You can be on Entrepreneur’s cover!

Want to Be More Productive? Stop Trying to Finish Every Task, and Do This Instead If you only focus on your to-do list, you'll run out of the energy to complete it, says psychotherapist Katherine Morgan Schafler.

By Jason Feifer

entrepreneur daily

Want to be more productive? You may want to stop doing what you think is productive.

"We think about productivity in a really one-dimensional way," says Katherine Morgan Schafler, a psychotherapist and author of the new book The Perfectionist's Guide to Losing Control.

Typically, she says, we associate "productivity" with time management: It's trying to finish as many tasks as possible. But productivity must also be about energy management — which is to say, it's about doing the things that keep you going.

In this case, sleep is productive. A walk is productive. Meeting a new friend at their favorite Mexican restaurant in the middle of the afternoon? Very productive. "It's not that we don't do things because we run out of the time to do them," she says. "We don't do them because we run out of the energy to do them. Whatever you do to protect, build, restore, or save your energy is a productive activity."

That's just the start — because, as Morgan Schafler said recently on the Entrepreneur podcast Problem Solvers, entrepreneurs must focus on their own well-being if they're going to have lasting success. In this episode, she also discusses:

  • The three components of self-compassion
  • Why we should stop obsessing over "self-care"
  • Important ways to reframe your challenges
  • And more.

Listen to the conversation, or read the transcript below.

Jason Feifer:

Entrepreneurs, by the very nature of being an entrepreneur, are constantly putting more things on their shoulders — feeling intense responsibility for the execution of their vision and anybody who has come along for that ride. And that can lead to intense long work hours and an incredible expenditure of energy. Oftentimes the solution that people offer is "time management," which is a perfectly good and important thing to talk about, but is also a really tactical one. It's like, breaking down your day and understanding how you do your tasks. But your framework looks a lot more inward.

Katherine Morgan Schafler:

Yeah. Because I think solving a problem and implementing a strategy are two different things. This is a classic theme of therapy — you really need to maintain awareness of whether you're doing crisis management, which seeks to stop the bleeding, or whether you're healing, which seeks to repair the wound. I think the cross-reference to entrepreneurs is particularly relevant because as you brought up, you're inundated with so many daily tasks that you're spending so much of your energy, and I would say at times hemorrhaging energy, putting Band-Aids on gunshot wounds when perhaps the better strategy long term is to understand how to put systems in place that enable you to attend to both as well as you can. Understanding that it is a stressful by nature job and that nobody gets it right all the time.

Two tools that you can use to increase your sense of endurance and stamina... And when I say stamina, I mean not just physical stamina, but also mental stamina of how are you handling stress? I'm talking about creative stamina of are you able to put yourself in a solutions-oriented mindset? That's what creativity is about, being able to think outside the box. And even just emotional stamina of, it gets hard to believe in yourself and your product or your idea when you don't have maybe proof of concept yet, or you do have proof of concept but you're dealing with a lot of rejection or your belief is not about your proof of concept, but your ability to execute that concept. And so, you just need endurance in a really holistic way, not just task management. So, the two tools that I like to direct people to, and these are two among many, are self-compassion and reframing your idea of what productivity is.

Self-compassion is a word I think that we toss around a lot in the wellness space. It's all over social media, it's conflated with ideas like self-love, which is a very different construct. Self-compassion is overlooked, I think, in a lot of executive spaces or entrepreneurial spaces because it doesn't feel like an efficacious tool. It feels like there's something gentle about it. It feels like a nice thing to do for yourself if you have the time and if you have the energy, and it's a luxury. What the research says over and over again — what the research actually screams — is that if you don't understand how to implement self-compassion, you're going to fail and you're going to burn out. It doesn't matter how great your idea is, and it doesn't matter how brilliant your team is because you need self-compassion, it's not an option.

Jason Feifer:

When this subject comes up, there's a lot of talk about self-care.

Katherine Morgan Schafler:

We're inundated with it. We're inundated with it. It's all we hear.

Jason Feifer:

And I don't think a lot of people practice it or understand it. And I will be honest, I am one of them. But to the degree that I can wrap my head around "self-care," I think of it as task-oriented. It is just a different kind of task. Self-care is, "Spend some time doing a thing that I find relaxing." But you're talking about self-compassion, which sounds like more complex work.

