Are Your Writing and Marketing Efforts Really Productive? (2 productivity strategies to keep you moving forward)

By Karen Cioffi

Sometimes the moons and stars align and information that is relevant to your life bombards your week, directing you onto paths you should take.

Well, this happened to me.

Time management is one of my ongoing struggles, as with probably most of you reading this. So, what do you do? How do you create more hours in the day? How do you accomplish all the writing and marketing tasks you must, aside from keeping up with everything else in your life?

Ah, the $25,000 question.

Productivity Strategy Number One – Keep a List and Stick to It

I found a great site ( that offers some very useful content. Interestingly, the post I read on this site pertained to being productive. This was the fourth article I came across within a few days dealing with time management, prioritizing, and productivity.

Part of the content discussed a $25,000 lesson by public relations and efficiency expert Ivy Ledbetter Lee.

The story (true story, just not sure of the exact account) goes that Charles Schwab, steel magnate, wanted to increase his company’s efficiency, so he contacted Lee. Lee requested 15 minutes with each of Schwab’s managers. Schwab asked how much would it cost. Lee told him that after three months, if he saw productivity improvement he could send Lee whatever he thought the training was worth. Three months later, Schwab sent Lee a $25,000 check. This was back around 100 years ago.

So, the $25,000 lesson?

It’s reported that Lee said to write a list of six must-do items that each manager needed to accomplish the next day, in order of importance. Whatever wasn’t completed that day would go over onto the next day’s list of six must-do items.

According to, Lee instructed:

Write down the most important things you have to do tomorrow. Now, number them in the order of their true importance. The first thing tomorrow morning, start working on an item Number 1, and stay with it until completed. Then take item Number 2 the same way. Then Number 3, and so on. Don't worry if you don't complete everything on the schedule. At least you will have completed the most important projects before getting to the less important ones. (2)  

Pretty simple, right?

Simple and powerful. Having a list of what you need to do gives you focus and that focus helps clear your mind, which in turn boosts productivity, allowing you to get the job done.

One thing James Wedmore said that I thought is also a good idea is to have a “brain dump” folder or notebook. If something pops into your head that you don’t want to forget, put in in the ‘brain dump file.’ This too helps keep your mind clear of clutter.

I call my ‘brain dump file’ My To Do List. If anything pops into my head, I open the file and type it in, leaving my mind free of the worry of remembering it.

Productivity Strategy Number Two – Meditate

If you make time for meditation, you’ll have more time. I read this or something like it recently, but forgot where or by who (if you know the author, please let me know, so I can give attribution). A case in point of information overload.

But, how can you have more time if you take time out of your already hectic day to meditate?

According to Laboratory of Neuro Imaging, the average person has 70,000 thoughts per day. Since there are 1,440 minutes in a day and 86,400 seconds, this means you’re having thoughts almost every second of every day. Is it any wonder many of us have trouble focusing?

Meditation is another mind clearing tool that allows the brain to take a breather. It helps create a calmer you, thus leading to a more focused and productive you.

My acupuncturist, who was a neurologist in China and has been practicing Chinese medicine for over 35 years, says that the number one thing you can do for your health is to meditate.

Give it a Shot – Incorporate these two strategies Into your writing and marketing work week.

Every Sunday, make a list of the top six must-do items for Monday. Don’t just breeze through your list of to-dos, take the time to think whether a particular item is REALLY needed. Will it move your goals forward? Will it earn you money?

At the bottom of your to-do list for each day, add: TAKE 15-30 MINUTES TO MEDITATE.

Do this for 90 days, as Lee instructed, and see what happens. Then let us know – leave a comment!

Note: I also read that Lee sought Schwab out to propose he could increase his company’s productivity. Whether Lee sought out Schwab or Schwab sought out Lee, it worked.


Original article source:

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Linda Wilson said...

Great post, Karen. My husband taught me this strategy. I think he learned it in a workshop. We both kept Daytimers then and got lots done. We're retired now. I keep a simpler calendar but I still use The List. Usually the priorities are not what I would choose to do first but by getting them done, I then have the freedom to do what I want the rest of the day. You know what that is: write!

Melinda Brasher said...

I love the advice about the list of only 6 items, in order of importance. I tend to make lists that are too long, and then I get overwhelmed. I'm going to do this today!

Karin Larson said...

Great advice, Karen! My list is usually way too long and overwhelming. I will try this today!

Karen Cioffi said...

Linda, I keep a 'list' also. Mine is a daily list. I try to keep it to six, but usually go over.

Karen Cioffi said...

Melinda, that's my problem also. I try to keep in streamlined, but I usually go over. I don't get overwhelmed, but it does clutter up the mind too much.

Karen Cioffi said...

Karin, I hear you. It seems having a list that's too long is a common problem. :)

Magdalena Ball said...

So simple and so true. I find that meditation has helped me tremendously (just 5 mins a day!) to keep calm and focus on what matters - otherwise I'm distracted by everything that isn't on my list.

Karen Cioffi said...

Maggie, just 5 mins - that's great. I'm so irregular with meditating. Now that I'm settled in (again) I have to get in gear. I know how important it is.

Shirley Corder said...

Karen, I put my list in a diary (one of these page for the day ones). I fill in any that have to be done at a specific time and then add the rest wherever there's space. I like the idea of trying to stick to 6. I usually have considerably more. But everything always takes longer than I estimate - or when I'm going well, something inserts into my day.
One thing I have helped is to do the list last thing before I go to sleep. Then the next morning I pray over it during my Quiet Time (meditation) before getting going with the day. That usually works well . . . so why don't I do it more often?

Karen Cioffi said...

Shirl, I use to write my list in a daily calendar book, then found it easier on my laptop. That's another of my problems, things can take longer than I anticipate or other things come up.

Good habits are sometimes tough to keep up. I'm working on mine.

Karen Cioffi said...

Karen, glad you found it helpful. I think most of us tend to create to-do lists that are too long. It pays to keep them very focused.

Linda A. said...

This reminded me of a recent post at PiBoIdMo--Tara Lazar. See number 5 here:

Karen Cioffi said...

Linda, Yep, similar approach. Lots of writers and marketers realize the benefit of have a prioritized 'to do' list.

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