Lessons Learned from A Productivity Experiment

Hey, hey, Bold Leaders. Welcome to another episode of the Bold Leadership Revolution Podcast and I am so happy and excited and grateful to be on the mic today because actually I'm back on the mic today. I had taken a hiatus from recording podcasts and then I got sick with the dreaded stomach bug and so to be feeling back to myself again and to be here with you doing something that I love so much. I am just truly, truly grateful today to be back here sharing another episode with.

At the Bold Leadership Revolution. We show you how to optimize your performance as a leader without all the buttoned up stuffiness of corporate leadership. Yawn on the drivel of the personal development industry, triple yawn. We promise in a world that swings wildly between serious business and back to the other side around woowoo bullshit. We will be firmly planted in the middle. We will give you the practical side of business strategy, the necessary skills to build your mental strength and the wooish principles to effectively manage your most precious resource, your energy.

Since the beginning of the year I've been on a quest to utilize my time more efficiently, be more present with myself and my family and put my greatest work out into the world. Perhaps instead of the word efficiently we want to use the word precisely. I've been looking at how I could be using my time more precisely and how can I be even more precise than I already am. So I've been giving myself a little productivity experiments playing with different principles like the pomodoro technique, being mindful of things like Parkinson's law which says that our work will expand to the time we give it and reading Dan Pink's book When to look at my times of peak performance.

I've done radical things like rearrange my entire schedule, made my creative time non negotiable, double down on my sleep and I've started tracking my sleep as a KPI in my business and put my phone on Do not disturb for large portions of the day.

If you're following me and if or if you're more interested in this, like come on over to Instagram. I'm @theTaraNewman and these are the things that I've talking about over there and sharing kind of behind the scenes what's going on. So for me, be more information, a deeper dive, the ability to ask me some questions. I really want you to head on over to Instagram and find me @theTaraNewman.

Now we live in an attention economy as noted by Davenport and back in their 2001 book called The Attention Economy. Understanding the new currency of business where we use human attention as a scarce commodity, marketers have figured out that our attention is a limiter as to the content we consume and ultimately how we decide to make a purchase.

Lessons Learned from A Productivity Experiment

However, our attention not only limits the content we consume, it limits our purpose and that's what I'm most concerned about. My purpose, your purpose, every leader's purpose out there. When you allow your attention to be pulled in a myriad of different directions, you limit your focus on the impact you want to make in this world and you become fatigued and you become exhausted. And here are the Bold Leadership Revolution we want you to have the endurance to make the impact and leave the legacy that you want to leave.

Giving away your most precious resource.

Most of you are giving your most valuable resource, your focus, your presence, your attention, however, whatever you want to call it, you're giving this away for pennies on the dollar instead of banking them for what's most important to you. If we want to achieve more, the more we are looking for more space, more freedom, more joy, more impact, more income, whatever you're more is we have to look at not only doing less, but attending to less.

We need to spend less attention on inconsequential things, less time comparing, consuming, curating, and ultimately scrolling, which is all designed to numb us. It's how we as Brene Brown would say, engineer staying small. We get sucked into the lives of others. We get sucked into what other people are doing. This is how we sit on the sidelines. Instead of playing the game. We are outside looking in on someone else's reality instead of creating our own somewhere. We have been programmed to give significance to almost everything, including the things that hold no significance at all.

Now, what I know to be true from my work is that time is the biggest struggle for leaders. When we talk about scarcity and feelings of lack, it doesn't always have to do with money. I listen to more stories about time, poverty and time scarcity than anything else. The thinking is linear here.

It's hemmed in and it's deeply conditioned. Where I stand now in the growth and direction of my business, I've come to realize it's my job to become an earnest and methodical steward of my time because it's my most precious resource. This quest or experiment over the last five months has produced some stunning results and left me feeling defeated in so many moments and I want to share with you three lessons that I learned from doing this productivity experiment.

Now I also want to say that as a part of my background, as a part of my expertise, I have studied productivity from an academic perspective. I am aware of the research and one of the lessons that I learned here is the research misses the mark in a real life setting. So being a mother, a wife, a daughter, a business owner, a friend, and most importantly a committed champion of self, both small s and capital s makes this journey a delicate one.

I had moments when I was nailing my routines, lock step on my purpose and feeling like I could win at this thing called life. In other moments, kids were sick and my husband had an appendectomy. My mother was recovering from her own health crisis. Business risks had me feeling unsure and the winter blues hit me like a freight train. Then I received some information about my own health that I've been waiting for for probably about a decade. The real cause of my feeling so burned out finding out I've active Epstein Barr and I had two and a half pages of food intolerances, both actually both food and nonfood related. This all had an impact on my productivity, how I view my productivity, how I view what I want to get done. Maybe you can relate to how I felt navigating normal life because folks, this is in fact normal life.

Kids get sick snowstorms happen. Emergencies, whether their health or house or pet related happen despite what you see on Facebook or the Gram. Life is not that curated. I feel like I have to keep driving this point home. We see that overused quote about comparison being the thief of joy, but that almost sounds too cutesy because comparison, we'll take you out comparison. We'll take you out of the game. It will take you out of your energy. It will take you out of your efficiency. It will snuff out your brilliance and leave you crippled by. You're not good enough ness. So I am a huge stand for normal, real raw life and how it affects all of us as a leader. So this is basically how my first quarter went down and something tells me that your first quarter probably wasn't much different than mine.

