How to Stop Spinning Your Wheels and Bring Purpose to Productivity with Kanesha Baynard

by Coach Jill Farmer | Physician Coaching, Physician Wellness, Podcast, Work Life Balance

Tune in to this episode to learn how to stop spinning your wheels and how to bring purpose to productivity with Kanesha Baynard.

“When you are producing in the zone that feels the most comfortable to you, that feels like you are at your best, you can think clearly, you’re not overstretched, what does that look like for you? People have not been asked that question. How do you produce best, what does that look like on your own terms?” -Kanesha Baynard

In this episode, Master Certified Coach Jill Farmer talks with author and creativity and productivity expert Kanesha Baynard about how to stop spinning your wheels and start being productive. Jill and Kanesha talk us through Kanesha’s list of the things we should do more of and the things we should do less of. The list contains more daily doing and less overdoing, more self compassion and less self sabotage, more authentic connecting and less surface interactions and lastly, more rest and less getting it all done at any cost. Kanesha explains the benefits and reasons for the items on the list and their importance. You will also hear about the importance of reminding yourself about purposeful productivity, understanding how you are productive, thinking about self compassion, being authentic in your connections and really taking the time to see and be seen among many other very meaningful gems.

Kanesha Baynard is an author, creativity expert, and productivity specialist. She also considers herself to be the love child of Oprah Winfrey and Martha Stewart. Kanesha founded the Bold Living Today community which helps people disrupt unfulfilling patterns through creativity. She specializes in helping teens and parents (re)connect through her F.O.C.U.S. Protocol workshop series. Kanesha also supports creatives through brainstorming sessions, ideation + quarterly mapping retreats, and burnout prevention. Kanesha’s work has been featured in Fast Company, HuffPost Live,  U.S. News and World Report, TiLT Parenting Podcast, Parents Magazine, WVON 1690 AM radio, and the Chicago Tribune. She has also appeared on the Dr. Oz Show.  

You can find out more about Kanesha Baynard at You can also find her on Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn  

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Please enjoy the full transcript below

Kanesha: When we are producing in the zone that feels the most comfortable to you, that feels like you are at your best, you can think clearly, you’re not overstretched, what does that look like for you? People have not been asked that question. How do you produce best, what does that look like on your own terms?


[DocWorking Podcast theme]


Jill: Hello, everyone. We are so excited you’re with us today. I’m Jill Farmer with DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast. We’re brought to you by DocWorking THRIVE. Go to for more information on how you can subscribe today. And today, we are going to be talking about how you can get more productive and stop spinning your wheels so much. I am really excited to be joined by Kanesha Baynard. She’s an author, a creativity expert, and a productivity specialist. She also considers herself to be the love child of Oprah Winfrey and Martha Stewart.


Kanesha founded the Bold Living Today community which helps people disrupt unfulfilling patterns through creativity. She specializes in helping teens and parents re-connect through her F.O.C.U.S. Protocol workshop series, and she also supports creatives through brainstorming sessions, ideation, and quarterly mapping retreats, as well as burnout prevention. Her work has been featured in Fast Company, HuffPost Live, U.S. News, and World Report, TiLT Parenting Podcast, Parents Magazine, and so many other places. Kanesha, I love talking to you about anything, but particularly, you and I are so much on the same page when it comes to meaningful productivity. I think we both can agree that productivity to us does not mean driving yourself into the ground. Tell me where I’m wrong. 


Kanesha: Yeah. I’m so excited to discuss productivity with you just because people don’t really understand what it means, and what it can mean for them, and it’s definitely not driving yourself into the ground, and overdoing, and just exhausting yourself. It’s so much more than that and it can be better when we understand what the purpose of productivity is.


Jill: Yeah. So, let’s talk about the purpose of productivity first because so many people have this idea. I think productivity was pounded into us by the industrial complex. In our listeners’ case, the unbelievably intense rigor of medical education, it was kind of somebody else decided what you should be producing, and how you should be producing it, and the cost to your body or mental health was not considered in the front seat of what you should be considering. I think that in some cases it has people thinking about productivity in a negative light. You and I think about it a little bit more iteratively. Talk about what you think about when you say productivity.


