Episode 065

How to Be More Productive in Your Business

If you’re anything like me, sometimes it can feel like you’ve been working at high intensity for too long. It’s time to take a step back, evaluate where you are putting your attention and your time, and make changes so that you can be more productive (and get the rest and rejuvenation you need).

I’m excited to share a tool I learned about from Brooke Castillo at The Life Coach School for determining where you are spending your time and how you can make changes so that you can be more successful. We’ll talk about some of the things you do need to give attention to, how to determine what to delegate, and why you can even delete some things. We’ll go over how to think about things you can put in your calendar for the future.

Join me for a look at how to give yourself more time to be productive and get a break in at the same time. We’ll spend some time thinking about things you want to do for your business, how to delay distractions for later, and how to focus your attention on the things you really want to get done for the long-term growth of your business. I’m excited to walk you through this incredible tool and can’t wait to see how it helps you succeed this year.


In March 2023 I will open enrollment for two of my favorite programs, which will take place in May. First I will be running a week of Money School 2.0, beginning March 13, 2023, and then open enrollment for Wired for Wealth, my money mindset program with business strategy and mentorship that directly works to release money blocks, transform your relationship with money, and create the lasting wealth you fully deserve.

To be one of the first to know when enrollment for Money School 2.0 and Wired for Wealth open, send me an email to get subscribed to my newsletter!

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • What an attention audit is.
  • How to brain dump all of the things you are thinking about or worried about.
  • How to determine where to put your attention, what to delegate, and what you can delete.
  • Why some things can be scheduled in your calendar for the future.
  • The importance of thinking about all the things you want to do for your business this year.
  • How to gain back as much productivity as possible.


Read the full transcript now

You’re listening to the Mastering Money in Midlife podcast with Debbie Sassen, Episode 65.

Welcome to Mastering Money in Midlife, a podcast for midlife women in business to overcome financial anxiety and make more money without burning out or sacrificing their families. Join Certified Life and Money Coach Debbie Sassen, as she shares practical business strategies and mindset shifts that help you dissolve the money blocks that keep you stuck in a cycle of underearning and undersaving, sabotage the growth of your business, and prevent you from building the wealth that you desire.

Hello, my friends, and welcome back to the podcast. I had such a lovely morning today. I went into Jerusalem, which is about a 45-minute drive from my home. First of all, it was pouring rain, pouring buckets. And we’ve had a really, really dry winter in Israel. So, it was beautiful to just have rain that is going to nourish the earth and keep our water supply growing a little bit this winter.

I went into Jerusalem to meet some of my students from the Wired for Wealth Mastermind. It was a lovely occasion for us because we have been meeting on Zoom since last June; we have one month left in the mastermind. One of the students in the group came over to Israel from Belgium. And it was lovely to get together in person to meet each other because we’ve just been behind the Zoom screen for the last eight months. And really get to know each other on a different level.

If you are not getting out and meeting people in person, it’s a different experience. I encourage you to network. I actually had a coffee chat with someone in person, not virtually, before the meeting with my masterminders. It was just a lovely day, different energy, different vibe. And it’s a great experience.

The last year we haven’t really been impacted by COVID. International travel, travel all over, and vacations are surely on the up and up. And as you know, I was in Puerto Rico a couple of weeks ago. But in terms of business, I have been doing so much virtual and online business, I missed this human contact. And if you’re feeling a little bit like me, get out of your house, go meet business people in life. Go to conferences, go to summits, and get a little bit of a different kind of vibe and energy in your life and in your business.

Since I mentioned the Wired for Wealth Mastermind Group Coaching Program, I want to let you know that in the middle of March, I will be doing enrollment for the May cohort. I’m going to be doing a week of Money School; it’ll be Money School 2.0. And you’re invited to that the week of May 13.

Then, I’ll be opening enrollment to Wired for Wealth. If that is on your radar this year, I’m letting you know that it’s happening. If you’re not on my email list, then I encourage you to subscribe; Debbie@debbiesassen.com, and you will be the first to know when Wired for Wealth is opening. and, of course, when I’m running Money School 2.0. I look forward to seeing you there.

