The Secret to Productivity and Saying No

I recently got a GREAT question from one of our readers. I wanted to share it because my guess is that you have felt (or currently feel) the same.

I bet you are multi-passionate and want to accomplish many great things.

I also bet that you wish someone would just tell you what to focus on and when.

And maybe, just maybe, you sometimes feel like a chicken with its head cut off, running around trying to manage all that you want to do.

By the way, my mom used to say that about me all the time while I was growing up.

She would yell, “Erin, just stop! You’re running around like a chicken with its head cut off!!”

While, no, it’s not a lovely image (and I always HATED when she said it), with some years on me I can see she was kind of right.

I always was doing a lot at once. And it often made me unfocused, uncommitted to any one thing, and frankly unhappy.

But, I also sort of also loved the juggling (and still do… to a degree). So how did I figure out how to put my head back on and act like a regular chicken? I will share in just a sec.

First, let’s go to the question from our lovely reader:

“How do I balance wanting to be super present with my small children with building my biz to the level I want it to be? Right now, I’m in control of my time.  I work MTW 1-6 and most evenings after they go to bed.  They are little (1 & 4), so I’m consciously trying to create a schedule around being with them more often than not.  That said, I do sometimes feel like I’m burning the candle at both ends…”.

If you don’t have kiddos, just replace the children with another priority you love dearly.

I took some time and came up with my answer. You will either love it or hate it, but here it is.

The secret to productivity is that:

You can’t do it all. 

When I say that, how does it make you feel? Relieved or stressed?

Let me expand on that statement.

You can’t do it all… today. 

But you can slowly get there. IF you prioritize and focus. 

To me, the idea that I can’t do it all is extremely and utterly freeing.

It helps me drop the drama in my head about feeling overwhelmed.

It also helps me remember that I am only one single person.  Why on earth would I think that I can and SHOULD do it all?! That’s just crazy.

What isn’t crazy is knowing that my energy is best utilized when I am focused and not spread too thin.

If you are feeling torn between priorities and projects, all of which feel really important, I want you to ask yourself this:

What is MOST important?

Really, I mean it. Don’t be flippant about this. What is the MOST important priority to you looking ahead into the next few months?

And honestly, this is going to be really different depending on what is happening in your life and what you are working on.

Sometimes “MOST important” means making a bunch of money.

Sometimes “MOST important” means feeding your creative soul.

Sometimes “MOST important” means taking care of your kids.

Sometimes “MOST important” means taking care of your kids and then taking SMALL steps towards growing your business, knowing that in a few years your kids will be older and all your small steps will have laid the groundwork for you to start running your butt off when it’s time.

Second, this all really depends on you and your own capacity to hold it down.

By that I mean, you likely know what “TOO much” is for you. And my guess is that you are usually doing TOO much, which means something suffers.

Remember how I said I like the juggling act?

Well, I still do. There is something about juggling a few balls at once that makes me feel really skilled and in the zone. But that’s my secret to productivity. I actually feel MORE focused and productive when I have just the right amount going on.

But, the difference is that NOW I know how many balls I can handle. And if I say, “Yeah, let’s throw another one in the mix,” because I am feeling overly ambitious, I usually end up dropping them all.

So if you are juggler, take time to get real about how many balls you can handle.

This analogy is going south. I’m going to bring it back up north.

Know how much is too much.

Don’t be afraid to play to your edge, but always clarify with yourself first what is MOST important right now.

Know your limits & be real about them.

And remember, you can’t do it all (thank goodness!)… today.

But you can get there if you focus and prioritize.

Now, it’s your turn. Are you a juggler? Do you like that or you prefer to truly only focus on one project at a time? Do you love or hate my answer? What is your secret to productivity?

Can’t wait to hear from you!

With love,


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