How To Be Happy, Successful, And Mindful While Getting It All Done With Laura Mae Martin

Raising Daughters | Laura Mae Martin | Productivity


Google productivity coach Laura Mae Martin, author of the new book, Uptime, describes how to operate at the highest levels of productivity while enhancing your own personal well-being.

Link to Laura Mae Martin’s website and resources:

Link to Uptime: A Practical Guide to Personal Productivity and Wellbeing.

For more information on Dr. Jordan’s books, camps, and resources, go to

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How To Be Happy, Successful, And Mindful While Getting It All Done With Laura Mae Martin

Thanks so much for stopping by again for another episode of the show. I try to tackle issues that our daughters are facing. I try to give you some awareness about what’s going on for them but also talk about ways to support them and you as parents. I’m going to interview an author. I read her book, which is coming out. Is it April 1st, 2024?

April 2nd, 2024.

It’s not too long from that . I thought it’d be a great fit for this show because she talks a lot about how to be more productive in your whole life, not just your business life or your work life, but your entire life. I asked Laura Mae Martin to come on the show.


Raising Daughters | Laura Mae Martin | Productivity


First of all, thank you so much for being on the show.

Thank you so much for having me.

You’re the Executive Productivity Advisor in the office of the CEO at Google. That’s a mouthful and sounds very important. You coach Google’s executives about managing their time and energy. You have a weekly newsletter that goes out to 50,000 Googlers, if that’s the right word. There are two things people reading to us need to know about you. These are my two favorite things. Number one, you won an international quiz bowl competition in high school for marketing facts. That’s number one. Even more important than that is you and your husband are the parents of 3 children under 4 years of age.

My daughter turned four, so we’re 3 kids under 5. At one point, we had 3 under 4. It’s wild.

Congratulations on all that. You wrote a book. The book is called UpTime. Somewhat quickly, tell us how you got to where you are. I have young adults who also tune in to this show and they are so freaked out about, “I should know what I’m supposed to be doing. My whole life, I should have everything down and know everything.” I like to ask people, “How’d you get to where you are?” I’m guessing when you were eighteen, you weren’t thinking, “Someday, I’m going to work at Google,” which probably wasn’t even around, “and be coaching people.”

Raising Daughters | Laura Mae Martin | Productivity
Uptime: A Practical Guide to Personal Productivity and Wellbeing

Exactly. I like to give that advice to all the young people. If you think about a GPS, you don’t need to know your ultimate destination. You need to focus on the next turn, making sure that the turn is right for you. I was always interested in business and presenting. After I went to UNC, I took a role in sales. I took a personality test a couple of years into that role that specifically said, “Do not do sales.” I was like, “That makes sense,” because I love harmony, which you’ll probably get from the book. I love it when everything’s in sync. In sales, you’re rocking the boat all the time. From that point on, I  thought, “I need to do something a little more in line with my skills.”

I got into event planning, and then I was working on the side of this project. Google has a cool program that lets you teach people any skill that you want. It could be lock-picking. It could be something related to work or not related to work. I started teaching people my email training and time management training. It scaled into me working with executives and then being able to make up my own role, which is working with executives but also developing this program. Every step has been like, “What’s the right next step? What am I ready for next?” It’s not, “What’s the ultimate goal? What do I want to be when I grow up?” I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. Keep going. It always works out if you feel good about that next step.

One of your steps was writing this book. It’s called UpTime: A Practical Guide to Personal Productivity and Well-being. It’s how you live a successful, satisfying, and mindful life and to keep it all together.

Keeping It All Together

A lot of people use the word balance, finding that work-life balance. I feel like the word balance still has some of that edge to it like, “I’m teetering.” The idea of holistic accomplishment, feeling good about what you’re doing, feeling in control of things, and feeling like you’re creative and productive, but also that you’re well. In this day and age, we see a lot of these extremes where it’s like, “I’m working myself to the bone. Now, I’m quitting my job and starting a farm,” or, “I’m scrolling on social media for three hours a night,” or, “I’m deleting the app entirely.” It’s trying to find that balance of, “How do I have this consistent and then that promotes longevity?” That’s what the book’s about.

