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My #1 Tip to Boosting Productivity by Better Prioritizing

podcast productivity Sep 19, 2021

How to be more productive by learning to deprioritize. Decide what matters most now! 



How do you feel when you think of your daily schedule? Are you overwhelmed by all you need to accomplish? 


You may feel the need to either prioritize everything, or by default settle on nothing really rising to the top. Either of these tendencies will likely lead to burnout or paralysis.


This doesn’t have to be you! You can learn to better prioritize AND increase your productivity, too, with my #1 tip:




Deprioritizing will help you make the trade-offs of what matters less, for what matters most. 


These trade-offs not only lead to more productivity, but free you up to have the time you want for the things (and people!) that matter most right now!


Is it hard for you to let go? Is it difficult to differentiate what matters most? 


Listen in to the episode to hear my tips to get better at these trade-offs, and with it find the confidence you need to lead a more productive AND intentional life. 



About a few other things...


If you are ready to re-prioritize and re-potentialize, leaving behind those martyr moments, join the 5-Day "I Am On The List Challenge" happening at the end of September. Join a group of women working together on action and accountability through doable ways. If your to-do list is a mile long, and you're never on it, it's time for that to change. This challenge will get you started the right way!


Reclaim your creative power and rediscover who you actually are! If you’re ready to come back home to yourself, to be able to say that you know who you are and what matters to you, take my foundation course, “Finding Me.” It’s OK that you’ve lost parts of yourself along the way; but as you learn to anchor back into who you are and align your life to what matters to you, you’ll find that you have more strength, more fulfilment, and more creativity to bring to your important roles and responsibilities.


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Songs Credit: Pleasant Pictures Music Club




Do you find yourself looking at your to-dos and feeling completely overwhelmed? Is it hard for you to differentiate what really matters from the list and what to let go of? And as a result, do you alternate running yourself ragged or being completely paralyzed by all the things that you need to do?


Today, I'm going to help you boost your productivity by getting better at prioritizing. And my number one tip may surprise you.


As I record this episode, we are weeks away from finally moving into our house. If you're new here, for almost a year and a half, we've been living in my parents' basement. And for one year of that, we have been doing a full remodel of a 60 year plus old home. And we knew this house would need to be gutted, to be taken to the studs.


We knew. It was listed as a tear-down home. And you know, a lot of people are doing that these days, but we wanted to save this home. I definitely came into this with what I thought were clear eyes of expecting a lot of stress and missed deadlines and delays and disappointments. But what I didn't expect was how this renovation would challenge me to become a better prioritizer.


When you get a home, you have layers upon layers of decisions to make constantly from where to put light switches, to which type of light switches, and all of these decisions that you make are both expensive and hopefully permanent. And they all, by extension of that, feel very important. You want to do it right!


You want to do it right so you don't have to fix something within a couple of months or a couple years. An example of this is our kitchen. I wanted to make sure our kitchen stands the test of time and stands the test of our kids. And I knew from experience that having painted cabinetry, even though I loved that look, especially in our last home, , but it doesn't last as well with our kids. So I knew going into this, I was going to prioritize having a really nice full-wood cabinetry that would stand the test of time in our kitchen. And that was something we wanted to prioritize. And as a result, that meant that we needed to get really good at deciding what didn't matter and the rest of our home.


I was challenged on this though. When my contractor called me about six months ago, to tell me that the brass door handles I wanted all around the house on every single door. We're about $10, more expensive than those made of other materials. And my first reaction was to convince myself that these door handles mattered a lot, that I really wanted the brass look.


It'd be really durable, really beautiful. And I really wanted to prioritize them. But then I had a gut check and I realized that if I was going to prioritize these door handles at the same level as my kitchen cabinets, then that meant I was going to be very easily pulled into prioritizing every little tile, cabinet pull, and door hinge all over the house at the exact same level as those kitchen cabinets.


And if I prioritized everything at that same level, that are already stretched too thin budget would burst. So with this renovation I learned to prioritize and to do that, I had to get good at one thing: Deprioritizing


Now this episode is about productivity, but it's about a lot of other things that are going on in our lives, whether it's productivity or better managing your life or your relationships or big decisions you have coming up. I think the key to any of this is getting super good at prioritizing, but I have my number one tip for you to do that because prioritizing to me is way more about deprioritizing.


Deprioritizing means that you make trade-offs on what matters less for what matters most.


