The best leaders want themselves and their people to be more productive. They know that working ridiculous hours with high stress leads to low-productivity and burnout.  Melissa Gratias tells how to increase productivity with higher enjoyment and fulfillment.

In this episode you’ll learn:

  • How to start the process of becoming more organized and productive
  • How leaders’ methods of organizing information influences their effectiveness
  • The key thing that determines how well you can utilize any productivity system
  • How to balance your competing priorities so you don’t drive yourself CRAZY
  • Important practices that are essential to increasing your productivity without working harder



Further explore how to improve productivity.


The Transcript

Brad Wolff 00:02 

Welcome to the “IT IS ABOUT YOU PODCAST”. Today’s guest is Melissa Gratias, Ph.D. Melissa is an international speaker coach blogger and author. For more than 20 years, Melissa’s coaching and consulting work have improved productivity for multinational billion-dollar companies as well as individual solo printers. Melissa creates workable systems so that people can accomplish their professional goals in less time and with less stress. As a result, thousands of business owners, CEOs, and other overwhelmed professionals have become more focused effective in the balance in their lives and work. Melissa’s expertise helps people thrive and according to our clients. She’s knowledgeable approachable and ridiculously fun to work with. Learn what Melissa has to offer and connect with her. Her online at Melissa Gratias GRATIAS (dot) com. So, welcome to the show. 

Melissa Gratias01:15 

Thank you. I’m excited to be here. Thanks for having me. 

Brad Wolff 01:17 

Absolutely! Now, I love the information I received from you by being on your email list. Well, this is actually why I’m so excited to have my audience know more about you. 

Melissa Gratias 01:28 

Wonderful! I appreciate that. I am a productivity specialist. My passion, my joy is to help folks who feel overwhelmed, overworked. And leave work at the end of the day, and wondering what in the world is that I got done. I don’t feel like I’m doing what I should be doing and I don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring. I want to transform people from that state. Into people who feel focused balanced and effective every day as much as possible. They can so that’s my passion I accomplished that through one on one coaching. I do lots of training across the country and speaking engagements, conferences and I’m a blogger and author as well but productivity is my bag. 

Brad Wolff 02:13 

It’s clear that productivity and you are very close 

Melissa Gratias 02:19 

We are. I tell you one thing though. And I want to say this off the bad full disclosure; I am not one of those kids that lined up their socks at the sock drawer. Okay, that’s not me. I was not. 

Brad Wolff 02:35 

This show right now if it was 

Melissa Gratias 02:36 

I know right. Well you know some people were born Systematic. They were born to organize their time and tasks and information and stuff. They just came naturally to them and I applaud those people. That’s absolutely amazing, but I won’t. But that’s not me. I struggled with productivity and realized very early on in my career. That it had to be an intentional effort on my part, not to keep. Brad, I know if you’ve ever done this throwing more hours at your job. I mean, you can totally. You can get more done if you work, you know, three additional hours every day. Right! I mean, surely, right, I mean, some people disagree with that because you get less productive, the more hours you put in. But the common wisdom and some leaders think that you know, bottom and share time is what makes a person productive and that’s not productivity. It is a skill set. It is not a personality trait. And it is not a direct correlate of the amount of time that you spend in that office chair so productivity is a skill set if I can do it. And the body can do it. I tell you, anybody 

Brad Wolff 03:53 

And that is a great point. And when you describe some of those characteristics that are so common, I relate to every one of them. And I’ve done a lot of work to help myself get better, but I can certainly improve more and I relate to every I raised my hand, yes I relate personally to everyone. 

Melissa Gratias 04:13 

Excellent! Excellent!  

Brad Wolff 04:14 

So tell me a little bit about your origin story that brought you where you are today to being a productivity expert.  

Melissa Gratias 04:26 

I went straight through from college to graduate school and I got through all of that through sheer force of will and using I guess it’s a week at a glance planner, you know. You open up the day timers and it had, you know, Monday through Friday and Saturday and Sunday that’s the only thing I was able to do successfully naturally. We just kind of write things on a day timer and that’s because you know, my parents said you got to write it down and you’re going to forget it. And then they weren’t wrong. So I got through I got my masters in my Ph.D. so got it done. Yay! But when I started work in corporate America.  