Before I went on my holiday in Puerto Rico, and I spoke about that last week. I think I was a little bit jet-lagged. I know I was a little bit jet-lagged, actually. My podcast producers told me I wasn’t rambling, but I had a feeling that I was. So, if it was just a little bit too free-flowing, then you’ll just know that you got some Puerto Rican vibes in last week’s podcast episode.

Before I left on my holiday, I recorded an episode called “Meeting Your Goals in 2023: The Cheetah, The Scientist, and The Bear.” I brought three different personas that I encouraged you to embrace as you build your business in 2023.

The Cheetah is the sprinter that sprints towards your goals.

The Scientist is the part of you that analyzes the data and the information. Makes a hypothesis about what you think is the right thing to do for your business. And then, goes out and tests it, gets the data back, and looks at it neutrally like a scientist. We want to really detach our emotions when we’re looking at the data, from what’s really happening in our business, so that we can make sound, grounded decisions to move forward.

And then, there’s The Bear. That is the part of you that needs to hibernate, that needs to rest, that needs to just get all of your energy back after going full steam ahead in your business.

Then, it was fascinating, because I had this book; I bought this book in October. I hadn’t had a chance to read it yet, but it was on my nightstand waiting for me to open it. It’s called  “The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working” by Tony Schwartz. And it was such synchronicity, that all of a sudden, I was reading this book after recording this podcast episode.

I’m going to read it to you because the author Tony Schwartz says it, I think, way better than I could ever say it. But he says something that was exactly what I was wanting to give over in Episode 62 of the podcast; The Cheetah, The Scientist, and The Bear, oh my. Here are Tony Schwartz’s words:

“At the heart of this book is a simple principle: Human beings are not designed to run like computers- at high speeds, continuously, for long periods of time. When we try to mimic the machines we’re meant to run, they end up running us. In fact, we’re designed to pulse. Our most basic survival need is to spend and renew energy. We are hardwired to make waves- to be alert during the day, and to sleep at night, but also to work at high intensity for limited periods of time and then rest and refuel. Instead, we lead increasingly linear lives, forever spending down our energy without fully or effectively renewing it.”


That blew my mind because it was exactly what I was thinking and feeling and intuitively knowing. I just gave you my metaphor for it. And this author just brought it so beautifully and poetically, almost into real life for me. And we’re going to continue that theme, as we discuss, today on the podcast, how to be more productive in your business.

you can probably guess, it’s not by whipping ourselves to do more and more and more. We need to rest. We need to refuel. We need to renew our energy reserves. We need to make sure that we get seven or eight hours of sleep every night so that we have the energy to do that sprinting.

To be highly effective, and focused, and intensively doing our work during the day, so that we feel accomplished when we turn off the lights at night and go to sleep. And so that our brain isn’t racing and thinking about all the things we didn’t get to.

Today, I’m going to share with you a concept that I learned from Brooke Castillo, the founder of The Life Coach School, where I got my life coach certification. Brooke brings this concept, and she calls it an “Attention Audit.” It’s a little bit similar to a time audit. A time audit is when you look at how you’re spending your time during the day.

I’ve done this before. It’s very specific. You’ll look at, what did I do between 8:00 and 8:30, 8:30 and 9:00, 9:00 and 9:30? You can do it in blocks of 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or hours, however you want to do it, to see where your time is going.

But I love this concept of an attention audit. It works better for me because it’s a little bit more flexible in terms of how I define what I’m doing during the day. And I actually did this on the airplane back to Israel as I’m planning my year out for 2023. I really wanted to know what I was doing and focusing on this year.

So, before I share with you a little bit of what I uncovered and what I did, let me just explain the concept of an attention audit to you. It works like this. There are things in our lives that demand our attention, and we want to give them our attention. I want to give attention to my husband. I want to give attention to my children. I want to give attention to my business. I want to give attention to you, my audience, and my listeners.

I want to give attention to my health. That includes exercise. That includes eating properly and drinking properly. I want to have friendships. I want to give attention to my religion, Judaism. My religion and my relationship with God are very important to me.

These are all different aspects of me that demand my attention, and I want to give them my attention. Now, some of them will demand my attention more loudly. Like, when I’m hungry, my stomach is, of course, going to growl. If my children aren’t getting the attention, they’ll maybe raise their voices.

