Productivity Tips for Entrepreneurs: Do Apps Work?
Episode 13025th March 2022 • Women Conquer Business • Jen McFarland & Shelley Carney
00:00:00 00:49:08

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Productivity Tips for Entrepreneurs: Do productivity and task management tools work?

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[00:00:23] You'll learn strategies and tactics, leadership skills, and practical advice from successful women entrepreneurs to help you grow, nurture, and sustain your business.

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[00:01:05] Shelley Carney: I'm doing really well. We had a great weekend. Toby and I got to visit with some friends in their home without masks. So that was very different and fun. And getting back to the good old days of being able to hang out with people and share a bottle of wine and check out all the things they've done to their house in the past couple of years. Well, we fixed this and we did that, we got this new furniture. It's it was a lot of fun. So that was great. How about you?

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[00:01:47] So they said no screens for three days and that was miserable, but it was a good chance to get outside. The weather here is starting to change. Portland can tease you. We say it only rains once in Portland, it starts in October and ends in June. And we're in that phase where we're all really tired of the rain and it starts to tease a little bit.

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[00:02:25] Shelley Carney: Yesterday I woke up, we had four inches of snow. It was a winter Wonderland. I'm like, this is spring? I don't think so.

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[00:03:05] And so that's all very exciting. And then also in our breaking news the She Podcasts Live conference got announced. At one point we didn't know if they were going to do it again in 2022, but Now they've decided to do it. This year in DC at the MGM National Harbor, which is just, I don't know, down the street a little bit from my in-laws.

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[00:03:43] Shelley Carney: I doubt it. We are, I am taking a weekend to go visit my mom in April and beyond that I have no plans to go anywhere this year. We will see how things go. We're just going to have to be feeling that out. I'm sure that Toby would be traveling back east to see his family. But I don't know how much traveling I'll be doing this year.

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[00:04:10] Shelley Carney: Yeah. It was tempting because Toby does have family back there in Virginia near not far from DC. So that was tempting, but so far at this point we're like we just went last year. Maybe we'll wait and try a different conference this year or something.

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[00:04:43] Shelley Carney: My kids just moved from Round Rock, Texas to Manchester, New Hampshire. They drove across country and gas was the highest it's ever been. Close to $5 a gallon and it cost them so much money just to drive. So I was like, oh yeah, maybe we'll wait for the war to be over.

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[00:05:22] So yeah, so I think we'll be at She Podcasts Live and in DC, in the National Harbor, that'll be super fun. Also in breaking news, we've got all kinds of breaking news Amazon Amp, it's a new thing. It's if Amazon did Clubhouse, is that your impression of it?

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[00:06:03] Jen McFarland: Independent creators,

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[00:06:07] Jen McFarland: And that's what's so interesting. Amazon started rolling out all of these tools, sent us all these creator links and all kinds of stuff. And then we've talked about it before, how Amazon's like Winchester House. It's so everything's everywhere. It's really hard for anybody to figure out how to do anything. I got excited about Amazon Amp but this is more in Shelley's realm. And so I am going to take you at your word that this is not really for people like us, but it's still something maybe to watch. I don't know.

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[00:07:17] So I feel like Amazon is trying to catch up. Trying to keep up. They're like, oh, here's another thing. And they're chasing a lot of shiny objects right now. And I don't think that's going to be a good business model for them.

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[00:08:38] And so what I get excited about and want to talk about is different than what Shelley gets excited and wants to talk about. And we do this sometimes back and forth. And so this is one. So the title of this article, don't snore, cause I'm going to make it exciting for you all here in a second is Website Quality Score Is It a Ranking Factor? They're wondering if the better your website is if it's going to rank better in Google. So what's going on in the environment is there are a lot of people who are using these writing programs.

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[00:09:29] You don't know if people are hedging a little bit on whether or not on their numbers. But some people do have some screenshots and things like that. And I'm like, okay, is it true then if it's really just about bulk. Because what we teach people about content is it has to be high quality content.