I started in corporate human resources. And that’s where I cut my teeth. I was a corporate HR person for 10 years and my husband and me, we were married, while I was still in graduate school, and we would have Brad, what I called the 535 To five and every day at 530 either my office phone would ring or his desk phone would ring, and it was who gets to stay later and who has to go pick up the baby that we both like, don’t get me wrong. We like that little peanut. Who and who had to go pick up the peanut. So we would not be put in. She wouldn’t be put in baby jail so it, but it was the 5:35 every day of who had to Who, who got to work later. And I will tell you, Brad. I lost almost every day because it’s so not fair, so not fair that my husband is a pediatric oncologist so kids in the hospital will trump human resource issues every day, every day so I Yeah, they should. I know, I know, right. Yeah, but, um, but the 5:35 happened every day.  

And I finally realized that just something’s got to change here. I’ve got to work differently. I can’t just throw more hours at my situation. So I started a self-study journey. I took every Seminar read every book Stephen Covey ever wrote. This isn’t the 90s. I’m really trying to absorb all the productivity knowledge I possibly can so that I can work effectively and not have this stressful thing. At the end of every day that was happening. So it took me years Brad it, unfortunately, took me years to finally get to the point where I felt like I had this In hand I could be effective, I can be productive and by the time I got there, I was kind of looked at myself in the mirror. I said, What my passion is what I want to do is help other people like me get to where I am at a heck of a lot faster amount less amount of time than seven years, because that was ridiculous 

That was a long time of struggle. So what I do. I quit my job I up and quit my upwardly mobile corporate job they were trying to promote me. And I said, no, I’m going to start. Thank you for the promotion opportunity, but instead of that, I’m going to resign. To open up my own business and they thought I was insane and maybe I was because this was in 2007 when the bottom was dropping out of everything and But I will tell you what I had to offer was so necessary even during the Great Recession that my business….. I’ve been, it’s been a wonderful success, you know, starting at two weeks in, I had my first client. 

Two weeks after I hung out my shingle. And it was the same time has been fantastic ever since. So my origin story is just being a person that is a leader in an organization, you know, I, when I left my corporate job I was managing 30 people and I’ve been given an opportunity to manage a lot more than that. So it just, it’s we’ve all been there. But I will tell you if we do things like seek out leadership coaching seek out productivity coaching. We don’t have to suffer, we can end up in a bad situation, and we can get to where we want to be. Personally, professionally and have more balance. 

Brad Wolff 08:41 

That is a great point. Also, that’s one of the things I’ve learned myself is the power of seeking coaching yourself because even though you can do it by yourself the amount of extra time, effort everything. 

Melissa Gratias 08:58 

Everything! Yes, yes. 

Brad Wolff 09:00 

It’s 40 times greater than if you’d gotten help. So, and you would laugh at a professional athlete an entertainer or CEO that says, I’m just going to figure it out as I, on my own, you know, or if a doctor said that. 

Melissa Gratias 09:14 

Yeah, right. I mean, it’s me be any different. Right! It’s I recently went to my local movie theater has a flashback cinema and we saw it. My family went and saw the matrix on the big screen again, which was Again, I spent so long but I as I sat there and I watched them ram a spike into the back of the character’s heads and download information. I’m like, Oh man! Oh, if only it were that easy, but it’s not. So I’ve had a coach. Oh goodness, I engaged my coach very shortly after I started my business and have had a coach a business coach ever since the whole time. It’s just thought it’s essential to our as we 

Brad Wolff 10:01 

We can’t see ourselves objectively, they wouldn’t go on and on with that and take a four or five-hour show 

That may not go well. So basically, a summary of your journey, your origin story was basically peanut fuel.  

Melissa Gratias 10:15 

Yes, indeed.  

Brad Wolff 10:17 

The fuel that has brought you to where you are today! 

Melissa Gratias 10:20 

Yes! And that peanut by the way, I’m taking her to college on a spin in three days. So it’s just really  

Brad Wolff 10:26 

Gonna be very productive. 

Melissa Gratias 10:27 

Yes! Yes! 

Brad Wolff 10:28 

I’m sure she will be, she’s not gonna, she’s not gonna know any different, as opposed to the rest of us. So tell me a little bit. Melissa, about the type of Productivity Improvement Systems, that really makes a difference in people’s effectiveness.  

Melissa Gratias 10:48 

I will not be the one to tout the flashy Bleeding Edge App and or any system that is going to require a three-week user conference and a 400-page manual. Okay. There are folks out there who are doing that and doing it well and that is great, but the clients. I tend to work with most often are those who Work eternally. We start with what you already have.  