And some of the things might not be demanding with such a loud voice. If I’m not paying attention intentionally, I might not be giving them my attention.

There are things that I want to give my attention to; this is the second category. There are things that I would like to give my attention to. and I’m not giving my attention to. So, let’s say, for example, and this isn’t me. But let’s say, for example, you love art. And you wanted to add painting into your life. Where you love music, and you want to play the piano.

I have a daughter who plays the violin, and there was a time after she gave birth recently when she started taking lessons again. Because it was important to her to develop that side or renew that side of her, which is more musical. So, she wanted to give attention to that. And she gave it some time when she was on maternity leave before she went back to work.

So, there are things that we do want to add in, but we don’t intentionally bring them back into our lives, and we keep pushing them away.

And then, there are other things in our life, this is category number three, that are distracting us and hijacking our attention. Sometimes it can be the small things like the notifications on your phone, or the notifications on your computer that you have an email coming in. It can also be things that are just simmering under the surface, that are distracting us that we keep pushing away.

Let’s say, for example, you have to pay your taxes, and you have to gather all your receipts, and then you have to give them to your accountant, and you have to file. And every time something comes into your email box, you push it aside. It’s distracting you because it’s this ping, ping, ping in your brain. I’m going to get to it. I push it off. It’s distracting me. I’m remembering it. I have to get to it. But I don’t want to.

And so that’s this kind of hum simmering under the surface of what you’re doing. And it’s really sucking away your energy on a daily basis. There’s an energy leak. It’s a distraction because it’s always there. Debt, by the way, can also be like that because you want to be able to pay it back. There’s an interest rate. And you haven’t come to terms yet about what your feelings are about debt.

We talked about that a little bit last week on the podcast and why I’m completely neutral about debt. You can go back to Episode 64 if you want to hear more of my thoughts about debt.

But there are things that distract us. It could be that you have problems with your electricity in your home. It could be that there’s something in your business and your website that’s not working, or links that are broken that you have in your emails. Or, again, through programs that you have, your website, you could have a leaky toilet. There are so many things.

One thing that I have in my house, I actually have a little note on my desk, is that we need new chair covers for our dining room chairs. And so, it’s one of the things that I’m going to be putting in my calendar, that I’m going to be getting to in the next couple of weeks. Because we have these plastic chair covers.

You know, I’m a mom of a large family; we have eight children, thank God. We have 14 grandchildren. And please, God, two more on the way. There are a lot of little sticky fingers in my house. And if I don’t have these wipeable plastic covers on my chairs, you can just imagine what my chairs would look like after about a month or two months of many children sitting on and touching the chairs in my house. So, that is one of my life things that I’m going to get to.

Just imagine you have all of these things in your life that are demanding your attention, or you would like to be giving your attention to them, and they take up so much space in your brain. What I encourage you to do, is just do a brain dump of all the things that are demanding your attention, that you want to get to, that you’ve been pushing off, and I’m going to get to it tomorrow, maybe next week, maybe next month. I know, I know, I know.

Get them all down on paper. You can take one sheet of paper for your life and one sheet of paper for your business if you want to do it that way. And I love to do it with different sets of paper because then, as things come up, I can just put them down immediately. You can also get a little bit more specific about the categories. You can put things down that are related to health. Maybe you want to renew your health insurance. Maybe you want to start exercising.

I was spinning for a long time. I did four years where I was going spinning regularly. And during COVID, I actually rented a spin bike from my spin instructor because we weren’t spinning in the studio. And then, I stopped spinning. It wasn’t so interesting to me anymore.

I started going to personal training and lifting weights, and then the spin bike was taking up space in my home. We had to return it to the spin instructor when she went back to her studio. It took me a few months to get around to do it. We were tired of using it as a place to hang our laundry. So, we eventually did that.

Get all of that stuff down on paper. I can divide my list by health. I can divide it by children, finances for my home, taxes, bills, repairs that we need to do, or renovation projects we need to do in our home. You can have a separate list for friends.

Maybe they’re friends that you haven’t been in contact with for three months or six months, and you just think about them from time to time. Maybe you want to pick up the phone and set aside 20 minutes or an hour in your calendar to reconnect with some of your friends.

