One time only: Will you be one of the women I work with in my new productivity program?
I remember the day clearly.
I was sitting on my bed. I had a train to catch in 10 minutes. I also had a meeting that night, emails to respond to, and projects to finish. It was 2 PM. And my only thought was:
There is no way all of this is going to get done.
And immediately, I felt a surge of anxiety. What am I going to do? People are counting on me. I can’t say ‘no’! What would they think of me then? I have to do this all myself. Do I have to catch this train? There’s no way out of it.
Day after day I lived like this. My plate not only feel full, but bursting at the seams. Feeling like I was falling behind–no matter what I ‘crossed off’–then feeling overwhelmed, and feeling like I was getting sucked into chaos I couldn’t get out of.
And worse, feeling a constant cycle of guilt. Judgment. Burning out. Missing a deadline. Wanting to please other people so much that I could never say no, could never estimate how much time something would really take to get done. And while I was able to somehow ‘stuff it all in’, I felt depleted.
It’s like that moment where you wake up in the morning, and the only thought you have is: “I want to sleep for an entire week.”
But you can’t. There’s too much at stake. Responsibilities. Obligations. So you get up, if only out of habit. Day after day. And you STILL feel like despite how ‘busy’ you are…you’re not getting anything done!
What the hell!
But one day, a lightbulb went off in my head:
What if what I THINK is important…doesn’t really matter?
And more importantly:
WHY am I doing what I’m doing?
If you were to fast forward a year from the time I had that insight, you would have seen a completely different person.
I went from going completely over the top in everything I *thought* I had to do, to being calm, consistent, and someone who said she was going to do things…and got them done.
No more missed deadlines. No more exhaustion. No more burnout.
In fact, there was a point when I realized I was becoming the woman I wanted to be. I went from not working out at all, to working out 5-6 times a week. I started focusing all my time and energy on the things I actually wanted do, that propelled me to working on movie sets, following my dreams to advertising in San Francisco, and then eventually starting my own business.
And even better, being able to strengthen the relationships that mattered to me the most–like the one with my now fiancee, and putting in the effort to create an inner circle of girlfriends I love and adore.
But What’s The ‘Secret’? And Why Am I Talking About This Today?
When you think about the people who inspire you, what are the qualities that tend to stick out?
Maybe they’re attractive. Maybe they’re the leader of a company.
But usually we look at people and think: “Wow…they’ve accomplished SO MUCH.”
And more importantly, we look at WHAT they’ve accomplished and think: “I want to do those things! I want that kind of success for myself, too.”
And part of being a charismatic person is knowing how to talk to people, and ALSO being someone who believes, without a doubt, from the bottom of her heart, that she can accomplish anything she sets her mind to, that she actually wants to do.
And I’m not talking about doing busy, mindless work or putting out fires all the time. A woman who not just ‘gets things done’, but can also look back on her days and be proud of the way she spent it. On her most important projects, on her family, on HER biggest dreams.
I love what one of my heroes Ivanka says about ‘work-life’ balance:
“People obsess too much about balance,” she said. “A scale is only in balance for a brief second. Inevitably the pendulum swings. It’s impossible to maintain.”
While previous generations may have been able to compartmentalize home life and work life, there is no longer a clear delineation between the two. Rather than strive for perfect balance, Trump said she focuses on her immediate priorities.
In practice, that means she calls to check on her daughter between meetings during the day, comes home to make dinner with her husband and put her children to bed, and signs back on to respond to emails at 11 p.m.
“From a scheduling perspective, if I’m planning a work trip, I know not to book something the night before the trip because I want to be with my family,” Trump said. “If I have a deal come up, I might work three weeks straight. Then I have other moments, like if [my daughter] Arabella is sick, which change the dynamic.”
At the end of the day, Trump tries to remember, “Life is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s about taking a bigger-picture approach.”
I love this because it throws the concept of BALANCE right out the god damn window. Much better to be able to INTEGRATE–to be able to handle when distractions come up, when life gets in the way, and start getting creative about how you’re using your time instead of feeling like you’re constantly fighting it.
Because how you live each moment..each day..each week..each month..and each year…is ultimately how you live your entire life.