Katherine Morgan Schafler:

Yes, I would agree with you. I think self-compassion is it, I use Dr. Kristin Neff's framework of self-compassion when I describe it. And she is a brilliant pioneer in her space and really was the first person to study self-compassion at an empirical level. And so her system involves three steps. And this is what frustrates me when I hear the word self-compassion tossed around, is that we think it's just one thing which is being really polite to ourselves when it's so much more than that and it's such a powerful tool. So the three steps are — the first is common humanity, and that means understanding that whatever your problem is, it is not uncommon. That we live in a world of millions and billions of people, and whatever you're going through, while it may have its own little idiosyncratic differences, guaranteed has been, is currently right this moment, being experienced somewhere in the world.

It's understanding that feelings like being rejected, being scared, failing. These things happen repeatedly all the time, not just to the people who we don't know about, but to everybody, nobody's inoculated. But when you are the person who is in that moment where you can't get something off the ground or this thing that you thought would take 10 minutes, swallowed three hours of your day, you're like, "Ugh." You just get in this contracted, narrow-minded, myopic space of, "I don't know why this is so hard for me, something's wrong with me or nobody. This isn't as hard for other people."

And you start to feel really alone. And I think when we hear people say, "You're not alone," it's something we intellectually concede to. We can intellectually acknowledge that, sure, other people who are successful have failed before on a basic follow the bouncing ball level, but we don't emotionally concede to that. And so common humanity, the best way that I know how to explain it is the arcade grabber machines, which is one of my favorite arcade games. I love arcades.

Jason Feifer:

Oh, I wasted so much money on them.

Katherine Morgan Schafler:

The grabber machine — if someone picked you up and plopped you down in a room with 50 other people who are all encountering your exact same problem, you wouldn't have to do anything. Just listening to them and what they're going through would be curative in itself because it would make you really feel on a visceral level, "Oh, I'm really not alone." That's not all you need to solve a problem, but it's at one step. So that's common humanity. And the more uncommon you feel your problem is, the more isolated you feel. And human beings are not meant to be isolated. We're interdependent people and we're an interdependent species. So when we feel isolated, reflexively, we contract. Reflexively, we make decisions from a posture of defense and fear instead of making decisions from a place of openness and flexibility.

And often we're not even conscious that we're doing this. So it's really important in the midst of a problem, when you're implementing self-compassion, to understand common humanity, maybe anchor yourself in some examples. I love your example of Netflix failing to sell their company to Blockbuster for $50 million. And that person and then feeling like, "I failed. I ruined it. It was a big, huge thing and I messed it up." And obviously now it's gone on to be this whole other monster and RIP Blockbuster. So that's one part of it. Another part of self-compassion is kindness. Kindness is another word that doesn't have a clinical definition.

Jason Feifer:

Yeah, and it's very familiar.

Katherine Morgan Schafler:

And I like to distinguish kindness by saying kindness is about connection. It's not about solutions. So they're certainly not mutually exclusive. You can offer kindness and also solve someone's problem. And again, someone we're talking about here is ourselves. This is all directed towards ourselves. But if you think of yesterday, I was taking the subway with my daughter and I saw a guy who was trying to push what looked to me to be a newborn baby, maneuver the baby with a stroller down the stairs.

So I picked up the stroller and I helped him bring it down. That was a kind thing to do, if I were to... And I solved his problem. But if I were to have picked up the stroller and lambasted him the whole time about, "How can you not know how to do this? You're a parent now — dah, dah, dah, dah." I would've solved his problem, but I wouldn't be engaging in kindness.

So kindness seeks connection first. The solution stuff happens later, and you don't have to offer solutions to be kind. Kindness is just a basic acknowledgement. And as Neff points out in her research, to be kind to yourself, you have to acknowledge that you're in pain.

So we tend to talk about our stress at work, and in any context really, in an external way of, "That meeting was so hard," or "God, this series is not going the way I want it to." And I would challenge anyone listening to just go one level deeper from the external and speak from the eye of, "That meeting was so hard, and now I feel scared about whether we can actually raise this money." Or, "I feel now confused," or whatever the feeling is, you feel in pain about something. And to be kind, you have to acknowledge that feeling and then attend to it from a place of connecting to yourself. So that might look like, "God, I feel so confused right now. I think I just need to sit down and have a tea," or something like that.

