Sales Tax Institute Book Club: Productivity for How You’re Wired by Ellen Faye

Ellen Faye’s Purpose 

Do you know when you are most productive? Ellen Faye authored a book that delves into how you can better understand yourself and what works best for you (not just copying what works best for everyone around you), then creating a productivity flow from that with goals, time mapping, prioritized task lists, and daily planning in mind. The book covers three sections: (1) How You’re Wired [Understand], (2) Productivity Flow Framework [Create], and (3) Productivity at Work [Apply]. Faye’s book allows you to rethink the way you have always worked and consider new, more productive avenues you can take. In Section 3, the prior sections are used to dive into the real-life implications of what you have learned. The last section (3) breaks down simple tasks such as emails and newer workstyles like remote and hybrid. Overall, Faye takes the reader through an insightful journey to improve their efficiency or, as she writes, “Anyone who wants to be more intentional about how they use their time and live their life.” 

Our Team’s Takeaways 

Even though this book is malleable to YOU and YOUR natural approach to tasks and projects, our team found an abundance of action items that help all of us to be successful. Here are a few key points we discussed:


Daily planning is essential for a productive lifestyle.

Not just by using planners or having a collection of post-it notes on your desk, but by adding focus work time. What will you focus on to get your to-dos done?  

Focus time is fundamental to scheduling during your work weeks. Between all your meetings, errands, and responsibilities, you must PLAN for your focus work. Whenever you do your best work, whether it be right at sunrise or at midnight, make sure you are honest with yourself and experiment with when you feel most ready to do your best work. 

How do you create to-do lists? Faye recommends splitting your tasks into four distinct categories: Critical, Hot, Sooner, and Later. “Critical” means it must be done today, “Hot” means it must be done in the next week or there is a consequence, “Sooner” means it needs to be done soon but not this week, and “Later” means it needs to be done sometime in the future.

“If everything is important, then nothing is important.” 

Perfectionism & Procrastination

Faye suggests the Pareto Principle, more commonly known as the 80/20 rule, to combat perfectionism. The Pareto Principle states that 80% of our output comes from 20% of our efforts – so why give our 100% all the time? 

“Do your high-value work well and your less important work well enough. Not all work is 100% worthy.” 

Procrastination is incredibly common, and Faye breaks down this characteristic by encouraging everyone to find out why you are procrastinating. Is it due to self-doubt, needing more information, lacking clarity on the task, etc.? There are many ways to overcome and find a solution to your procrastination. From creating a Zen space to body doubling (having a person share your space to help keep you on task). 

Other key points we learned…

  1. Realize how to say “no” to tasks you do not have the capacity for. 
  2. Communication is key for our team. Be sure to let others know what part of the task is most important for you and include consequences to ensure others know the severity and timeliness of the task. 
  3. Always be aware of due dates and follow-up in advance to ensure these deadlines are met. 
  4. If the method works, find the tool later. Make sure that you understand your style but also communicate your style to those around you ahead of time. For example, if you prefer to work late at night – let those around you know that is when the assigned task will be done. 
  5. Understand temperament interrelationships by taking tests like the Myers-Briggs (MBTI®) or Keirsey Temperament Sorter. 
  6. One size does not fit all. We can get really stressed out about projects and prioritizing, but at the end of the day it is up to us to understand what works best for us — and implement it to reduce our stress!  
  7. Being busy is no longer a badge of honor. We work to live, not the other way around! 

How do you prioritize your tasks? Do you consider yourself a perfectionist? If you have thoughts on Productivity for How You’re Wired by Ellen Faye, email us here!

Next, the Sales Tax Institute will take on Dare to Lead by Brené Brown. We would love to have you join us on our next journey. We encourage you to support your independent local bookstores. Our neighborhood bookstore is Sandmeyer’s Bookstore in historic Printer’s Row Chicago. Join us and support your own favorite local store!

Posted on June 28, 2023