 You might've heard the saying, "When everything matters, nothing matters." And I think logically, we hear that and we appreciate it. We think it's true, but applying this in our day-to-day lives can be a bit of a mystery.


And it's also really hard to do. That's because making trade-offs is not fun. When we decide to lower something down on this priority list, there can be this little voice inside of us telling us that we're giving up or that we should be able to do it all, or to convince ourselves that all these things should matter.


So we fall into this trap of putting everything on the same playing field of it being equal. And where does that leave us? Well, like a renovation budget. It leaves us stretched so thin that we are fit to bursting. And maybe you've already burst.


I think back on my super perfectionistic days, back when I was the stereotypical overachiever in college, and I was so religious at keeping a day planner. Every minute of every day was accounted for.


And the ongoing list of to do's I had were never-ending. The biggest thing that stretched me thin though, was not that day planner. It was how everything I put in that day planner to me felt at the same level of importance. This, by the way, was also the time of my life where I experienced a literal series of mental breakdowns, including life altering eating disorders. I was paying the price for my failure to deprioritize.


When you are like me and you refuse to deprioritize something has to give. And usually it's you.


There's a reverse side to this too. In my days of underachieving perfectionism, as a young mom, I felt the pressure to prioritize everything.


And as a result, I had no energy to plan and to prioritize. I had no routine of doing day planning and I found myself as a result, completely paralyzed. I was afraid to prioritize. I was afraid of letting people down, of letting things go, of being a bad _____ fill in the blank. So instead I stayed stuck in inaction and because of that, I was really scattered and also spread thin.


Isn't it interesting that no matter where you are, your refusal to deprioritize will lead to something bursting and it will be YOU.


For me, I definitely had a breaking of confidence. I wasn't sure if I could believe in myself, that I could trust myself to get things done and to prioritize.


If you ask me to prioritize, to prioritize my list, I probably would have been stuck in fear because I didn't know if I could do it. Perfectionists tend to equally prioritize everything or refuse to prioritize anything. Both. And if it's not clear enough to you now, this will always lead to burnout or paralysis, and neither of those feel good.


So if we're going to think big picture here, making trade-offs is not fun; it's not fun to decide that something good and worthy and valuable doesn't matter as much as other things. Making trade-offs means we're human. We have to own that. So it's not fun, but making trade-offs and deprioritizing is necessary because not deprioritizing is worse: it's damaging.


The very nature of the word prioritizing to me means that we have to make trade-offs. To prioritize something, by extension that means we have to let something else go. And that again means you have to get good at deprioritizing.


You can make trade-offs on what matters. For what matters most


Over the last five years plus, I have been embracing this whole new mindset of progress over perfection. And as I've come to do that, I've grown deeply; but I've also grown on the outside just with my day-to-day life and my routines. And one of the results of choosing progress over perfection is that I've become way more productive, which is a surprising benefit of choosing that mindset.


I can tell you this with full honesty, and this is not a humble brag, but at this point in my life, I get way more done in far shorter spurts of time. And I think I'm better at prioritizing my values too, as a mom and as a wife. And it's all because over the course of my five years plus of experimenting with progress over perfection, I've also gotten really good at deprioritizing.


 If you're on Instagram, you might see that I have four kids, we most often have homemade meals, I have a podcast and a business, and I have a lot of supportive habits that keep me going. But what you don't see are the things that I've deprioritized. You don't often see the baskets of laundry that are always unfolded, you don't see the rooms that are being neglected with deep cleaning, you don't see my car that is 90% of the time completely filthy, and you don't see that we eat the same homemade meals over and over and they always take me about 15 minutes to make. I can priortize some things because I've deprioritized many others..


I want you to feel more productive in your life. I want you to feel more confident about how you can choose to use your time in ways that are in alignment with what matters in your life. I want you to feel more trust in yourself, that you actually do know what to prioritize by also knowing what you can choose to deprioritize.


Okay, so up to this point, we've learned that the key to boosting your productivity, or getting better at decisions, or figuring out what's next in your life right now, but we're going to do with this with the lens of productivity. . . The key to that is getting better at prioritizing and the way you get better at deprioritizing.


My number one tip is getting good at deprioritizing--making trade-offs of what matters less for what matters most. So, how can you get good at deprioritizing?


This is something that requires practice and time. Let's just say that right off the bat. It's not going to come super naturally, especially if you are in that place of prioritizing everything, or being paralyzed and not prioritizing anything.