Jason Feifer:

When you say kindness, I'll tell you the association that I have in my head. My friend Nicole, who I have this other podcast with called Help Wanted, have this conversation pretty regularly about the distinction between — this is not a psychological distinction, but it's just a distinction that we've made, or she's made and I adopted — between being kind and being nice.

The idea is that you can be nice to someone by just saying good job, but to be kind is to offer feedback or thoughts that take more time, that go out of your way, but that are ultimately the thing that they need. So Nicole, for example, has given me a lot of feedback on the way that I talk on mic and that I hold myself on camera because she has a background in that and I'm just making things up as I go. And so I really love that she is one of the very rare people in my life who watch a thing that I made, and instead of just saying, "That was great," she says, "Oh, your lighting could have been improved," but she's not doing it in a nitpicky way. She's doing it because she really wants me to be better. And that, to her and to me, is kind but not nice. Because nice is just, "Oh, that was great."

Anyway, the reason I'm sharing this is because you're coming from a place of literature on a subject, and Nicole is coming from a place of just colloquial phrasing. But the through line, I think between the definition that you gave of kindness and the definition that Nicole came up with of kindness is a kind of constructiveness, that kindness is to identify a need and work towards addressing that need. That's what I'm hearing, and I put this to you to see if I'm right, and maybe just to make sure that I'm framing it properly for myself here, is that you're talking about recognizing a need that you have and then starting to address it in even a small but meaningful way. Is that right?

Katherine Morgan Schafler:

Yeah. And I'm talking about the basic need. Before we need anything else, unless we're talking about, again, like survival, water, heat, food.

Jason Feifer:

Sure.

Katherine Morgan Schafler:

Before we need anything else, we need connection.

And so kindness seeks to attend to that. And before you can do anything to help yourself, if you're not connected to yourself and connected to what your actual experience is and what is happening on the interior, you're just going to be going through the motions and you're not going to actually be growing because you're going to be doing what we talked about at the top of the episode. You're just going to be putting a bunch of band-aids on gunshot wounds, but you're not going to be constructing meaning. Because you don't know what you are going through, which is an awareness you need to construct meaning and grow so that you can know, what about this do I now want to change? Or what do about it do I want to share? And to me, I love the distinction that you're bringing up because the difference between a challenge and a struggle is not the difficulty in the task, it's how connected we feel to support along the way.

When we are doing something that feels really hard, but we feel we have guidance from people who dominate in that space or at least know something about that space, or we have a soft place to land from people who maybe don't know anything about it but know you and love you or care for you or whatever it is, then it's much easier to approach that task. And to me, it's a challenge. When we struggle, the difficulty or ease is not the issue. The issue is feeling isolated. That's why sometimes we can be so thrown off because we're doing something that is ostensibly easy and we are losing it internally. And part of why we're losing it is not because we're tasked with something difficult, but because we're dealing with stress alone.

Jason Feifer:

I feel like we're going down rabbit holes here and I need to pull us back so that we can make our way through the framework that you've laid out. But I'm going to just go a shovel deeper here, which is that you reminded me of something very interesting there about the isolation that people feel and the importance of recognizing that you're not isolated. As I started to produce work that spoke to the challenges that people face in their own work, started to get this very interesting recurring reaction. So I would post something on Instagram or I would write a column and I would be talking about how to address what is some kind of common experience.

And the thing that I am hoping that I'm bringing to it is some at least unique approach to it or lens or way to help somebody think through it. But I realize that I'm engaging in what is functionally not breaking news material here in that I'm talking about something that people have experienced before and lots of people have spoken about before. Because entrepreneurship is really grappling with some pretty common basic recurring challenges. And anyway, the line that people keep sending me by DM is... Well, do you know where I'm going?

Katherine Morgan Schafler:

I'm listening.

Jason Feifer:

"I really needed to hear this today."

Katherine Morgan Schafler:

Yeah.

Jason Feifer:

All the time. It struck me when it started happening that I would keep getting that line from people. And as you're talking now, I feel like I'm hearing an explanation for that, which is the isolation that people feel and therefore the relief that they feel when they see somebody else express that the thing that they're feeling is common and that it is also okay.

