Are Your Writing and Marketing Efforts Really Productive? (Two Productivity Strategies to Keep You Moving Forward)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014
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. 

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 it 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!


Karen Cioffi  is a multi-award-winning author, ghostwriter, freelance writer, editor, and author-writer online platform marketing instructor. She founded and manages Writers on the Move (a marketing group), and presents online writing and marketing workshops and webinars.

Karen has published 12 writing and marketing eBooks, the most recent, Article Marketing: Increase Website Traffic with Properly Formatted and Search Engine Optimized Content.

*** Join Karen's class, CREATE AND BUILD YOUR AUTHOR-WRITER ONLINE PLATFORM: Website Creation to Beyond Book/Product Sales, next starting on Monday, May 5, 2014. For information and registration, visit our classroom page. ***


Sioux Roslawski said...

Karen---I did a "mediation for beginners" session and enjoyed it...but haven't made time to pursue it further.

I guess I should...Thanks for the post.

Margo Dill said...

I have heard the meditation thing before as well as exercise or taking a break--sll similar ideas that someone rested or well rounded is more productive than someone trying to cram something into every day.

I DO the numbering thing if I have a lot going on. IT works. And it usually keeps me off of social media more than if I have sort of an open day with things I SHOULD be doing.

Thanks, Karen!

Karen Cioffi said...

Hi, Sioux,

I hear you. It's so easy to start something and then let it go. When life acts up, I find myself neglecting things that can help also. Meditation is definitely worth making a priority though, even in small amounts. :)

Karen Cioffi said...

Margo, meditation does work, but it is one of those things that you have to work at to actually do.

I also create a weekly list. I don't actually number each item, but they're listed one under the other, so kind of numbered. :) I agree - it really does work to keep you focused. What I don't finish, I carry over. If something important pops up, I add it to my list.

What I find extra helpful with this strategy is that it keeps you moving forward and keeps you from forgetting something you need to do. I certainly wouldn't want to rely on my memory! :)

brenda said...

I can see easily incorporating the three things to do tomorrow being effective, as well as the list on Sundays. I often over list things to do and get to the one at the bottom of the list and get flustered with myself the first is not done. Great article.

Karen Cioffi said...

Brenda, that's a common problem. That's why it's so important to keep the list to six items. You don't want to overwhelm yourself. :)

Thanks for stopping by!

Karen Cioffi said...

Brenda, also, it's as important to prioritize the list and follow it starting with item number one.
Glad you found the article helpful!

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