So here are a few tips for you. The first is a method that I use on myself and on my coaching clients, I call it "Zoom out. Zoom in."


 When you zoom out, what you're doing is taking an objective look at your life. So you step back with this bird's eye view, and you take a look at what's really going on in your life with clear eyes. You take stock of what is on your plate. What are all the many priorities that you have right now? What's going on in the season of your life? What's going on with your family or your work, or with yourself and your mental health?


You take an objective look and you just take stock. That's zoom out, and then use zoom in. Zooming in is more of a subjective look. This is when you go inside yourself and you take a different sort of stock. You take stock of asking yourself, "Who am I? Who do I want to be? And by extension of that, what matters to me?"


Zooming out and zooming in will give you the information. You need to have a filter of sorts that will help you weed through the priorities, and it will help you learn better what to deprioritize.


One quick note about deprioritizing, the fear that I often see coming. Is that women are afraid if they deprioritize, it means that the thing they're deprioritizing must not matter at all. And that's not what we're saying. What you deprioritize will still matter. And it might even matter in the big picture. It might matter if you're zooming out and might matter if you're zooming in, but it's that it matters less than what matters more.


So to help you figure out what matters more, take that zoom out, objective look, and take stock of your life, which might be really surprising for you. And you'd be like, oh my goodness, no wonder why I'm spread so thin or no wonder why I feel paralyzed is because all of this is going on . . .


 And then zoom in and ask yourself more of those filter questions. Who am I? And what matters to me? That will help you get clarity outside of all the shoulds that are going on in your life of all the pressures that you face outside of you that are trying to trick you into prioritizing things that don't matter to you, that aren't reflective of you, and your values, and your wants that you have in your life.


So zoom out, zoom in. Just a quick side note, "Finding Me" my course on identity is super good at helping you with that zoom in part, just saying,


Before I share one more tip on how to get good at de prioritizing, I want to tell you something that could be obvious, but maybe isn't to you. I told you I'm good at this. Like, I do think I'm good at deprioritizing. And because of that, I feel like I'm pretty darn productive, but I do not do this perfectly.


And neither will you. I've made lots of mistakes in how I choose to use my time. I'm totally normal. And I find myself going after numbing behaviors instead of being productive, or choosing what's less on my priorities over what matters more, maybe because of the fear I have attached to the "more" part.


This learning how to deprioritize, it's all part of this ongoing process and ongoing work of getting in better touch with who I am and what matters to me in my life. So prioritizing and as a result, deprioritizing is something that just will require long standing revisiting, and practice and work. I think my biggest mistake that I've made about prioritizing and deprioritizing is actually my lifelong natural, innate push inside of me, that makes me choose very often productivity over relationships.


I've always been a go, go go person. I'm happiest when I'm busy. I love being busy. But I tend to get my blinders on, and not the good kind. I tend to get really focused on the things I want to do and not getting pushed off target by other people in my life. This translates to me having a hard time making time for friends or remembering to put aside the to dos to really connect with one of my kids.


So when I tell you that I want you to boost your productivity. It's not for the sake of what matters most. Never. And this is something that will take practice.


As part of that practice, here's my final step for you. And it's one that I ask myself in those moments where I recognize that I'm in that tug of war between productivity and relationships.


The final question to ask yourself is "What matters most now?" A lot of times it will be relationships that come before the two do's. Stopping the dishes to look into your kids' eyes, where they tell you a story or a joke that you don't really understand it, or supporting a friend instead of making the dinner that you had planned.


I recently had an example of that. My friend, Carol Lynn Pearson called me. You might know her from a past interview she and I did together. She is an incredible woman. And I'll just tell you to go search for her on my site so you can listen to the podcast we did. Recently, she happened to be in Utah. She was going to give a speech and she invited me to come and support her.


I talked to her in the middle of the day of me trying to paint a big room in our new house. And I had been there all day. I was just about to pick up my kids. I needed a shower, desperately. My kids needed dinner. They needed to be home. I had a ton of work to do at home. But I asked myself that question, "What matters most now?"


And I knew that as important as my to-do's were, and even just learning how to prioritize what I needed in that moment, all those things mattered. All of those things mattered on my list, but what mattered most was making sure I was being a good friend. And so we came. We went to Chick-fil-A for dinner and I just had all the kids with me.