Kanesha: Yeah, I think, the word is often misused because people often think of productivity just as time management, task list, to-do list, calendaring, and things like that. Productivity encompasses those things but it’s not just that. When I’m talking to people, individuals, or groups, or teams, I always say, “When you are producing in the zone that feels the most comfortable to you, that feels like you are at your best, you can think clearly, you’re not overstretched, what does that look like for you? People have not been asked that question. How do you produce best, what does that look like on your own terms?” I think we need to for all of us, and especially, for physicians to be having more conversations about their optimized productivity on their own terms, so that they can translate that into the actual professional work that they do.


Jill: I agree so much. I think it’s just beautifully said and something to really step back and think about. And again, because of the rigor of that training, for a lot of times that agency to think about when do I produce best or how do I produce best was not afforded to folks. So, sometimes, it is years later into the practice of medicine before it dawns on people that maybe they need to think about that question for themselves to be able to produce in a sustainable way. Because otherwise, if we’re producing outside of what works for us, that’s when we get into burnout.


Kanesha: Yeah, I absolutely agree. I think a lot of times, even with the conversations about how are you getting things done or how are you setting yourself up, the conversation might be one thing, but what we observe and other people who are doing the same work as we’re doing, or maybe in your physicians training, what your instructors are doing, and what you’re seeing them doing is different than what they talk about. I think that also is another confusing part about productivity. Do as I say but not as I do. We’re always trying to keep up, and optimize everything, and be the best, and show that we’re showing up clearly, and sincerely, and being of service, but we often forget the part we can’t do that at the expense of ourselves because then we’re not going to be good to anybody and doing well for anyone.


Jill: You really, I think, boiled it down beautifully recently in a list that you shared that just really impacted me and it was helpful in kind of recentering for me to look at and say, “How does this work for me?” It was simply a list where you’d say, “Do more of this and less of that when it comes to producing or creating and putting something out into the world of service that matters to you.” I just really liked it. So, I wanted to know if it was okay with you if we went through that list and talked about it a little bit. 


Kanesha: Yes, absolutely. I love a good list.


Jill: You’re good at giving us lists to help us to, again, get back to that center place as well. You do a beautiful job with that. So, the list that you’ve recently shared said that we need to do more daily doing and less overdoing. So, what does that look like? What’s the middle look like in that space?


Kanesha: Yeah. One thing that I like to do with people, I mean, I don’t know what it is but people really love result-based quizzes. So, I do have a quiz that people can take that tells you specifically how you’re productive and is very personalized. I think when you have that information, you can say, “Okay, my daily doing has to look like this because this is the way that I am productive. This is the way that I can showcase my talent, showcase my unique understanding of the work I’m doing as a physician and how I can serve.” When you’re working from that space, you are less likely to overdo because you know your limits, you have better boundaries, you can ask for more help, you can ask for more support without feeling that you always have to keep up with expectations that don’t serve you.


Jill: Another item on this list is more self-compassion, less self-sabotage. I thought that was a super interesting juxtaposition of those two things. We’ve talked on the podcast before for our regular physician listeners about self-compassion and how it’s very common in physicians for them to be extraordinarily compassionate way above the average mean of regular humans toward patients, or even toward colleagues, or people that they’re serving but often that compassion is not directed toward themselves. So, let’s talk a little bit about what is self-compassion and then, how does lack of self-compassion drive us to self-sabotage?


Kanesha: I think it is really important for high achievers. Physicians are definitely high achievers. For them to really have some type of internal list of expectations for themselves. I refer to these as essential expectations, things that you define for yourself. When you understand that and you’re making this list of expectations based on how you’re productive, based on what feels good to you, based on daily joy, based on what called you to this work you’re doing, you’re more likely to stay in tune with yourself. When you see yourself veering away from that, you do not do a hard course correct. 


Instead, you practice self-compassion which involves pausing, rethinking, recalibrating, and then, reaching out like if you need additional help, additional structure, you need to take something off your plate, you need just a little more time. Self-compassion allows you to be really thoughtful and mindful about what you need, so that your productivity is not strained, and so that it doesn’t send you toward burnout and moving in a direction that you know is not serving you.


Jill: So, that’s what you mean by self-sabotage is that, burnout and moving in the direction that isn’t serving you.


