The Productive Woman 013 – Getting Ready to Finish Well [podcast]


As we enter the last quarter of the year, it seems like a good time to pause, consider what we've accomplished so far this year, re-evaluate what we want to do in the time that's left, and set ourselves up for success in the remaining months of this year. We can do that by spending a little time walking through these simple steps:

  1. Even if you've let yourself get off track in pursuing your goals, rest assured it's not too late to make this a great year. Lots of things can be accomplished in 3 months.
  2. What have you accomplished so far this year? Give yourself credit for the things you've done, and celebrate the successes–both large and small!
  3. Re-evaluate the goals you set earlier in the year. Are they still valid? Do they still call to your heart?
  4. What's left to be done in the fourth quarter?
  5. It there are things left unfinished (or even unpursued), what's stopping you? External hindrances? Internal resistance? Structural impediments? What can be done to overcome them? Check out some great insights in Time Management from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern.
  6. What will you commit yourself to pursuing as the year winds down?
  7. What do you need in order to wholeheartedly pursue those things for this 3-month period?
  8. How will you celebrate your success? Plan for it now–and remember that effort is a success!
  9. Get accountable.

Your turn: When will you take a few minutes to set yourself up to end the year on a high note? What one or two goals will you commit yourself to in this next three months? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Some great resources to look at:

Subscribe to The Productive Woman in iTunes or subscribe in Stitcher, and join the conversation at The Productive Woman on Facebook. And don't forget to check out the other podcasts that make you think, laugh, and succeed at!

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Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . .
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom
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The Productive Woman 011 – 15 Minutes to Sanity: 9 Steps to Handling Overwhelm [podcast]

_podcastTemplateSometimes, no matter how organized we are or how carefully we plan, life just takes over and throws way too much at us. When there's too much to do and not enough time to get it done, we can feel panicky, stressed, and overwhelmed. I've developed a simple 15-minute process that can help bring me back from the brink, calm me down, and get me through these crisis moments. It involves 9 steps:

  1. Take 1 minute to breathe and calm your mind.
  2. Take 5 minutes to clear your work space.
  3. Take 5 more minutes to clear your mind by listing everything that needs to get done–don't organize or prioritize; just do a brain dump.
  4. Scan the list and identify tasks that can be delegated–don't be too proud to ask for help!
  5. Scan the list again and find those tasks that can be put off for a day or two without causing a disaster. Circle the tasks that need immediate attention.
  6. Pick one of the circled items–don't agonize about priority: just pick one.
  7. Clear everything else off your desk, gather the materials you need for the chosen task, and get it done. (Try the Pomodoro technique if the task will take more than 30 minutes or so.) It helps me to put on some instrumental music–I use the movie themes channel on Pandora played through my computer speakers.
  8. When you've finished that task, cross it off the list and pick another circled item. Repeat the process until they're all done.
  9. Give yourself a pat on the back, and celebrate surviving the crisis.

Simple but effective!

Your turn: Do you think this process will work for you? Or can you suggest an approach that works for you when it all gets to be too much? Please share your tips and thoughts in the comments.

A couple of helpful resources:

Subscribe to The Productive Woman in iTunes or subscribe in Stitcher, and join the conversation at The Productive Woman on Facebook.

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

The Productive Woman 008 – Saying No Gracefully [podcast]

_podcastTemplateDo you find it difficult to say no? I do. The desire to be liked or the sincere desire to help makes it easy to say yes, and sometimes we end up regretting it.

Listener Kelly Anne Liberto asked a question about this that got me to thinking, and in this episode I share some of what I learned in researching why we say yes, when it's okay to say no, and how we can say no without sacrificing relationships that matter to us.

Tip of the Week: Make good use of waiting time to tackle tiny tasks.

Tool of the Week: Bank apps for the smart phone! An amazing tool that lets you move money around, pay bills, and even deposit checks right on your phone. Most banks and credit unions have them these days, and I encourage you to give this tool a try if you're not already using it.

Topic of the Week: Saying No Gracefully

Why do we say yes?

