The Stunningly Simple Guide to Summer Productivity

July 1, 2019

“I don’t wanna…”

The voice sounds like a petulant, whiny four year-old.

And there’s no one here but me.

It’s my inner four year old who complains loudly, annoyingly, through anything she doesn’t really wanna do.

afro anger angry 783941 The Stunningly Simple Guide to Summer Productivity

What “I don’t wanna” looks like

She doesn’t want to write. (It’s hard!)

She doesn’t want to work out. (It’s hot, it’s sweaty!)

She doesn’t want to tend to business details and laboriously rework contracts and copy-edit marketing materials. (Who does? She’s four!)

She wants to splash in the kiddie pool, which, in my adult-head is the imaginary pool that doesn’t exist in my backyard, and eat ice-cream. Except that she was going to cut back on that ice cream because of that whole “get in shape this summer” thing.

And she doesn’t wanna do that.

I may have 40+ years on her, but my inner four year-old holds me back, particularly during the lazy days of summer when half my Facebook feed is roaming Italy and the other half is Instagramming at the beach.

Who wants to work? Why can’t I just have fun?

She’s like an early version of my excuses for why I don’t do what I say I’m going to do.

adolescent child cute 544983 The Stunningly Simple Guide to Summer Productivity

My inner 4-year-old knows what she wants

If you’re like me and you’re committed to your goals this summer, whatever they may be, or if you too have an inner four year-old that’s getting in your way, let’s tackle those lazy days of summer in small bites.

Literally, bites.

Last week I had an evening of mini-golf at the course that also hosts a terrific ice-cream stand. Following two holes-in-one (hurrah!) we were going to celebrate with cones. But I had promised myself I’d cut back on sweets, part of my commitment to eat healthy this summer.

My inner four year-old wanted the ice-cream.

My adult self didn’t want to derail my goals.

What to do?

And behold… the putt-putt cone.

tiny ice-cream cone

The perfect portion!

It’s bigger than a sample spoon but far smaller than a small and more kid-like than a kiddie cone. It cost a dollar and was even scooped with an adorable melon baller!

What a genius idea!

I got to eat my ice cream while keeping my commitment to healthy(ish) eating.

(That’s salted caramel chocolate covered pretzel, by the way, and yes, it was worth every bite, which was like… three bites…)

My perfectly portioned putt-putt cone got me thinking about the symbolism of the story, as I often do. (Why else would I tell it if it didn’t have… meaning?)

The bite-sized portion is the SOLUTION.

Not just for ice-cream, but for nearly everything we hope to accomplish. It satisfies our adult need for progress while quelling our inner “I don’t wanna” 4 year-old.

What does this look like for your summer goals?

– If you want to declutter your house but don’t have a full three days to re-fold every pair of underwear Marie Kondo-Style, what if you just cleaned through one drawer a day, every day? (That’s helping me clear out 30,000 items from my house!)

– If you want to get in shape but can’t spend hours working out, what if you did a simple 7-Minute Workout each day? (Who doesn’t have 7 minutes?)

– If you want to start a job search, but feel overwhelmed, what if you just began by revamping (or creating) your LinkedIn profile to demonstrate your professional brand? (Not sure how to do this? Contact me, I can help!)

– If you want to finish (or start) a book, as I do, but don’t have hours to write, what if you set a timer for a single 25-minute writing session each day? (Yes, it adds up, chapter by chapter!)

– If you want to read more but can never find the time, what if you scheduled an hour on your calendar, three times a week, and made it an intentional appointment for yourself rather than an after-thougth? (I’m on my second book this week thanks to planned reading for relaxation time… and yes, I’m more relaxed!)

– What if, instead of eating ALL the ice-cream and wrecking your nutrition goals, you ordered the adorable putt-putt cone?


Even four year-olds can focus for short bits. Criss-cross applesauce.

If you’re the type of person who often bites off more than she can chew, or is so full of ambition you have no room for anything else, consider what the BITE-SIZED PORTION of your BIG GOAL might look like.

Then start with a nibble.

You’ll be eating your way through those goals in no time.

Valerie Gordon, an award-winning storyteller, is the founder and Chief Storytelling Officer of Commander-in-She, a career and communications strategy firm that helps high-achieving women ascend the leadership ladder. She offers corporate workshops and conference breakouts as well as individual coaching and content creation. Her favorite ice-cream flavor is mint-chocolate chip and her inner four year-old wants it sundae-style with hot fudge…





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