Kanesha: Exactly. A lot of times, we are so intent as people who are professionals, people who are physicians, people who are in leadership positions within our colleagues to not recognize the self-sabotage because we get too busy overdoing. And then, before we know it, we’re in full self-sabotage mode, we’re not sleeping well, we’re not hydrated, we’re not doing the things we really enjoy, we’re not resting, and we’re in full blown self-sabotage and moving swiftly toward burnout. 


Jill: Beautifully said. Let’s talk a little bit about the next thing on the list, which is more authentic connecting and less surface interactions. Why do those authentic connections matter as it relates to productivity?


Kanesha: I think, especially, coming out of the difficult last year and a half to two years depending on where people define it, people are really starved for deep connections and authentic connections. Authentic connections, it does not mean that you’re telling everybody everything about your whole life, and your inner workings, and things like that. But it means that when you show up to your job, when you show up in a meeting, you show up in a team exchange, you can bring the best parts of yourselves to that, and still be who you are without showing up as a representative, which is the surface level. 


A lot of times we feel like in professional settings, if we are doing well, if we might be having a little bit of a challenge, we still have to keep that facade that we’re all okay and that’s not an authentic connection. I think with physicians, you have a lot of output where you’re supporting other people, caring for other people, as you mentioned, Jill, the compassion for others and we need to mirror that back to ourselves when we’re trying to make sure we have self-compassion, when we’re being authentic in what we need, authentic in what we can provide, authentic in what we say yes to, because sometimes, we say yes to things that really should be a no and that’s a surface connection. 


I think when people really think about how I want people to see me in addition to how I want to feel about that, it gets them to a position where they can cut away all that surface and unnecessary things, and really be clear about how they’re showing up every day. So, they can be proud of themselves and also support a team, take care of clients, take care of patients, and really be productive in a way that is going to better a situation, better organization, better a practice.


Jill: That is really important, I think, because it also takes us away from that inauthentic behavior of people pleasing, where we’re only doing it so that we can get somebody else’s approval. And we’ve talked a little bit, again, on the podcast about the difference between people pleasing and serving, and that often those two things are not the same. People pleasing is about somebody else’s being okay, but not necessarily even the highest good being served. So, I really like that idea of challenging ourselves to authentically connect versus the surface interaction. 


Another thing I want to say is, in psychology, we’re told over and over again, one of the most important things we can do in the world when we’re interacting with other people is to let them be seen, because we have a deep innate desire as human beings to connect with other people and to be seen by other people. I think sometimes, when we get so focused on the spinning wheel of the hamster wheel of life that we forget to actually connect to and see. I mean, really see the people we’re with, we’re losing out on one of the most integral parts of this experience in our human life. It makes me sad.


Kanesha: I know. I absolutely agree. The connection piece is so important for a lot of us who just feel like we want to get everything done as fast as possible, everything done on this checklist. That’s not part of purposeful productivity. It may be productive, but you want to keep reminding yourself about purposeful productivity, understanding how I’m productive, thinking about my self compassion, being authentic in the connections. I love how you just said, really taking the time to be seen. I think it’s okay for anyone in a professional role, a physician, or otherwise to allow people to see how they’re coming to serve, and being okay with some vulnerability in that. That is a strong connection of safety, of trust, and really a well-rounded caring situation overall. 


Jill: Really cool. Last thing on the list of what we want to do more of and what we want to do less of is more rest. I’m going to say that again, more rest. Many of my physician clients put rest on the last of their list, and then wonder why they’re so darn tired, and unmotivated, [laughs] and unable to do the things that matter to them in their life when they’re not at work. So, more rest and less getting it all done at any cost. Talk a little about that one. 


Kanesha: I think a lot of times when people hear the word ‘rest,’ they automatically think of sleep. Rest is like a big umbrella word and it can be a lot of different activities that contribute to your rest and we should all be prioritizing rest. When I’m talking to high achievers, high performers, and they just say, “I’m just too busy to rest.” And then, I say, “Well, let’s start with rest breaks.” Like, somehow a break sounds better than a full rest period, and I always say, “It’s an invitation for you to recharge yourself.” You recharge your phone, you recharge your laptops, you’re recharging all these different devices. You want to be a device that can serve and take care of other people, you need to rest and recharge. 