And I don’t think any of our ‘purposes’ here in life is to be ‘busy’–to be doing ‘meh, so-so, ‘okay’ work’ that you’re only ‘good’ at. As an ambitious woman with a demanding career and multiple roles to juggle, I KNOW you believe that you’re here to do more than take care of everyone else and I also know the LAST thing you need is another ‘should’ on the to-do list.
And just think about all the things you’ve ALREADY tried…that just haven’t worked
→ Read Getting Things Done…and while I agree with writing things down is a very powerful tool, it’s not helpful if you don’t have a framework to prioritize what is actually important (and what you can NOT go and let go of)
→ Read The Power of Full Engagement..which is fantastic. But what if you feel like you just don’t have ‘time’ to rest and recharge? What if you feel guilty for doing that?
→ Read The Power of Habit…again, great! But if you don’t implement the habits into your life, then you get nowhere.
→ To-do list apps, like Teux Deux, Wunderlist, and Todoist
→ Using a planner and writing *everything* out…if planners were the solution, none of this would be a problem
→ Scheduling blocks of time…again a useful tool, but what if what you scheduled isn’t specific or actionable enough? What if people problems get in the way and you don’t have that time available anymore?
→ Writing out your ‘ideal day’ with specific times to do everything…and then not doing it. Another great exercise, but only powerful if you work at creating your ideal day SLOWLY, with tiny steps, and not all at once. Otherwise it loses it’s luster
→ Other e-courses, books, and breaking things down into small steps. Ironically, the e-courses don’t get opened. They’re just another ‘to-do’!
→ Using reminders…and then we look at what we have planned, don’t feel motivated to do it, feel guilty, and ignore the reminder. So a useful tool, but only when other parts of the system are working right.
The funny part is, it’s not that these tools are bad and ‘don’t work’. They’re actually great. The problem is that they are TOOLS…not SOLUTIONS to the bigger, meatier, problem which is: Why is it that with all of these tools and resources available it’s still hard to be consistent, not get overwhelmed or burn out, or move the needle on what’s really important?
It’s because it’s NOT a ‘time’ problem. It’s a priorities problem. An asking for help problem. A ‘how to say no’ to certain things problem. But HOW do you do those things?
Because what about using your time to do what you’re truly GREAT at? Or using your time to do what you LOVE to do?
And I’m not just talking about your career. I’m talking about all those things that you’ve been fantasizing about when you say:
‘If I had the time, I would….
- Start my side business
- Go after my dream career touching the lives of millions
- Take my daughter to the park
- Take my son outside for a walk
- Have a fulfilling social life with lots of friends
- Have more date nights with my husband
- Learn a new skill so I can advance in my career
- Read books–like indulging in fiction, or magazines
- Do yoga
- Delegate things you don’t want to do (I call this ‘Fel-egating’)
- Write more
- Keep the house cleaner
Does this sound like you?
“Wow- I feel like I could be way less stressed out and a happier and more enjoyable person to be around if I could be more productive during the week. I would also have more time for hobbies I enjoy (reading, knitting, personal development, yoga, etc.) At work, especially starting my new job, it is relatively easy to be productive and stay focused with work items. However, when I get home, the last thing I want to do is tackle my personal “to do” list. After getting home, the dog needs to be fed and watered, get the mail, start dinner, clean up, help kids with homework/reading, get them off to bed. Then my fiancee and I both just want to black out in front of the TV or our devices. So, finding (or making, rather) the effort to catch up on correspondence and work on more productive tasks is really challenging. Then I tell myself I can wake up early and get things done in the morning, but I am usually too tired/hit the snooze too many times, or use that time to work out. Then on the weekends I feel like the time we would use to have fun is the time that gets dedicated to “catching up” and before you know it, the whole weekend is taken up by getting chores done, running random errands, and catching up the many small things that have accumulated during the week. And during the week, my mental energy is consumed by constantly thinking about all of the things that need to be accomplished and worrying that I am going to forget something and wondering how I will make time to get everything done. This makes me feel overwhelmed and grumpy and I know it affects others in my life. Another problem is that after spending most of the day thinking, problem solving, etc, on the computer, the last thing I want to do is come home and sit on the computer and take care of my to do list (paying bills, corresponding, online shopping, wedding planning, etc)”
But What Holds You Back From Accomplishing What You Desire to Do Most?