Some moments very much felt like a roller coaster ride and other days and weeks tested my ability to pick myself up off the floor and move through around or over the hurdles. Days went by where I wondered if I was being punked, sick kids, daily nuisances, kitchen remodeling, all vying for my attention and this isn't talked about in the journals of applied psychology or organizational psychology and it's a very true factor in figuring out what works for you, which leads me to my next lesson.

Habits are your only hope.

The reason I'm able to navigate the ups and downs of life and still move forward with unrelenting forward progress is my habits and structures for life and business. If something takes me out of the productivity pocket for a day or a month, my habits and structures are so ingrained in me that I pop right back into place as soon as I'm able. It's not about being perfect every time. It's not about nailing it every day. It's about being resilient when you need to be nailing these structures when times are less stressful or critical to building habit memory that allows you to pick it up again after you have been traveling or sick or on vacation. Simple structures are trustworthy companions on the way to building a life and business that flows.

My calendar and schedule are the physical manifestation of how I optimize myself.

And my third and final lesson is my number one system for self care and productivity is my calendar, my number one system that helps me optimize me, the leader, the owner of this business, the mother of the children, the wife of the spouse is my schedule. That boundaries I create around my schedule and my calendar, how I optimize my times of peak performance, how we manage and measure my recovery, how I schedule my work at are all key performance indicators in my business and have a relationship to my calendar. I know we're all tracking our Instagram likes and followers, but that can really suck it, Friends.

I guarantee you if you look at your human performance, your social media and platform performance, we'll correspond as well. Other metrics in your business. My calendar and schedule are the physical manifestation of how I optimize myself, how I plan, utilize safeguard my calendar has a direct impact on my results.

Now I hear people say when I'm more successful than they'll have more space. When I'm making more money, I can start that project. When I'm making more money, I can be more strategic in how I make the money. When my kids are older, I'll have more time and space or freedom or whatever the hell you want, but let me clue you in on something. That's not how this works.

Taking ownership and responsibility over your schedule is how this works. Until you own your schedule and use your calendar as a tool to safeguard your schedule and your time. You're not operating from a place of sustainability and building a wife. Building a business, building relationships that are sustainable is a form of self care. Building, building your health to the point of sustainability like I'm trying to do like I will do correction I will do is sustainability.

How you work is critically important. The boundaries you set around your work, the work habits you cultivate. This is where you create the endurance to make an impact and sadly it, this isn't an easy nor is it a short term fix. This is where beliefs and feelings of scarcity around our time come into play hardcore. When we operate from fear and lack, we create things that are unsustainable. We create things that are short term solutions to long term problems. We bandaid and blow over. Nothing sustainable is created in the energy of unsustainable.

While I've been happily noodling on this topic for about four months now and I'm going to continue for the remainder of the year. I've noticed a deeper problem. There are lots of books out there that can help us with this. One after another after another, and we're reading all of them. Oh man, we're reading all the damn books, Four Hour Work Week, Essentialism, Traction, Rocket Fuel, Pumpkin Plan, Company of One. Like I could just keep going on and on and on because my clients reference them and bring them up and asked me to help them implement because here's the thing, you're still not getting it because you aren't applying it.

You read it, have a good think about it. Think about what they've said and then deep down inside you think that won't work for me. That Four Hour Work Week, oh that Tim Ferriss, that won't work for me. Then you pick up the next book looking for another answer. The answers aren't in the books. The answers are within you. You're not going to think your way to clarity on time poverty. You need to experiment and test and trial things and fail. You need to waste time to figure out how to make the best use of your time, which requires you to leverage a very foreign concept to most of you because your business owners and high achievers and ambitious and the concept is patience.

You have to have patience when you're trying to find the best structures, the best habits for you. Now at the end of every show, I like to leave you with an action to take. Today I'm asking something simple. Head on over to Instagram and share one insight and one action you're going to take away from this episode learning which this podcast is about. Learning is about extracting the knowledge we have within us and implementing small incremental actions that over the course of time lead to some pretty dang big results.

I often share lessons learned on this podcast.

It's one of my favorite things to be able to do and I'm able to do this because of his strong commitment. I have to radical self reflection. This commitment means that every week I'm looking at what's happening in my business and in my life. The good, the bad, and yes, occasionally the ugly. Doing this work allows me to look at my months and even my years with real data, even for the less tangible parts of my business and life. I call these weekly meetings, CEO debriefs, and I do them twice per month inside the brave society. We do them together. I have pulled together some of the highlights from CEO debriefs that I've done inside of BRAVE and I'm sharing the best of the best with you.

You might have heard a couple of these on the podcast, but I want you to take it a step further and feel what it's like to do these with us inside of The BRAVE Society. So head on over to the my show notes and sign up now to receive 10 CEO Debrief questions you will want to ask yourself. Plus, listen in on some of the most popular shares that I've made. Listening to someone else's debrief is a great way to find the language for what you're experiencing. Get a concrete example of radical self reflection and learn how to grow your business because it's oftentimes not what we think.

If you found this podcast valuable, help us develop more bold leaders in the world by sharing this episode with your friends, colleagues, and other bold leaders. Also, if you haven't done so already, please leave a review. I consider reviews like podcast currency, and it's the one thing you can do to help us out here at The Bold Leadership Revolution HQ. We would be so grateful for it.

Special thanks goes to Stacey Harris from Uncommonly More, who is the producer and editor of this podcast. Go check them out for all your digital marketing and content creation needs.

Be sure to tune into the next episode to help you embrace your ambition and leave the grind behind.

Important links to share:

Listen in on CEO Debriefs and Get 10 BOLD Questions for your own debrief.

The B.R.A.V.E Society

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Help more Bold Leaders find this podcast by leaving a review on iTunes

Tara Newman