After reading your book, one of the things I was struck with was you’re asking people to have a lot of self-awareness. I wrote down several things like what makes me happy at work and outside of work? What are my natural rhythms and my peak times for being creative, focused, and efficient? What am I most engaged in things? When do I need to take a break? What are my breaks going to be about? What helps me to take the best kind of energizing breaks? When do I do unrestrained thinking, deepening my social connections? What energizes me? There are all these questions that you raised in the book for people to step back and say, “I need to answer these questions as I focus on my life.”

A lot of times, my coaching sessions start out as a little bit of a questionnaire. It really helps frame the discussion because I can ask someone, “What are your boundaries?” or, “What are your priorities right now?” or, “What’s the most important thing you’re working on?” Sometimes, people are so busy that they haven’t taken the time to ask themselves that. That is the first step.

A lot of times, people will say, “I always do work in the afternoons.” I say, “Is that when you’re most focused?” They’re like, “No. it’s because all my meetings are in the morning.” I’m like, “That means that afternoon slot is not producing your best work. Let’s think about how we can shift it so that you’re aligning yourself with your best times.” Even asking questions is the first step and being aware.

What's the most important thing you're working on? Sometimes people are so busy that they haven't taken the time to ask themselves that. Think about how we can shift it so that you're aligning yourself with your best time. Click To Tweet

Also, our culture overvalues busyness, multitasking, and all kinds of things that even young people I work with in middle school and high school are so stressed out. It is like a competition. Who’s the busiest? Who’s staying up the latest? Who’s the most stressed? That’s not just high school students. It’s also adults in the workforce.

An alternate title for the book was going to be Busy is Not Important, which is one of the introductory chapters because I’m so passionate about that. Launching a book is probably one of the busiest times of my life. I still have time for daily meditation. I still go on a walk. I still work out. I still spend time with my kids. I’m busy but only to a certain max point because I really value downtime as I talk about in the book.

When I talk to leaders, parents, or anyone, I talk about watching your language around that and saying things like, “Ugh,” back to back or, “Always slammed.” Even those little things can get in young people’s minds and they think, “Does that mean that’s the right thing?” or, “Does that make you cool?” When people say, “I’m sure you’re so busy,” I say, “No. I’m balanced,” or, “No. I have the perfect amount going on.” At first, people are going to be taken aback because that’s not normal, but I try to spread that new language. The same thing with my kids, I try to use that language. That’s something we can all work on as far as what we’re saying.

How do you coach people to get beyond the, “I’d like to do those things but I don’t have enough time.” How do you get people beyond that belief system?

Time Management Vs Energy Management

A lot of times, time management becomes like the buzzword. It’s like, “I want time. I need time.” Everyone thinks that the goal is to get more time. I shift the discussion to energy management. A lot of times, what we see is, “I have 9:00 to 10: 30 blocked on my calendar to do something I really want to do. I sit down and it’s 9:12. I get that chat from somebody, and then I pick up my phone because there’s a text and I find myself on social media. Now, it’s 9:45. I open the document, but I see an email. Now, it’s 10:02. Now, it’s 10:10. I barely have any time left. What am I going to work on? I’ll do something else instead.”

In those situations, there is the time. The time was there. You had an hour and a half blocked on your schedule, but we’re not super intentional about how we’re using that time. It is making sure that it is the right time of day. Are we in the energy to do that? It is then making sure that we’re distraction-free. You can get all these things done that you want to do in half the time. We can get more time by being more efficient with our time, being more focused, and matching up our energy with the time that we do allow for things.


Raising Daughters | Laura Mae Martin | Productivity


We’re talking to Laura Martin. She wrote a book called UpTime that’s coming out soon. You also talk about the fact that we don’t value downtime enough.

That goes with the busy is important piece. When I do a big event and I’m speaking, and I say, “Raise your hand if you think of your best ideas in the shower,” most hands. If I’m like, “If you think of them on the commute,” most hands. If I’m like, “When you’re playing with your kids, cooking dinner, or walking the dog,” that’s where I get all the hands.

When I say, “When you’re in your tenth meeting of the day,” no hands. When I say, “When you’re knee-deep in your email and super stressed,” no hands. That shows that we really need those times when our brain is a little bit off so that we can soak in all the things that we’re doing. It could be truly unplugging on vacations, not checking email, truly unplugging on weekends, and maybe taking a break from devices. It is anything we can do to have that downtime for our brain and give it time to process. I see people in the office walking to the bathroom and they have their phone in their hands. I’m like, “Give yourself ten minutes without the phone. Give yourself three minutes to have even little bits of downtime to make a difference.”