So the best thing to us is to maximize systems, you already have available to you and very specifically, you know, 80% of corporate America is using Microsoft Outlook, for example. So start there. Start with a system already knows oftentimes, you can solve 80% of your productivity problems by maximizing your current tools for example outlook tasks. It’s right there on the lower left-hand corner of the outlook screen and typically very neglected by my business people and leaders. That is a fantastic way place where one can download one’s brain and have all those tasks that are swirling around and that we’re trying to remember which we stink at remembering stuff. I mean, you know that right I mean 

Brad Wolff 12:09 

We are essential to be able to move on and stay focused on what you’re doing.  

Melissa Gratias 12:13 

Exactly! Exactly! So Outlook Task is a great tool that I recommend for folks making your calendar, something that works for you instead of you working for it. I mean that there are so many techniques that we can use that to an end and make ourselves more productive. It’s not about the tool. It’s about us, we need to change us, ourselves, are thinking first that I warn you I am a psychologist and me, you know, and so I repeat my Ph.D. in psychology. So I love Talking about individual differences in how people think and how they work and what makes them tick and so We need to change ourselves first and then the tools themselves just become a support system by Wednesday, they become irrelevant but they just think they’re not the star of the show.  

Brad Wolff 13:11 

Because we think the tool is going to do it for us! 

Melissa Gratias 13:14 

Yeah, and it doesn’t 

Brad Wolff 13:16 

The person using a tool not the tool itself. The tool itself can do nothing.  

Brad Wolff 13:49 

Okay. Um, so let’s talk so that’s very insightful and it’s a huge paradigm shift from what I think most of us, including sometimes myself or custom to let’s talk a little bit about a real problem that occurs, which is balancing competing priorities. You know what I’ve got, you know, let’s say 6,7,8 10 things that seem important. And then when I try to compare and choose which ones have one important I started having an internal argument and arguing the point of each being the top priority. So talk a little bit about how you balance these competing priorities. 

Melissa Gratias 14:35 

First of all, there are lots of different ways to do this and what I tell my clients is that you’ve got to get out of your head because we can end up having internal arguments with ourselves until forever if we don’t download our brains onto some sort of Task List. Let me just take outlook tasks since I’ve already mentioned that. So you download your brain. You get all of the Verbs and task lists are our best buds read right call follow up review construct finalized. Verbs get your list of verbs down not just Brad wolf. Like if I had a task on my task list or said Brad Wolf, then that gives me get that would give me the opportunity to do just what you said. Is, I would say, well, what was I supposed to do with Brad was I supposed to get him. This was I supposed to follow up with him.  

Was I supposed to read his list to me? So, it gives me a great opportunity to get back in my head. but if I have a verb with it. Follow up with Brad Wolff on you know podcasts such and such, then that leaps over the cerebral arguments, at least for that one task and gets me to action. It also helps me compare the task to follow up with Brad wolfs against the three to four. Other things I have set for myself that day. So here’s another way to get yourself out of your head. We need on our task lists not fake deadlines and due dates, because we’re not fooling ourselves or anyone else it by saying,  

I’m going to give myself a deadline of Friday, you’re not that gullible okay you know that that’s a fake deadline. What I advise my clients is to use progress gates. Okay, a progress day is a very like brilliantly creatively named date on which you wish to make. Say it with my progress. So a progress date is a date on which you wish to make progress. You can have a task list of 50 things all with verbs. Remember those verbs are our friends. But we don’t want them to. We don’t want to force ourselves to review all 50 things every single time we switched between one task and another. That is another great opportunity to get in your head and start having the internal argument and get overwhelmed by priorities. Every task needs to have a progress date a date on which I wish to make progress, ideally, that progress dates going to be before the deadline, if any, right.  

Because we don’t want to start working on our tasks on the deadline but have a 50 item to-do list. For example, no more than three to five ideally should be sharing the same progress date. Okay, you see, you get it that way. We’re not looking at all 50 and having the internal argument over 50 items, we’re looking at five and saying of these five things. What comes first? And that is cognitively doable. Okay. Looking at a list of 50 things is where we can get all tied up in knots if we have if the 45 remaining items on the list or progress dated for the future. We don’t have to worry about those today.  

We don’t even need to look at them today. We just need to look at the five that have progress dates of today. Isn’t foolproof know there are always opportunities to procrastinate, but my philosophy is let’s try for progress, not perfection. So we’re gonna we’re going to go for. We’re going to hit 80% of our problems, right, that that I would like a productivity solution like using progress days to hit 80% of your problems. It’s not going to solve 100% because that’s just that’s too much effort to get 

Brad Wolff 18:40 

Perfect. And. Right! Right!  

