Today on the Modern Direct Seller Podcast, Megan Sumrell, CEO and Founder of The Pink Bee, joined us to share some deceivingly simple tips for time management and productivity that will lead to less overwhelm in the long run. By intentionally planning our weeks around not only our direct sales businesses, but more importantly our family and ourselves, we can get ahead of life’s curveballs, avoid decision fatigue, and find more time to focus on what matters.

Connect with Megan on Instagram and Facebook, tune into the Work+Life Harmony Podcast, or sign up for her Master Your Morning event!


Time based notes:

  • 1:15 Megan Sumrell intro
  • 6:11 Learning when not to work
  • 9:39 Weekly planning vs. daily to-do lists
  • 15:11 Building your business around your time
  • 19:50 Planning for uncertainty
  • 23:08 Where to start planning
  • 25:45 Megan’s favorite office supplies


Weekly Planning for Productivity with Megan Sumrell

Recently on the Modern Direct Seller Podcast, Megan Sumrell, CEO and Founder of The Pink Bee, joined us to share some deceivingly simple tips for time management and productivity. By intentionally planning our weeks around not only our direct sales businesses, but our families and ourselves, we can get ahead of life’s curveballs, avoid decision fatigue, and find more time to focus on what matters.


Megan, tell us a little bit about your story. You’re a former corporate executive, now entrepreneur. You have this incredible business where you’re serving so many women. How did you get here?

So, I am a self-proclaimed IT nerd—math nerd—by trade. I was a math major, was in the software space for over 20 years Ultimately, I would go into software teams and revamp their entire development processes to get things out the door better, faster, cheaper. And, I really liked what I did. It was very fulfilling. This is not like a “I hated my job, so I left it” kind of a story.

And, I got married a little bit later in life, and started my family later in life, and by the time my daughter was two, I was just beginning to realize, while I loved my career, I was really struggling with not having control of my time. And, I had always been very direct sales eager, and one company happened to come across my radar at that time that seemed like it might be a good fit for me. So, I still had my career, I was building this business, I was in the trenches of motherhood, and as I was navigating all of this, I had a very pivotal day when some stranger innocently asked me, “What do you do for fun?” And, I didn’t have an answer.

So, thankfully, I had the epiphany of “Umm, Megan, you do this for a living. Like, you take all these things and find ways to manage it better. So, why don’t we apply what we spent 20 years learning to your own calendar?” So, I threw away the planner I’d been using for 20-something years, and I set about intentionally creating a system for myself to plan, manage, and juggle all of the things for my direct sales business, my corporate job, my family life, all of that, so that I could actually answer the question, “What do I do for fun?” and not be so darn exhausted.

And, fast-forward to: People started noticing. They were like, “What are you doing different?” And I’m like, “I’m actually not overwhelmed all the time.” So, that started getting people asking, ” Will you show me how you’re doing it?” And so, now we are here today, almost 11 years later, and The Pink Bee is a company that is all about teaching women time management, organization, and productivity skills. Because, the fact is, the productivity community today, at large, does not serve women well. They teach very masculine, very corporate ways of managing our time. And so, I want to get women to realize, “It’s not you. You’re not the problem. It’s that these systems don’t support the realities of our lives today.”


Okay, so your expertise is really in this planning and this time management, and my audience being direct sellers, we’re all juggling all the things. For most people, this is not their full-time career that they’re working 9:00 to 5:00. They’re doing a lot of things and wearing a lot of hats. So, what is your best recommendation on how you do it all?

Well, first of all, ladies, I just want to make sure everyone knows: You don’t do it all. That’s step Number One.

And, unfortunately, so much of social media and the hustle culture is portraying “You can do it all.” The fact is, we can’t. You can only get so much done in a day. So, part of what I teach inside the framework does include figuring out what you’re not going to do anymore. I always am very upfront with that. If you’re looking to say, “Megan, how do I fit 32 hours of things into a 24-hour day?” I’m going to say, “I’m not your gal, because you can’t.” Anyone that says they’re going to is headed for burnout.

So, I have a little bit of a love-hate relationship with a lot of the direct sales messaging out there, because I know I got sucked into the idea that “You can build this amazing business in the nooks and crannies of your day,” right? Or, “in just 15 minutes.”


“All from your phone! While you’re making dinner!”

“You can work your business from anywhere!” So, we see all the places that we’re supposed to be working our business. And, what this translates to is, instead of working our business in the nooks and crannies of our time, and then working it from anywhere, we’re working it from everywhere, 24/7. We are literally in and out of our phones every 10 minutes feeling that we’re working. But, 99% of the time, we aren’t.

And then, when you’re first starting out in direct sales, a lot of people will coach you to set office hours. Like, “What are your working times?” And, I struggled with this for months, because my life was so fluid. And so, first, I invite people to flip that. Instead of deciding when you are working, let’s decide when you are not working. I think that’s one of the easiest wins that network marketers and direct sellers can make, is to decide when you’re not working. Because, I have yet to meet a network marketing company that truly is doing something life-saving. We need to realize that it can wait. We don’t need to be instant responders.

And then, the second big shift is to actually create plans for your week instead of operating off of a daily to-do list.


Okay, say more about that. What does that look like?

So, most people are taught today, “Wake up. Do your brain dump. What’s everything you’ve got to get done today? Now you’ve got your list. And now, your goal for the day is to check as many things off of that list as possible. And then, if you go to bed at night, and they’re not checked off, you feel like you did something wrong.” Unfortunately, this is how people are measuring productivity, is by the number of checkmarks.