Your book, UpTime, is not just for people who are working at a big corporation. You talk about how you want people to plan their lives. It also includes how you don’t have separate lists for work, home, and personal. Talk about that for a minute.

List-Making + Priority Setting

I’m a mom of three. I would call myself the CEO of my household. My husband does a lot, but I’m a lot of the mental load. I’m still focused. If I have to register for summer camp, I have something to do at work, and we’re going to a birthday party next week and we need a gift for it, all of those things are on my plate. It doesn’t help for me to have a work me and personal me and constantly switch back and forth because there’s only 1 me, there’s only 1 day, and there’s only 1 pie of time.

What I found successful and the systems that I talk about in the book from list making to priority setting is blending those two together. It’s realizing that you are only one person and there are tradeoffs. When you have something to do, you need to have it in a way that’s captured that you remember to do it. That idea of, “This is my work to-do list and this is my personal to-do list,” is it’s all one list. You have to get it all done. How can you make it easier on yourself?

The Morning Three

That starts with the start of your day. You talk about the morning three. Talk to my audience about that for a minute.

I really feel like there are certain points of control throughout your week and certainly in your day. Getting control of your morning and making it peaceful and smooth makes a huge difference. That matters much more than maybe the last hour of your day if you’re winding down. I have morning three things that I like to do for me and my family. The first one is setting some sort of music. Music is a background for all of us. It sets a tone. It sets a mood. It evokes emotion. If you’ve ever been to a party that’s a little bit awkward, it’s probably because the music is not on or it’s off and we don’t even realize it’s going on. I like to put on instrumental music in the morning. We do instrumental Disney or piano sometimes. It’s anything that sets that background for, “I’m going to have a happy moment here.”

Getting control of your morning and making it peaceful and smooth makes a huge difference that matters much more than the last hour of your day. Click To Tweet

The second piece is the lighting. A lot of people wake up and turn on the lights. That’s not what our bodies are used to. I have one of those rising alarm clocks. I wake my kids up with natural light. I have dim lighting. As the morning goes on, I’m turning on more lights in the kitchen. It’s remembering that soft ease into the day. The last piece is doing something for your future self, which the book talks a lot about future you and having something set up.

I love the Montessori principles. They talk about the idea of a prepared environment. Kids love a prepared environment. We love a prepared environment. Kids love walking down and seeing that a snack has already been made for them or a toy has been set out. You want to do that for yourself, a delightfully done I call it. Whether that’s making the lunches the night before, setting out your outfit the night before, setting your coffee on, or an alarm the night before. It’s one thing so that your morning self says, “That’s already done.” That’s such a good way to start the day. Doing that for yourself each night, whether it’s something different or the same thing every day, helps set you off on a good day.

Being Intentional

A keyword I read a bunch of times throughout your book was being intentional. One of the ways you talk in your book about being intentional is about having breaks from technology and having times when everybody’s unplugged, if you will. Talk about that for a moment.

A lot of times, people are like, “You work for a tech company. What are you talking about?” Everyone understands that technology is an important and valuable part of our lives, but there’s also digital well-being that you can practice and examine your relationship with. One thing I do at Google that’s popular is the No Tech Tuesday Night Challenge. It wrapped up.

Thousands of people sign up for one night a week from dinnertime until the following morning to put away devices, including TV. This is something my husband and I did for a year. It scares a lot of people. We did it for a year as a New Year’s resolution. I loved it so much that I was like, “I’m going to start doing this with a bigger group.” Thousands of people participate.

The best things are the comments I get from parents because they say, “My teenager at first resisted this, but then we did a puzzle and he opened up to me more than he ever has. My kids love when we do this because we’re paying attention to them. I realized they’re only on their devices because we’re always on ours. My daughter finally asked me if I wanted to go on a walk in the neighborhood. It’s a night I’ll always remember.”

Those are the ones as a parent that give me goosebumps. I’m like, “These are moments.” We’re creating moments when we fall into that default. It’s one night a week. We’re talking about a couple of hours. There are a number of people who said that they trickle it into other nights or they’ve been doing it for years. It’s a good reminder that we can do a board game, we can talk, or we can do hobbies or things around the house. We don’t have to fill every night with technology.

