Cut Through the Overwhelm and Get Productive with Tanya Dalton

Joya recently sat down with Tanya Dalton to discuss some of the issues she sees coming up time and time again when speaking to the members of her Women’s Leadership Lab.

Tanya is a best-selling author, speaker, and nationally recognized productivity expert. She has years of experience in helping people figure out what exactly is holding them back from their goals.

Their conversation dealt with the obstacles executive women place in front of themselves when it comes to being more productive and the tactics that can be used to overcome them.

Joya’s experience with the women she talks to regularly is that they share the same 4 concerns when it comes to managing their lives and businesses; self-care, productivity, time management, and how to build a personal brand.

Joya and Tanya set out to define a framework for productivity that executive women and entrepreneurs can use to be more strategic and less tactical when it comes to their to-do lists, allowing them to unlock potential and work more effectively towards their goals.

These lessons are mostly geared towards productivity but offer valuable insights and tips to help women get out of their way and realize the goals they have set for themselves.

Before diving into the discussion, they talked about the importance of mindset and how the human brain is hard-wired to focus on negativity.

Tanya believes that our minds have been conditioned through thousands of years of human evolution to pay more attention to the things that can harm us. This survival instinct had great relevance when these threats meant that there was a chance that we would not survive the day.

Unfortunately, this also means that it’s easy to fall into the trap of negativity without noticing how detrimental it is to productivity.

She feels this instinct has become a hindrance in the modern world and that overcoming it requires conscious effort and a re-think of what to prioritize. Tanya believes it is vitally important to pay mindful attention to how we are thinking, making sure that the way we approach our day is not prejudiced by negativity and maladaptive survival instincts.

According to Tanya, the first step toward feeling less overwhelmed is understanding the difference between being busy and being productive.

Are You Filling Your Calendar or Are You Filling Your Soul?

Tanya defines being busy as “just doing all the things” and being productive as “doing the right things”.  She feels that most of us fall into the trap of needing to fill our time actively working, because if we aren’t actively working then we are somehow failing.

This can be an incredibly limiting mindset.

Most high-functioning people have experienced the dread of having extra, unused time in the day. That feeling of unease that inactivity can bring can be avoided if what is being done is the “right thing”.

She describes productivity as essentially being centered around choosing to focus on what we are aligned to the most. The activities, tasks, and projects that give the greatest sense of purpose are the most important ones.

Prioritizing that which feeds our purpose will lead to deeper feelings of accomplishment. Actively choosing to do fewer tasks is counter-intuitive but Tanya believes that this helps to avoid the trap of falling into busy work and self-sabotage.

Getting caught up in the quantity of life as opposed to the quality of life is the mindset that Tanya most wants to avoid.

For her it is about doing what’s most important, not just doing more.

Setting The Right Goals

When it comes to goal setting, Tanya and Joya both agreed that most often the goals people set for themselves aren’t the ones they should be spending time concentrating on. It’s far too easy to get lost in a long list of tasks that can make a person feel good but aren’t designed to work towards the productivity that was discussed earlier.

These tasks can feel rewarding as the human brain floods the body with dopamine every time something is crossed off a list, regardless of whether that task is aligned with a greater purpose or not.

This can be avoided by creating a priority list.

A priority list differs from a to-do list in a few key areas according to Tanya. These priorities need to be worked back from a clear vision of what the long-term goals are and then broken down into yearly, monthly, daily, and sometimes hourly priorities.

This allows the focus to be firmly on doing what’s most important.

Tanya is also a massive advocate for having measurable goals as it’s easy to get caught up in only feeling good about the larger achievements when the reality is that every great success is built on a steady stream of smaller accomplishments.

Having measurable goals that are in line with a healthy definition of productivity are the ones they both feel to be of the most benefit.

Perfectionism leads to Procrastination

Tanya jokingly refers to herself as a “recovering perfectionist”. This can sound trite, but the reality is that many women fall into the same trap. This leads to that feeling of forever being on the “hamster wheel” and is responsible for much of the burnout she sees regularly.

Aside from the relentless, unproductive need to constantly re-do a completed task there is also another downside – only showing the perfect version of us we have in our heads leads to the loss of valuable opportunities to connect with colleagues and customers.