productivity resources

As we end our little productivity workshop … Here are another HUGE chunk of resources for you to go through when you have a chance …

And be sure to leave your favorite productivity tips in the comments!


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Productivity Week : do

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For the last day of this little mini online workshop, I want to encourage you to just do.



Mantra for the week? Being productive is about directing your energy appropriately.

What is keeping you from doing that?

Drop all the excuses and really LOOK at what is keeping you from starting that ebook or finishing that new product line or committing to writing every day.

It’s not that you haven’t yet read Getting Things Done. It’s not that you haven’t found a good to-do list app.

What is holding you back?

It’s far more likely to be something like FEAR

– fear of success, fear of failure, fear of judgement, fear of wasting money on something that doesn’t work out, fear of not being able to explain to your husband why you need to stay up late writing emails to potential contributors

Or maybe it’s TIME

– you’re overcommitted at work, you’ve overcommitted your children and need to serve as their chauffeur, you haven’t asked for help on things at home so you spend all your time doing it yourself

Or maybe it’s INDECISION, or SELF-CONFIDENCE or any number of things that don’t actually scream productivity.

So what are you going to do in this new year to be more productive and get more of what you WANT to do done?

Leave your best ideas in the comments

(and stay tuned this afternoon for a final collection of productivity-related resources)

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Productivity: Don’t try to balance

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If you’re trying to be more productive in this new year, you need to practice starting, you need to acknowledge your priorities and you need to decide what you will NOT do. Productivity is not about what app is the absolute best or what pen really helps you write better to do lists.

Being productive is about directing your energy appropriately.

All that said, productivity is NOT the same thing as maintaining work-life balance.

Sometimes to get things done you just need to go full-throttle. Give up the idea of balance.

This is something that Danielle LaPorte espouses, something that Becca Robinson has written about and something that Leo Babauta practices (even if not explicitly).

Here’s the idea:

You are SUPER excited about the new ebook idea you have. You feel like you could write the whole thing this weekend, spend another couple days designing, getting your launch copy ready and kicking the thing out the door by the end of next week. You are gung-ho, delirious and smitten with your idea and want to get it all done RIGHT NOW.

But what about balance? You’re supposed to call your mother Sunday afternoons. Somebody should do the laundry today.

So you set aside your burning passion in favor of those everyday things that make up the “life” part of “work-life” balance. You carve in a couple hours here and there to write your ebook, but the longer you wait the more you lose that passion and the darn thing doesn’t get released for 4 months. And even then, it’s just OK. Somehow you’ve lost that spark that made your initial idea irresistible.

The solution? Throw expectations of “balance” out the window.

Danielle LaPorte offers SPECIFIC examples in her book FireStarter Sessions (like set up a polite auto-reply for your email during those 2 months you are consumed writing your book manuscript), but to me the biggest thing is giving yourself permission to let some things slide so you can be more productive at other things.

It’s totally OK if you do 1 whole month of Project Life at once because you were too busy writing your first novel to do it week to week. It is totally OK to give your teenage son the grocery list this week (he’s got to learn sometime) because you are in deep with finishing that quilt for your friend’s baby.

Don’t worry about “work-life balance”

Worry about what you are passionate about right now. Worry about what you CHOOSE to do right now. Worry about your current projects that really spark your creativity.

You can spend next week cleaning your house.


Productivity: Finishing Manifesto

When are you going to finish what you started?

As artists and crafters we have perpetual projects in progress….
…never-ending photo organization
…trying to stay “caught up” with scrapbooking
…constant blog re-designs
…planning your eventual etsy shop
…piles of fabric and thread for that quilt that you will finish someday
…lots of ideas for projects that you will get to one day.

When exactly will that “one day” be?

When will you actually sit down and cut the fabric?

When will you send the email to request a design quote?

When will you take that next step to move your project forward?

As creators we are constantly fighting against…
…the lizard brain
…the Resistance

All of these things are fighting against us finishing our creative work.

Arm yourself in order to finish your creative work.

The Finishing Manifesto will help you do that.

Add to Cart

This new ebook is both my challenge and my encouragement to you to FINISH your creative projects that you’ve been dreaming and planning.

We’ll look at barriers to finishing as well as steps to get over those barriers.

This manifesto is not for the faint of heart.

If you like flitting from project to project without getting anything done. If you prefer to pin on Pinterest instead of stepping away from the computer to work on your art. If you make a list of goals and projects and then promptly forget about them …. This might not be for you.

The world is looking for finishers.

We need creative souls who can also produce.

We need more people like Rachel and Elise (both used as examples in the book).

If that sounds like you, download The Finishing Manifesto now and get to work!