We’re talking with Laura Martin who wrote a book called UpTime: A Practical Guide to Personal Productivity and Well-being. When girls come to my weekend retreats and summer camps and they check in at the check-in table, they have to make sure forms are filled out. One of the questions we ask is, “Where’s your phone?” Especially for middle school and high schoolers, they look sheepish. They’re like, “I need my phone for my alarm clock.” We’re like, “That’s great. Give it to your mom. Give it to your dad.” There’s some shaking that’s involved.

I’m not kidding, but at the end of the weekend or the end of the week of camp, if I ask a group of 25 high school girls, “Did you miss your phones?” Nobody missed their phone because they slowed down. They’re out in nature. They were connecting to people. We were eating meals and talking to people. Nobody whipped out a phone and all that. They really enjoyed that. What’d you call it?

No Tech Tuesday.

It’s like that. When you experience it and you experience the results of it, at least for these girls, I encourage them, “You need to start incorporating this into your everyday life because you know how it feels.”

Some people get nervous. They’re like, “I don’t want to go a week.” The point is that’s a good example of why you can do it in little spurts, whether it’s 1 night a week, whether it’s putting away your phone at 8:00 a couple of hours before bedtime, or whether it’s 1 day or never having phones at the dinner table. My dad was super traditional. He made us have a phone basket in our house. We could put our phone and the charger in there.

If we wanted to send a text message, we were allowed to walk down to the back of the laundry room and send it. That was the only thing. We were like, “How long are we going to stand in the laundry room?” Only so long until you’re bored. People had to call our house phone at the time if they wanted to talk. I probably was upset about that when I was a teenage girl, but looking back, I’m glad he did that because it taught me how to be more present and set good habits around technology.

Swiss Cheesing Things

You used the expression several times in your book with examples about Swiss-cheesing things to not sometimes looking at no phones for a month. Explain that because I really liked that concept.

It’s the idea of poking holes in things that seem big so it starts to look like Swiss cheese. You get down to a thing that feels more manageable. It could be from anything. If you’re trying to stop using your phone, you say, “Don’t use it any night. That’s stressful. Don’t use it one night. That’s still stressful. Can I go to an even smaller hole? Can I put it down for 2 hours 1 night before bed?” My brain gets over the hump of, “That’s hard.” They say, “That’s easy.” It could be from something like that.

It could be, “I want to start meditating. I can’t do ten minutes a day. Can I do five? Can I do one? Can I do 30 seconds a day?” Eventually, you’re going to get small enough where your brain says, “I can do that.” You’re way more likely to stick with something like that than try to do it every night without your phone. That’s never going to stay. As much as you can poke holes to get over that resistance, it keeps you in a place of doing the things you want or want to stop doing.

You also have a concept in your book you call win then to try and connect things so that it becomes easier. Give us a couple of examples like you used in the book.

When we say, “We’ve been really meaning to do this,” it’s one of those things that fall into this big cloud of, “Someday maybe.” It’s like matching habits together. Let’s say that you want to do daily affirmations with your kids. That’s something that I wanted to do. I thought they were awesome. I was like, “When am I going to do this? The mornings are crazy. We’re brushing our teeth. I don’t know.” I was then like, “I bet we could do it every day in the car ride.”

I know that every day, I’ll be driving my kids to school and I know that I’ll have three minutes with them then. I found a fun YouTube video where it’s affirmations for little kids. They say it and we repeat it. It’s because I associated that with a car ride that it sticks whereas I was trying to find somewhere for it to fit in. I even give the example of cutting my kids’ nails. 3 kids have 60 small nails to cut. I’m like, “When am I going to do this?” The baby’s nails always grow the fastest.”

Sometimes, they’re in different baths, showers, and stuff, but every Sunday night, we do a bath with the younger kids and we’re all in the bathroom. I tie the nail clippers to that bath. They’re there every single Sunday. I see them. I know we’re all going to be there. We hardly ever visit. It’s an association of when we do that Sunday bath, I cut everybody’s nails and I don’t have to worry about it throughout the whole week.

It’s anything like that. I give tons of examples in the book, whether you want to do self-care Sunday. Every Sunday night after the kids go to bed, I’m going to do one hour of self-care. It might be painting my nails. It might be taking a bath. I’m going to try to find that one thing for myself. There are lots of ways and examples, but the point is if you want to do something, find somewhere to stick it because otherwise, it won’t happen.