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[00:10:06] Is this a domain that is creating good content? The Women Conquer Business site gets like a 73. That's really high. So that's really good. Higher is better in this. And it's because we use well-researched content. We link out to things a lot that are high ranking pages, and we bring people in.

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[00:12:15] But for the average business owner who just wants to talk about their services and really is passionate and cares a lot about what it is that they are doing this is huge. This is really great stuff for people because over and over again I tell people don't cheat the system. Here's a time where it's see, that's why you don't cheat the system.

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[00:12:39] Jen McFarland: Always. It's always humans over the robots. Use the robots. I use AI, I use Lately AI all the time. Use the robots with human intervention that's what you always have to do. So that's the bottom line on that. Did I make it more exciting for you, Shelley? Did I make it more.

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[00:13:16] And what I really want is more the statistics and the research. That's something that I have to do myself. So it didn't save me any time.

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[00:13:28] Shelley Carney: Yeah, exactly. It's just fluff. I have enough of that fluff stuff. I need real hard facts,

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[00:14:10] Shelley Carney: It's not personal.

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[00:14:19] Shelley Carney: Which is why we came up with our method of doing it, starting with the live stream and spreading it out from there. But you start off with something that's real and personal and in our own words, our own language. That carries through to all the other content that you produce from it.

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[00:14:52] If you have to go back. And edit it. And for me, I found that if something is creating long form content, it actually took me longer to go back through it and check the work then, as opposed to something shorter. So that's why it works well. For idea, like you said brainstorming ideas, coming up with some short descriptions that you're like, oh, okay.

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[00:15:39] Part of productivity is that you actually don't work yourself to death to be more productive. And I feel like that's something that is, and that's part of why I struggled so hard with the concussion and no screen for three days, because I wanted to work through it, even though it was the weekend and everything.

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[00:16:15] Shelley Carney: Yeah. It needs to be focused on the goal. First you start with the goal and then you break that down into tasks and those are the things that you focus on. And if you spend too long on each thing you work yourself to death. Right?

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[00:16:47] And I think that's part of it too, is look at all the factors so that you can understand what it is. That's actually distracting you from being the most productive is a distraction or an interruption. And I love this because these are actually two different things. Like I have always blended them together to be the same thing.

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[00:17:40] And then are you working so many hours or do you, have you decided that you just need to work until you get everything done to a point where you have completely lost your productivity and he needed to close the computer, turn off the monitor and. Hang out with friends and family.

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[00:18:29] Jen McFarland: I tell you, this is a habit that I got into before I started my own business. A lot of people say they start doing it when they have their own business. Leading a big project with the big team.

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[00:18:58] W we want to like, make sure that we're reminding ourselves and everybody listening that and watching that it's important to really look at the external environment. You can't just look at productivity and task management tools. They're not a panacea. They're not going to fix anything.

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[00:19:42] And is that what's going to make it go and. And that's really important with productivity tools and task management tools, because they're the real intention of those tools is to make you more efficient so that you can go through your day more efficiently and. One of the pros and cons, the pros and cons of some of these tools.

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[00:20:20] It ceased to be a productive, tool for me because it was just too much, and I don't, and I felt the same way about a, another one that people just love called click up. I, I got click up and I was like, oh, okay. I can do this. And then it was like, no, this is Monday all over again.

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[00:20:58] And that's why it's really important to take advantage of any free trials that you get so that you can figure out, is this really hot tool that everybody's talking about really getting to work for me and my business.

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[00:21:32] Jen McFarland: Which is why I think people are, probably you're surprised that here's this app person who's saying, yeah, you don't really need all of these things because that's where this is headed, but we're still going to talk about some of the most, most popular tools out there.

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[00:22:04] When I worked in large scale project management, see that's part of it too, is I've worked in large scale project management. I had to use Microsoft project. I disliked Microsoft project, even though there were things in it that were really great. If you're managing a large team, know, you really have to pay attention to dependencies.