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productivity resources


Productivity: Decide what you will NOT do


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How was your weekend? Creative? Productive?

I want to make something clear first, before we go forward. Being productive is not about to-do list tricks, latest app or scheduling every minute of your time. Being productive is about directing your energy appropriately. You need to be psychologically prepared for those items on your to-do list. You need to mentally ready for what it really means for you to complete your goal.

Which means part of being productive is knowing which ideas to take to reality – and which ideas to say NO to.

Elise Blaha Cripe wrote a great post a few months ago – Getting from Idea to Reality – that touches on her own decision-making process.

From that post:

The third level [of her job] is creative ventures. In general, this level has the most potential to generate income. It’s the one that sits on the back burner until the right idea comes along. And by idea, I really mean IDEA – all caps. I don’t daydream about business ventures. Never. When I think of a product concept, I weigh it quickly – is it feasible? is it profitable? do I want to start writing or working TODAY? If the answer to all three is YES then I run with the project. If the answer to one of those is NO, I drop it. And that’s it. No “someday” with a sigh. Having something on my “someday” to do list stresses me out more than having something on my daily to do list.

(underlined emphasis mine)

I just finished reading The Firestarter Sessions by Danielle LaPorte and she says something similar:

Before you can say yes to the good stuff … you probably need to learn to say no to all that other stuff.

We talked about this a little last week – acknowledge your priorities and manage your time accordingly. To be your most productive self you not only need to know what you really want to get done, but you also need to know what you’re doing now that is getting in the way.

Maybe you’re not moving forward on that creative project you love because you tell yourself you need to unload the dishwasher first (can you teach your 8 year old to do that?). Maybe you’re not finishing that health care paperwork because you tell yourself you need to research more (can you ask for recommendations from your social group?).

What is getting in your way to being productive?

What is on your STOP DOING list? What can you outsource or back away from or cancel that is taking up time that you really want to be spending on one of your passion projects?


Today, make a list of everything that you are committed to doing during the week (from the grocery shopping to regular guest posts for a big blog). What of those things are you not ‘HELL YES’ about? What of those things can you get rid of?

For me, it’s housework. I just don’t care enough to vacuum even once a week. Luckily my husband does, but one of my goals is having the income (and being mentally OK with spending that money) to hire a housekeeper. Not full-time. Not every day. But just get someone else to do those things that nag on my to do list and I never (ever) want to do.

RELATED (highly recommended and *just* showed up in my email box): Top 5 productivity mistakes


Productivity tool: RescueTime

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Today I wanted to introduce you to a productivity tool that I’ve become a little bit addicted to:

rescue time

It’s an online/computer plugin program (honestly, I don’t really understand the tech side) that you can set up to track where you’re spending your time on the computer.

I love it.

See the introductory tour for individual knowledge workers.

(note: I’m using the free version. I’m not an affiliate and I don’t get anything out of it if you sign up. I just love it).

Here’s a screenshot of my work last week:

rescue time

 Blue = productive; red = distracting; purple = neutral

Just at a glance you can see I got A LOT done on Sunday (12/30) while Wednesday I was hardly on the computer at all.

Favorite parts:

Setting the categories … RescueTime doesn’t know what the heck is so just left it as Uncategorized with a neutral productivity. Obviously I know better. I am only on L&R if I’m working, so I set it for the WRITING category, and ‘very productive’ and now can track my work

Setting the productivity …. RescueTime doesn’t know that I ONLY go on Flickr and Smugmug to back up my photos. Which I think should count as productive – instead of ‘very distracting’ as RescueTime thinks. And really, if I went on Flickr as a social media site it would be distracting. But I don’t. So I go in there and change the productivity designation to ‘productive’ and at least get credit for backing up my photos.

Pause if necessary …. If I’m going to spend 1 hour watching Downton Abbey on (we don’t have TV), I am giving myself permission to take a break from computer work. But I have to tell RescueTime. I can *pause* the tracking so I don’t get a big spike of “distracting” in my reports. Love it.

Slightly annoying but only slightly:

Occasionally I will do research for a blog post, and whatever site I am doing that research may not be giving me credit for being productive. Ex: I wrote a guest post for The Nerd Nest and needed to find some YouTube links to back up my points. Obviously YouTube is generally very distracting – but for that hour or so I was using it it was productive. Also, using Amazon is *sometimes* productive – like when I’m looking up affiliate links for Project Life posts. But, then I remember that I get distracted by Instagram on my phone that doesn’t get tracked by RescueTime so I figure evens out.

It’s an extremely effective to for me to use.

Mostly because I like to compete against myself.

Which makes me sound like a crazy person, I know.