If you want to do something, find somewhere to stick it, because otherwise, it won't happen. Click To Tweet

Tell the example about your wanting to play piano and how you combine that. I really liked that.

I have taken piano lessons for years and fell away from it. When you have young kids, sometimes, your time gets chipped away. I was like, “I want to play piano, but what does that look like?” I said, “Maybe I’ll practice every night. It’s too big.” I knew I wouldn’t stick with that. I Swiss-cheesed it down to, “Maybe  one night a week, I’ll try to do it.”

I asked myself what night. That’s the when. I have to figure out which night it’s going to be. Typically, Monday night was a good one because my husband plays basketball and stuff. I was like, “Every single Monday after I walk out of my daughter’s room who’s the oldest and put her to bed, I’m going to walk straight to the piano. I’m not going to pass the dishes. I’m not going to do anything except walk straight to the piano.”

The first few weeks, I did that. I sat down and played one song I already knew and moved on. I then started being like, “Maybe I’ll start a new piece,” so I would do that. Sometimes, I would get into it and would play for 20 to 30 minutes. I started playing longer. My husband started knowing, “You’re going to go straight to the piano. I’ll help with the dishes more because you’re going to be doing this.” It became a habit. It’s something that I do. I’ve learned new songs. It was  one of those small things again that I was like, “I’ve been meaning to and didn’t have anywhere for it to stick.” It’s that when-then association. It is like, “Monday night, I never schedule anything. I’m going straight to the piano,” and it worked.

The high school girl, I had seen her not long ago. This is an example of this also. She kept saying, “I need to exercise. I know I need to exercise. I know it’s good for my mood, but I don’t know. I get home and I’m tired.” She made a commitment to me that every day, when she got home from school, once she got a quick snack, she would put her walking shoes on. She wouldn’t say, “I’m going to walk for three hours. I’m going to put the shoes on.” The idea was once you have them on, it’s like” I may as well walk now that I’ve got my shoes on.”


It helped them.

That’s so great. That’s a great example of Swiss-cheesing. Everybody thinks, “I can put my shoes on,” and then once your shoes are on, you’re like, “I’ll walk five minutes.” You’re out there and it’s beautiful and you might even go on a run. That’s a great example because if you had said, “I’m going to run every day this week,” it would’ve never happened. You have to find that little piece, that Swiss cheese, to get you through it.

We’re having a conversation with author Laura Martin. Her book UpTime: A Practical Guide to Personal Productivity and Well-being is coming out. I strongly advise all of you to read that. I have a couple of more questions if it’s okay. Do you have time?


Tackling Emails

We talked about this briefly before we started recording, which was helping people with their emails and how that can be such an energy and time drain.

Email is so personal because we’re looking at it constantly. There are important things in there. There are not so important things in there. On my side, I have a deep dive into technically how to do that. One of the pieces that I like to think about is laundry. Lots of us with kids know how to do laundry. We talked about how you would do your laundry if you went in, opened your dryer, and found one kid’s shirt. You folded that, walked it all the way to their room, came back, found a wet pair of pants, and said, “I don’t feel like dealing with this.” You threw it back in with the dry clothes.

You find one sock. You don’t know where the other one is. You still put it away. You open your dryer door twenty times a day thinking, “There’s so much laundry in there. I’m not getting to it.” You close it at night and start it all over. People are like, “What an inefficient way to do your laundry.” That’s exactly how people are doing email. They’re marking things as unread they already saw. They’re having a bunch of clothes in there that don’t fit anymore. They have emails that you don’t need to see.

Instead, what you need to think about is getting all the clothes out of the dryer. That’s what I call inbox zero. It doesn’t mean everything’s folded and hung up yet. It means that I’ve taken everything out and sorted it, and then I’m touching it twice because I’m saying, “I have all the things I need to fold, all the things I need to hang, and my socks. Now, maybe, I have to go do something else.”

If somebody says, “Where’s that pink shirt?” I could be like, “I’ve touched it once. That email that I need to answer, I’ve touched it once. It’s in the read, respond, or review piles.” Those are the laundry baskets I recommend setting up. You want to set yourself up for future success. Since you’ve seen the email once, what do you need to do with it?