We showed up to her speech in my very dirty clothes and my kids in all dirty clothes and we listened to her speech. I will never regret that. That's what I chose to do that day. What mattered most meant that I was willing to deprioritize what mattered less. Even if those things mattered, too.


So when you are struggling with the next logical steps or you're like me, and you're trying to decide what's what's right for you. Ask yourself that question: "What matters most?"


Let's share two quick scenarios for you on how you can apply what we learned today. I have of a woman in my Strive Hive, who I coached a couple of weeks ago about her transitioning to a whole new routine with a school year and being very frustrated by it and just asking, "What do I do about this whole new routine? Like, I feel like we worked so hard at our morning routines in the summer, and now it's all been tossed out the window and we're starting over."


So we did the Zoom Out. When we zoomed out, we realized, oh my goodness, the new routines that they needed to have put in place for the school year included a ton of multi-step routines.


Not only was she trying to get herself ready and her kids ready, but she also wanted them to have different routines, like doing chores or practicing instruments, them doing a spiritual study as a family prepping lunches and all before getting out of the door. That zoom out alone gave us a lot of objective information that what she had on her plate was quite a lot.


Next we Zoomed In and I asked her to think about who am I?


Who am I as I am I as a mom? What kind of mom do I want to be? What matters most to me as a mom. And she was able to figure out that connection matters.


For her next steps, she asked the final question, "What matters most now?" Logistically for her, what mattered most was just them getting ready and on time to school, all the other routines she wanted them to have and for herself to have to could be gradually implemented over time once they got just getting ready for school and on time to school down.


One more scenario that's come up in some women that I have in my coaching who suddenly have way more time on their hands than they ever have had before their kids all start school, or they're finally leaving the nest and they have hours of empty time.


And I can attest for these women that having too much time is just as hard as having too little time. With these women, I encourage them to Zoom Out and take an objective look. And they can see, "Oh my goodness, this is a huge lifestyle change. And with that lifestyle change comes this pressure to do everything and to do it well."


And they're also so accustomed to having limits that it's a huge shift to suddenly not have near as many limits. They're able to acknowledge, "Okay. I've actually never done this before. No wonder why this is hard."


Then we Zoom In and we ask them some questions like, "Who do I want to be in this phase of my life? What matters for this new season?'


Then the final step, "What matters now?"


 What matters most now with an open future can feel just as daunting as one where you feel stuck. So when you ask what matters most now, that helps you get some clarity on the next steps you can take, whether that's job shadowing. Taking a friend out to lunch who's in a field you're curious about, or looking into online courses or resources to help you with those next steps.


As you figure out this new season of your life and what you want to do, the key to increasing your productivity and bettering your prioritizing is deprioritizing. With time and practice, but never perfecty, you'll learn that you can trust yourself as you make trade-offs for what matters most right here. And right now


Let's share the progress pointers from this episode.


1) The key to boosting our productivity and bettering our prioritization is to get good at deprioritizing.


2) Deprioritizing means you make trade-offs on what matters less for what matters most.


3) To help, Zoom Out. Look at your life at a bird's eye view and objectively take stock of all you have on your plate.


4) Then, Zoom In. Ask yourself, W"ho am I?" And "What matters to me?"


5) To take it further for your next steps, ask "What matters most now?"


Your do something challenge for this week is to take two minutes to zoom out and just take stock of your current priorities and what's going on in your life.


You can of course take that further by zooming in and asking the next and final question, what matters most now.


But what I want you to do is just do something to start and simply take stock of what's going on in your life because that information will serve you.


When you do the, do something challenge, make sure you use the hashtag, #dosomethingchallenge and tag me if you're on Instagram. And that means I get to share some Progressor Spotlights. I've got one for you this week.


Today I'm spotlighting Mirien. And she shared with me on Instagram that she did the #dosomethingchallenge of building momentum instead of waiting for motivation, where I asked you to just set a two minute timer and do something that you've been putting off. And she said, "I did two quick things on my list that I've been putting off. I can't believe that setting a timer for two minutes is enough to build momentum, but it is."


I was so overjoyed to see that. And so many of you were reported in, I'm glad to hear that you're making that momentum.


Just like these Progressors Spotlights. I want your voice to be on the show. Do you have a scenario you need help progressing? Go to about in C a L L I N. And tell me all about it and I'll answer you right on the air. I'm hoping that next month we're going to have one of your voicemails on the show, every episode from here on.


Thank you so much for listening. My friends now go and do something with what you learned today.


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