How many times have you heard yourself say:
“I need to…
- Sleep more
- Eat healthier
- Get on top of my to-do list
- Get that ‘X thing that’s been on to-do list forever’ done
- Rest more
…why doesn’t it get done?
In fact, just look at this survey I sent out to my readers asking them how much time is wasted when self-doubt, overwhelm, and busyness or burnout get in the way from what doing what they REALLY want to do:
Anything over 9-15 hours a week is TOO MUCH time. That’s over 3 hours a day!
Imagine what you could DO with 3+ hours a day, that weren’t devoted to feeling like the to-do list never ends?
And newsflash: It’s not because it’s not written down! It’s right there in front of you. In fact, I know how much fun it is to write down a gorgeous to-do list and perfect plan…and never execute it.
Because when we say “Oh, I should sleep more. I’m really bad about that” or “I need to get up earlier”, first of all, it’s not specific enough. What does ‘MORE’ mean? What does ‘BETTER’ mean? HOW much earlier? Do you really need to get up earlier or is that what everyone else is doing?
“Straight-up scheduling stuff doesn’t work for me. I’ve had a 6am workout on my calendar for over a year, and while in the past I made it religiously, I haven’t been sleeping well enough to get up that early lately, so I’ve been going after work. Blocking off work time on my calendar doesn’t work so well either”
Because what happens? We open up our calendar, we see all these scheduled blocks of time like “Work on deliverable” or “Do homework from course” or “Workout” and…
…Womp, womp, womp.
What do we say to ourselves? “I REALLY don’t want to do that”. And so we go back to looking at our phones, answering texts, responding to ‘urgent’ emails, getting caught in the internet rabbit hole of fun pictures and celebrity articles, and then we wonder: “Where the hell did the time go? Oh shit, I have to do ‘X’!” Cue: stress.
It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way
Because when we say things like that to ourselves, like “I’m bad at that” or “I should do that more” when we don’t do it, we feel guilty. And if you go a layer deeper, we feel ashamed. “What’s wrong with me that I can’t do this one thing? I just need to do it. I need to try harder.”
But that is never going to make us motivated, let alone keep us motivated over time when the going gets tough. What happens when life gets in the way? What about our moods and our feelings? What about when our energy is really low for a day…or an entire week?
We have all these ‘need-tos’, ‘have-to’s and obligations in our lives that only make getting what’s most important to us done feel like a year-long climb up Mount Everest. The fact is this: if we don’t want to do something, it’s 100x harder to do it!
Because Productivity is NOT Just About Crossing Tasks Off a To-Do List
If it were that easy, no one would ever complain about not being able to get things done. I wouldn’t be writing this email. In fact, we’d all be sitting down and binge watching Grey’s Anatomy.
But as women, we’ve gotten messages over and over again that basically say: “You need to be able to do it all. Look at these other women doing it all. If you CAN’T do it all, you’ve failed somehow, as a wife, as a mother. And if you’re failing, there must be something wrong with you.”
Do you see how that could perhaps derail your efforts to get what you want done?
Not to mention that we’re also taught as women that we need to take care of everyone else’s needs before our own. Remember how painful it is to say no? That feeling that you need to make sure ‘everyone is okay’?
When’s the last time you thought about YOU?
It’s funny, because the last couple of months I’ve been working with a small handful of women about how to focus on what matters, move towards your goals without burning out, and stay consistent and motivated with a plan that works for you, and something we’ve noticed is that whenever we hear things like “take care of yourself” or “think about what you need!” We nod our heads, agree it’s a good idea, and never change.
Have you ever thought about why?
If you’re taught that other people’s needs and desires are more important than your own, the second you start thinking about YOU, you feel…
- Like it’s an unnecessary luxury
And that topples all the Jenga pieces right there.
And it’s exactly why advice like:
“Just do it!”
“Just say NO”
“You need to communicate better about your needs!”
DOES. NOT. WORK.
Because as a woman, there are consequences, aren’t there? A ‘no’ from a man is VERY different than a ‘no’ from a woman. There are invisible expectations that keep us in these roles that force us to give up our precious time in order to not upset anyone who believes we’re not ‘allowed’ to say ‘Hey, I can’t do that.”
And the only way out of this is learning BETTER ways to communicate what you need, to free up time and space, and to truly be in control of your life.