I think one thing that’s really great for a team, especially for physicians, is to really brainstorm what rest can look like. Is it not looking at your phone, is it making sure that you are taking water breaks? When you take the water break, you’re not doing anything else. You’re just drinking the water and just catching your breath. Is it just sitting on a bench outside of where you work for five to ten minutes? Is it actually taking a nap? Getting really clear on what the rest is and that if there’s so much happening and that you feel like you can’t catch your breath, that’s definitely when you need to do some connecting, ask for more help, practice the self-compassion or maybe as a team, recalibrate the structure of what you’re doing, so that everyone can have time to rest in some capacity.


Jill: Amen. Even if it’s just that, I’ve got all these afternoon projects of charting or whatever it is that you want to do or get done, the research says that, when you time block in periods of 20 to 90 minutes, after that we get into diminishing returns. So, chaining yourself down to your desk does not actually deliver the most glycogen in your brain where it can be acting and working at its best. So, getting up from your desk for five to 10-minute breaks, moving your body, changing the channel is how we say it, away from what it is that you’re doing. I’m all for flow, like you said, getting in that zone, where you notice that you’re able to do things in a state of flow. But that doesn’t mean chaining yourself to the desk until we’re really forcing ourselves to go to the bathroom after hours and hours. It’s really being more conscious about taking breaks and letting yourself come back again at full capacity. So, I always love talking about that. 


I also want to talk about something that you work with in your clients, and that is helping them avoid decision fatigue because we talk about productivity and not spinning our wheels. A lot of times people just say, “I’ve got so much to do, and they’re so busy,” and they’re zipping around that they don’t want to take any time to do any advanced planning about what they’re doing, which often means that they get the low hanging fruit kind of stuff, maybe, emails and texts only, but not to the more meaningful things on the list that matter to them. I like how you redirected us recently in a piece that you shared about reminding us that when we just let ourselves get frenzied, and then, at the end of the day, you are trying to make decisions about what really matters or what prioritizes it does tend to help with our productivity. So, you remind us that it’s really important for us to make important decisions in the morning. Why is that?


Kanesha: I think for a lot of people, as you said, they want to do the low hanging fruit because you can check that off, it feels good to get something done, and then it’s like out of your brain. But when we have our most energy, when we have our best focus and for a lot of people is typically in the morning, that is when you should be doing the more difficult things because you have more capacity for them, you have the bandwidth to go a little bit longer, a little bit deeper, and to have your breaks and really to make better decisions about how the work gets done and how you have your output. One thing I always remind people and you mentioned this about the time chunking, I said, you can use a timer as an invitation to start something like, “Oh, I really don’t want to do this big report. I don’t want to get my outline together for this peer reviewed journal.” But you need to get that done because there’s a timeline and I said, “Well, start for 10 minutes, set the timer, and just get going” because you know, 10 minutes will end. 


A lot of times when we pay that entry fee of time, we can keep going, we have good energy, we have good focus, we’re in the flow, and it feels good because we didn’t spend too much time negotiating with ourselves. And then, I also say, if you get past your 10-minute time, reset it, but no more than 20 more minutes, because that’s a 30-minute chunk of time. After that you deserve a break, you’ve earned the break, take the break. A lot of times, you won’t pause after you get into a good thing. But you know, you have to stop, and celebrate in those moments, and it makes the work day feel better, and then, you also feel better about your level of productivity, so that when you start again making the decision to get back into it is not as difficult. 


Jill: Beautifully said. One other thing you talk about when it comes to decision fatigue is that, if you give yourself just even the loosest roadmap, the night before, I like to say, on Friday, spend the last 10 minutes of your day mapping what you want to get done in the coming week. It’s shocking when you give yourself that little roadmap again for the next week. How much more efficient and effective you are at getting to what matters to you, instead of just waiting till the end of the day and saying, “Oh, now, I guess I should work on my article for the peer-reviewed journal.” Because you know what, there’s no gas in the tank by the time you get there and the decisions are going to feel very heavy and overwhelming, and then, you end up procrastinating beating yourself up and the cycle is not a healthy one.