Melissa Gratias 18:42 

Right! Right! So, first of all US for two to two bits of advice on how to get yourself better able to prioritize. First of all, use verbs on every task on your task list. Second of all, every task have a progress date and don’t I guess it’s the third thing is don’t overload any one day because then you’re overloading yourself with  

Brad Wolff 19:01 

Priorities, that is, yeah, that’s something that’s a challenge for me that I’ve been working on is I get overly optimistic about what 

Melissa Gratias 19:11 

You think you’re going to strap on your red cape.  

Brad Wolff 19:15 

I’d be Crazy. And I always overestimate probably by 300% what’s practical and the thing is when I feel overwhelmed and it’s like, “Oh, my gosh!” I got so much to do. I actually much less productive and low energy changes to something that’s not so positive. Absolutely!  

Melissa Gratias 19:34 

So cut your aspirations in half and you can all if you get everything done that day, you can always look at tomorrow’s progress dates and see what you can grab, If you have extra time. 

Brad Wolff 19:49 

Yeah, that’s that hasn’t been a problem for me. But I’ll keep that. Okay. 

 Brad Wolff 19:55 

So, Melissa, How much you know I think a common belief is that some people are just born organized and productive and I know you mentioned that that’s not true. Can you expand on that a little bit? 

Melissa Gratias 20:08 

Well, I would say that there are a couple of personality traits that are correlated with higher levels of productivity one is conscientiousness. Okay so conscientiousness as a personality trait, those, those are the people who are hiring conscientiousness tend to be able to be more systematic Effective naturally the quote born organized folks that they’re high-end conscientiousness, but I wrote an article on my blog about What to do when you’re gonna when you Do you have to gotta want to get her done. That was the title of the blog. Do you gotta want to get her done? And the answer is no. You don’t have to be high in conscientiousness to be the most productive.  

You can be there are some tricks to get around that. One of the things is to be a psychological technique called self-regulation and it’s essentially bribed yourself. Okay, if there’s a distasteful task and this is also really great for people who are just procrastinating something if there’s a distasteful task or you’re just having problems getting certain things done. Attach a reward to the completion of the task that you do care about that it will motivate you, that will inspire you to get the task done. Additionally, I was, I was asked. I think it was, but it was either by INC or Forbes or something like that, Brad. Several years ago, productivity experts give their favorite app. And of course, mine was the timer app on your phone. I mean, the Timer App, it is there’s so much power in that little timer app because first. So it does so many things for you. First of all, if you are a procrastinator it can, if you set a timer for 15 minutes can give can mimic the deadline based adrenaline rush that often motivates procrastination. 

Brad Wolff 22:08 

So I’m just going to do 15 minutes and then after that, I can stop if I want  

Melissa Gratias 22:12 

Well, and that and that philosophy also helps you with multitasking, because we, I mean, you may be aware that multitasking is a very ineffective way to work as well. You can tell yourself. I am I give me permission to focus on this one task for 15 minutes I only have to do it for 15 minutes so it takes the Distasteful tasks compresses them gives us a nice deadline-based adrenaline rush to get them done. And it just makes us think that oh, even if I’m low and conscientiousness, even if I don’t want to do this thing. It’s all I can do anything for 15 minutes 

Brad Wolff 22:45  

That she said that one works really for me and hopefully I don’t procrastinate on setting the timer for that, because of some things. It’s just I can’t help you. 

Melissa Gratias 22:57 

I can just smack it on the side of the head.  

Brad Wolff 23:01 

Discuss. What’s your rate for daily smacking? 

Melissa Gratias 23:03 

Daily smacking there we go. Love it. 

Brad Wolff 23:07 

Nice man. Okay. And what hope is there for people often have as I’ve been who have who tend to struggle with personal efficiency. 

Melissa Gratias 23:24 

With Personal Efficiency, we want to make sure that we understand that our efficiency does not just impact us personally, especially when we’re leaders, our efficiency. Has grand impacts down the line and I some, some of the best advice I was given when I was a new leader was that people need to be able to come into your office with their hair on fire completely maybe even just nervous and overwhelmed and you the leader melted down And you, the leader needs to be able to turn around and just be the calm figure in this scenario, but if I am not efficient myself, then I am not as a leader. 

I am not calling anyone down I am the one stirring the pot. I am or I am causing and I’m manufacturing the crises by my own inefficiency. Let me give you a prime example of how this plays out, particularly for leaders, if I am a leader and I do not have a task list, for example. Then I get an email that says, hey, I need a report on the who, but he wasn’t pulling his response to fall. Okay, and I look back, I’m like, Oh no, I need to delegate that TO BRAD So if I’m not efficient. Then how, then, how do I delegate that to Brad I stand up. I walk over to Brad’s office I knock on his door, and I said, God, I met the three worst words in the English language “got a minute. We know it’s never a minute. And we know you don’t get it. 

