226 How to Embrace Your Inner Clock to be More Productive with Olivia Herron

Embrace Your Inner Clock to be More Productive


In this episode, discover the power of syncing with your natural energy flows to supercharge your day with special guest Olivia Herron. As a mother and professional, Olivia shares the game-changing realization that embracing her morning-person tendencies unlocked a new level of productivity and balance. We delve into the art of structuring your day around personal energy peaks, a strategy that's crucial not just for busy parents, but for anyone looking to enhance their efficiency in both work and life.

In this episode, we cover:

  • Understanding personal energy levels and mental clarity throughout the day
  • Challenges faced by moms juggling it all
  • Building a supportive work environment through proactive communication

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Megan 00:00
Hey friends, I have a great new guest for you all to meet today, olivia Herron, and she brings an interesting conversation all around how to embrace our inner clock, really understanding how we are wired naturally in terms of when we're productive, when we're not, and how to really lean into that to support all parts of our lives, especially when, if any of you are juggling, working full-time outside of the house and in the home as well. So I'm really excited for you all to meet Olivia and let's go ahead and get the conversation started. Welcome to the Work Life Harmony podcast. I'm your host, Megan Sumrell. I'm the creator of the top program and top planner teaching all things time management, organization and productivity for women. I'm also a mom and wife and, just like you, I'm juggling hashtag all the things while running multiple businesses and a family.

Guess what? You don't have to feel constantly overwhelmed, exhausted and stressed out. There is another way. When you have the right systems and tools to plan and manage your time, you can live a life of harmony. This is your show to learn from me and other amazing women how to master your time, planning an organization to skyrocket your productivity, so you can have work life harmony If you're ready to stop feeling overwhelmed? This is the show for you, and if you're new here, I'd love to get you started with my work life harmony assessment. All you have to do is DM me on Instagram at Megan Sumrell, with the word harmony and my team will send it right over.

All right, everyone. Welcome back to work life harmony. I have a new guest here today that I'm really really excited to have you all meet. I'm going to let Olivia introduce herself in just a minute, but I am really hoping to learn personally, but then also hear Olivia's amazing advice today on some tips that we can put in place on how to make time actually our ally and not our enemies. I think so many of us feel like it's always this race against the clock. So welcome Olivia. We're thrilled you're here. I'd love it if you would introduce yourself and tell everyone about you.

Olivia 02:02
Hi, it's so great to be here. Thanks so much for having me, Megan, I'm Olivia, as you said. I'm a mom of three based in Austin, texas, and currently working as an executive at Samkart, leading a business line called typeset and trying to do all of the things all of the time.

Megan 02:21
Yeah three kids and then working as an executive. I can imagine you have had some time struggles. So what do you think and I know this is a loaded question, so there's probably like 50 answers that come to mind but what do you think are some of the top challenges that moms are facing today?

Olivia 02:41
Well, I think that there are two sets of challenges. They're sort of the internal challenges. So you have these expectations of yourself around. How are you going to manage time? How are you going to show up as a parent or as a partner or as an executive, and balancing all of that. And then you've also got some of the external pressures. I joke about the amount of notifications I get from our schools about events and fundraisers and just endless, endless. And it's really hard to just sift through all of that noise and make sure you're getting all of the right information and you don't miss a sudden pickup or something has happened. And just the pressures that come with having kids in, in my case, three different schools and figuring out where to be when, why, let alone the obviously external pressure from my company to show up every day, and then from my employees, hopefully, to show up for them, let alone, you know, friends and and in my case, a husband who comes very last frequently.

Megan 03:44
Yeah, and it just it seems like there's just more. I mean, running a home is a full time executive position and then you layer in a job outside the home at that same intensity it really and then we wonder why everyone's so exhausted when you're doing two full time jobs. So one of the things that you like to talk about is a way to embrace your inner clock, to be more productive. So what do you mean by an inner clock, and how do we start to understand what our own inner clock is?

Olivia 04:15
Yes, so I realized I would say, like in my mid 20s that I was a morning person and I figured that out for a couple of different. Besides the fact that I wake up relatively easily in the morning and at this point I wake up at every sound in the house, but wake up relatively easy in the morning I would think a lot about like where do I have energy, like energy that I can actually expand In some cases, when I need to take on energy from other people who maybe don't have that energy, or when I need to and are you like talking physical energy or just more like brain power, space?