But, there is a massive difference between a task list and a plan. If we’re operating in Task List Mode, this looks like what I call “just in time living.” And, this is particularly challenging for our direct sellers, because usually, you’re given a list of activities that you’re supposed to do every day to grow your business, right? It might be following up with a certain number of people, doing customer support, posting on social media… Well, if every day you’re starting with, “All right, I’ve got to figure out how I’m going to get all this done,” a couple of things are happening. One is, the longer the list, the higher the anxiety goes. And so, the chemical shift in your brain is similar to, like, a bear walking into your house. Your body does what it’s designed to do, which is say, “I need a win. I need to feel safe.” So, if it’s a bear, you might run. But, when it’s your task list, it’s “What’s the lowest-hanging fruit that gets me that instant checkmark?” And, 99% of the time, it’s the least relevant thing. So, we end up front-loading our day with all the stuff that really doesn’t matter, because we’re trying to quiet our anxiety.

And then, I’m sure women out there know that feeling of decision fatigue, right? It’s the end of a long day, and your significant other comes in and says, “Where do you want to go for dinner?” And, you’re like, “For the love of God, would you please just decide?”

Well, when you’re operating from a task list, every time you look at it, you’re deciding what to do next. And, the bigger the list, the harder it is for your brain to make the decision. And so, all day long, every time you reference your list: decision fatigue, decision fatigue, decision fatigue. Instead, when we learn how to create a plan for our week that integrates all of the stuff that we need, that plan proactively tells you what you’re doing and when you’re doing it. As I look at my paper planner all day long, I’m looking at it to say, “You tell me what I’m doing next.” I’m not making decisions. That has made all the decisions for me.

And so, that’s at the heart of everything I teach, is this weekly planning skill that includes your business, that includes your corporate job, that includes your family, and most importantly, it includes time for yourself, so you can answer the question, “What do you do for fun?” when someone asks that. And then, this whole planning process really helps support you from getting overbooked, overwhelmed, and especially when running a business, it’s going to help you start to create incredible efficiencies, so that when you’re sitting down to work, you don’t waste the first 15 minutes scrolling and trying to figure out what you’re going to do for work next.


I feel like this conversation is so relevant for our industry. For so many, this is a side gig. They’re not showing up and sitting down at their desks with a boss breathing down their neck saying they need to work from this hour to this hour. It’s so important to build your business around the time that you’re not working.

And, when I had my corporate job, I did do a lot of my direct sales work in 15-minute blocks of time. But, I knew exactly what I was doing in that 15-minute window ahead of time, because I planned that out. And so, when people hear me talk about anti-task lists, they’re like, “Well, where the heck do I put that stuff? Like, my task list makes sure I don’t forget things.” Well, the task list actually gets integrated into your calendar.

So, let’s say you had four or five things that you know you want to do every day to grow your business. Instead of saying, ” I’m going to do these every day, and I’m going to check them off when I get it done,” we’re going to take the next step. Look at your calendar and your list of obligations, and then, as you’re mapping out your week, say, “Okay, if I know I have these five things to do, and maybe it takes me an hour to do them, when exactly am I doing that on Monday? Maybe I’m doing the first two from 12:00 to 12:30, on a lunch break, and the second two from 4:00 to 4:30 in the afternoon.” What this allows us to do is see ahead of time, “Wednesday is just— It’s full. So, I know I’m not going to do any of these on Wednesday, and then I’m not going to feel guilty that I didn’t, because I intentionally planned for that.”


So, I love this in practice, because when I time block, sometimes I say, “I’m going to get these three things done,” and I only get one of those things done. So then, it’s “Okay, let’s recalibrate a little bit.” And, the next time I say I’m going to get a task like that done, I’m going to give myself a bit more white space to make sure that it’s actually happening. And, I feel like I’m much more realistic about what I can accomplish, and I focus on those things that actually are moving my business forward.

And, when people are averse to planning to this level, they say, “But too many curveballs come at me,” right? Especially if you’ve got littles. There’s the call from the preschool. There’s the sick kiddo. Everybody’s got some level of uncertainty. And so, there’s a technique that you can use to actually what I call “plan for uncertainty.” So, here’s what I would tell everyone to do: Grab a piece of paper, and over the course of the next week, make a note of how much time each day got hijacked by something you had no idea was coming. Note those curveballs that keep you from planning. So, the other night, my daughter calls and is like, “Mom, my braces wire is sticking up. It’s bleeding. I’ve got to go to the orthodontist tomorrow.”


I had a two-hour vet appointment yesterday that was not in my plan. Let me tell you: not in the plan.

Everybody’s got something. But, what we ultimately start to learn is, “On average, what does that look like for me?” And, I’ve had seasons of life where it meant two hours a day were going to be consumed by things I had no idea were coming at me when I woke up. Now, I’m at a stage of life where it’s, like, four hours a week. But, guess what we do? We build that into our plan. Meaning, right now, in my calendar, there are four hours of time blocked off that’s just nothing, so when the orthodontist appointment hit, I just moved my business task from that morning to one of the chunks of time that I had protected for all of the uncertainty coming at me.

So, if you’re in that stage where you don’t feel like you can plan, figure out the reality of your uncertainty, and protect that time. Then, when you need to shift and move things around, it doesn’t mean that now the domino effect hits, and you’re staying up late, and waking up early, and all the things fall off your plate. Instead, you can absorb it can keep moving forward.


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