Brad Wolff 25:09 

Well, the person tightens up when they hear that they know I know sending me out for something that’s big? Yeah, it’s delegation. 

Melissa Gratias 25:17 

Through interruptions so I interrupted you costing you an average of 25 minutes of productivity and it’s. So, Brad. I need you to work on the hub of you who to Report and you’re like okay and we end up talking about it for half an hour. If I am efficient as a leader I know I have a one on one with Brad tomorrow at three o’clock. I’m going to add this to my discuss with Brad list. And when and when Brad comes in my office and we’re going through the list of things I need to talk to. I’m going to deal with this. At that time, it is batch processing tasks. And we’ve heard probably heard about bashing and how efficient that can be if we have effective one on ones and both have the discipline and personal efficiency. To hold off our discussion topics until those ones on ones, then we can be. Then we help to create calm as leaders and not stirring the pot. Every time we walk out of our office door. 

Brad Wolff 26:15 

That’s a great point and I talked about that. Everything starts with the leaders, because of what they do now, what they say. But what they do. Yep, sets the culture that is what guides what people do and don’t do 

And I really appreciate all the studies I’ve done is I’ve also indicated the power of focusing on one thing at a time and putting your full focus on it and I basically batch processing that I’m leaving. Alone, the other things that are popping into my mind that are pulling on me that they want to get my attention. Absolutely, that is power and not doing that will always rob us of the vast majority of what we can do. Indeed, so what if I can just imagine with what you do. Melissa that people come to you and they all they know is they’re not getting things done. But what they think is causing it is not what’s going on. So what are some of the questions that you get asked by people when they’re working with you? 

Melissa Gratias 27:22 

I love, I think the questions that people ask, are so indicative of where they are and their psychological journey. One of my favorite questions is usually about a third of the way into a coaching engagement with a client, they’ve started changing some of their behaviors, and they’re seeing some impacts of things. They’re doing the as my, my daughter calls it the facepalm of why, you know. Oh, and they asked me, Melissa. How did I get myself into this situation, how did I get myself into this situation and one of the most common things I see and can reply to that is You said yes. You said yes, over and over and over again, you said yes, I have a minute, you said yes your priorities are more important than my priorities, you said yes, I will take on this external responsibility that has absolutely nothing to do with anything for which you know I am compensated.  

I mean, you said yes, over and over and over again and in each yes we say feels very benign. It comes in; it feels it doesn’t feel like a big deal a lot of the time. Because, it’s just one, Yes! But over time, we end up getting ourselves in a situation of overwhelmed by just a collection of yeses, which really More logically and realistically should have been nose and in one of my eBooks Brad I review. A bullet-pointed list of ways to say no without feeling like a jerk and what I recommend is just to practice as silly as it sounds, role play with yourself, the person in the mirror and say, I need to check my calendar on that.  

No, I’m not the best person for that committee, I recommend you contact so and so. I don’t have time to prioritize that. Now, can you get back with me in September? I mean, there are lots of ways we can get ourselves out of these situations of overwhelmed, but it requires a bit of discomfort, especially at first saying no can feel very uncomfortable until you get used to it until you realize that that saying though, although we don’t want. We need to be very strategic about when we say yes and no. It is the thing that helps us manage ourselves, our time, our tasks, our teams everything, much, much better.  

Brad Wolff 30:14 

That is a great point and I relate to that because I think like most of us. We’ve been conditioned to please and, you know, be a good team player, etc. But I guess when you think about it unless you can say, No, you’re not really free to give a true, yes.  

Melissa Gratias 30:32 

Right! And yeah exactly, I mean, when we are saying yes to something we are saying no to lots of other things that are very important to us. A lot of times we end up when we say yes to something that we really shouldn’t. We’re saying no To ourselves, we are saying no to our ability to sustain work and not burn out and that and it’s very critical to keep those things in mind.  

Brad Wolff 30:58 

That, that’s an excellent point, Melissa. What do you see as the relationship between leadership development and personal development?  

Melissa Gratias 31:07 

Well, I think that development, in general, follows a model that I fell in love with as a grad student. I went to Virginia Tech for grad school and during the summers I was an intern at the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, North Carolina. What a fantastic organization leadership think tank that now has offices all over the world, but their model of leadership development was three parts assessment challenge and support assessment challenge and support I as a Researcher a person with a doctoral degree in psychology, I firmly believe that assessment. It doesn’t have to be filling in a bubble sheet kind of assessment.   