And then, there’s your family. You can divide up your list by children. And maybe it’s children you need to register for school, or you need to make dentist appointments for them. Or, my son is going to be 18 next month. We need to get him an identity card for Israel, and we need to renew his passport. So, now he gets an adult passport.

These are all things that take up space in my brain if I don’t get them on a piece of paper. Put time in my schedule, to A, schedule an appointment. Or B, tell myself when I’m going to be doing something in the future. And I did this, on the airplane coming back to Israel a couple of weeks ago.

One thing that my husband and I started doing, two years ago, is an ICE binder, In Case of Emergency. I’m going to put a link in the show notes where you can purchase your own In Case of Emergency binder; it’s a PDF. This is the one I use for my family. It’s the only product for which I have an affiliate link. I get a, I think, 20% sales commission; it’s no charge to you.

But what the ICE binder does, or a family emergency binder is another name by which it’s called, is you put down all the important information that anybody would need to know, if God forbid, something bad happened to you.

You put your doctors’ names down; the name, the phone number, in case somebody needs to get ahold of them. You can put your bank details down in this ICE binder. You can put the usernames. You could put the passwords. You can put the name of your accountant. You could put the name of your financial planner, your lawyers; who know where your will is. If something, God forbid, happens to you, and your children don’t know where to find your will.

And if you haven’t yet written a will, this is a reminder that that is something else that is a distraction, or demanding your attention. And it’s time for you to put that in your calendar; to call the lawyer and get that done.

So, I put the ICE binder in my calendar. I need to update it. It’s been a few years and things have changed; credit card details have changed. Bank details have changed. We started a couple of years ago, and there were some pieces that we were waiting for. We never completed it and we need to do it again.

One thing that I encourage you to do is also not save it on your computer. Because if anybody breaks into your computer, if there’s a hacker, whatever, somebody’s going to have all of your important information. But you can print out this PDF, or you can also have an encrypted file, whatever you choose. You can put it on a USB and save it.

And then, you can tell your adult children or your lawyer or something like that, where they can find all of this information in case of emergency. If you have younger children… What’s so beautiful about this ICE binder is that it also says, “What is your child’s favorite stuffed animal? What do they like to eat before they go to bed?”

Just imagine, whether you’re away from home on a holiday and somebody needs to step in for you. Or again, you’re away. If something, God forbid, happens, and there is an emergency, somebody can at least try to comfort your children as best they can.

Obviously, in an emergency situation, there’s going to be a lot of uncertainty and triggered emotions. But whatever you can do to calm your children down is a beautiful thing.

So, that is now on my calendar for a couple of weeks from now. I actually plan out the time, and I get the job done. Get all of these things out. Now, once you have your list of everything you want to do in your life, in your business, with your friends, with your family, bills you need to pay.

Now, you have four activities that you can do with this list. Number one is delete. There are probably many things on the list that you can just eliminate altogether. I’m not even asking anybody else to do it. But there are probably things on your list that don’t need to get done. If you haven’t taken care of them in the last six months, really ask yourself, do you really need to do them?

There are so many expectations that we put on ourselves. And you just have to say, is this important? Do I really want this in my life? Is this where I want to give my limited amount of time and energy and focus, and resources? Right?

You’re doing an attention audit; is this where I want to put my attention? And if the answer isn’t a hell yes, delete it.

Alternatively, you might be able to delegate it. Just think about taking your laundry to the dry cleaner, and you’re delegating your laundry to somebody else. Let’s say, we take our men’s shirts to the dry cleaners. They wash them, they iron them, and they come up beautiful. And so, I have delegated part of my laundry to the dry cleaner.

Also, in my business, I have delegated my podcast production to my wonderful podcast production team. I have no idea what happens to this podcast after I record it, upload it to Dropbox, and let them know. They do beautiful work, editing it, taking out all my ums, ums, ums, and mistaken words, and where stumble over myself.

They get it up, and it’s just voila. It’s on my website once a week. It’s such a beautiful way to delegate and outsource parts of my business so that they’re not all on my shoulders. And there’s so much tech involved that I don’t need to know. And that is a beautiful thing.

So, figure out what you can delegate in your life. I delegate many things in my life to my children; laundry and dishes. I have a cleaning lady who I delegate a lot of the cleaning of the house to. And so, I think that, especially if you’re a parent, you have learned to delegate things in your life.

