The Productive Woman 004 – Setting Goals That Matter [podcast]

_podcastTemplateFollowing up on our look at the big picture in episode 2, this week we begin a short series on goal-setting. This episode looks at what a goal is, and how it differs from a dream or an objective, and suggest some ways to set yourself up for success.

Tip of the Week: Keep a gratitude list, a list of both large and small things you are grateful for. This helps you remain grateful for your present even while you're working toward building the future you want.

Tool of the Week: Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results,  a great book by Stephen Guise.

Topic of the Week: Setting Goals That Matter

  • A goal is more specific and action-oriented than an objective or a dream.
  • Good goals are SMART
    • Specific
    • Measurable
    • Achievable (or Attainable)
    • Realistic
    • Time-bound
  • Be smart and strategic about setting goals
    • Focus on your highest priorities, and choose only 3 to 5 goals at a time to work on
    • Have a meaningful why for each of your goals–knowing why you're pursuing a goal will help you keep going when you get tired or distracted
    • Make sure your goals align with your values
    • A goal can't contradicts your other goals
    • Be balanced in your goal-setting – remember the roles and relationships we talked about in episode 2, and choose goals that reflect those various priority areas

In the next episode we'll talk about a step-by-step process for identifying and prioritizing goals. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions to, or leave a voice message by clicking on the pink tab at the right-hand side of the website.

Remember you can subscribe to The Productive Woman podcast in iTunes or in Stitcher. Click on the links here, or on the icon in the right-hand sideboard of the blog.

And don't forget to join the conversation at The Productive Woman on Facebook.

I look forward to hearing from you!

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Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . .
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom

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What If You Fly?

I've started a collection of inspirational quotes I find on Facebook. Lately the ones that have caught my attention relate to overcoming fear and stepping out in faith toward accomplishing my dreams.

IMG_0486As I've written before (for example, here), most of my life I've been afraid to try new things for fear of failing, and even more, fear of looking foolish in front of other people. I've missed so many opportunities because of fear.

IMG_0485The older I've gotten, though, the more I've realized life is too short to sit on the sidelines, watching everybody else have all the fun. So although I'm still afraid a lot of the time, I've been trying to drag myself out of my comfort zone, swallow hard, and try things instead of just dreaming. Like the podcast I launched earlier this month.

IMG_0506It sort of comes down to this question: Am I more afraid of failing, or more afraid of reaching the end of my life, looking back, and saying, “If only . . .”?

IMG_0509For now, it's the latter.

It's still easy for me to think about the things that could go wrong, about the ways I could embarrass myself, especially when I choose to attempt something new in a public arena. But I'm trying to remind myself to focus on the positive–the wonderful things that could result, the joy I could experience (and maybe bring to other people).

IMG_0773Yes, when we dream big and step out in the direction of our dreams, failure is a possibility. But oh . . . what if we succeed?


What about you? Is there something you've dreamed about but been afraid to try? What amazing things could happen if you try and succeed? What could I do to help you take a step toward giving it a shot?

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Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . .
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom

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**Honor and credit are due to the unknown artists created the beautiful graphics in this post. I only wish I could be that artistic.**

The Productive Woman 003 – My Top 10 Tips for Managing Your Day [podcast]

Little things can make a big difference in managing the demands on our time. This episode is a quick flyover of the things that help me on a daily basis. Here are my Top 10 Tips for Managing Your Day (more details in the audio, of course):


  1. Write it down.
  2. Get a head start.
  3. Do your most dreaded task first.
  4. Turn off distractions.
  5. Take breaks.
  6. Eat breakfast.
  7. Get some exercise.
  8. Delegate.
  9. Say no.
  10. Batch process.

Tip of the week: Make your calendar work for you.

  • Use it only for time-bound commitments
  • Get all appointments into it
  • Use one calendar for all appointments (personal, professional, etc.)

Google Calendar 2014-07-23



Tool of the week:

shared calendars (e.g., in Google Calendar) – If you'd be interested in a short video tutorial about how to set up shared calendars in Google Calendars, let me know in the comments or send an email to


Some resources for more info:

Getting Things Done by David Allen

On the question of whether multitasking is a good idea, check out my post on “The Ability to Multitask Isn't All It's Cracked Up to Be.”


Next week we'll talk about goal-setting. Please send your questions to or leave a voice message by clicking on the pink tab at the right side of the website.


What about you? What are your best strategies for staying on top of your busy days? Share your tips and suggestions in the comments, or join the conversation at The Productive Woman on Facebook.

I look forward to hearing from you!