Katherine Morgan Schafler:

Yeah.

Jason Feifer:

And I think that's the reason why people keep saying, I needed to hear this today because they're waking up and grappling with something that everyone is grappling with, but they have lost sight of. Or maybe like you said, they can intellectually understand that other people grapple with it, but they can't quite emotionally do it. And hopefully they have just read something or seen something that at least helps them bridge that gap a little bit.

Katherine Morgan Schafler:

Yeah, exactly. That's exactly right. Yes. Okay, and I'm following your orders here.

Jason Feifer:

Okay, well, let's pull it back. Here, I'm going to... Tell me if I've retraced. We started with self-compassion.

Katherine Morgan Schafler:

Yep.

Jason Feifer:

We then got into-

Katherine Morgan Schafler:

Common humanity.

Jason Feifer:

Common humanity.

Katherine Morgan Schafler:

Then we went into kindness, and now we're going into the third component, which is mindfulness.

Jason Feifer:

Yes.

Katherine Morgan Schafler:

Another word that is radioactively commodified in our culture. We don't know what the hell it means.

Jason Feifer:

No, I don't. But I hear it a lot.

Katherine Morgan Schafler:

Yeah. Everyone has their own definition for this. And the way that Neff sets it up, and the way that I think about it too is mindfulness is about understanding that you're not just feeling one thing. So let's take disappointment for example. You feel disappointed. Instead of trying to eradicate that feeling, people always, and perfectionists do this all the time, people always ask themselves, how do I not feel disappointed right now? And a much better, much more useful question, one that will not make you hemorrhage energy is what else do I also feel? Because when you ask yourself that question, you direct yourself to sort of turn your head a little bit and understand that you're also feeling maybe relief, that now you at least have clarity on the thing that you were wondering about that you are disappointed by. But now you also have curiosity about how to solve the problem.

You also have excitement about hanging out with your friends who haven't seen for so long and haven't thought about because you've been immersed in trying to solve your problem, whatever it is. And so mindfulness is about understanding that there is a full 360 degree landscape, not just to what you're feeling and thinking, but to who you are as a person. You're a whole person. And the failure that you're in in the moment or the success that you're in the moment is not a commentary on who you are or what your capabilities are in the future. And the point of engaging in mindfulness is so that you don't allow this one event or one predominant emotion to come in like a tsunami and just dictate your entire emotional landscape and thinking and really cloud your judgment and do some of the things that happens when we lose perspective.

Jason Feifer:

That is an incredibly helpful definition of mindfulness, and one that I will think about a lot because I keep hearing the word and don't know what to do with it. But I'll say the thing that you just said that resonated the most, and maybe this is just a personal preference, but I really love what's the better question, is that shift to what else do I also feel? It reminds me a little of something that I heard somebody talk about a long time ago in a completely different context. They were talking about sort of societal shifts. I can't remember who it was, some podcast a while ago, but I started using it in conversations with entrepreneurs, which is that when people ask, is this perfect? Right? Taking on some new thing, implementing some new change, is this perfect is not a great question because of course the answer is no, it's not. It's never perfect. And so anyway, the better question is my new problem better than my old problem? Then we can track-

Katherine Morgan Schafler:

Oh, I love that.

Jason Feifer:

Yeah. Isn't it great? We can track progress by problems and you can leave open the reality of problems. And so now you look at something, a problem is inherently a part of it, and so therefore it doesn't become an invalidator of the thing that you're looking at. I feel like there's something very similar in what you just described there. What else do I also feel makes room for the feeling that you're having that you aren't feeling good about, but it doesn't then invalidate or completely overshadow everything else that you can feel.

Katherine Morgan Schafler:

Yes. I love that. I am so going to use that reframe. What you're describing is a reframe, which in a clinical sense is called a cognitive reappraisal. So basically thinking about something in a new way so that you can plug into a more useful, helpful way of dealing with it. And reframes are my favorite thing. Every best friend, every therapist's favorite thing. And it's like the only word I think that therapists use more than boundaries is the word reframe.

Jason Feifer:

Which is funny because boundaries and reframe have also very much entered the probably broader lexicon, but I hear it a lot in the entrepreneurship world.

