Overwhelmed? The Productivity Tip a Leading Business Coach Swears By

Roisin Dervish-O'Kane
Photo credit: Jacobs Stock Photography Ltd - Getty Images

From Women's Health

Each week, we’ll be bringing you the best advice from the WH team’s brand-new podcast, Going for Goal. Focused on helping you smash your 2020 health, fitness and wellness goals, leading leading experts share their winning advice every week.

This week, we looked at how to be more productive – and why learning to make the most of your time matters. Head here to listen and download on your device.

The business of getting more stuff done, list-ticking, isn't the juiciest of topics, is it? Still, at a time when we’re increasingly overwhelmed, it’s something that’s worth getting to grips with.

Not necessarily because you fancy yourself a full-on, Silicon Valley-style bio-hacking, Huel-chugging workaholic. Far from it, actually.

This week on the WH podcast, Going for Goal, our expert guest was Caroline Webb, author or How To Have a Good Day: The Essential Toolkit For a Productive Day at Work and Beyond.


A behavioural economist, former partner at global consulting firm McKinsey and executive coach to big players in business and politics, she's spent her career helping people be more efficient and effective.

And on this week's Going for Goal, she makes a convincing case for working on being more productive, not so you can spend more time at your desk – but less.

'Rather than working harder, I think of productivity being more about making the most of your time - your life, in fact,’ she explains. ‘We’ve got a limited amount of time in any day, any week, any year of our lives.’

The question that'll make you productive

‘Time is not elastic, so every time we say yes to something or give time to something, we take away time from something else,’ she explains. ‘[In doing so] we say no to something else: every yes is a no to something else.’

This applies to perfectionists (who tend to waste time nit-picking every element of one piece of work before moving on to the next) and procrastinators, alike.

But, whether you’re wasting 10 minutes agonising over your email sign off or scrolling through bomber jackets on Asos, Caroline proposes asking yourself: how much are you getting out of this, really? What are you missing out on doing? And is the thing you're missing out on ultimately more important when it comes to achieving your goals?

How this can make you happier

‘This is about saying yes to the things that make life with living. And some of that is about accomplishment, about having a sense of self-worth,’ she explains. ‘It’s about feeling good about what you’re doing and like you’re doing it well, and that [what you’re doing] is both meaningful and purposeful.’

As we said at the outset, the matter of being more productive is about so, so much more than your working life. Prioritising your time with purpose is important for your mind and body health and happiness.

‘This is about connection and feeling like you have time for family and friends and that you are connected to the human race. All of those things are important for us to live a good life,’ she explains on the sixth episode of Going for Goal.

What else can I do to increase my productivity?

Tune into the lates episode of Going for Goal, where Caroline shares tonnes of tips and strategies. Everything from how to break up with multitasking, to communicating with your boss about how adjusting your hours might improve your output.

She also explains why breaks (be they for brewing a tea, making an exercise class or chilling in a sunny hammock, out of office on) are essential for anyone seeking to smash their career, without smashing themselves in the process.

‘The better choices we make about where we put our time, the more time left we have for the fun stuff,’ she adds. Simple. Now where's that Bullet Journal?

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