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[00:22:48] It has to be produced and pushed out. As a podcast so that I can embed the player, but the player needs to have the link to the website. And so it's this chicken egg thing where it's what do we have to have first? And there are times when that happens. There are other times, if you don't take care of.

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[00:23:31] Kanban boards are where you see the columns that are like, to do in progress and done. It came out of Toyota actually. And it was a system that they used for years just to move things through a process line. It's really great for that type of work. But if you start to do anything a little more complex, Kanban boards.

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[00:24:05] Trello to do with some of these programs, they do it maybe with some reminders or you can set up some sub tasks, but it's really not knit together in any sort of way. And that's my frustration with the people will spend, I don't know, piles of money to use some of these tools because that's what everybody's talking about.

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[00:24:48] You have a calendar. Yep. You have a lot of the tools that you need to manage your projects and to manage your productivity already. And you don't need to go outside of the things that you are. Given when you sign up for your Google workspace or if you use, office 365 all of those are called productivity tools.

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[00:25:36] But what I had when I was over again, managing large teams, I used Excel. You can also use Google sheets and there's a website that I just love. It's absolutely fabulous for small business owners. Many of their spreadsheet templates are free. It's called vertex. 42 and it's a V E R T E X 40 two.com.

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[00:26:18] Keeping up and working with people and making sure that they were staying on task. So you might be thinking why would I use Google sheets? I have a team of 10 people or whatever, and you can still do it that way. You can also do a lot with like reminders and tools, and that's something that, if you have a Trello board and everybody's in there that can be really effective for that, and a lot of people really like that it is about what works for you and makes it a little bit more efficient and something that can help you track things.

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[00:27:13] Shelley Carney: You can't be a part of a team and not be totally the part of the team doing what the team does when it comes to communication and sharing what you've done and what you still need to do. People need to know where you're at if you're part of a team. If you're doing things all on your own, you've got to do what works for you.

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[00:27:53] I can remind other people that it needs to get done. We share a Google docs. I think that things that have been around the longest have been around the longest because they work for most people.

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[00:28:18] So if you look in, when you log in, even to your email, it's one of the things on the side. Sidebar, at least it is on my Mac and you can actually see it's it knits everything together. And that's one of the things that is also included with your Google workspace. So your Google workspace. If you're in the Google environment, that might be a good option for you.

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[00:28:48] Shelley Carney: would, he would just go play. He would just be playing all day. He's like a child sometimes. Oh, look, I can play. And I can do my, he does his hobbies. It's good. Busy.

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[00:29:05] Shelley Carney: I've tried Chaos Control and it's very similar to tasks because you can, you could open it up and it just has a running thing. You just click it off. You just go. Yeah, I did that. Yeah. I did that. Oh, I need to still need to do these things. But what it does is it helps me remember all the steps that are involved in getting this one thing done and what day I should get that done so that I can move forward with the week. And you can do that with your Google calendar, if you're good at keeping it updated, and you can put those tasks on your calendar as well. Like I did, I have a Google calendar and I put, on Mondays I have one task I have to get done.

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[00:30:06] Jen McFarland: So that's interesting. Yeah. I, it was just popping into my mind. Chili's going to be like, oh no. Now we're, off-roading, we're going off the show for a a little bit, but how, what are you, it, as you were talking about this, how do you feel about. I think that there are productivity apps that I use that have nothing to do with productivity.

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[00:30:45] I do all kinds of research online all the time, researching things for clients, looking at apps, all kinds of stuff. And if I find myself going down a rabbit hole, I'm like, okay. I don't have time to read this long form post. I just hit the button in my browser for pocket and it saves the article for later.

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[00:31:28] And I have found that when I am writing, the more I can create a distraction free environment for myself, the faster everything happens. And one of the things I've been testing are all these different writing apps that help with. Keeping things out. So I don't get distracted by the internet and different things like that.