Because if YOU never become a priority in your life, then everything else falls apart. You’ll have low energy if you don’t get enough rest…
…things slip through the cracks because you’re being pulled in a million directions…
…relationships suffer because you feel angry or resentful and snap easily…
…and a mile-long to-do list becomes overwhelming and stressful, preventing you from spending your time–and your LIFE–the way you truly want to. In a way that would finally make you happy.
Look at what one of my clients had to say about how important this was to her:
“This is already my main focus right now. I’m super frustrated with this, and desperate to change. Being productive is what the rest of life hinges on. I feel like life is passing me by and when I am old I will look back and be sad that I didn’t fit in the important things, because I was chasing (and putting off) all the minutiae. This all has come to a head in the last few months. I know my life will not change until I change this one thing!”
So let’s do a quick little exercise together:
What’s one thing you’ve been DYING to do for yourself, but you just haven’t done? Something that has NOTHING to do with work, with kids, with your husband. Something that would be close to ‘indulgent’. Naughty even!
Is it reading one of your favorite books? Is it doing yoga in the morning? Is it journaling? Getting a massage? Meditating for 5 minutes?
For the fun of it, let’s say it’s journaling.
If you have 15 minutes today–a nugget of time in between calls, meetings, or before you start to cook dinner–can you sit down to journal? Or do that one little thing?
Just try it once. And try it today.
And if you don’t do it, ask yourself the most important question of all, in a gentle, compassionate voice: Why not? What got in my way?
Look at what happened when a client of mine did it:
“Also– if the point to last week’s exercise was to get a feel for carving out time for myself, or for what is important, I would say that even though I’ve struggled to get it done, it has had a huge impact on me. Just saying “I’m going to do this for me. Because it’s important.” And actually giving myself permission to make it a priority– it’s like it pulled a blindfold off my eyes. I realized that I never allow myself to do that. That revelation happened the very first day- the day we talked about it. It’s hard to explain, but it really impacted me because it was a new feeling. And it felt SO AWESOME to allow myself to do that thing that I’ve wanted to do for so long.”
Because what if you could be consistently motivated, and know how to get motivated even when you’re not feeling it?
What if you could balance your time and energy, despite having kids and multiple roles?
What if you were able to take steps towards your biggest dreams and goals–or even small to-dos that you’d LOVE to be able to cross off your list–without getting overwhelmed or burned out?
But most importantly, what happens when all the ‘typical’ advice doesn’t seem to work?
- Just because it’s scheduled at a certain time, doesn’t mean it gets done at that time because of “XYZ situation where life gets in the way”. Then guilt and procrastination set in. What do I do? Isn’t scheduling supposed to just ‘work’?
- What do I do when there are mundane tasks–like making a phone call or cleaning up–and I’m just not in the mood? I’m just not motivated? What do I do when I’m just not motivated for the more important stuff, either?
- What do I do and say when ‘life gets in the way’? Family dinners, social gatherings, requests for my time, boss asking me to do something last minute. It’s just not practical for me to just say ‘no’–I worry about coming off as a bitch or being considered rude.
Years ago, I cracked this code for myself. And over the past year and a half, I’ve been very quietly working to provide a solution that WORKS.
Right now, I’m looking for a very small handful of women to go through the next round of this coaching program with me so you can learn how to know exactly what to do and focus on in the first place–even when *everything* seems like a priority, how to get the ball rolling and take action once you know what needs to be done so you can move towards your goals (without the burnout), what to do when life gets in the way (scripts on how to say no, handle all requests for your time, or you’re just not motivated or don’t feel like working), and how to stay consistent and develop a plan that works for you.
No more overbooked days. Space in your days, and your calendar. And you only doing the activities that energize, and excite you.
Here’s exactly how it will work:
- We’ll talk 1x/week for 45 minutes (via phone or Skype) over the course of 8 weeks (or 12 weeks–whichever option works for you) and our main goal will be you knowing exactly how to be clear on your priorities, be calm and in control, and get what matters to you done (including both ‘mundane tasks’ and the big things that matter).
- This is NOT another ‘to-do’ on your list. Think of this as a private course just for you, except I’m guiding you every step of the way.