  • We want to help
  • We want to be liked
  • To avoid conflict or confrontation
  • It feels good to be needed
  • FOMO (fear of missing out)
  • We have an unrealistic idea of what we can take on
  • Guilt – we feel like if we can, we should
  • It feels selfish to say no
  • We succumb to pressure

Good reasons to say yes?

  • Because we want to — we're truly enthusiastic about the opportunity
  • We've carefully evaluated it and it lines up with our values, objectives, and goals
  • To serve someone we care about

Why is it okay to say no?

  • It gives somebody else an opportunity to contribute
  • The ability to say a purposeful no is necessary for our yes to have any meaning

A ‘No’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘Yes’ merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.” ~ Gandhi

  • Sometimes saying yes would overtax your health, your time, your family
  • Saying no to some things (even good things) leaves room for better things
  • Your time is just as valuable as the time of the person who asks

Deciding whether to say yes or no

  • Don't give a reflex answer.
  • Weigh your options and limitations and get back to the asker.

We need to be okay with the fact that to some extent will cause some level of “pain” for the asker (but there are ways to minimize that)

Ways to minimize the damage of our no

  • Be certain of your answer
  • Be respectful of the person who asked
  • Show kindness and compassion
  • Give an explanation or reason if possible — but don't get drawn into a debate. You don't have to justify your no.
  • Make sure if you say you're going to call them later, you actually do it
  • If necessary, practice saying no in front of a mirror until you can do it in a way that's kind but firm


Saying No Gracefully,” by Isadora Alman, MFT,, July 13, 2010.

How to Say ‘No' Gracefully,” by Beth Levine,

Saying No Gracefully,” by Lisa Kovalovich, Ladies Home Journal online.

How to Graciously Say ‘No',”

Learn to Say No,”

The Halfhearted Yes: Why We Don't Say No and How to Start,” by Sonya Derian on

Why So Many People Just Can't Say No,” by Hank Davis, Psychology Today online, March 10, 2014.

7 Simple Ways to Say No,” by Celestine Chua, Zen Habits, August 3, 2010.

When to Say Yes and When to Say No,” Jill Kemerer blog, August 11, 2014  — great insight for people of faith.


What about you? When is it hard for you to say no? Do you have a suggestion for a solution or approach that I missed? Please share your thoughts or suggestions in the comments.


Subscribe to The Productive Woman in iTunes or subscribe in Stitcher, and join the conversation at The Productive Woman on Facebook.

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

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

We Fear Change

Okay, maybe you don't fear change. But I do. I like predictability. I'm a planner, and I like to know what to expect.

But of course that means that when something unexpected happens, I tend to react . . . poorly.

As part of my determined effort this year to be more positive (as a means to being more happy), I have been thinking a lot about how I react to change, to unexpected events. I continue to struggle to put a positive spin on things that throw a monkey wrench into my comfortable plans, but I'm sure trying.


During my commute this morning I listened to an episode of one of my favorite podcasts, Back to Work, in which a couple of really smart (and pretty nerdy) guys talk about a variety of subjects that interest me, such as productivity and communication. This podcast probably wouldn't be everybody's cup of tea, but I find them interesting and usually pretty funny.

Back to Work logoToday's episode, though, surprisingly hit me right where I live. One of the hosts, Merlin Mann, talked about his initial reaction to being selected for jury duty–it was going to mess up his life for a couple of weeks, and he was not happy. But he went on to use this event as an example of a different way to react to events that disrupt your life. He gave me a new way to think about change that I think will really help me going forward.

If you struggle with finding positive ways to look at the disruptions and unexpected crises of life, I encourage you to listen to this episode of Back to Work. (The really good stuff starts several minutes in, so please keep listening past the opening minutes, which probably are funny only to those of us who listen to the podcast regularly.)

If you listen to the podcast, please come back here and leave a comment telling me what you think. Either way, how do you feel about change? Do you love it? Fear it? Resent it? How do you cope with unexpected events?
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Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . . 
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom
Email me