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[00:32:16] App. So it's find the easiest thing that you can to track tasks and projects and whatever those initiatives are and do that. And then you can spend the money on other like pocket is free. I have, I've had the free version of pocket for years, and then spend the money on things that will really help you get from start to finish quicker.

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[00:33:04] So that when Jen goes to do the show notes, she's got all of her links and everything for that show. Are done for the week. So she has that captivate is just decided to offer this additional. Thing it's on Chrome. It's a Chrome extension. And you can, while you're looking up things like if you see something that you're like, oh, I should talk about this on the podcast.

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[00:33:40] Jen McFarland: If you've used it, and that's the thing if there's a thing. To what it is that we're talking about. It's like leverage or, fully embrace the tools you're already using before you put something else in your environment. Yeah. That's like you're using Google docs. I would argue. And you can correct me if I'm wrong. Shelley. I would argue that stream yard is one of your big productivity tools.

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[00:34:20] Jen McFarland: All of which is to say, these are not tools that are being every, pocket stream yard captivate for podcasts publishing. I These are not like quote unquote productivity tools. So think of productivity tools in whatever way will help you. I think oftentimes we're like, oh, I've got to be more productive.

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[00:34:49] Shelley Carney: Yeah, it depends on your business model, what it is that you need to get done every day how you work. And if you're working with other people who are remote, then you have to have a system that works for both of you.

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[00:35:16] Jen McFarland: That's what works.

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[00:35:25] Jen McFarland: That's right. That's right. If we, and we just about beaten this one.

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[00:35:34] Jen McFarland: Yeah, we can do that today or on a future show. Yeah, absolutely. So please do let us know what you're using.

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[00:36:03] Shelley Carney: Yeah. It's do they work? And do they promote a feeling that you're in control? I think that's it right there. In a nutshell. Am I feeling in control of my schedule? Of my productivity? Of my time? Am I in control? If somebody calls me up and says, do you have time to talk this week? I can open up my calendar and I can say, yes, let's do a two o'clock on Thursday.

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[00:36:34] Jen McFarland: Yeah. Or you can say no, right? Like you have everything in there to say no. Yeah. And I, I think the other point that you made that is so excellent. And is the other theme through here is it has to work with the environment that you have and that you've set up.

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[00:37:07] Yeah, it

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[00:37:13] Jen McFarland: Yeah. But why would you pay for something else or add another?

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[00:37:22] Jen McFarland: Exactly. Yeah, exactly.

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[00:37:50] Download it. It's free. It's a women conquer biz.com/social media detox, and you'll be able to find it. Neat. Go on. Get that take advantage of that.

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[00:38:10] Jen McFarland: I should have.

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[00:38:27] Jen McFarland: That's right. I have to say this working, working with you and doing the podcast in this different way has been a phenomenal experience.

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[00:39:01] Shelley Carney: That's right. That's right. We do the, we do all the techie for you and you just show up.

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[00:39:10] Shelley Carney: That's right. Who doesn't like fun.

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[00:39:23] Shelley Carney: Yes, it is.

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[00:39:28] Jen McFarland: So pin paste that copy and paste that into. The YouTube or whatever. There we go. And speaking of YouTube, you've got a couple of tweaks of the week that are YouTube.

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[00:39:53] Toby and I had done that. Messages and methods. And it was like, oh, this is easy. We can do this. So I went to do it. Shelley Carney livestream coach. And I was like, wait a minute, this isn't working. What's going on? So then I found out, oh see, we had originally watched this video put out by Nick Nimmin and he works with stream yard, and he's an expert on a lot of things, YouTube.

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[00:40:37] Jen McFarland: Some of us aren't there yet, but we'll get there. We are working towards it. That's right on it. So that's interesting. Yeah. And then what else is going on? YouTube Stu studio. I haven't even read this.