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Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . .
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom

Email me

What I’m Reading Now

For those who are summertime readers (at the beach? poolside? back yard?), I thought I'd take a midsummer moment to share what I'm reading these days. At any given time I've usually got several books I'm in the midst of. In no particular order, here's what I'm reading right now (clicking on the titles will take you to the listings, in most cases for the Kindle version): 51YitYv0ZrL._AA160_

  1. Letters to a Young Artist (Anna Deavere Smith). Fans of The West Wing, the hit TV drama of a few years back, might remember Smith as the actress who played National Security Advisor Dr. Nancy McNally on the show. What I didn't know until recently is that Smith is also an author and playwright. I only recently discovered this book, but it was published in 2006. Structured in the form of “letters” to a fictional young artist, Deavere addresses a broad spectrum of issues faced by creatives of all types, from identity and confidence to mental and physical health to dealing with both fame and failure. I'm midway through and finding much that inspires me as a writer and human being.
  2. Unravel Me (Tahereh Mafi). This is the second book in Mafi's dystopian YA “Shatter Me” series, focused on Juliette, a teen girl whose touch kills. Mafi creates a fascinating future world in which rebels with unique “talents” are planning a revolution against the totalitarian regime that keeps the masses in abject poverty. A pretty typical dystopian scenario, but I find the characters in this one interesting and Mafi's style intriguing. If you like dystopian YA, start with Shatter Me, the first book in the series.51fiUojIlQL._AA160_
  3. A Broken Kind of Beautiful (Katie Ganshert). I've just started reading this story, which has come highly recommended by many writers and readers whose opinions I respect. This is the story of a model whose career seems to be on its way downhill and a former fashion photographer who appears to have a guilty secret. I've just started this one, and so far, I'm liking what I've read.
  4. Lean In (Sheryl Sandberg). Sheryl Sandberg is the COO of Facebook. In this book she addresses the barriers–both external and, more important, internal–that keep women from achieving true equality in terms of leadership and power in the workplace and the world at large. I'm not sure I agree with all of Sandberg's positions or analysis, but the book is well written, well argued, and thought-provoking. I encourage both women and men to read this book and think deeply about the issues she discusses.

In addition, I have to recommend a couple of books I've recently finished:

  1. Burning Sky (Lori Benton). Benton's debut novel won multiple Christy awards, and I can see why. Well drawn, compelling characters fighting to overcome nearly impossible obstacles drew me from one chapter to the next long after I should've been asleep. Set in late 18th century America, this is the story of a woman just returned from more than a decade of captivity with the Mohawks. Carrying with her an overwhelming grief she can barely acknowledge, she comes home to find her parents gone and her family homestead confiscated by the government. Few people are happy to see her return. I highly recommend this novel.
  2. When I Fall in Love (Susan May Warren). What can I say? I've yet to read one of Warren's novels that I didn't love. She has a gift for telling stories that draw you in with real, believable characters and engaging plots. The endings are sigh-worthy, but without beating you over the head with the gospel, she leaves you thinking for days. In this case, a reluctant traveler and a hopeless hockey star meet and fall in love in Hawaii, but struggle to keep what they've found when they return to the “real world.” Loved it.519ISSGo08L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_
  3. Redeeming Love (Francine Rivers). I just re-read this for the umpteenth time and found it just as engrossing and inspiring as the first however-many times I read it. This probably is my favorite novel of all time. The story–a retelling of the biblical tale of the prophet Hosea and his faithless prostitute wife–is set in gold rush California, and beautifully depicts God's relentless, loving pursuit of his faithless people. You can't miss the allegory, yet Rivers tells the story so skillfully you don't feel the least bit preached at. You simply become immersed in the lives of Michael Hosea and his flawed, wounded, desperate bride. Love, love, love this book. If you haven't read it, you should. If you've read it before, you should read it again.

What about you? What are you reading this summer? Anything you recommend I add to my list?

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Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . .
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom
Email me

The Productive Woman 002 – The Big Picture: Priorities & Guiding Principles [podcast]

_podcastTemplateWhen 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 will discuss in coming episodes. But there's a big difference between being busy and being productive. True productivity requires a purpose to guide the activity. In this episode we talk about a process for coming up with principles to guide our decisions in such a way that our activity is consistent with our true values.

A brief summary of the basic steps:

  1. Set aside a time when you can be quiet and undisturbed. Gather your calendar, your to-do lists, paper and pen, and your favorite beverage.
  2. List/describe the roles you play in life, and the relationships that are part of your life.
  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.
  4. For each role, answer this question: “What kind of ______ do I want to be?” For each relationship, ask yourself, “How do I want this person/these people to remember me when I'm gone?” Spend some time journaling your thoughts about what each role/relationship would look like if it was all you want it to be (your part, not theirs!).
  5. Honestly evaluate where you are today in each of these areas. Write it down.
  6. What will it take to get you from where you are to where you want to be? Write down two or three specific steps you could take in each area to move in the direction you want to go.

Tip of the Week: Back up your digital data.

For more info, check out this article from the University of Pittsburgh's IT Department on Backing Up Your Data

Tool of the Week: Some great options for online backup services.


Next week's episode will be a discussion of my “Top Ten Tips for Managing Your Day,” and another upcoming episode will talk about setting achievable goals. If you have questions about either topic, please leave a voicemail message by clicking the pink tab at the right-hand side of my website, or email your questions or suggestions to You can also join the conversation at The Productive Woman's Facebook page.

I look forward to hearing from you, and welcome your comments, questions, and suggestions.

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Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . .
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom
Email me