But at some point, we need to do a self-assessment, Get feedback, get feedback from other people. There needs to be some diagnosis portion of our development, we need to figure out where the gaps are Because of gaps, Brad. I know you know this. That’s what motivates action if we don’t proceed, there’s a gap between where I am and where I want to be if those things are right on top of each other, and there I have no motivation to change. None! And that’s fine. I mean, yeah! without a gap or comfortable now. Now also, there can be gaps with which I’m very comfortable. My gap between me being a world-famous opera singer and where I am right now is as wide as the universe and I don’t care. So I never want to be an  

Brad Wolff 32:45 

Urban gap  

Melissa Gratias 32:46 

Yeah! It’s, yeah. So it has to there has to be a gap and we have to care about the gap. So, all that comes! Both identifying the gaps and identifying which gaps are important. All that comes in the assessment phase where, where are our gaps in which ones are more important than others. So that and then we get into the challenge phase of development where we are trying new things, implementing new strategies. You know, I tell my clients. I’m going to offer you several different methodologies of managing your work. I need you to balance, you know, doing something different that perhaps with what you were uncomfortable and pushing back when something’s just not working because there are always multiple ways to skin this cat.   

So, during the challenge phase working back and forth and back and forth with the client to tweak and customize Productivity and task management systems to them, their personality their work environments that and that’s during the challenge phase when we’re kind of in the unfrozen, you know, fluid phase of change where we’re taking on new things and learning new skills and then The third phase of development is support while we are implementing new skills, understanding that Failure will happen success will also happen but until we get comfortable with where we are. We need that support so the whether it’s personal, or professional development. The assessment challenge support model thinks is both kinds to people because we need to be kinder to ourselves. So, we are our worst critics and always saying I’m bad at this. And I’m bad at that particularly high highly motivated people, but the assessment challenge support model is kind to ourselves as well as motivational and developmental 

Brad Wolff 34:36 

That’s an excellent point. Now, what’s your definition of leadership development 

Melissa Gratias 34:43 

I think that the definition of leaders, it varies by person and situation. I don’t think there’s just one type of leader and if we have just one definition of leadership we end up with only with leaders who look just one way and that. And that’s gotten our country. I think into a very stagnant situation. So I think our, our definition of leadership should be varied I think our definition of leadership development should also be very like I said, I have studied psychology. Psychology is the study of individual differences. I think if we take leaders and we assess where they are in relationship to their environment. What development needs they have with challenge them and we support them. I think that we can get a wide variety of leaders who look very different from each other all brought up to, to be the best leader, they can possibly be for their situation.  

Brad Wolff 35:41 

Great point! And what do you see as the role that your personal development plays in your own professional success?  

Melissa Gratias 35:51 

I tell my clients I say you do not hang up your humanity when you walk in the office. I mean, it’s not like there’s a hook on the wall next to your door that you take your entire personal life, and you just hang it on that hook and you and Just compartmentalize that we are one whole person and with all of our positive qualities and our baggage. We are one person. So anything we do for ourselves professionally is going to impact our personal lives, and vice versa. I’ve had clients. With whom I’ve worked, who said, I am so inspired by what’s happening to me in the office. I’m going to completely change how I’m managing my personal life as well because I want the same degree of relief and peace to be present for me at home that is in the office. So I, I see it as a. It’s like taking two buckets of paint and pouring them into one bucket and they have two different colors and just seeing them swirl around each other. I don’t think they can be extracted  

Brad Wolff 36:59 

Okay, so basically what you’re saying is that your personal development is everything to do with who you are, which impacts everything you do, whether you’re working or not. 

Melissa Gratias 37:10 


Brad Wolff 37:11 

You take yourself with you. So it really doesn’t matter. You’re absolutely how you handle the challenges that life throws at you is the way you know, regardless  

Melissa Gratias 37:19 

You are one person.  

Brad Wolff 37:20 

Exactly! And Melissa, How does a leader’s method of organizing their information relate to how they lead other people and If you already? I know you touched on it, some with the issue of if you were to call someone in and say, do you have a minute to?  

Melissa Gratias 37:39 


Brad Wolff 37:40 

You want to add to that.  

Melissa Gratias 37:41 

Absolutely! I work a lot, Brad with tasks and time management is the primary thing that I help clients achieve success in those areas. Also, I have I, I have from time to time helped clients with the physical organization of files electronic files, that type of thing. Because they’re there’s such a connection between how we manage our information just let’s first of all this picture of a file cabinet. Okay.  