All of the above. It's sort of like I am like functioning and can move my body. I feel mental clarity to your comment. I feel like I have a lot of bandwidth to like manage a lot of different moving pieces. For me, that is the morning hours like anything before. Like one o'clock or two o'clock in the afternoon. I am like there and you can literally like hit me and wake me up, which is how I usually it's a kick, but some form of a kick in the mornings from one of the children that have snuck into our bed. I am like awake and I can get things and get ready to go and I'm very comfortable.

My husband, on the other hand, it does not function in the morning, like literally, he's like where am I and like what is happening and he cannot find anything. And so I recognize in those moments that I can take on a lot more bandwidth. I can have meetings in the morning. I like to structure my days to start earlier than other people might want to start their days. I think through a lot like what time my meetings are going to happen and how to sort of manage all of that. However, after about three or four PM, I just am like on this like downhill slide and by right after dinner in our case, for our family, which is, like you know, 6, 6, 30, I'm like basically like not functioning and I can get through the motions and I know what needs to get done, but like, if you're going to ask me to think about anything for more than like 30 seconds, like it, just it won't happen.

And my husband knows this about me and so he sort of picks up the slack in the evenings and, you know, gets kids ready for bed and does bedtimes, and I'm sort of like a vegetable on the couch.

And so I think the first thing is just understanding and just being conscious of for a few days, like where do you feel the most mental clarity? And some people it's literally like the dead middle of the day, some people it's obviously mornings and evenings, and then how do you start to then think about structuring your day so that you are taking advantage of that time to like the most that you can, and then, when you're really not going to be functioning, that you're not scheduling things at that time, and for me that's really important. I'm like I used to work with a team that was based in Singapore. Evenings, I would have like 10 o'clock meetings and I would just be like I am a monster, and so we would have to try to figure out how to make that work, because I am, just at this point, very aware of my own internal clock.

Megan 07:13
That's so important, I know. And then to honor those boundaries that you put in place, I get asked a lot like, oh, will you, do, you know, an evening training? And my answer is always no, because I'm not going to show up my best self like, if I'm gonna, if I'm gonna be on teaching you something. You want me when I am at my best, have mental clarity, have the energy that I need. You're probably not gonna enjoy being any part of an event where I'm teaching you late at night unless I've had all day with with nothing to do. Now, one of the traps I think people fall into when they are at their like you know, most energetic bandwidth is Oftentimes we find ourselves doing a bunch of unimportant things because like energies high and so we get sucked into Kind of what I call productive procrastination. Right, you're busy, but you're not doing the important things. How do you make sure that you're spending that best mental energy time on the things that really need to be done instead of low-level stuff?

Olivia 08:11
Yeah, I am a calendar blocker through and through and I also continue to like, refine I would say Systems that function for me to stop doing, to your point, some of those things that it's just like, yeah, this is great, but like, is this really what matters right in this moment? So an example of this, and there's all these hilarious Instagram reels about this but, like, I'm one of those people who will just start picking things up in the house and then putting them in their home, and Then you get to that home and then you pick up the next thing and you move it to its home, and suddenly it's been 30 minutes of like moving things all around the house, and so what I've started doing is having drop zones. So I have like a drop zone for things to go upstairs and there's just a basket at the bottom of my stairs and I just throw everything into it that needs to go up to the top of the stairs at night and it's like I know it's there and I know I can do it later, but it feels like it's sort of done for me in a funny way because it's in that basket, so it's in the place that needs to go to get upstairs in my case, and that just really helps my sort of mental load and mental clarity in terms of like not getting distracted by the little things that I could do. I'm also a heavy blocker of like personal things I need to get done versus like work things I need to get done. So I try to get to the office by 8, which is early for a lot of people. I know a lot of people cannot or not online by 8 in my case, although I have a team in Europe and so I try to really schedule earlier mornings with them and then earlier For me, you know nine to noon, other meetings, and then in the afternoons I try to leave them free, honestly, so that I can crank through what I need to crank through when my brain is like not totally Functioning, I'm not in meetings, sort of being a zombie and not fully present and paying attention to everything that's happening around me.

So I really try to think about my days like that and in those personal blocks I like to make just really quick lists and I'll just drop them in. Like we're renovating a house right now in another state and so all of the things I need to do for the house renovation, or I'm on the board of a daycare center Like all the things I need to do, and I'll just have days to just look through and make sure everything is done and then, like, move on to the next thing. And so I Also in practicing saying no, you brought that up earlier Respecting boundaries, yeah.

I'm gonna say no. I made a commitment actually to my husband recently to say no more often. I would say it's going okay. I give myself a C plus.

Megan 10:37
Better than probably how it used to be when you were thinking about it as well.