Katherine Morgan Schafler:

Yeah. It's so powerful. I want to offer two really quickly. I put 25 in my book, at least. I stopped counting. But one is like, "Oh, I was never good at school." A better reframe is, "I'm not a classroom learner." Another is, I don't know if you've heard the phrase attention-seeking behaviors, but a lot of people use that and it has a negative connotation to it of like, "Oh, that person just superficially wants a bunch of attention, ignore them. You can just dismiss them." And a better reframe is connection seeking behaviors, right? And so one elicits a little bit more of an empathetic response, but again, I digress. So those were the three aspects of self-compassion that you can really implement as a tool. And look, I'm not here to be telling anybody that next time you're inundated with a sense of what feels like maybe debilitating stress, that you go through the three components and clean it all up, and everything's going to be fine. If you even just do one of these things and just begin to integrate them into your thought habits.

And when I say integrate, I use that word very deliberately. So we have really binary ways of thinking about solutions when it comes to this stuff. And I think erasing the desire to eradicate stuff is not going to happen. We're always going to wish we didn't have a reflex. But the difference between a reflex and a response to something is a response is your conscious decision laid upon the reflex. And so it's really not about saying, "Oh, I wish I also didn't feel disappointed," like we said, but, "What else do I feel?" It's not about saying, "I feel alone sometimes and I should never feel alone because now I'm supposed to do common humanity and never feel alone." It's about allowing them both to exist just so that you feel that you have options. There's a lot of agency and change and optionality.

Jason Feifer:

What's hilarious is that before we started recording, we laid out these two things that we were going to talk about, which was going to be self-compassion and reframing productivity. And you were like, "Well, self-compassion is pretty simple. So we'll get through that quick and then we can get to reframing productivity-"

Katherine Morgan Schafler:

I'll do productivity really quick.

Jason Feifer:

And now half an hour later, here we are. But no, that's because that was fascinating and I loved every rabbit hole that we went down, but I want to make sure that we get to it. So talk to me about reframing productivity. This is, I'm very excited to hear what you have to say here, because productivity, we keep talking about words that are thrown around and productivity is certainly chief among them, particularly among entrepreneurs because productivity feels like the make or break concept for your day.

You either are productive and therefore get something out of every moment that you have or you are not. And everything is waiting for you. And yet, productivity is also exhausting. The very concept of it, I trap myself in an expectation of productivity, which is to say that I will spend my whole day racing through all the things that I think that I need to do, feeling like I am productive, but also feeling like I need to take a walk. And I didn't. So I don't know that that is a productive setup for reframing productivity, but tell me what it is to reframe productivity.

Katherine Morgan Schafler:

So in my view, we think about productivity in a really one-dimensional way of task completion on the X axis and time spent on the Y axis. And that's one way to think about productivity. It's not a wrong way, but it's not the only way, and I would argue it shouldn't be the primary way. And to me, productivity is about energy management, not time management. And I read a life-changing article by Tony Schwartz and Catherine McCarthy about this, and so they introduced me to this idea, which I have since ran with. And you really think about it, it's like when you don't do something, it's not really because you ran out of the time to do it. We can all list 20 things we did yesterday that were sort of dumb things to do. Like, "Oh, I scrolled too much on this," or "I watched this show, it wasn't even funny," or whatever it is.

It's not that we don't do things because we run out of the time to do them. We don't do them because we run out of the energy to do them. So reframing productivity looks like understanding that whatever you do to protect, build, restore, or save your energy is a productive activity. For example, sleeping. Nobody thinks of sleeping as an activity, and we certainly don't think of it as a productive activity is one of the most productive activities you can engage in. And to zoom out 30,000 feet in the air, sort of just one hour of premium quality energy brought to something is going to serve you better than 10 hours spent doing something resentful, rushed, exhausted, confused, disoriented in some way. And so this is really about trusting yourself that if you are in a restored place, you're going to be able to articulate your ideas, execute the actions, connect with who you need to connect with, and it's going to be a much more powerful strategy than just trying to get a bunch of stuff on a to-do list done.

