Earn Work-Life Balance

Take Back Your Time With Google’s Productivity Expert

Haley Paskalides  |  April 1, 2024

Laura Mae Martin shares how to take back your time to ensure optimal creativity and productivity.

Women often have a blur of busy days — going from meetings and important phone calls to the grocery store or soccer practice. It often feels like the day goes by in a blink of an eye, and there’s just no way to take back your time. This, of course, leaves many of us feeling drained at the end of the day, or inspired to push off our most important tasks to next week — or we forget about them completely. 

So how can we better juggle busy work days, raising a family, and all of the other tasks in between while still making time for exercise, vacation, and a little reality TV on the side? 

Laura Mae Martin has cracked the code. She’s Google’s Executive Productivity Officer, and she coaches Google’s top executives on time management and efficiency. 

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Mae Martin says one of the best ways to take back our time is to focus on our “power hours,” or the times of the day when we feel most productive. To find yours, she suggests to “keep a post-it note at your desk and anytime you feel like, ‘Wow, I’m really in the zone. I’m really focused,’ write what time that is, and how you’re feeling. Then you can start to narrow down on those few hours where you really get things done.” While you can’t decline meetings with your manager just because they’ve scheduled it during your “power hours,” Mae Martin says that by having those times blocked even one to two days a week consistently will do wonders for your workload. 

Another big time-suck that Mae Martin encourages everyone to be more intentional about is meetings. She suggests approaching our meetings with a “zero-based calendaring” mindset. “Take a look at your meetings from that bird’s eye view often,” Mae Martin says. “I like the trick of only scheduling a certain number of recurring meetings, and having it end because it forces you to say, ‘Am I going to put this back on the calendar for the same group of people at the same time and the same frequency?’” By consistently reevaluating our meetings, and making sure we have a clear agenda going into them, we can avoid the ‘this meeting should have been an email’ trap. 

Ultimately, Mae Martin says that managers in particular should be giving people more grace to work within the hours that they’re best suited to and not be so tied to a “nine to five” mindset. Mae Martin says “January to March is the new nine to five. As a manager, you need to say, ‘Here’s what I need you to do and at the end of these months, I will look at your performance and how you’re managing your time. If people have the flexibility to say, I’m creative here, I need a break here, I’m focused here, I’m heads down here, that is so powerful to their longevity and avoiding burnout and overall creativity.”


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