And maybe there are some more things that you can delegate, and you can outsource to other people in your life. That’s both in your life and in your business.

Number three is that there is delay. We have things that we think we need to do today, but we keep pushing off. So actually, put them in your calendar for another time. And that’s why I brought the example for you of the ICE binder. It’s in my calendar for two weeks from now. It’s no longer pinging out me and taking up mind space.

I know that I’m going to deal with it in two weeks; there’s a time in my calendar. And in probably three or four weeks from now, that project will be finished. I won’t have to think about it again for another two years.

Now, once you have decided what you’re going to do with everything related to your business. And, of course, this is really specifically about your business and how to be more productive in 2023. Now, you’re going to think about when you’re going to do your launches. When you’re going to send your emails. When you’re going to connect with your clients. Right?

Really, how do you want to grow your business in 2023? What things do you think you have to do that you decided, “I can delete that. I don’t really have to do that. What am I going to outsource to somebody else? Or, what I’m going to delay maybe till the second half of the year?”

I have some systems and processes that I want to improve on in my business, but I’m gonna delay that to either Q2 or Q3. Now, I have to decide what I’m doing. And I have to have the discipline to follow through with my plan, and not let all of these distractions come up and take my focus and intentionality, and my attention away.

This is really the skill and the muscle that we need to work on and grow and develop. Just like working on your abs and your biceps. We also need to work on our self-discipline to do the things in our calendar that we say we are going to do. And that is how you become more productive.

So, if, for example, I say I’m going to record a podcast on Tuesday, I’m going to record on Tuesday morning… Today I didn’t because I went to Jerusalem to meet with my mastermind students, as I said. But I have the discipline now that every Tuesday, I record a podcast, and it gets done.

If I have in my calendar that I’m going to launch Money School 2.0, the week of March 13… First of all, you guys are now my accountability buddies. But it’s in my calendar; it will get done. Again, if I’m going to do a launch in May, and I actually am going to do another launch of my mastermind in November, it will get done.

I’m going to be disciplined with myself. I’m going to make sure that there aren’t other distractions. And when something comes up that wants to take my attention and focus away, the work that I do the most is disciplining myself to delay the distractions to later.

This is where people really, really lose so much time. It’s the messages that are pinging you and then notifications, and then noises. I have all notifications off on my phone during the day. And it’s usually upside down on my desk or in a drawer so that I can’t see it. It’s not even creating this urgency to go and check it.

Sometimes my husband’s like, “I sent you a WhatsApp message. What has happened?” I’m like, “Sorry, I was busy. I was with a client. I couldn’t answer your WhatsApp message. I’m really sorry.” But I’ve disciplined myself that I’m not going to do it.

Another area where I’m getting better, and this is part of my growth for 2023, is with my emails; only looking at my emails during certain hours of the day. So, I have my notifications off on my emails; I don’t see when they’re coming in. And that way, again, I’m not constantly jumping to go see what’s happening.

But if I have two hours in the day, one in the morning, one in the late afternoon, when I’m looking at my emails, that’s really all I need. That’s all my clients need. And people that want to get in touch with me, I don’t need to be available 24 hours a day. If they can actually wait when I’m sleeping, they can wait 2, 3, 4 hours while I’m working during the day.

This is where you can gain back so much productivity in your business. Is by disciplining yourself to be focused and attentive on the things that you want to get done. The things that really are demanding your attention for the long-term growth of your business.

So again, do a brain dump of everything that is demanding your attention, or you would like to demand your attention, during the course of 2023. And just map it out on the calendar. Delete the things that really don’t need to be done. Ask yourself where you can delegate. Ask what doesn’t need to be done now, but can be delayed. And then, put it in your calendar.

It can be by the week, by the month, but just know you’re going to learn to trust yourself to get it done. And then, create for yourself the discipline that it will happen this year. And you’re going to serve more people. You’re going to make more money, and you’re going to be able to build wealth. And that is such a beautiful thing.

All right, my friends. I look forward to seeing you next week on the podcast. Bye-bye for now.

Thanks for listening to Mastering Money in Midlife. If you want more information on Debbie Sassen or the resources from the podcast, visit MasteringMoneyInMidlife.com.

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