Olivia 10:41
Definitely, definitely. And I think, like really being open to feedback in a funny way Helps you structure things in better ways, both for you and the people around you. So I Would say, like most moms, you're, you're so busy that sometimes when somebody approaches you with feedback, you're defensive because you're, you're one, probably not in a place to receive feedback and they probably didn't ask you are you in a place to receive feedback? And to it's sort of hard because you're, you're in this go mode and so, like looking up and around you forget about to be honest with you. And so, you know, my husband came to me with real feedback and he was like I am last and it feels bad and I don't want to be last.

How can I put myself higher on the scale? And of course, there were some things that he could do and there were some things that I could do, but you know he did it in a moment where I could be really open to feedback. He asked me if I was ready and he said to me I need you to take on less, I need you to be, have downtime, because I need downtime and that makes my life better and I would say, since having that conversation, our weekends, in particular, are just infinity better because I just don't book things. And you know, sometimes it's like, oh, I'm bummed, I missed that birthday party, or my kids gonna be bummed, they missed a birthday party, and it's like you know what Everyone's mental health is better because we missed that five-year-old's birthday party and they're gonna be okay, and so are we.

Megan 12:05
Yeah, oh, so important. Now you know you work in a corporate environment. What advice do you have for, you know, moms that are in a very structured nine to five, that maybe aren't in alignment with their inner clock or in alignment with the needs of family? How do we broach those conversations when we are in a position where the nine to five structure really isn't in support of everything else that's going on in our lives?

Olivia 12:35
Yeah, so I guess the good news to start with is that some portion of nine to five is gonna be a good time for you at some point, hopefully.

Megan 12:43
Not willing right.

Olivia 12:45
Unless you're like, you know, two AMs, I mean maybe and so I think understanding that and continuing to focus first and foremost on you, structuring your day in terms of meetings or really deep thinking that you need to do around some component of the hours that work best for you, is like step number one.

That's the thing that you can control the most and I think you know, in that kind of focus on structure, the control is sort of the key there. The next thing is, you know, having the conversation actually with if you have people who are reporting to you or you're a direct manager, just being really honest in a one-on-one one day and saying, hey, these are the things that really work for me and I want to set expectations. That just because, in my case, I'm online at 8 AM doesn't mean I expect you to be online at 8 AM and so, being mindful of that in scheduling your messages or scheduling your emails, I work really hard to not ping people on the weekends and instead, just if I think of something, I'll schedule it to go out for when I know that.

Megan 13:44
Oh, you mean you're writing the email and then scheduling it? Yeah, I schedule it for later, or working hours. Very smart, or?

Olivia 13:48
slack or whatever it is, and so for me, that allows me to again take advantage of my early working hours.

So, again, if you have to be online 9 to 5, but you are like I really work best from 8 to 9, like schedule all your stuff during that, right, do it all and schedule it all, and understand that like then you can have the space for the rest of the day to you know, take a longer lunch or sit and think for a long time, even if you're not feeling like that's a super productive thing to do, for example, because that is much more your clock at the end of the day.

But I think when you show respect for other people's time, they start really showing respect for yours. And then use calendar blocks. If you're like I'm not going to be functioning at 3 o'clock, just put a hold on your calendar, know that it's your own working time, do whatever you need to do at that time and like, hopefully no one's blocking meetings over that, for example, or be really explicit I can't attend this meeting. I've got a hold at that time and just understand that that should even flow so long as again your respectful of other people's time and you're communicating proactively that they should be able to do the same for you.

Megan 14:56
Now are you seeing that the workplace in general is starting to allow a little bit more flexibility outside of the standard kind of old school 9 to 5? Or kind of curious what you're seeing as the lay of the land these days.

Olivia 15:11
I think definitely there is has been, for sure, a shift. I don't think it's been for everyone, so it's definitely not universal, but I think that there has been a lot in terms of, yes, some combination of hybrid work. So one day it's better for you to work from home, another day it's better for you to work from the office. I like going into an office, so I tend to go up to our office here, but, like this morning, there's a bunch of stuff that needs to happen at the house later today, and so I was able to work from home and that's a really nice structure In my case.

I do also think that you're seeing, because of traffic, a lot of people start earlier and leave earlier, or start later and leave later, and again, so long as there's a lot of proactive communication and setting of expectations and sort of some general overlap, obviously with your team in terms of hours, that you can work and be productive and happy. I wish I could say it was universal. I think it would honestly help productivity for all companies at this point, but I know it's not, and so when you do have those really regimented hours, that of course, can be really hard, and so, again, embracing the things that you can control in that process and proactively communicating are the keys to sort of getting through that as a structure.