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[00:41:02] And a few of these updates include a new navigation bar. To help you quickly access the dashboard, content analytics, comments, and playlists, tabs, more data in the YouTube analytics new search filters for comments and the ability to appeal a yellow icon monetization decision using your phone. So you can do more with your phone if you're a very phony person that doesn't sound right.

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[00:41:40] Jen McFarland: It's been heavily disappointing. I guess when I scan this before we started, I didn't realize it was about that. I'll have to make sure the mine's up to date because I thought, oh, how cool. I had thought about doing, a lot more. Just real style, short form on YouTube and things like that. And it was just hard to use. So I'll have to give it another shot and swing back around and see if it's a little easier to navigate.

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[00:42:19] Shelley Carney: Yeah, especially the individual content

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[00:42:25] Indie content creators.

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[00:42:31] Shelley Carney: I prefer desktop. To mouse and keyboard and yeah, that's what I go with was I didn't even grow up with it. I had it from college on, where you had a keyboard and mouse. Yeah.

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[00:42:49] One of my tweaks to the week are you talked about, which is Ulysses I really love distraction-free right. Tools I've tried. I a right. And I actually have like a. A secret personal blog on a program called right. Got as as super privacy focused. And then I, so Ulysses as an app, it's $50 a year.

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[00:43:28] We'll see, I try things all the time and either use them or abandoned them. Yeah. The other tool that I'm pretty excited about right now is called Plaza. It's a Google analytics alternative. It is made in Germany and is fully compliant with all of the privacy laws. It's also not using cookies.

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[00:44:13] It's, that's the kind of tracking. So what plausible is it's an alternative. It's very lightweight. It is not attached to any sort of advertising technology. I fell, I found that the. The words that they use very intriguing. So they call it. We're not a part of the surveillance capitalism, which I had never heard of that before that term, before.

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[00:44:59] So I'm sharing this as something that I personally am curious about, I really believe in privacy. On the web and it's one of my values and I think a value for women conquer business. So I'm looking at that from that perspective, not necessarily as a recommendation for everyone, but it is something that's interesting that's out there.

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[00:45:39] All right.

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[00:45:44] Jen McFarland: Oh, do you like it?

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[00:45:49] Jen McFarland: Eye level. Okay, learning here. This is great. I'm excited. I'm excited to learn it and use it. All right.

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[00:46:01] Jen McFarland: because Grammarly has become a little intrusive, like with all of the using it for in the browser.

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[00:46:16] Shelley Carney: Yeah. Awesome. I think we're ready for our inspiration, if you're ready for that. I'm ready. So I pull a lot of these from the daily stoic, my daily stoic reading that I'm doing and today is what philosophical lessons can I find in ordinary things?

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[00:46:58] If my health is my top priority, then maybe I shouldn't be drinking a bottle of wine on the weekend. Maybe I should be exercising more, How am I reflecting what I'm saying? Am I in integrity and what philosophical lessons I've learned? I should be, showing up. They should be showing up in my life.

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[00:47:25] Jen McFarland: Oh, I love it. Yeah. No, a hundred percent. Okay. I do. I feel that and that's the way to live. It's difficult and important, especially for productivity. Are you thinking about it? Being an integrity and doing what you say and following through, doesn't that make you also more efficient?

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[00:47:51] Shelley Carney: And if you put it on your calendar, it means you're doing it, right? Yeah. Yeah. That's important. Yeah. It's not easy to get there, but it is a practice and the more you practice it in small things, the easier it will be and big things.

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[00:48:07] Jen McFarland: Yeah. Huh. Cool. Okay. All right. Thank you. Everybody. Thanks for watching. Thanks for listening. And we will see you next week, next

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[00:48:25] Jen McFarland: a women or a place in closing out women's history month to close out women's history month.

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[00:48:32] That's right. All right. Have a good one.

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[00:49:00] Check the show notes for links to valuable resources and come back again next week.