And I’ll tell you a story about one of my clients, how we keep what information we retain and how we organize it is has a lot of implications. I worked with a C level executive who oversaw a very high functioning team of people, she and my client, she was amazing. She was skilled; she was internally promoted within the organization. So she knew the company inside and out. She worked with our team for years. Okay, so this is not like an outsider brought in to lead a brand new team of people with whom they were unfamiliar.  

She and she and the people who reported directly to her had worked together for years. And I was called; she called me in to help her. She said, Look, I am overwhelmed. I can’t get any of my strategic work done because I was I am a C level executive and I feel like I’m just on managing projects and people. I said, Okay, let’s take a look at what’s going on here. And I looked at her desk and there were piles of project folders all over her desk. I opened up. She had, you know, just two drawers of files and I opened up. They were stuffed full of folders. And I said, Tell me about all this information, what is this stuff she goes and she said, we started talking about it what it turned out to be rad, is that every time she delegated a project to one of her people. She would say, I want you to do the Who’s he wants it to project.  

This is Lucy. What’s it project and she delegate that to you know, one for example, and one would make his folder and label it. Who’s the Whatsit project this C level executive would also create her own folder. Who’s he wants it project. And every time she went to a project meeting with one are the ones leading the meeting, but she’s also putting all the stuff in there and keeping she kept her own copies of every project, she ever delegated And felt a sense of accountability toward each of these projects. I asked her, I said. You’ve worked with one for years. Right! She said, yes I said, does one do a good job.  

Oh, he is a fabulous job, then why are you keeping all of his information for him. And it was an epiphany for her. We threw away, we got one of those big shred bins unlocked the thing opened up and filled that puppy up to the top with all the project folders of projects that she had delegated to other people. And she looked at me and she said this makes me feel like an entire weight has lifted when I followed up with her six months later.   

She said I’m a different leader. I am a different leader now not hoarding it formation my space reflects the fact that I have fantastic people and I trust them. Now my office shows that and by changing my office I changed myself. So that it was so powerful, but how we organize our information is not just a matter of labeling folders, whether electronic or paper, it reflects our state of mind. It’s so  

Brad Wolff 41:31 

That’s a great point is the state of mind reflects how we organize. Yes, when we think the problem is how we organized to know the state of mind is what’s causing it. Yes, an excellent point. So how can I know we can get emotionally attached to our stuff in our personal lives, but how easy or difficult is it to separate ourselves from the stuff we keep it work.  

Melissa Gratias 41:59 

I have another story for you. I have to tell you this. This is great. It was another C level executive different company. Well, okay, if it was a CFO that I was working with and that’s important because you think of CFO is his numbers people right very analytical numbers-oriented individuals. So this client CFO of a large company and I was helping him again this was a few years ago, I love the image that you can. I can put it in your mind.   

With this, we were going through some old files. He had maintained here. Here was the thing Instead of maintaining all the files from people who reported to him. His office was like this archive of everything that he’d ever done in his entire career. He just brought from the time he was an entry-level accountant. He had all of his files. It was like the story of him. I mean everything in there. He had to set any just moved it from office to office company to company just kept all his files.   

First of all records management nightmare. But what ended up happening was we were looking through a file, and it was printed out PowerPoint deck. And I was going through the methodology that I use with my clients of decision making in a situation like this, and I said, This is not this PowerPoint deck is first of all x number of years old. And it does not. It doesn’t meet the criteria, this, this and this hangout will know. I said, Okay, we need to put it in the shred Ben and that man took that PowerPoint deck. Held it to his chest and started rubbing it around in a circle. Making circles with a pet with a stack of paper on his chest and he got the stricken look on his face. I mean his eyebrows went up and his lips curl down and he said, but I worked very hard on this.   

And I just, I couldn’t help myself as we get attached to this stuff we put pieces of ourselves and what we do. It makes it and we, again, we do not hang up our humanity. When we walk into the office of people who love their jobs, the most are the people who put themselves in their jobs and care about the output in what they do. He eventually I will say he’s like, you’re right. This is so old. I don’t need to keep this I did work very hard on it, but it’s time to let it go. And he did. He didn’t end up lightning his load so profoundly he purged 95% of his paper and what was the better for it felt like he had he was more mobile, and I will tell you.  

Brad Wolff 44:47 

It is a lighter weight in pounds.  