Megan 16:30
Yeah, and I think there are certain lines of work where there just can't be the flexibility Right. I mean, I look at my husband as a commercial construction and I mean it is what it is, yeah, but then seeing, what can you do within that? How can you communicate with your team? I remember one of my last jobs in corporate. I've much preferred the morning for traffic reasons, and so I just sat down with my manager and just said I would love to be in here at 7.30 and leave at 3.45. Here's, you know, is this a problem? And if all my work is getting done and I'm here for all the core meetings and so they're like, well, we'll try it out, because this was years ago before there was any kind of that model, and thankfully I asked, because I ended up working out great and I had that, you know, the office to myself for an hour and a half every morning almost where it was just done by me, you know, and had all that space there.

So I think it's important to at least have the conversation. If you're you know, you never know what people are going to be willing to do.

Olivia 17:30
Yeah, and I think the other thing is like again that the blocks really helped me a lot and also not having meeting time I tend to get. Just if it's open, it gets booked up and I'll kind of look at my calendar on a Thursday before the following week and I'll say, oh, next week's not too bad, and by Tuesday it's jam packed For the rest of the week and so you know, putting those holds on there is also a reminder to you that like, hey, I need to sit and really think and get work done and if this structure is not working, I can take control of that and make sure that I've got those things blocked on my calendar so that I can get the things I need to get done.

Megan 18:06
It's so important. That's why I always tell people, if you don't control your calendar meaning protecting the time you need to protect everyone else is going to come in and control for you, especially in a corporate environment where you can just be meeting, meeting, meeting, meeting, you know, and a whole day can go by and you're like, oh, now I have three more days of work to do and I haven't had a minute my desk to get it done. So important. Do you have any, you know? Last tips that you would share for people that are trying to step into better aligning their days.

Olivia 18:37
Honestly, I think it's just about sharing and also being open with what you were trying to accomplish. So, like my team knows that, I coached a soccer team this year. Did I ever play soccer? No, I did not, but I coached a second grade soccer team. I was really fun and so that I was going to be offline for the hour that I was coaching, or.

I think the more that you can share and not kind of suffer in silence, so to speak, where you're attempting to do it all and no one really knows that that's all on your plate, the more that people have a lot more space and empathy and are totally willing to work around other schedules.

But a lot of times I think it's scary and it's hard to say something because you feel like, oh, they might think I don't work hard enough or I don't do this or that enough, but the reality is you're probably performing, in some cases at a higher level than some of your peers because you're cramming it into a shorter period of time, or you're cramming it into a period of time where you're really functioning and so every hour and here is worth two hours when you're totally a dead zombie. And so thinking through those things and really making sure that communication is top of mind for you, I think, makes most people much more effective at both having those conversations and then also for other employees to allow for that space to occur, because they're not like, oh why, it's like they know exactly why and they want to support you in that process as well.

Megan 19:58
And just imagine, maybe there's somebody on your team or someone you work with that is wanting to shift schedules a little bit or have these outside things, and by somebody being brave enough to be the first one to step up and say, hey, this is what I'm doing, it's important to me. It then maybe empowers collectively other people to go oh, I don't have to be available 24, seven, everything all the time and creates probably an even better working environment for everybody too.

Olivia 20:27
Yes, 100%, totally agree.

Megan 20:30
So great, Olivia. Thank you so much. Where can people connect with you?

Olivia 20:34
Yes, you can find me on LinkedIn. It's just Olivia Herron, and and and ping me if you have any questions. I'm always happy to connect, especially with other moms. I want to hear the tips too. If you've got them, bring them. I'm sure I'm not doing this perfectly and, like I said, I'm constantly in refined mode. I put something in place and then it's refined it for me and make sure it works. So please come share your tips and ideas, and I'd be I'd love to hear from you.

Megan 20:59
Awesome, and we'll have that link in the show notes for everybody as well. Thank you so much for sharing your time here with us today. It has been a real treat. Getting on top of all things time management, organization and productivity doesn't have to stop just because this episode is over. If you want one tap access to all of my training and current top podcasts, go to the app store or Google Play and download the pink B app. It's one word, the pink B. It is jam packed with simple yet powerful tips and strategies to get you out of overwhelm and into harmony. And if you have a question you want me to cover on a future episode, go to iTunes and ask your question in the podcast review section. And while you're there, don't forget to leave a five star review.

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