Jason Feifer:

I really love that, but I also want to just put it against someone who could be listening to this and saying, "That sounds wonderful, but also I have literally 12 hours worth of things that need to get done. And if they don't get done, things break." I mean, how does somebody think through what they're supposed to do with themselves when there is so much to do and maybe they're very aware of their limited energy. I am, for what it's worth, becoming increasingly aware of it, but there's also so much to do.

Katherine Morgan Schafler:

I think the strategy is what's the point of building something, this might be a better question moment. What's the point of building something if you can't maintain it? And patience is a very hard thing to implement, but the reason why it takes really long to do something and do it well is because there's no fast solution sometimes. And yes, technically you might be able to finish something in six months and doing it in a year feels like such a cost in the moment, but if you do it in six months and are either so burnt out that you can't actually enjoy it or that it's built to fall because maintenance, which is a major stage of change that's overlooked and growing anything is like you also have to put a ton of energy into maintaining it. So it's like good news, bad news. You built this beautiful thing and it took all of your energy and bad news, you need even more energy now. So if you don't know how to manage your energy, you're going to build something and it's built to fall.

Jason Feifer:

That's a hard thing for people to face.

Katherine Morgan Schafler:

It's hard. It's so many contexts. It's hard in relationships to understand that trust takes time, healing takes time. Building a company takes time, interviewing people takes time. Things take time. They don't need to take all the time. And certainly the more help you recruit around yourself, you can get things done faster, but ultimately, you as a person who is making decisions every day and executing on so many things, needs to be operating from a place of quality. Instead of going back to the theme of immediate gratification, of feeling, "Ooh, I did a bunch of stuff," but it kind of reminds me of substitute teachers would bring those busy packets. Did you ever have those?

You did a bunch of stuff, but you're not learning anything. All of those things are just designed to get kids to not misbehave in class. It takes time to teach and build and whatever, and it feels very gratifying to get things done. But if you're getting things done in a way that is going to burn you out, you're not going to be able to enjoy what you're building or maintain it or build on top of it.

Jason Feifer:

I'm going to apply this, what's the point of building something if you can't maintain it? Is something else I wrote down, I've jotted a lot of things down during our conversation and I'm applying that now to someone who is charging hard in a unsustainable way, but they know it's unsustainable. And sometimes it has to be unsustainable. Sometimes there's only way to get something off the ground is to do something unsustainable. It's like you do the thing that doesn't scale.

But I suppose there has to come a time in which you evaluate where this thing is going and whether it is going to grow to the point in which it becomes sustainable, becomes manageable. It's you right now building this yourself, but you must be able to see some change that's going to happen. It's going to make enough money that you can hire another person to take some of this work off of you so that you can get back down to a sustainable level. Or it's not. I guess what I'm looking at here, I'm sort of working this out in my head as I talk to you, but I'm getting to a point that I want you to actually give some feedback on, which is the difference I suppose, between being able to understand whether or not something is going to become sustainable or whether you are stuck in a thing that is seemingly endlessly sustainable. Because I think that people have a lot of stamina for things that are unsustainable for working at a pace that is absurd.

If they see how that is going to directly translate into a time in which it becomes sustainable and that then gives them the energy, the energy that you're talking about. Because at that point you have it because you know that it's just necessary for a certain amount of time. The problem I suppose, is when you get to the place where you don't know when you start to get your energy back, you don't see the path. And if you don't see the path, then I suppose you have two decisions, or rather you can make a decision about, you have two options. I can't say what I'm trying to say. You have two options. Option number one, just keep going and hope that something changes. Option number two, recognize that maybe the thing that you're doing isn't setting you up for something to change.

Katherine Morgan Schafler:

Yeah. Yes. I think you're talking about awareness and hitting on value alignment and support. And so I agree with you in those moments where it is just like foot to gas pedal, I'm operating deliberately in an unsustainable way, and I am going to do this until, that's when boundaries come in. I'm going to do this for the next six months. And boundaries don't just include saying no or yes to something. They also include increasing your levels of support. So, okay, this is going to take a toll on my relationship, so I'm going to have a proactive conversation with my partner about this, and we're going to have time parameters in place, and we're going to have touchpoints in place to make sure that this isn't getting into something that's becoming dysfunctional beyond a short term way. And then you're also just talking about value alignment of if you know what your values are and you don't happen to value certain things in the same way and none of us do, right?