The big piece, especially for personal email, is a lot of people get things they don’t need to see. They’ll say, “I have 11,000 unread emails.” It’s time to search for the word Unsubscribe because that’s usually the best way to see what’s not directly to you. Start getting things out of your inbox because even if you don’t open an email, it still takes a piece of your energy. I talk a lot about that in the book. You have a finite amount of energy points and you’re wasting so many of those on email subject lines that you truly are never going to open. That’s the first step. If you’re only going to do one thing, clear out what’s getting to your inbox so that the things you need to see stick out. If you do email in a work capacity or high volume, you might want to set up the laundry example to help you manage it.

With emails, the first step if you're only going to do one thing is to clear out what's getting to your inbox so that the things you need to see stick out. Click To Tweet

Setting Boundaries

You have a lot of chapters in your book about how to figure out what’s most urgent, what’s most important, and what’s whatever in your work life. This is true for the rest of your life also, but especially in the work life, trying to figure out, “What am I going to put my time in prioritizing and all that?” We don’t have time to go into all of that, but one of the things that came to my mind when I was reading all that was you talked about the need to set boundaries, say no, and all that.


Raising Daughters | Laura Mae Martin | Productivity


One of the things I’ve noticed with girls a lot and young women who I work with is they have a hard time setting boundaries. They have a hard time taking care of themselves. They have a hard time because they put other people’s needs before their own. I’m wondering how you get people over that hump that it’s okay to set boundaries.

I was recovering saying, “Yes sir.” I got feedback about that at work like, “You’re saying yes too much.” It was a skill I had to learn. That’s why in the book, I give literal sentences that you can copy and paste because I had a hard time like, “What does saying no mean? How can I say no?” I included that in there. One of the best things that young girls or anyone can do is let’s say you’re invited to do something. First of all, give yourself a moment because sometimes, our gut reaction is, “I should do this.” You need to let it set in and then decide. What I like to do is envision if you say yes and then envision if you say no.

For example, I was invited to give a huge talk. It was going to be on Halloween 2023. I was really excited. It was an awesome group. I was like, “I’m going to imagine Halloween day. My kids are getting all dressed up and I’m leaving for the airport. What am I thinking?” or, “I’m imagining the day after the conference. I had Halloween with my kids and saw pictures from the conference.”

I am putting myself in those two places and asking myself, “Which one do I want to be? Which one is more upset or more happy? What is the right decision?” I’m envisioning future me and how I’m going to feel. It’s not, “I got this email to this conference,” because that’s current me. I’m hyped up and excited about the invite.

I ended up saying no because after envisioning that, I was like, “Leaving my kids on Halloween when they’re this young and they’re so excited, I’m not going to feel good. Knowing I missed the conference even though I got Halloween, I’ll feel better.” I used that. I was able to say, “No because,” and let people in on why. It’s not, “No, thank you.” That’s where you run into trouble and it feels awkward. It is, “I have young kids. I’m going to do Halloween with them. Please consider me for next year.”

The other piece of that is setting boundaries ahead of time. That’s for incoming requests. The point is you have to have those boundaries and tell people upfront. In the book, I talk about positive boundaries. For example, my family photographer, I wanted to do Saturday family pictures. My kids are in school, so I was like, “I would love to do weekend pictures.  She sent back an email and said, “I do family photography on Tuesday and Thursday. Let’s find time.” I remember reading that and thinking, “I can’t believe she told me no to Saturday and did it in such a way that I thought, “Let’s find a Thursday, a teacher workday.”

The point is you don’t say, “I don’t take meetings after 5:00. I don’t email on the weekends.” It’s, “I take meetings from 8:00 to 5:00. I send emails Monday through Friday. I do social events on Friday.” I don’t do them on Saturday, but I didn’t say that. It’s finding those things for yourself. Boundaries are a long-term thing. You start setting them. You start seeing how much they pay off. You start loving them. You start being passionate about those boundaries. It is Swiss-cheesing it down to, “I’m going to do one thing for myself. I’m going to tell myself to stick to it, and then I’m going to watch as that unfolds. Now, it’s Saturday and I have no plans. I’m very happy I did that. I’m going to stick to it more often.”

When you start setting boundaries, you start seeing how much they pay off, and you start loving them. You start being passionate about those boundaries. Click To Tweet

We’re talking with Laura Martin, the author of a book called UpTime, which is coming out soon. Do you have time for one more question? Is that okay if I have one more question?


