Today’s episode meets Megan & Taylor as they talk about Megan’s Productivity Pyramid, the difference between balance and harmony, and tips for creating plans and goals within both personal life and work life. Megan shares all of her best tricks for thriving as a mother and business owner. You can find her HERE.

The Productivity Pyramid with Megan Sumrell

Megan is a Time Management Coach who works with mompreneurs who are exhausted and stressed out and teaches them how to create intentional structure in their calendar to achieve work + life harmony. She is the host of the Work+Life Harmony Podcast with over 60,000 downloads and the founder of the TOP Program, the #1 time management system for women. She is also the creator of the TOP Planner, a day planner that teaches you how to plan efficiently.



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Show Notes:

  • What does hustle like a mother mean to you?
    • I think a lot of us have that love-hate relationship with the word hustle, right? I love the aspect of, when I think about hustle in a fun, positive frame of mind “hustle like a mother” for me, it’s, let’s face it as moms, we’re freaking superheroes. I feel like absolutely we innately can do all the things. And so, when I lean into the way, I like to think about hustle in a positive way, it’s my ability to serve all these different roles – entrepreneur, mom, sister, wife, all of that, but do it in a way that energizes me instead of exhaust me.
  • Tell us a little bit about your story and how you got started as a time management coach.
    • So my background is actually a math major. I spent over 20 years in the software space working as an IT professional. Over the course of my 20+ year career there, I spent my last 10 years where my role was to go into really large software organizations, rip apart all of their systems and processes and rebuild them in ways for them to build their software better, faster, cheaper. I like to kind of start with that because it shows I’ve got 20 years of training in process optimization that I’ve actually brought into my time management framework. 
    • I really wanted to have a business of my own just from a time flexibility perspective. I had this pivotal day at the park and I was pushing [my daughter] on the swing and the woman next to me was just chatting me up as we do in the south. And she asks, what do you do for fun? And I went home that night and wept in my closet for a very long time because I didn’t have an answer. And then it hit me. I was like, Megan, you do this for a living. Like, why don’t you take yourself on as a client? Throw all the systems and tools you’ve been using to try and manage everything and let’s look at this with a fresh start and take all these principles that you’re certified in and apply them to the realities of your life.
    • So I restructured all of the ways I was managing my time. Friends and family started noticing. And so I started speaking at some local organizations here for working moms and that kind of catapulted me. One day after a talk, a group of women came up and said, can we hire you? Will you teach us how to do what you’re doing? And so that’s when I was like, I really went home that night and said, okay, can I unpack what I’ve developed for myself and really break this out in a way that I can then teach it to others? So that night years ago was the start of what is now my full-time job. I ended up leaving corporate and now I am on a mission to empower as many moms out there as I can to learn these skills so they can answer the question “What do you do for fun while still feeling fulfilled and purposeful and all of that as well.”
  • You talk a lot about your productivity pyramid, so let’s jump into that. What is the productivity pyramid?
    • So I’ve kind of got two fundamental parts. I have the productivity pyramid, which is a very small way of looking at the three layers or sides that we need to really be productive. And then I have an entire framework, which is kind of that at a microscopic level. 
    • With the productivity pyramid, there’s essentially three sides to everything that we need to think about, which is we’ve got all of our stuff, the list of the never-ending list of want-tos and have-tos that needs to get done, and then we’ve got our calendar, meaning all of the commitments we’ve already got the schedule that’s kind of imposed on us by appointments, meetings, activities for kids school and all of that. And then underneath that, now we have to learn the right way to marry those two together and put some structure in place so that we aren’t every day going, “what do I need to do?” and we’re running around all day long. And then we kind of wrap the whole thing up with let’s build repeatable systems and processes.
    • Think of it like a big machine – the inputs that you put into it (Taylor) are gonna be different than the inputs I put into it. But the machine is still the machine. And so what makes this really powerful is that as your inputs change, as your kids’ ages change, your business needs change, your schedule changes… all you’re doing is feeding those different inputs in. But when you learn the machine, it means that now you have this framework that grows with you as you move through all the different seasons of life, because you’re just saying, oh my inputs have tweaked. Now I’m putting that in a little bit different, but I’m still gonna use that same machine to help me create a realistic way of planning out my days and weeks.
  • So how do we get started? How do we look at this and say, what is Step One, if we’re overwhelmed and ready for that structure?
    • The biggest shift to make is most people operate from this kind of daily task list mode, right? We wake up, we get out the piece of paper while we’re drinking our coffee. And it’s the what are all the things that I can think of that I need to get done today without any thought of how much time do I really have? How much time do these things take? What makes sense to group together? Do I really have to do this today or not? And then for the whole remainder of the day, we’re grasping at every little pocket of time that we can, with the hopes of checking everything off. And let’s face it – it’s never gonna get checked off.
    • I think people really operate from that daily versus weekly or monthly viewpoint. And there’s a ton of productivity experts out there telling you to do that. Wake up every day, list out your top three priority things, and then (and I love it when they say this) ignore everything else. That is written by somebody who doesn’t have a toddler in their house. I can tell you that right now ‘cuz my toddler doesn’t care about my to-do list.
    • Let’s face it. What if it’s a day where your day is so disjointed that you don’t even have a 30-minute window to do focused work. Those are days where I’m like, you know what, today is not a day that I’m working on any of my top priorities and I’m fine with that. Today’s a day to get a bunch of that mid-level stuff all done and caught up.
    • So making that fundamental shift from this daily mode of task-based living into intentional, weekly planning where we have to look comprehensively [at our list.] I have an entire five step – basically 10 step – advanced process of how do we lay out a plan for the week that is realistic, that integrates the realities of home and work and actually allows for flexibility and for the curve balls that you know are coming at you that week.
  • The other thing you talk about is balance and harmony and there’s a difference. So what is that difference?
    • Trying to achieve balance is gonna lead you to being more stressed and more overwhelmed. I do not believe in balance and maybe it’s the math major in me.
    • I like to embrace that idea of let’s look at all the hats that we wear in our lives. It’s not about daily equality of time, but it’s how do I put a plan in place to manage my time so that whatever role I’m in I’m fully present there and I’m really enjoying it.
  • What last minute tips and tricks do you have for everybody, a takeaway that they can do right now to create those plans and goals within their personal and work life and setting themselves up for success?
    • [Create a command center] – You need to decide for yourself, where is the one and only one place that you will use that tells you what you should be doing and when you should be doing it. So whether you wanna call it a planner, a calendar or whatever.
  • Tell us where we can find you on the internet.

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