It's not a clean hierarchy, then it's okay to have your foot to the gas pedal if other things just aren't as important to you. Or perhaps this is all context dependent. You're in a moment in a pocket of your life in which let's say family isn't that much of a priority to you. Let's say you're, I don't know, 26, and you don't have the kind of constraints that you might have when you're 46 in terms of family obligations, taking care of elderly parents or small kids or a partner, whatever. And so all of this stuff is very fluid and it's really individual, and there's not one model that says, this is the right way to do it. This is what's healthy, this is what's not.

It's really about calibrating yourself and understanding what makes you feel good, alive, energized, motivated, connected, and how you know when you are not feeling those things. When I eat food while I am walking, something is wrong because I don't like doing that. And no judgment on anyone else. But for me, there's something that feels gross about that for me because it's such an efficiency, let me consume energetic caloric intake. And I love food and I love sitting and I love eating, and it's a very pleasurable moment for me. So when I'm leapfrogging over that and just, that's one of my cues that, wait a minute, something is awry here. And so you need to know, not all, we can't know all things about ourselves, but a couple of markers of when you're hitting the edge.

Jason Feifer:

This feels like the kind of conversation I think people are going to listen back to because there's so many things to take and apply. But let us conclude by me asking you one thing, what's the starting point for people? We went deep in a bunch of places. For anyone who is feeling maybe that they need to grasp onto, find some more self-compassion, to reframe productivity, in either way, can you give just the first thing someone should think about as soon as this audio file ends?

Katherine Morgan Schafler:

The first thing someone might think about is the question of not what makes me feel good or bad, but what helps me feel alive?

I think that's a really good question to ask because when I hear people talk about feeling connected to themselves, which has been the theme of this conversation, what they're describing is feeling alive. And it doesn't matter if it's quote unquote good or bad or positive or negative because the person is connected to it. So we can feel really alive in the midst of a challenge. We can feel really alive in the midst of so many things, and that's what signals you to connection. And so be curious about that and move towards it. And I think that's one on-ramp.

Obviously, another one is I contained all of this stuff in a very convenient location, which it's my book, The Perfectionist's Guide to Losing Control, which offers all these strategies and a ton more. And it's just like, I think therapists writing books and people actually going to therapy are two very different things. But I tasked myself with trying to put two years of therapy into a book, and I think this is as close as anyone's going to get, and I hope that it is a really helpful book for people to read and revisit some of these universal themes, which apply to all of us.

Jason Feifer:

Katherine, thank you so much.

Katherine Morgan Schafler:

My pleasure. Thank you for having me. I loved this conversation.

Image credit at top: Christopher Schoonover

Jason Feifer

Entrepreneur Staff

Editor in Chief

Jason Feifer is the editor in chief of Entrepreneur magazine and host of the podcast Problem Solvers. Outside of Entrepreneur, he is the author of the book Build For Tomorrow, which helps readers find new opportunities in times of change, and co-hosts the podcast Help Wanted, where he helps solve listeners' work problems. He also writes a newsletter called One Thing Better, which each week gives you one better way to build a career or company you love.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Side Hustle

This Dad Started a Side Hustle to Save for His Daughter's College Fund — Then It Earned $1 Million and Caught Apple's Attention

In 2015, Greg Kerr, now owner of Alchemy Merch, was working as musician when he noticed a lucrative opportunity.

Living

Feeling Overwhelmed at Work? Follow These Tips to Prevent It From Turning Into Burnout.

When you're passionate about your work, it can be easy to become overwhelmed. Take these tips to avoid feeling overwhelmed and burnout.

Business News

This Futuristic Wearable Smartphone Alternative Projects a Screen on Your Palm — And It's Now Widely Available

Humane's Ai Pin fastens magnetically to clothing and becomes a voice-activated AI assistant that can make calls, send texts, take notes, and find answers to complex questions.

Money & Finance

4 Things to Know About Credit Financing Your Business Following the 'Fed Pivot'

With cheap money behind us, you'll want to rethink how you finance your business

Side Hustle

This Insurance Agent Started a Side Hustle Inspired By Nostalgia for His Home State — Now It Earns Nearly $40,000 a Month

After moving to New York City, Danny Trejo started a business to stay in touch with his roots — literally.