 am, and then works on other tasks such as responding to emails and supervising interns and new staffers between 9 and 11 am. Her workday ends at 11 am, which is the upside of getting to work at 4 am. After work, she runs errands, has lunch with friends from time to time, goes to the gym, and then goes home to sleep for a couple of hours. In the evening, she spends time with her husband and reads a lot. She’s an early bird so you'd think she would go to sleep early, but that isn't the case. Surprisingly, she gets into bed around 11 pm and reads for about an hour before actually going to sleep around midnight. Then her day starts all over again around 3:15 am. You can say she divides her sleep into two chunks, and it works for her. When she wakes up from her afternoon sleep, she feels refreshed and she can do a lot of things, even hang out with friends or go to the movies. With her schedule, she feels she's able to have more quality time than with a schedule that requires her to work during the daytime. Every fourth week or so, she has to work both days of the weekend as well. But when she doesn’t have to work on weekends, she gets a lot more sleep. Biggest Productivity Challenges Jane’s biggest productivity challenge at work is that it's virtually impossible to plan because the news determines everything. All those great productivity advice that you shouldn’t multitask, or that you should check your email only twice a day doesn’t work for her. Sometimes, she feels like she’s doing everything all at the same time. She advises that journalism isn’t for the type of person who likes knowing what she has to do in advance. When I asked Jane how she does manage to work with unforeseen events that call for her attention at work, she responded that that’s a hard question. When she goes into work in the morning, she is well aware of what she needs to do, but she doesn’t know how she will do it or what the content will be. Having been a journalist for three decades, so she’s learned to just go with it. When she uses her planner, she uses it to make her "real life" outside of work go more smoothly. She says that work is a big part of our lives, but it is not everything. There are a lot of logistics outside of work that you have to take care of, and she likes to plan for those parts. We agreed that having a plan and order in our lives makes it easier to go with the flow. At home, Jane’s biggest challenge is clutter. She and her husband have been living in the same house since 1989, so they have accumulated a lot of stuff, but they have agreed to spend this year decluttering. Nowadays she doesn't have a hard time saying no, but she did when she was younger. Like a lot of us, she wanted to show that she was good enough and that she could achieve things,


Productive Reading: Atomic Habits by James Clear – TPW230

In this latest episode of our recurring Productive Reading series, I share my key takeaways from James Clear's outstanding book, Atomic Habits. Productive reading about how small habits can make a huge difference in our productivity In this episode we’re continuing our recurring “Productive Reading” series, this time talking about lessons I’ve learned from James Clear’s new book, . In past Productive Reading episodes, we talked about Gary Keller’s  (episode 133), , by Charles Duhigg (episode 147), 3 books written by Brené Brown in episode 166, , by Courtney Carver, in episode 182, and , by Jeff Sanders, in episode 211. Who is James Clear? According to the book's cover copy, "James Clear is an author and speaker focused on habits, decision-making, and continuous improvement. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Time, and Entrepreneur, and on CBS This Morning. He is a regular speaker at Fortune 500 companies and his work is used by teams in the NFL, NBA, and MLB.” You can learn more about Clear and his work on his website at Atomic Habits is Clear’s first book. What is this book about? The book's subtitle, “An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones,” caught my attention. Atomic Habits is about how very small actions, taken consistently over time, will “compound into remarkable results.” Clear defines a habit as “a routine or behavior that is performed regularly and, in many cases, automatically.” The book's framework is Clear's “4 Laws of Behavior Change.” If you want to develop a new habit or create a new behavior and turn it into a habit that serves you, Clear says you start by doing these things: * Make it obvious: For example, lay out your gym clothes the night before if you want to develop a habit of working out in the morning. * Make it attractive “Desire is the engine that drives behavior. Every action is taken because of the anticipation that precedes it. It is the craving that leads to the response.” This is his expansion on Charles Duhigg’s concept of the habit loops in . Clear adds the concept of the craving to Duhigg’s idea of the Cue-Routine-Reward loop. He explains that the craving or desire, which is the result we look for or anticipate, is what motivates us to take action. * Make it easy * The 2-minute rule - scale it down to a two-minute version that moves you in the direction of where you want to go. * Make it satisfying In order for you to want to repeat this behavior, there needs to be something satisfying at the end. This is similar to Duhigg’s concept of "reward." Key Takeaways I’m a fast reader, but this book took me longer to finish than most books do because I kept slowing down to underline passages, make notes in the margins, and go back to re-read sections of it. There was so much that made sense and really resonated with me at this stage in my life as I’m trying to create better habits. The critical role habits play in our lives “In the long run, the quality of our lives often depends on the quali...