But when I pull up my RescueTime dashboard and see the RED spike for today bigger than the BLUE spike, I really hunker down and focus on PRODUCTIVE work that I can do on the computer and add more BLUE. Instead of hanging out on Twitter or browsing my Goodreads recommendations (again).

There’s a (paid) PRO version, that among other things would let me block websites for certain period of time, nudging me when I get too distracted and track projects more specifically. It’s not something I would need just now, but it is nice that I have that option as part of a product I already use (rather than having to switch to a different time tracker in the future).

Do you use any kind of time tracker? What do you think?

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How about a collection of productivity-related articles elsewhere on the web to take you into the weekend? Look forward to a bigger productivity push next week!

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Productivity: manage your time


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Productivity isn’t really about getting MORE done – it’s about managing your time to make sure that how you spend it lines up with your priorities.

Don’t tell me that you don’t have time to blog every day, and then tell me how much you love the Real Housewives series (all 48-or-however-many-there-are of them).

Don’t tell me that you don’t have time to write an ebook to sell, and then tell me all about how you went dancing Friday and Saturday night.

Don’t tell me that you don’t have time to clean your house, and then tell me all about how you’re training for a marathon.

None of these choices are right or wrong – everyone’s priorities are different. Yyou can absolutely spend your time training for a marathon or blogging every day.

But each of these choices are just that. A choice.

You are CHOOSING to stay caught up with 200-online-friends’ blogs instead of creating for your own. You are CHOOSING to eat more takeout food so you can spend the time building your business. You are CHOOSING to train for a marathon instead of taking on more design clients.

The way you choose to spend your time reflects your priorities.

(sidenote: sometimes it is easier for someone’s ego to tell them you don’t have time or money to go drinking with them rather than explicitly state that your priorities do not align with theirs. I support small fibs to others when necessary. Just make sure you’re not lying to yourself)

Make sure you are 100% sure what your priorities are – and then make sure you are managing your time on those very things. Recognize what you are choosing to spend your time on. Own it.

I choose to read a lot for fun.

I choose to make homecooked meals for my family as often as possible. I choose to serve leftover homecooked meals even more often than that.

I choose to allow my house to be cluttered.

I choose to help run 30 Days of Lists (and all that entails) twice a year.

I (will soon) choose to get by with less money rather than give away 52+ hours/week to a cubicle.

These are just a small handful of the ways I choose to spend my time.

If you need help figuring out how you spend your time, think about keeping a time log for a couple weeks. More info here, but Laura suggests thinking of yourself as a lawyer or consultant, tracking your activities to ‘bill’.

Are your priorities lining up with your time spent?

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Productivity: practice starting

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I just started reading The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin – it’s basically about being brave. About not settling and flying too low. And about the deception inherent in the Icarus myth – that it’s dangerous to fly too high.

I love it.

In this book, Godin tells a story about when he was a kid and went to summer camp every year. You should read the book, of course, but I’ll paraphrase. At this camp there was a hugely tall diving board. 25 feet high, in his memory, with a narrow slippery ladder to reach the top. Standing at the foot of those steps was thrilling – an exhilarating rush imagining the magic of jumping into the pool at that height.

But once you actually got to the top? Petrifying.

Only problem is, it was precarious enough going up – there was no way you were going to go back DOWN the ladder.

So you had to jump. Once you started you were committed to following through.

Funnily enough (or not if you’ve made a leap yourself) …. once you do that once, the second time is far less scary.

The third and fifth and twentieth leaps are even less scary still.

The lesson? Practice starting.

If STARTING is your obstacle to getting more things done, just practice doing it over and over. Even if you’re pretty sure you’re going to abandon whatever project that is.

Example: I get lots of ideas for little sub-websites. For topics or products or all kinds of things. The very very first one I set up? Scary as all hell. I mean, I tried to talk myself out of beginning. And I didn’t even tell anyone about it for MONTHS. The second one?  A little easier. Even if I ended up not using it for anything.

And recently? I’ve created 2 subsites that I immediately started putting content on and have linked to recently.

I know a lot of you wonder how I can put out so many ebooks and ecourses. Answer? I have practice.

The first one was, again, petrifying. The second one slightly less so. The most recent launch I did (One Year of Journaling Prompts)? I won’t say it was EASY, but I have a lot more practice in emailing contributors, setting up the product listing, writing the sales copy and doing all the things that a couple years ago would have been so scary.

I just have practice.

Now that I have practice starting big projects like that, it is far less scary and a lot easier to DO.

In order to DO – in order to get things done and be productive – you first have to start. And the easiest way to start is to simply practice.

So, this week? START something. And then make plans to start again soon.