Being Productive No Matter Where

After COVID, where people work has gotten more broad, confusing, or whatever you want to call it. Some people are working all the time at home, some of them are hybrid, or whatever. You talk in your book in an interesting chapter about where to do your work and hotspots and not spots to try and figure out, “How can I do my best, most productive work no matter where I’m working?”

That’s probably one of my favorite chapters. It’s thinking about how our brains take in all this information when we’re working and when we’re doing anything. We associate the sight, smells, sounds, what we’re hearing, and everything with that spot and what we’re doing. That goes from, “Why was it so easy for me to go in the office and immediately work? Now, I’m at home and I’m having a hard time slipping into work.” It’s because of the commute, the smell of your coffee, and the chatter of your cube mates. All of those things primed you to get the job done.

Instead, you want to find spots where you can do consistent types of work. Maybe for you it’s, “I always record episodes at my desk. I always do editing outside on my porch. When I’m in the office, I always do outreach.” It is finding different spots for different tasks so that your brain starts to say, “I’m on the porch. I’m now in editing mode.” You slip into that more easily.

On the flip side, you want to find not spots. Those are spots where you never do active work or think about anything stressful so that it’s easy for your brain to relax. A lot of people have a no-phone zone in their kids’ bedroom, the living room, Or something like that. In the book, I talk about this small corner of our primary bedroom where there’s a chair and my coffee machine. My kids call it the cozy corner.

I never bring my phone there. There’s no clock there. There’s no TV there. I never bring my laptop there. Anytime I’m sitting there, I’m drinking coffee, reading, or sitting with my kids. It’s like a safe haven for my brain. My brain knows, “I’m sitting here. I’m relaxed.” If I brought my laptop there, I would ruin that. I would ruin that not spot, that safe zone. You can use those to your advantage to take the where of work and the where of activities to the next level.

I don’t want our audience to get overwhelmed because there’s so much information that we’re talking about. There are lots more in the book. I don’t want the audience to feel like, “There’s so much. It’s too much.” You get overloaded once again and are stressed out. You can take one thing at a time and start to intentionally and mindfully make some small switches, and those build, I assume.

It doesn’t even have to be one thing at a time. It could truly be one thing. I’ve had executives say, “This one change made a huge difference in prioritizing the time that I work best. It’s meditating. It’s adding this one thing.” What I encourage people is in the book, get out a highlighter. Whatever sticks out to you is probably what you need most. Your brain is already picking up on what it needs. If you don’t do a lot of meetings but you’re overwhelmed by email, or you do a lot of activities and you need to set boundaries but you don’t care about meetings. There are a lot of different pieces.

No one person should ever take all the advice of the book. It’s really about what is your individual situation, what speaks to you, and how it can work all together. Each of the chapters has little productivity practices. I always say, “Swiss-cheese it down. What’s the one chapter that spoke to you? Start with the first productivity practice. See what a difference it makes and maybe come back to it if things change in your life later on.”

Your book UpTime comes out soon. People, I assume, will be able to get it everywhere. Are there any other resources that you can turn people to of yours? How would they get a hold of those?

I have my website, I also post a lot of parenting hacks and things that aren’t even in the book on Instagram. The book has more of a business and parenting focus, but then my Instagram has a lot of life tips.

Thank you so much for your time and also all the information. It’s great. Everybody who reads that book at any age would get a lot out of it. There are pieces for all of us that we aren’t oftentimes aware of and not intentional enough about. Thanks so much for reminding us to be intentional.

Thank you so much for having me.


That was a great discussion. I really do encourage all of you to get a copy of that book when it comes out. It’s called UpTime: A Practical Guide to Personal Productivity and Well-being by Laura Mae Martin. It’ll help you in your work life, home life, personal life, and also the balance of all those things. I will be back here as always with another brand-new episode. I appreciate you stopping by. I appreciate you sending these on to other people to spread the word. I’ll be back here. Thank you as always for stopping by.


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About Laura Mae Martin

Raising Daughters | Laura Mae Martin| ProductivityDuring my thirteen-year tenure at Google, I’ve worked in Sales, Product Operations, Event Planning, and now Executive Coaching. I work with Google’s top executives on ways to manage their time and energy and send out a weekly productivity newsletter that reaches 50,000 Googlers. I hold a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and live in Charlotte, North Carolina, with my husband and three children.


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