How to be ultra productive aka why you need to master your mental energy

How to be ultra productive aka why you need to master your mental energy

Productivity, or lack of it, is a major issue for most people. I was recently at a two-day intensive conference with hundreds of attendees. When asked what they most wanted to change, some people said they wanted to lose their fear of visibility; others wanted to boost their confidence; however the majority of folks said they wanted to be more productive. At a annual planning workshop, similarly, most people’s blocks to success were “laziness”, “productivity” and “procrastination”.

Interesting. After all, productivity is not something we are burdened with or lack. It’s not a state we’re in.

Productivity levels are a symptom; an effect.

As a competency, productivity is not a challenge in itself; rather it’s simply a measurement of effectiveness; measured in terms of the rate of output per unit of input. It’s about accomplishing what you want to in any given amount of time. Many of us see being productive as getting our work done when it’s what we intend to do.

For example, if you’re spending 8-hours in front of your computer in a day, are you producing 8-hours worth of work? Maybe, maybe not. When you spend 40 hours at the office in a week, are you completing all tasks set out to accomplish in those hours, week after week? For the majority of people, I would say, probably not.

So what is the real challenge? What is it that is really blocking our success?

Again, lack of productivity is a symptom. It’s easy to say we want to be more productive ~ that is, get more done in the least amount of time, however it’s important to look at and ‘treat’ the bigger problem(s).

Look at the following list and see if you can relate to some of these common causes of low output aka Productivity Drains:

1. Lack of inspiration
2. Lack of direction/priority
3. Low physical energy
4. Disorganized work flow
5. Lack of efficiency systems
6. Low or stressed mental energy
7. Distractions
8. Bad habits
9. Lack of knowledge or skill
10. Unrealistic goals and/or deadlines

[ Notice how I didn’t add ‘lack of time’ to this list? Time management is a definitely a major challenge, however this list of ten productivity drains can also be applied to our quest for optimal time management as well. ]

“Give me 6 hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first 4 sharpening the axe.”
Abraham Lincoln


As a professional coach, I guide people to be more productive. No, not because I am an expert – far from it. As also a work-from-home parent and entrepreneur, I am definitely constantly needing to manage my own input and output.

What I do is guide others to take an intentional approach to productivity.

After all, the goal is not to work more or work harder.

On the contrary; my approach is to lay out the bigger picture; to explore the ten items above, and to integrate personal strengths and objectives to be more efficient – to get what needs to get done without all the dilly dally time wasting that would be better used elsewhere.

Now I can easily write for days about dealing with all the productivity drains. They are all very potent barriers and effective success blocks. However, in this post I’m going to look at what I feel is the most important to address which is low mental energy.

Mental mastery

Time is an important resource, sure – however mental energy is our greatest asset.

Mental energy encompasses our mindset, our determination, our outlook, and resilience. Sometimes we need mental energy to strategize and make critical decisions; other times we need it for inspiration and creativity. We require mental energy to manage multiple tasks and deal with stress, and we also require the skill to turn it off to restore and recharge.

By first managing our mental energy, it gives us the capacity to then deal with things like distraction, lack of focus, discouragement, stress, lack of clarity, and motivation. Tending to and protecting it should be priority #1, and this includes figuring out it’s cycles and it’s kryptonite.

There are so many ways to master our mental energy. Some include:

+ getting enough physical exercise to increase blood flow to the brain and trigger “energy” brain chemicals
+ fueling our brains and bodies with nourishing foods, minerals and vitamins
+ eliminating energy draining, negative people and situations from your life
+ meditating to rest and recharge
+ switching up our scenery and/or daily routines
+ reducing and/or eliminating our digital media use including social media/tv/YouTube, etc…
+ adapting new habits and systems
+ reducing and eliminating other distractions

Eat the frog, set a timer, download an app…the list of possibilities goes on and on… And while there are several scientific and research-based fundamentals and success stories such as getting enough healthy food and exercise, the key will be to figure out what works for you.

It all starts with intention. With awareness.

For example, when is your energy at it’s highest? For most people, morning is when we have access to our most creative energy. What noticeably drains your energy? Sugar, certain people, fluorescent lights? What feeds your energy? Nature, friendly conversation, music?

Personally, I know that certain foods either rob or fuel my energetic capability. I have figured out a few hacks to give me a boost of focus including jumping on the rebounder for a few minutes and listening to high-energy music while I work. I know that my morning routine is essential in putting me into an optimal mindset for the day, and I’m aware that too much time sitting at my desk results in wasted time.


“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”
― Jalaluddin Rumi



Productivity will always be an issue. After all, there is always more that we can be doing. However, if we think more in terms of managing our energy in order to explore and master the real causes of low productivity, we will strengthen our foundations. We will focus on what matters most and learn to be motivated and propelled by purpose. We will optimize, streamline and prioritize. And best of all, we will create more time freedom.


