How I started on my path to productivity…

Can an unsystematic, distractible person be productive? Umm…yes.

In this video, Dr. Melissa Gratias reveals her sordid history with a Day-timer, and how she learned the skills to manage her time and tasks. You’ll also hear all about “The 5:30pm Fight.”

Don’t want to watch the video?  The transcript is below.


Hi, this is Dr. Melissa Gratias, and I’m here to tell you my story.


Whenever I enter into someone’s life, home, or a networking situation there are certain assumptions made about me. That I was one of those kids who lined my socks up in my sock drawer, my room was always clean, and I was always very effective and responsible. That from a very early age I was systematic and productive.


That is absolutely not the case.


By nature, by every personality test known to psychology, I am a very flighty fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants person who thinks calendars are for people who can’t remember stuff. I’m serious. I do have a terrible memory and I’m extremely distractible. My brain never ever shuts down. I feel like there’s this constant stream of songs or things I’m thinking about. This constant barrage of thoughts and noise in my head which make me make it very difficult for me to focus on anything.


I also love people and I’m very social. I think people are fascinating and anytime I’m around them I want to know everything about them. All these things are part of who I am but were not conducive to getting a whole lot of stuff done. I loved to gather information, and flit around in this world, and not make decisions and all that leads to not being productive.


Well thanks to my upbringing, I did have at least one productive skill of using a Day-Timer. I don’t know if anybody under the age of 40 will know what this is, but a Day-Timer was the name of a week at a glance planner that had the dates on it. I used it to get through high school and college. To make sure I at least wrote my assignments somewhere, so I wouldn’t have to rely on my terrible memory.


I got through grad school got my doctorate, then instead of working in corporate America I worked in corporate HR for ten years. This was in the 90s when email was just starting to get big, so I found myself getting more and more distracted.


My little Day-Timer just wasn’t cutting it. I had this kid. I loved her and I loved the man to whom I was and am still married to. Hubby and I would have what we came to call the “5:30 fight,” because every day at 5:30 p.m. my office phone would ring, or his office phone would ring, and it was one of us figuring out who got to stay at work longer, and who had to go pick up the baby that we both liked so much.


What was really annoying, please don’t think I’m callous when I say this, was my husband was a pediatric oncologist, so sick kids would always win over human resources reports. Every. Time. So, he pretty much won the 5:30 fight every day.


It was a good thing in the long run. I had to learn to be more efficient. I said, “Okay, I can’t keep throwing more hours at my problems. The solution to getting more done can’t possibly be just to keep working longer and longer hours. That’s not the kind of life that I want.”


The company I worked at in Birmingham, Alabama was really good about offering development opportunities. I started taking every class I could, both in the company, and in the community on task management and time management. I read every word Stephen Covey ever wrote and took his class.


It took me about seven years until I finally got to the point where I’m like, “Okay, I’m in control.”


It wasn’t as much fun as it sounds. It was a rough road to get to that point.


After I got there, I realized that if someone as flighty and unsystematic as me can do it, I wonder if I could help other people do the same.


So, I left my corporate job and opened up this consultancy because I want to help people like you get where you need to be in a much shorter time than seven years.


I want you to be able to feel confident in what you do. I want you to feel confident that you’ve got things under control. That you don’t wake up in the middle of the night wondering what you’ve missed. That you’re not having to make difficult choices or have the 5:30 fight with your spouse/partner.


That’s why I do what I do and have been doing it for ten years


If you’d like to learn more, my website is There are productivity tips if you want to sample more knowledge. There’s also a contact form you can fill it out and we can schedule a no-cost-to-you initial assessment where I asked you a bunch of questions you asked me a bunch of questions and we can determine together whether one-on-one productivity coaching is the right thing for you. So, that’s my path. You have yours and I’d love to help you take it in a lot less than seven years. This is Dr. Melissa Gratias, have a productive day!


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Dr. Melissa GratiasMelissa Gratias (pronounced “Gracious”) used to think that productivity was a result of working long hours. And, she worked a lot of hours. Then, she learned that productivity is a skill set, not a personality trait. Now, Melissa is a productivity expert who coaches and trains other businesspeople to be more focused, balanced, and effective. She is a prolific writer and speaker who travels the world helping people change how they work and improve how they live. Contact her at or 912-417-2505. Sign up to receive her productivity tips via email.


1 Comment

  1. Fran Gordon

    Fantastic article! Thanks for sharing so much as I can relate to many of your feelings.


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