If you’re looking for my formal bio, you can scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page. But if you want the real story… the real me… here it is…
It all started in 2004… one year after starting my business. I realized I was still dragging 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.
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 12 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 the creator of my system: 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.
Along with 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!)
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 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 alongside my parents, getting things done and learning everything they had to teach. However, I know there were moments I would have probably 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, there were plenty of chances to play and have fun and I’m sure my chores and “helping out” was really part of my “room and board.” 😉
My Passion: Ultimate Productivity
So, I loved where I grew up. I loved the skills and work ethic my parents taught me and I loved feeling empowered to do things.
But what I appreciate the most are the THREE things my parents modeled really well, and I’ve carried these lessons with me throughout my entire life…
1. Planning and Executing – 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 me stay inspired, motivated and looking forward to the next project.
These 3 things are what I see missing far too often in the work days of my clients and other professionals. Recognizing this helped me realize…
Bringing productivity, progress, accomplishment and satisfaction to the workdays of
business owners, executives and motivated 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 had worked at Black & Decker for more than 30 years and I wanted to be just like him.
As a small girl, I remember he also 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 echoed at school. I went to St. Paul’s and St. Paul’s School for Girls just north of Baltimore, MD, and there I gained a reputation for being organized and productive, 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 after graduating. 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 and there was no second income, 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!
How did I start? I started out by helping professionals get organized, but then something else became apparent to me – something that caused a turning point in my business and truly led me to create Productive Day.
I quickly realized that even if professionals could find or file a paper in 5 seconds or less and stay clutter-free for the most part, it wasn’t enough.
If professionals couldn’t prioritize tasks and projects and couldn’t get enough time to do the things they needed to do and couldn’t manage the endless amounts of email they received every day, then their focus, productivity, progress and success would continue to suffer.
I also discovered that professionals were frustrated – and often overwhelmed – about their workday and they didn’t know whether to blame it on disorganization or lack of good time management skills. These are always the two most popular suspects.
But I knew it was much more than just disorganization or poor time management skills. And still today these are just the tip of the iceberg. The clutter you can see in an office is like the part of the iceberg you can see above water. The real productivity challenges are not as visible or readily apparent. They’re hidden from view just as the rest of the iceberg is hidden under water.
What I learned was that my clients weren’t operating as efficiently, effectively or as productively as they could be.
- Over-committed and overwhelmed
- Falling behind in managing their tasks, time, e-mail and more
- Feeling out of control and chaotic
- Losing important tasks and information
- Missing deadlines and opportunities
- Feeling held back, stressed out, and fed up
- Worried about forgetting tasks and commitments
- Tired of watching things slip through the cracks
- Buried in email and not sure what to do with all of it.
- Not sure how to maximize Outlook or their current email system
- And more.
After a repeatable process revealed itself over the years, I created and trademarked a system for achieving ultimate productivity – a system that’s been road-tested and is proven to work: Taskology® The Science of Getting Things Done. And my Mission became apparent…
Teaching Taskology® to business owners, executives and motivated professionals to help them work with more clarity, confidence and control; get more accomplished with less chaos, clutter and confusion; and enjoy more time, freedom, focus, progress and success.
And 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 suffered because of it.
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. And while I kept my email low, I’m sure I left emails in my Inbox to remind me of things to do.
And I was never able to fully consolidate ALL of my tasks into one, single, comprehensive electronic task list, like the one I teach today in Taskology®, and meanwhile I was wasting time reviewing papers and files again and again (and again) without having a more solid plan of action.
I was even required to use a Franklin Covey planner in my last corporate job. They handed it to me on my first day and was told that everyone was required to use it. “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 provided refills every year…”on the house.”
But now I advise against using paper planners today for a lot of reasons – primarily because paper is a tool, not a system, and it’s not optimal for the best management of tasks, to-dos, projects and reminders.
So while I was quite organized and fairly productive back in my corporate days, I still wasn’t using the techniques and strategies I teach today. I wasn’t managing my tasks and priorities as strategically as I could, I was wasting time I didn’t know I could save, and I didn’t know I could manage my email any better. I simply wasn’t operating as productively as I could have been.
But these are all things I didn’t know.
And I wish I had then the system I teach NOW.
Now that I’ve shared all of this with you, my point is to say… I get it. I was just as over-stretched and stressed out as most professionals are today. I was sometimes frazzled, trying to juggle it all, and while I felt “in control” and “organized,” my systems and processes could have been better. And I could have been even more productive than ever.
Sometimes, after I’ve presented to a group, an 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! I can use what you taught today to be more productive and then I can [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 offer a combination of four attributes that make up the value of what I offer today: corporate experience in operations and management, experience owning a business since 2003, experience using Microsoft Outlook® and many other similar email systems, and a natural talent for being organized and productive.
This “combo-platter” allows me to identify with, support and advise business owners, leaders, executives, and motivated professionals in any industry, no matter what their work environment or unique challenges.
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.
The obstacles that prevent you from reaching peak productivity might be new for you or they may be life-long challenges. Either way, I congratulate you on seeking a solution! I hope you take a tour of the Productive Day site and discover all of the valuable tips, techniques and strategies that Taskology® has to offer. When you put them into action, you can get things done faster and easier, make meaningful progress, and achieve every one of your goals.
When you’re ready to unleash the power of your MOST productive work day, let me know.
Here’s to your productivity and success!
Leslie Shreve has been teaching business owners, executives and motivated professionals how to 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 the founder of Productive Day 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, email firstname.lastname@example.org.