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Hustle & Align: Taking a holistic approach to business

Hustle & Align: Taking a holistic approach to business

(Originally published September 2018, slightly updated Oct 2021)

As a creative, I’ve spent a great many of years resisting against the formal rules of business.

Even as a PR and marketing consultant in the early 2000s, I refused many of the business norms of the time; I worked outside of the typical 9-5; prioritized soul-nourishing activities and didn’t own one typical business suit. (Amusing now to look back on this, and note how far or how different things are now).

On my entrepreneur journey, I tried unconventional productivity hacks, convinced myself that so many other life experiences are more important than a corporate pay check and learned the art of visualizing future wins – things that have become quite commonplace here in 2021.

Over the years, I measured my success, not on the number of clients I had or my income, but by how happy, stress-free and conscious my family and I felt. This is not to say that I don’t value hard work – on the contrary, I just value the freedom to set my own schedule.

This work-from-home situation, although challenging and highly frustrating at times, has given me a lot of insight into how to live my most fulfilling life. The past seven years of being a “stay-at-home working mom” or WAHM has been both truly rewarding and yet has also been challenging enough to leverage the desire for change; to now figure out how to still be a mindful parent, earn an income, schedule time for fitness, socialization and creativity AND build a fabulous new, abundant, fulfilling, money-making business.

(If you’re curious, I’ve spent the past seven years working as a freelance PR and marketing consultant; graphic designer, website developer, digital marketing specialist and program instructor to at-risk youth. I’ve also spent a lot of time volunteering in my community, spending quality time with friends and picking my kids up from school everyday.)

However, I now realize this new entrepreneurial venture will require an entire new set of rules. Not entirely unlike the ought to’s and should do’s I’ve rebelled against in the past.

The difference this time around? The difference is, is that after working with successful and efficient people, I know that it will be ultimately be those systems and disciplined action that will get results. I know that, for myself, I will have to buckle down, work with a calendar; schedule tasks and stick to it.

But the even greater difference, is that I will incorporate tried and true systems and traditional productivity strategy, while still maintaining my valued holistic approach (which is mostly what I encourage with my clients).

How to get work done (aka be productive and make money) and live the dream?

The first step to a holistic approach in business productivity and success is to figure out the WHY. In other words, what is the ideal result? Why are you doing any of this?

Yes, we all want to earn more money and attract more clients, but what do we do with it all? For myself, I want to feel purposeful and contribute, but I also want to travel. Like, all the time. I want the freedom to travel with my family and work from almost anywhere in the world.

Now, if you feel like you’re working essentially because you have to just to pay bills, it may serve you to either change your career or change your perspective.

So, I ask myself – how can I create a business that allows me to contribute and have plenty of free time and money to travel?
And while we’re at it, what else do I value? Independence, the ability to schedule my own work hours, quality time with my children, to be surrounded by beauty and kindness (mostly).

“When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.”
-Roy E. Disney

This is my why. These values are what’s most important to me. And I know, as a life coach and as an adult human, that if I don’t carry out my days doing things that are important to me, I won’t feel happy or fulfilled. If I’m not happy or fulfilled, I may wake up feeling caught in a trap. When in the trap, I may lose that fact that I am in control of my destiny and start blaming everyone and everything for my unhappiness.

So, I ask – what am I willing to do to create this ideal business? AKA, how much do I want this?

Now, this is a tricky question because we all dream about what we want. But many, no – most people are unwilling to do what it takes to get it. And there are a hundred reasons ~ don’t have the resources, don’t have the education, don’t know where to begin, are too old, too young, sore back, no sitter, too far, no startup capital, migraines, etc….


Eye on the Prize (or basket, or ball, or net…. whatever works for you)

But me, I want this. And to remind myself that I want this, I make my first order of business setting up a system to remind myself everyday.

First thing in the morning after drinking water, I journal. I do this before I start reading or scrolling; before outside influence starts affecting my thoughts and decisions. Throughout the day I meditate, practice mindfulness (to embrace the here and NOW), show gratitude and appreciation, read pertinent books, and look at my new Dream Board and other little visual reminders I have around my desk.

This may sound like a lot, especially if you haven’t yet set any habits to consciously uplevel your internal state. But as I said, I’ve been at this for many years and I know how important this FIRST STEP is for me in maintaining the motivation and perseverance to stay disciplined.

Primed for success, and motivated to take action, it is a million times easier for me to now get to work. To grind, to hustle, to follow instruction, to follow a schedule, to implement systems, and to continue to do this day after day, week after week.

So I ask you, what is most important to you? Even if you had all the money in the world, what would you do with it? What would your days look like?

“Just as your car runs more smoothly and requires less energy to go faster and farther when the wheels are in perfect alignment, you perform better when your thoughts, feelings, emotions, goals, and values are in balance.”
– Brian Tracy


Question of the Day:
How can you incorporate the things that are important to you into your life now?

to be continued….