If you’re looking for my formal bio, you can scroll down to the bottom of the page. But if you want my real story… the real me… here it is…
It all started in 2004… one year after starting my business. I realized I was still toting around my burdensome Franklin Covey planner from the last corporate job and I also had a 1998, brick-style cell phone that had to go. I wasn’t operating efficiently or productively with either one.
I wanted to streamline my systems and be planner-free.
And I wanted simplicity.
So I bought my first “PDA” (Personal Digital Assistant) from Verizon in late 2004. Then I ditched the planner and decided to maximize the use of my old familiar friend, Microsoft Outlook®, a system I’d been using since the early ’90s soon after I graduated from college.
Sure, I’d been using Outlook for e-mail and the calendar, but what about the Task list? That was the year my system was born, although I didn’t know it until years later when the system actually took shape. And I’ve been teaching it now for more than 10 years.
But wait… there’s more.
There are three other pieces of my past that brought me to where I am today as founder and CEO of Productive Day and creator of Taskology® The Science of Getting Things Done. How did I get here? Well, that’s the rest of the story…
If there’s such a thing as being “born organized” – or born with the organizing gene – then I would have fallen into that category. I’ve been considered “organized” my whole life and it has to be true, because my Mom still tells stories!
But besides being a natural at organizing, I was also raised by two extremely productive parents. They empowered me to do anything and everything I put my mind to. They taught me how to be capable, confident, industrious, purposeful and productive. (Although productivity was probably already in my genes, too!)
Teaching business owners, corporate leaders and professionals
how to be powerfully productive.
What my parents modeled and what they taught me made a huge impact on my life, as did the environment in which I grew up. I was raised on a sizable piece of property (30+ acres) in northern Baltimore County until I was 17. I mention this not to impress you, but rather to impress upon you that there was no shortage of things to do!
I loved working at my parents’ sides, learning everything they had to teach, but there was a LOT to do(!) and I know there were moments my sister and I would probably have preferred to play instead of help with lawn work, fixing fences, tending horses, shoveling gravel, digging in the vegetable garden or chopping wood. But don’t get me wrong, we had plenty of chances to play and have fun and I think our “helping out” was really part of our “room and board.”
Anyway, I loved where I grew up. I loved the work ethic my parents taught me and the skills and empowerment I learned. But what I appreciate the most is that my parents modeled three things really well and I’ve carried these lessons with me throughout my whole life:
1. Planning and Execution – My parents had NO problem with planning and execution. Whether it was planning a weekend project, our next vacation, home improvements, or their next party, they made their plan, planned their time carefully, and executed efficiently, realistically and on time.
2. Finishing What You Start – My parents always finished what they started. They regularly modeled what success looked like on the other side of effort – both theirs and mine. The feeling of success in finishing what I started encouraged me to keep finishing anything I started.
3. Celebrating a Job Well Done – My parents always stood back and admired a job well done, whether I helped or not. They modeled how to take time to appreciate their efforts, plus they enthusiastically appreciated mine, which helped us all stay inspired, motivated and looking forward to the next project.
These are 3 things I see missing far too often in the work days of my clients and other professionals. Recognizing this helped me realize my purpose, which includes the lessons I learned so long ago.
Bringing productivity, progress, accomplishment and satisfaction to the work days of business owners, corporate leaders, and professionals everywhere.
As I was learning a great work ethic during my childhood, I knew from a very young age that I wanted to work in corporate offices, just like my Dad. He worked at Black & Decker for more than 30 years and I wanted to be just like him.
As a small girl, I remember he started his own business on the side (Shreve & Co.) and he let me help him in his office from time to time, entering receipts in the ledger and keeping his business checkbook balanced. These were perfect little tasks for me. And I also loved organizing my Dad’s desk and helping him stay up-to-date with his filing.
My reputation for being organized at home was also supported by my reputation in school. I went to St. Paul’s and St. Paul’s School for Girls just north of Baltimore, MD, and I gained a reputation for being organized and productive there, too.
In my senior year, our yearbook had a special page for the graduating class called “That’ll be the day when…” and every graduate was listed with a special entry representing what they were best known for.
Here’s what their entry said about me:
Hmmm… I think my classmates knew I wasn’t a procrastinator!