How to Make a Bad Day Better – TPW229

We might not be able to stop bad days from coming, but there are things we can do to make a bad day better. We can take action to make a bad day better No matter how positive we are or how productive we are, everybody has a bad day sometimes. Recently I had one of those days, which got me thinking about what we can do to turn a bad day into a better day. In this episode, I share ideas and resources I researched as well as some wonderful ideas the women of the TPW Facebook group shared with me. What makes a day bad? I want to be clear that I'm not talking here about a true crisis such as a death in the family, major illness, natural disaster, 0r job loss. Although many of the ideas we’ll discuss will help in a situation like that, these are more complicated than what I talk about in this episode. A bad day, as we discuss in this episode, might be a physically bad day--perhaps you don't feel well, or you are sore or exhausted--or an emotionally bad day--perhaps you feel sad or down (whether or not because of some event or situation you can identify), or feel shame because of something you did (or think you did), or you may be annoyed or crabby. How to make the day better If the bad day is a result of a mistake we've made or a problem we've caused, we can often make the day better by finding a solution to set things right (rather than just dwelling on our mistake) and creating a system to prevent mistakes from happening again. Sometimes we need to simply push through. We can’t always just check out when the day is bad since children still need to be cared for, our job still needs to be done. Often what's needed to make the day better is to change our mindset. As a starting point, we can remember to focus on the things we can control: * Our attitude * Our thoughts * Our behavior * Our reactions * Our words Several members of the TPW community find it helps to take action - do something good for yourself, something productive, or something nice for someone else to shift your focus off yourself. (Natalie Eckdahl, in episode 225, mentioned this as something she does when she’s having "one of those days.") Consider getting outside. Even if it’s cold, bundle up and go for a walk. The writer of 11 Scientific Benefits of Being Outdoors explains the benefits of being outdoors, which include an energy boost, the effects of natural sunlight in mitigating pain or alleviating Seasonal Affective Disorder, the free aromatherapy of nature's scents, restoration of focus, and more. Taking time for self-care, both physical and mental, can vastly improve a bad day. * Pamper yourself - Take a bath or shower, read a light book, sleep, cuddle with your pet, drink a glass of wine. * Sleep - When we're not rested, everything is harder to cope with. Many of the bad days we have are at least partly because we don't get enough sleep. * Exercise A key to improving a bad day is managing our own thoughts. I get a lot of help in this area by listening to Brooke Castillo’s The Life Coach School Podcast. Her recent episodes on modern mental health (<a href="https://thelifecoachschool.


Making a Difference, with Karina Hayat – TPW228

Karina Hayat shares how she makes time for making a difference through focusing on her professional and personal priorities. Making a difference at work and in the world Karina Hayat is based in Vancouver, BC, where she is the president of a healthcare firm and a philanthropist dedicated to important causes and organizations such as 100 Meals a Week, and SHeAccelerates, a mentoring initiative focused on aspiring and early female entrepreneurs. She’s also a wife and a mom of 3. Karina met her husband when they were kids. They started a business together in college. They initially started out as an e-commerce platform for natural products which evolved into a health media firm that caters to pharmacies and medical equipment providers across North America. Their goal is to help those with chronic conditions by connecting them to health care services at the point of need, thereby reducing the time it takes to get access to medication or healthcare services. Karina and her husband are committed to the pursuit of purpose, so they do everything with the intention of helping someone else and leave a positive mark in another's life, whether that's through business or personal relationships. Running a business with her husband Karina says working with her husband works for three reasons: * They are best friends. They have a pact of honesty in their relationship and in their business that states each person will let the other know if one is not carrying their weight. This has worked for them well because they are able to give each other constructive criticism, and they make sure to act upon these observations. * They have a very strict boundary between work and home. It is a huge rule in the Hayat household to separate time in the office and in the home and to be present when they are with the kids. This doesn't happen all the time, but their children will act as referees and tell them when they start to talk about work-related topics. * They work off of each other's strengths. Karina's strengths are in the written and verbal parts of the business and her husband's strength is strategy, so they collaborate with one another. When neither has a strength in a certain aspect, that's where they will hire it out. Giving back Outside of work, Karina and her husband are passionate about supporting certain causes and initiatives, such as the 100 meals a Week program. In 2006, they were invited to come out to one of the local malls during Ramadan to distribute food in Skid Row, and they saw how impactful it was. When they asked how often this event took place, they were told once a year. Knowing that people are hungry every day, she and her husband decided to do it every weekend and committed to doing this for their entire lifetime. In the winter months, they also drive around looking for people who are in need and distribute blankets and clothing. The two of them started this initiative, but they also invited family members and staff to participate. They also bring their kids along often so they can see the impact this effort has on other people. Starting in early 2018, Karina was able to block off Fridays to be dedicated to volunteer activities. She uses that time to prepare for 100 Meals a Week and other volunteer efforts, including a mentoring initiative called SHeAccelerates.  Through SHeAccelerates, Karina helps women who are new or aspiring entrepreneurs by coaching and mentoring them. Karina takes on about two mentees on a yearly basis. It can be a meeting over a cup of coffee, a request to look over their business plan, or even an inquiry to invest in their business. It was done informally until recently, but for the past few months she's been collaborating with another woman ...

The Productive Woman Podcast


Productivity Across Borders...


Christiane Kenny and her family have made several international moves in the past few years. She shares her thoughts on making a home, and being productive, across borders. Making a life across borders Christiane Kenny is a Chartered Company Secretary ...