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Pictured: Tuesday night dinner with girlfriends, hosted by my friend Sarah Jenks

When I’m speaking with ambitious women about their ambitions, productivity often becomes the hot topic of conversation. We want to figure out how to do more in less time and be more effective in our work. As an entrepreneur with a full life and big ambitions, I get it.

What I’ve noticed from thousands of conversations with hundreds of women, though, is that this obsessive focus on productivity often leaves us feeling overwhelmed and burnt out.

Instead of becoming more productive with our work so that we can work less and play more, we just end up trying to cram in more-more-more work and are left with no space for fun.

The other thing is this: Women are connected to the rhythm of nature in a very obvious way — our internal tides, like the ocean, guided by the moon. In simple terms, in a balanced body, we menstruate and ovulate in concert with the new and full moon. Trippy and oh-so cool. What this means for our productivity is that we are designed to have times where we have more energy and times where we need more rest. We are not robots, and when we act like robots, stress invades our bodies and minds and we actually become less productive and more overwhelmed. (note: if you want to learn more about this, read my friend Alisa Vitti’s book, WomanCode)

For these reasons and more, it’s essential that women find a way to get the things done we need to accomplish without sacrificing our health or happiness today.  The paradigm of I’ll-work-my-ass-off-then-finally-rest-and-play is totally passé.  It never worked anyways. The truth is…

For women, productivity is less about what we’re doing when we’re working, and more about what we’re doing when we’re not.  {tweet}


1. Uncover how you want to feel
In her brilliant tome, The Desire Map, my dear friend Danielle LaPorte teaches that when we allow our Core Desired Feelings to lead, we have access to the success we desire now, in every moment. So, how do you want to feel when you “succeed”? Begin to generate those feelings now, and you’ll stop tripping on the future and start living for the now.

2. Read fiction books
When we started dating, my man asked, “When was the last time you read fiction?” Fiction? I’m an entrepreneur, dude, I don’t have time for fiction. Right. For years, I’d been reading exclusively business and self-help books, so my mind had become wired for problem-solving…and seeing problems. His challenge for me was to read exclusively fiction for 1 year, and I’m so glad I paid attention. When I read fiction, I find my work hours more productive and my time off more relaxing. My favorite of all time? Jitterbug Perfume. Current? The Graveyard Book on audio.  Enjoy!

3. Dine with girlfriends once each week
How often do you hang with your girlfriends and not talk about work? There was a period in my life when all I did was talk about my business. Needless to say, it wasn’t the most pleasurable time in my life, and the focus was always on what we needed to do, rather than just being with friends. I’ve since made a promise to myself to have at least one dinner with girlfriends each week, to catch up on love and life, and be in the space of sisterhood together. This is true soul nourishment.

4. Celebrate your accomplishments monthly
In the dash to do more, it’s easy to forget to appreciate where we are, and all that we’ve created. Ambition with no appreciation falls flat and will leave you feeling dull, uninspired, desperate and exhausted. The solution? Set a monthly date with your best friends (or new friends) to celebrate. Use this time to raise a glass to one another, toasting to your accomplishments and the people who helped you get there. Enjoy the life you have.

5. Always be on vacation
When I pretend that every week is a vacation where I sneak in a little work, I magically have a near-empty inbox, have happy clients, work about 4 hours a day on average for 3 days of the week, have wonderfully lazy breakfasts and dinners with friends and my love, and feel totally calm, happy and playful. Until further notice, go on vacation! You in?

6. Do the task in front of you
Overwhelm is a choice, and it starts with the stories we tell ourselves. Next time you’re sitting down to work, instead of thinking of your mile-long To Do list and obsessing over stories that you’ll “never get it done” or “have so much to do”, focus on the task in front of you. When I feel bogged-down by all the tasks I’ve taken on, I tell myself “The only thing to do right now is this”, and I relax. Leave saving the world for another day, and just pay attention to what’s in front of you.

7. Give yourself more time
This is deceptively simple and surprisingly overlooked in most productivity advice: just give yourself more time. If you plan for procrastination and create space for the unexpected, you just may breathe deeply enough to find the creativity to produce great work. If you’re always up to your eyeballs in tasks, maybe it’s not that you’re too slow, but taking on too much. See how you can do less to accomplish more.

In the comments below, join the conversation and share what you’re going to implement to rock your productivity!