Then after high school, I got my Bachelor’s Degree in Business at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, VA and came home to Baltimore to get my first job two weeks out of college. I was driven, excited and ready to dive into the corporate world.
I landed in operations – specifically materiel management, purchasing and contracting – for 13 years, mostly in working in health systems, such as LifeBridge Health in Baltimore and the Bon Secours Health System corporate offices in Marriottsville, MD. I loved my career. I was great at it. And then something changed.
Gradually, I became aware of not really feeling like I was making a difference… of not being as excited with my day-to-day job as I used to be. I was getting restless… maybe even bored. And being good at my job wasn’t good enough anymore. Being great wasn’t even enough. I even loved the people I worked with! But it was bigger than that. I wasn’t feeling… fulfilled. I wanted to do something completely different. And I really wanted to help people.
So I quit.
I left a well-paying, secure corporate job with great health benefits and a fabulous retirement plan. I wasn’t married, there was no second income and I had no back-up plan. But I wanted to start my own business and I knew I could do it. So I left it all behind in 2003 and I’ve never looked back – not even once – because I couldn’t be happier!
I started out by helping professionals get organized, but here’s another turning point for me – one that truly led me to create Productive Day. I quickly realized that even if professionals could find or file a paper in 3 seconds or less and stay clutter-free for the most part, that it wasn’t enough if they couldn’t prioritize their tasks and projects, couldn’t get enough time to do the things they wanted or needed to do, and couldn’t manage the endless amounts of e-mail they got every day.
At the same time, I discovered that professionals were frustrated about their work day and they didn’t know whether to blame it on disorganization or lack of good time management skills. (These are the two most popular suspects.)
But I knew it was much more than just disorganization or lack of time. These were just the tip of the iceberg – literally! The clutter you could see in an office was like the part of the iceberg you could see above water. The real productivity challenges were not as visible or readily apparent. They were hidden from view, like the rest of the iceberg under water.
I learned that clients were…
- Over-committed and overwhelmed
- Falling behind in managing their tasks, time, e-mail and more
- Feeling out of control and chaotic
- Losing important information
- Missing deadlines and opportunities
- Feeling held back, stressed out, and fed up
- Worried about forgetting tasks or appointments
- Tired of watching things slip through the cracks
- And more.
They knew and I knew… they weren’t operating as efficiently, effectively or as productively as they could be.
I also discovered that most professionals didn’t know how to maximize Microsoft Outlook® – a great piece of software I’ve used for more than 20 years… roughly since it came out.
So, I had found the opportunity to put my passion and purpose to work and establish my misison. And over the years I created and trademarked a system to teach productivity called
Taskology® The Science of Getting Things Done.
Teaching Taskology® to business owners, corporate leaders and professionals to help them get more accomplished with less chaos, clutter and confusion; work with more clarity, confidence and control; and enjoy more time, freedom, focus, progress and success.
But before you think,
“She doesn’t understand what I’m going through…”
“This all comes so naturally to her…”
“She doesn’t feel my pain or struggle…”
Not so fast.
In all my years in corporate America, I did many of the things I advise against today. And I do things now that I never would have dreamed of doing back then!
I used pads of paper for my to-do lists, I’ve used my fair share of planners, and I used the papers and files on my desk as the reminders of things to do – even if they were extremely organized, by the way.
But I was never able to fully consolidate all of my tasks into one, single complete and comprehensive electronic task list, like Microsoft Outlook®, and meanwhile my time was being wasted from reviewing papers and files again and again (and again) without having a more solid plan of action.
I was even required to use a certain type of planner in my final role in the corporate world. They handed me a Franklin Covey planner when I walked in the door on my first day and said, “Here… use this. We all do. It’s required.”
“OK, no problem,” I thought. “I can do that.” I even remember thinking how cool it was that they provided these for every employee in the corporate office (and they were the medium sized ones, too) and how they bought the refills for you every year and how “advanced” I felt using it in my new job. But I advise against paper planners today for a lot of reasons. The main one is that paper is an inefficient system for managing tasks, projects and reminders, but don’t get me started.
What didn’t I do back then? Well, I have a vivid memory (because I was so freaked out) of being asked by my boss to spearhead a mission to organize our department’s shared drive of electronic documents. And I turned him down!
