How to Improve Productivity

October 26, 2021


Personality driven productivity coach Lisa Zawrotny uses self-awareness, simplicity and systems to improve productivity YOUR way.

 A business coach and a productivity coach walk into a bar…

Oh, wait… that was a joke from 2019. These days they join a podcast!

What do they discuss?

What to do when your one-man business is swamping you?

You nod. That sounds more familiar than you care for.

Everybody agrees that hiring a productivity coach is the obvious answer.

You scour the internet and… bingo! Lisa Zawrotny from Positively Productive Systems feels like a perfect match.

Like many before you, you expect her to promptly start lecturing you on the Pomodoro Technique for time management.

But in Lisa’s book, that’s cutting corners at the very least.

Instead, she tells you to take a breath.


She tells you it’s going to be ok.

But first she wants to get to know you.

How to improve productivity?


De-Cluttering The Mind and Taking Inventory

True to the ‘Business Your Way’ idea – a concept we share – Lisa doesn’t believe in a one size fits all. Our businesses are different and so are we as people. 

So before she can give you any advice on what systems to put in place, she wants you to take inventory; do a mind sweep. What is it you’re juggling? Take it all out before we decide what needs to go back in.

I tell her the story about how my kids refused to spend time in their playroom unless I cleaned it up first.

Lisa gets enthusiast about the parallel. That’s it! Nobody wants to spend time in a messy room; or a messy head. So… de-cluttering the mind it is.

Lisa wants to know all about her client’s personality. What’s going on in their life, their values, their mission and their visions. She even recommends taking some personality tests. Not because she thinks they are gospel, but because it gives clues about who you are as a person.

It all helps increase self-awareness. And if you ask Lisa, that’s the key to improving productivity. But of course, that’s only the start.

Productivity Isn’t Time Management

Lisa goes on.

‘We often talk about time management, but we aren’t managing time, are we?’

She has a point.  

What we’re really managing is our energy, our priorities and the systems we use.

After we had a good dig into our own self-awareness, Lisa makes you think about your energy. 

WHEN is the best time for you to do things?

What drains us, and what energizes us?

When you really consider it, what’s the point in having several ZOOM meetings back to back if it leaves you absolutely drained afterwards, unable to do anything for the rest of the day? (Introverts, Lisa is looking at you!)

For herself, Lisa identified she can’t short-change on sleep. She’s figured out that the magic trick when she’s unproductive is to take a nap.

So, as natural follow-on from the self-awareness, the advice is to track, observe how you are feeling. (And of course, take some more quizzes.)

Systems To Boost Productivity

Not until all that has been considered, do we get to look at the tools that will help you develop a process.

Lisa likes it simple.

She’s a firm believer that being more self-aware of what we’re doing and how/why we’re doing it is half the battle. Put it this way, understanding the process is more important than going mad in systems (tech tools that is).

Does it mean you shouldn’t use systems? Of course not!

It means you have to be picky.

Use the tools to your advantage once you worked out what goes on in your head. Ask if it’s right for you. If not, it will add to the clutter.

As far as Lisa is concerned, there are only two vital tools to make sure you’re productive:

  • a notebook (or an equivalent tool) to capture things so they no longer need to take up space in your brain.
  • a calendar in whatever shape or form, so you are present in the moment without having to think about what’s next.

Multi-Tasking Is Debunked

And then Lisa has some other useful tips I’m totally buying.

She makes a statement that has my attention. Multi-tasking is debunked. It’s not how you are most productive.

Instead, she has a few other recommendations on how to improve productivity:

  • Create buffer space in your calendar to give yourself what you need: you may be hangry, thirsty, in need of a break to process, need to prepare for the next item on the calendar (transition time).
  • Do theme days or batching. Lisa herself has dedicated admin days, coaching days and a Me-day; every week. But that’s what works for her. It may look entirely different for you.
  • Set intention. Every evening, Lisa double checks her diary to reflect on the day gone and the one ahead. That’s also when she sets alarms and reminders, so she’s present in the moment.

The To-CHOOSE List

Lisa isn’t a fan of a to-do list.

To be fair, neither am I. Everything looks just as important as the next item on the list. It’s stressful!

Lisa says people have a habit of adding but rarely subtracting from a to-do list.

Instead, she prefers a To-CHOOSE list.

As you write things down, you no longer have to hold it in your brain. That’s the de-cluttering done. And because it’s a list you can CHOOSE from, there is no obligation to do it all.

To decide which items you tick off the list, you use filters. Intentionally and purposefully.

  • What do I NEED to do to keep my business afloat?
  • How do I like to work?
  • What do I want to accomplish?
  • What will make the biggest difference for the least amount of effort ? (the 80/20 principle)

I love all the useful tips,  but what I take from my chat with Lisa most (Gosh, I wish I had more time with her!) is that if you want to do ‘Business Your Way’, you’re going to have to be ‘Productive Your Way’.

Lisa’s Favorite Quizzes For Self-Awareness

  • The Power Of When – Michael J. Breus
  • The 4 Tendencies – Gretchen Rubin
  • Big 5 Personalities – Jordan Peterson
  • DiSC personality profiles
  • Myers-Briggs 16 personalities

Connect with Lisa Zawrotny



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