Melissa Gratias 44:49 

He had been at his company for about 20 years and I don’t really hesitate to say this out loud because I may get people to not want to hire me but I will say that once we lighten his load. He was headhunted and recruited and left and became the president of another company within six months. Because I mean it was all the paper and I and I talked to him. I saw him at a baseball game. And I said, what’s up, and he said, I once I let go of the anchor. I felt I felt free to fly. And so, I mean, again, it goes back to it’s not about the stuff. It’s not about the stuff. It’s about us. Yeah.  

Brad Wolff 45:27 

Everything in our life reflects our beliefs all that absolutely, rather than the other way around. That is that is hilarious. And you know what we all have some of this, some of that within us. We’re holding on to things because of it.

Brad Wolff 45:42 

Social Value, but those same things are holding us back from growing and moving forward. Indeed, now, Melissa. I’ve seen some of your videos and I really have enjoyed him and I really appreciate and love the one that you know that you had your dog with you. 

Melissa Gratias 46:01 

But doggies, he, his name is Dobie we’ve named him after a character in the Harry Potter the Dobie and he is my little coworker me as I have worked from my home since 2007 when I’m not traveling for work for clients and he’s my little co-worker. 

Brad Wolff 46:24 

Now, how does Dobby impact your productivity?  

Melissa Gratias 46:26 

Dobby is a fabulous productivity tool I’m petting a dog is very calming and he’s a lap dog as well and having him in my lap when I’m working. It helps keep me calm and my blood pressure is down is wonderful. I think everyone should have, we should have a “bring-your-dog-to-work-allthetime rule and every company. 

Brad Wolff 46:49 

Should be a prescription 

Melissa Gratias 46:50 

It should be dogs. 

Brad Wolff 46:52 

You’re Ph.D.  You can prescribe.  That would be a new business we can talk. Here we go. There we go. So, Melissa, what URLs would you like to promote 

Melissa Gratias 47:06 

I would love for people who are still hanging in with us and the podcast. Hi, folks. Thanks for being here. I would love for you all to read My blog post I put I’ve been posting blogs for years and I have a wealth of about 200 posts on my blog that I would love for you to be able to search and find things that help you and subscribe. To receive the blog in your email inbox if you, if you find it really helpful. My website is Melissa gracious calm and because My name is not spelled the way it’s pronounced, I will have a little spelling lesson for you right now it’s M. E. L. I. S. S. A.  G R A T I A S (dot) com. It looks like grittiest but its pronounced gracious Alyssa gracious calm my blog is there, you can add me to your list. I will not spam you, you can always unsubscribe.  

Brad Wolff 47:59 

I second that and I’m a subscriber and the very practical tips.  

Melissa Gratias 48:07 

Thank you. Thank you. Yeah, I’ve got some books on there as well, both for children and adults. I’ve written some a Children’s Book on life balance which, if you’re a parent of an elementary school-age child, he may be interested in. But I’ve also got books for grown-ups on there that are available via PDF and Kindle.  

Brad Wolff 48:24 

Okay! And, are there any premiums or premiums that you’re offering for listeners?  

Melissa Gratias 48:30 

I would if your listener emails me and says that they learned about me on this podcast that I will send them one free eBook 

Brad Wolff 48:38 

How about that? Awesome! Awesome! Okay. And are there any books or publications that you want to promote you mentioned your new book.  

Melissa Gratias 48:46 

Yes. My book is my new children’s book is called Serafina does everything. It’s about an amazing little girl. who does not want to miss out on a thing, so she does it all. She has ballet and karate and soccer and chess club and everything. And she realizes that she’s very active, but not very happy. So with the help of her father, she learns about prioritization, which we discussed today and realizing that sometimes it’s. You don’t have to do everything to feel like everything, everything is inside you not outside you so it’s a wonderful book published by the National Center for Youth Issues. It’s available on Amazon called Sarah Athena does everything! 

Brad Wolff 49:30 

Is that? Can I read it and benefit?  

Melissa Gratias 49:37 

Yes, you can get a lot of my reviews have said that exact thing Bradley and I am Sarah. This book is applicable to adults as it is to kids. Absolutely!  

Brad Wolff 49:46 

Yeah, I would think it is, well, Melissa. Thank you so much! 

Melissa Gratias 49:51 


Brad Wolff 49:52 

This has been extremely helpful. I think that our audience is going to everyone can get some benefit out of this. And then when we get off the phone. I want to talk to you about working with me.  

Melissa Gratias 50:04 

Excellent! You got it.  

Brad Wolff 50:05 

Okay, thank you so much, Melissa. Thanks!