I gave him every excuse in the book why I couldn’t do it or do it alone – why I wasn’t capable, how monumental a task it was, and why I wouldn’t have the time. (Unbelievable!) I was clearly not ready to do it even though that’s exactly what I do with my clients today.
So, for the duration of my corporate career I was highly organized and fairly productive. I managed my time well, I kept my e-mail Inbox close to zero and I filed or tossed as many things as I could. But I still wasn’t using the techniques and strategies I teach today. I wasn’t using an optimal paper file system, I wasn’t managing my tasks as strategically, and I was losing time I didn’t know I could save. I simply wasn’t operating as productively as I could have. But I just didn’t know it.
I wish I had then the system I teach today.
So now that I’ve shared all of this with you, my point is to say… I get it. I was just as stretched and stressed out as many professionals are today. I was sometimes frazzled, trying to juggle it all. And while a lot of my job stress was due to the work load, my systems and processes could have been better.
Don’t get me wrong… I already felt “in control” and “organized” and “clear on my priorities,” which is what I hear from professionals all the time, but if I’d known then what I know and teach now, I could have been even more productive than ever. I could have been more in control of my work day, less stressed and better able to plan, prioritize and be more proactive… every… single… day.
Sometimes, after I’ve spoken to a group, audience members will approach me and say, “I thought I was organized and on top of my game, but now I know I can improve and use what you’ve taught today to be more productive and then [fill in the blank] as a result.” Everyone’s reason for being more productive is different. What would it be for you?
My message to you is this…
Even if you’re doing your best and you think you’ve got it knocked,
stay open to change, growth and improvement.
You might not know exactly how much more productive
your work day could be.
In summary, I enjoy having a combination of 4 things that make up the value of what I offer today: my corporate experience in operations and management, my experience owning a business since 2003, my experience using Microsoft Outlook® and similar systems, and my natural talents for being organized and productive.
This “combo-platter” allows me to identify with and help business owners, leaders and motivated professionals in any industry, no matter what their work environment or unique challenges. Discovering my combination of gifts and experience is what led me to create Productive Day and my signature system, Taskology® The Science of Getting Things Done.
Taskology® is a productivity system designed to give you more time, freedom, focus, progress and success in your job, career or business. When clients sign on with me, they’re getting the Total Package. I want them to enjoy a Total Productive Work Day and all the benefits that brings. And I want YOU to have that opportunity, too.
Call me “Type A,” “O.C.D.” or a “Control Freak,” but when it comes to taking control of your work day, these are the qualities you might want on your side if you’re feeling disorganized and unproductive, as well as frustrated or overwhelmed.
The obstacles that prevent you from reaching peak productivity might be new for you or they may be life-long challenges. I congratulate you on seeking a solution! Hopefully, you’ll find helpful tips, techniques and strategies from my teachings, or the teachings of any other expert out there who offers you the solution you seek in order to reach your particular goals.
For me, to be organized and highly productive is natural… it’s my gift. And I’m here to share it with you. I’m here to help you unleash the power of your most productive work day.
Here’s to your productivity and success!
Leslie Shreve has been teaching business owners, executives and motivated professionals unleash the power of their most productive work day since 2003. Her clients say they are able to gain more clarity, confidence and control every day and, as a result, they enjoy more time, freedom, focus, progress and success.
Leslie is a productivity expert and the creator of Taskology® The Science of Getting Things Done. It’s a system that teaches simple, logical and easy-to-use strategies for maximizing your entire work day including best management of tasks, time, e-mail, paper and more.
Clients previously frustrated or overwhelmed with too much to do, not enough time and too many e-mails now claim to have a secret – a new system they can use to take charge of their work day and get more accomplished with less stress.
Leslie has a Bachelor of Science in Business from the University of Mary Washington in Virginia and for more than 13 years, Leslie worked in corporate office environments before establishing Productive Day in 2003. Leslie is a sought-after expert appearing in books and business publications and at national conferences. She’s been interviewed on TV and the radio and has written tips and articles for Smart CEO magazine and the Baltimore Business Journal.
Leslie lives outside of Baltimore, MD and enjoys cooking, reading, playing the piano, home decorating and hiking Maryland trails. And having been born and raised in Maryland, Leslie especially enjoys the state’s finest… steamed crabs and the Chesapeake Bay.
To schedule a media interview with Leslie or to learn more about how you can take charge of your work day and make greater progress with less stress, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.