During the coaching process, we’ll stay with phone, while still giving you assignments to work on, and I’ll be checking in with you via email/text along the way to answer questions about “How do I say no to X person about this?” and “How do I delegate this or ask for help with it?” and most importantly “I’m just not motivated or excited to do this, but it has to get done. What do I do?”
- And of course, we’ll be talking about developing a productivity system that works for you, including tactics and the deeper challenges so that this sticks with you for life instead of it being just a one time deal. The huge benefit in coaching is that we get to talk through what’s going on 1:1 vs. you getting stuck in a course or another app or tool.
After you apply, if I feel like we’re a potential fit, we’ll get on the phone and talk through what the program would look like together.
As a note, this is the one and only email I’ll be sending about this. Just looking to work with 3 ambitious women who are excited about knowing exactly what to prioritize and focus on, move TOWARDS your goals and not get burned out (instead of trying to accomplish everything), and stay consistent and develop a plan that works for you. Once the 3 spots are taken, there will be a waitlist. The sooner you apply, the better.
Because it’s time to stop feeling like:
- You’re being pulled in a million directions..and instead feeling calm, grounded, and like you have the space to focus on what YOU want
- You say things like “I don’t have time” and “There isn’t enough time”…and instead believe from the bottom of your heart “I have time to do this”, and even BETTER…you actually get it done instead of saying “I didn’t get the chance to” or “I didn’t get around to it”
- You underestimate how long things will take, and end up procrastinating, getting stressed and then scrambling…and instead, always take care of what could potentially get in the way and never have it derail your plans
And really, learn how to masterfully handle that fear of failure so you can move forward on what’s most important to you, without ever hearing yourself make up an excuse again. Imagine what it would feel like to say with complete confidence: “I am in complete control of my life”.
I may not be the most organized person in the world–and you don’t need to be a ‘naturally organized’ person–but I do know how to help people get the results they want. In fact, it wasn’t too long ago that one would consider me ‘messy’. And my only productivity ‘apps’ are my notebook, my pen, and my calendar. I’ve never used anything else.
But more importantly, I know how to take you from “Oh shit” to “Getting shit done”…without having to overhaul your entire lifestyle–but instead doing it one step at a time–and having it being fun, easy, and enjoyable for you, despite any challenges, distractions, or obstacles that get in the way.
This is the one and only email I’ll send about this.
Will you be one of the special women I work with?
PS: When it comes to ‘productivity’, it’s really easy to promise that there’s the ONE thing that’ll help you get it ALL done. When I work with clients, I fully plan for that NOT to happen.
Here’s what I mean:
I’m interested in helping you focus on what matters. That means you might have to let go of some things, or delegate them, and ask for help. And to be frank, that is a really hard skill to learn.
I never expect perfection from my clients. Kids get sick. Communication breaks down. People die. Projects at work blow up. Your mother-in-law wants you all to come over for dinner when you really could be doing 1000 other things. My only expectation is that you can share the truth, and we can work through whatever it is together.
(If you really want this, apply now. Don’t let this become another ‘to-do’ on the list! The application will take you 10 minutes tops)
“Before I worked with you I worked myself into the ground, but refused to open myself to others. I sabotaged myself in my social and love life. Nothing risked, no way to hurt myself. But is
that a way to live? I was superficially pleasant, internally irritated and anxious. Work wore me out and I had little social life, which I always blamed on my constant moving.
For me, it was a huge realization when I saw all of the things that I took on myself. What the hell was I thinking? No wonder I was a stress mess. Realizing that I needed to prioritize myself allowed me to
allocate my energy more thoughtfully. My energy and time are my personal currency, not for simply giving all away! I started to consider what I said yes and no to, because I was mindlessly saying yes to everything. And the world won’t implode with saying no! I took care of myself first and then others. When I took care of myself, I had the energy to sparkle in my social interactions with patients, acquaintances, and strangers.
I’ve gone from a passive mode of blindly accepting life to passionately pursuing it. Nowadays, I’m much more conscious of my energy and time. If I want to spend a weekend in, I certainly will,
but I also have an inviting social calendar. I feel like I can givethe people I love my best and I don’t crucify myself when they see my worst. Feelings of inadequacy don’t plague me as they have in the past. If I fail, it’s still okay! Lately life has just been a marvelous and exciting, especially when I comfortable in the driver’s seat.” – Ashley K.