Productivity: How to Achieve your Goals Without Burning Out

22 May 2019


Michelle Laberge
Marketing Strategy


Like 565,000 other people in Quebec*, I’m self-employed. My goal isn’t to be busy all the time. My goal is delivering the goods. I must admit that I thought I would have worked on more projects with meaning by this point in my career. I’ve recently found myself asking how I can do more without burning out. I’ve thought about the best way to set my priorities and my schedule so that I can achieve my goals for the next stage of my professional life.

How can I find time in my busy schedule?

I’m a big fan of Marie Forleo, a prolific life coach, and through her I recently discovered Laura Vanderkam. Laura Vanderkam is the author of 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think, or how to use each hour of the week efficiently. I had a lightbulb moment while reading the book. I have the exact same 168 hours a week as Michelle Obama does, as Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook) does, as Marie-Huguette Cormier (Desjardins) and Sophie Brochu (Énergir) do to plan my contribution to society. Am I using my time efficiently? Hmm… The answer is no!

What does Laura Vanderkam suggest we do to take control of our schedules?

Increase my productivity:

  • The author suggests that we identify the tasks that keep us busy, but that aren’t billable—for example, accounting, training sessions, emailing and telephone calls—so that we aren’t wasting time on them.
  • She also suggests that we delegate the tasks that aren’t in our area of expertise—graphic design, for example—which in my case, I already outsource to a freelancer.
  • She’s adamant that we must invest in continuing personal development. CPD will set you apart from the crowd. OK, done, I’ve added it to my schedule!
  • Then, she suggests we make a list of challenging goals—things that we want to achieve in the next year— and that we define the steps we’ll need to take to achieve them. Right now, I want to sit on a board of directors, increase my social involvement along with my daughter, and start a new course.
  • She suggests that we check the budget we’ll need to achieve our goals, and ensure that we have the financial resources and time required, so that we can stay motivated and on track.
  • Following Laura Vanderkam’s advice, I also found a mentor who can help me progress more quickly.

What does the author suggest we do to invest in our family life?

  • Plan downtime to really switch off. Continue ticking off places you want to visit! My next trip has been decided: Machu Picchu!
  • Ask our children to create a list of things they want to do with us. Laura Vanderkam suggests a list of 100 dreams, but 10 was enough for my daughter given her age: she wants to go to Paris and go for a ride in a Tesla!
  • Focus on the household tasks that we enjoy doing and delegate those that we don’t. We’re already on the right track in our house, but I think I’ll get some outside help with the dishes!

Finally, as she suggests, I keep 30 minutes free on a Friday to optimize the upcoming week, and reschedule the meetings and appointments that will distract me from my goals.

What about you? How do you optimize your 168 hours? Share your tips for getting more done in less time!

* Did you know that 13% of workers in Quebec and 36% of workers in the USA are self-employed? Source: Statistics Canada and Forbes

About the author

Michelle Laberge

About Michelle Laberge

Corporate Marketing and Communication Strategist

Expert—Advisor in communication and media relations, Michelle Laberge is known to have brilliantly executed innovative 360° strategies built around the customer satisfaction.