Kanesha: Procrastination is so interesting for me in discussing productivity for people, because I imagine physicians and a lot of high achievers and high performers, they procrastinate but it is productive procrastination. And what I mean by that, instead of dealing with the things that you really need to get done that have a very specific timeline, and that’s a little more difficult, you will spend time doing a bunch of other things that need your time, but they’re not as important. I always say, if you feel yourself going toward productive procrastination, give yourself five minutes to do that and then get back to task. Don’t fight it because if you have to keep fighting these habits that you have, the decision fatigue just escalates. So, you need to be able to just recognize it, don’t fight it, instead of doing 20 minutes of productive procrastination, just do the five, and then get back to work. 


The other thing about wrapping up a work day or even a work week, I always tell people, when you’re doing a new habit like that and you want to elevate or level up in a habit, get a partner in it. If you have a colleague in the office, or in a different facility, or something like that, set a time at 4:30 PM, we will email each other, we text each other to start our wrap up process. And then, you have the accountability, you can celebrate together, and it doesn’t feel so tiresome or lonely. The other thing I suggest, too, when you are wrapping up a task list of things you want to do the next day or calls you want to make, I always tell people to schedule an email to themselves, to greet them the next day, the next morning, or whenever you’re coming in, to welcome you to your day. 


A lot of times we get into our workstations or work mode, and we haven’t really invited ourselves into having a good day. And we can do that and that’s part of purposeful productivity. Send yourself a message that will get you engaged when you are ready to start working. I think it’s a really creative way for people to stay self-compassionate without a lot of extra time being given to it. It’s the really thoughtfulness about it.


Jill: So many amazing ideas on thoughtful productivity and how to produce things that matter to us, but in a way that isn’t so exhausting and overwhelming, or where we get in our own way as much. So, Kanesha Baynard, as always, so much fantastic information that you shared with us. We really appreciate you being with us. How can people find out more about what it is you do in the world?


Kanesha: Yes, I’m so excited to discuss this with you, Jill. People can find out more about my work at our website. It’s called We all are bold in some different way and we provide creativity and productivity tips to fit everyone’s needs from ages 12 and up. I’m also on social media, on Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn @kaneshabaynard and so, you can just find me there.


Jill: And you guys can find those links in our show notes as well. As always, thanks to all of you who joined in our conversation. Make sure you tell your friends and colleagues about how meaningful these conversations are on DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast. Kanesha Baynard, thanks for sharing your wisdom with us here today. The rest of you, hop on over today to to find out more about our incredible program just for physicians called DocWorking Thrive. Until next time, I’m Jill Farmer.




Jen: As physicians, it’s our job to deal with complex and challenging situations. When we’re taking care of patients, that’s what we do, that’s what we’re good at. But there are situations that occur that are outside of patient care, like, being over scheduled for a colleague who’s acting inappropriately, we may feel in the context of a very busy schedule that we don’t have time, or the resources to go to anyone, or to reach out for help in resolving this. But what if you were part of a community of like-minded physicians, where you could go confidentially, and discuss these issues, and look for solutions, and hear about experiences of other physicians, and how they’ve solved similar problems facilitated by a group of experienced coaches who specialize in working with physicians, so that you could go back to work, fix these problems with confidence, and get on to enjoying your life again. 


Amanda: I’m Amanda Taran, producer of DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast. Thank you for being here. Please check us out at and please don’t forget to like and subscribe. Thank you for listening.



Jill Farmer is an experienced physician coach who has been helping doctors live their best lives, increase their success, and move through burnout for well over a decade.

She has delivered keynotes, programs, and training everywhere from Harvard Medical School to the American College of Cardiology.

She has personally coached hundreds of physicians, surgeons, and other busy professionals to help them be at their best—without burning themselves out. Her coaching has supported professionals at places like Mass General Brigham in Boston, Washington University in St. Louis, Northwestern University in Chicago and too many others to list.

Jill wrote the book on time management for busy people. Literally. It’s called “There’s Not Enough Time…and Other Lies We Tell Ourselves” which debuted as a bestseller on Amazon. Her work has been featured everywhere from Inc. to Fitness Magazine to The Washington Post.

Nationally recognized as a “brilliant time optimizer and life maximizer,” Jill will cut straight to the heart of your stress to liberate you from its shackles. She has two young adult daughters. She lives with her husband and their poorly behaved dachshund in St. Louis, MO.

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