The One GIANT Mistake Everyone Makes That Is Killing Your Productivity

The One GIANT Mistake Everyone Makes That Is Killing Your Productivity

How is that you’re busy all day, every day, and yet the things that really matter don’t seem to happen.

Here’s the one giant mistake that I see people making over and over again – and it’s killing your productivity.

(I know it’s true because I do it, too.)

Here’s what happens:

You sit down at your desk or workspace. You’re thinking about the big things, the important things, that need to happen.

And then you say to yourself,

“I’ll just start with a few easy things. I’ll just check some email (or the Slack channel or social media or the news….) Just to make sure there are no fires that need to be put out. Then I’ll move on to that big project.”

And the next thing, you know, it’s three in the afternoon and nothing of consequence has happened.

This idea that you’ll “do something little to warm up” works for exercise, but not for getting the things that matter done.

Your brain works best when it is rested and uncluttered, and for most of us, that’s first thing.

So I want you to start doing the most important thing first. Even if it’s just for 15 minutes.

Do the thing that’s going to make a difference to you 90 days from now, first.

Update that LinkedIn profile.
Revise your resume.
Bang out a few paragraphs on that book.
Send an email to someone with whom you want to build a relationship.
Mentor a younger person.
Spend 15 minutes in prayer, breathing, or meditation.

There are so many activities that you can do for just a few minutes a day that will, if you do them every day, will, cumulatively, make a huge difference between the person you are now and the person you will be 90 days from now.

Go ahead and write down the one that is coming to mind for yourself right now.

Now, you don’t have to give up the idea of warming up and then doing bigger things for everything. For example, it works great for clutter clearing. You think, “Oh, I can’t do the whole basement. Okay. I’ll just do this a little bit. Well, okay. I’ll just do this next little bit.” and the next thing you know, you’ve made huge progress.

The “starting small” idea also supports working out. You think, “Ugh – I don’t really want to work out. Well, I’ll just go on the treadmill for 10 minutes. Well, now I’ve started, I might as well do 20 minutes. Now I’m already kinda sweaty….I might as well hit the weights.” Excellent!

There are plenty of circumstances in which it makes a ton of sense to sort of trick yourself by starting small and then seeing where you end up. But productivity is not one of them.

If you are going to create a positive feedback loop on being productive, you need to get a positive result; a result that is meaningful. To get a result that is meaningful, you need to focus on the things that are most important.

The highest joy-producing activities.

The highest income producing activities.

The things that will make the most difference to you – and your life – 90 days from now.

Start spending 15 minutes a day – first thing – on your important thing, and I guarantee you amazing results.

Want some support?

That’s why we created Get It Done Lab: An easy, fun, 90-day productivity sprint that will help you buckle down and focus on what really matters in your life, family, or business.

42 Easy Ways to Change Your Life In Just 15 Minutes a Day

42 Easy Ways to Change Your Life In Just 15 Minutes a Day

The following is a list of things that, done every day, are guaranteed to change your life.

 Which will you pick?

  1. Prayer/Meditation/Breathing
  2. Playing an instrument/Making music
  3. Stretching
  4. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)
  5. Meal prep (prep a smoothie or a salad or a nice soup…)
  6. Clear 5 items from your closet
  7. Set up automatic withdrawals to savings, investments, IRA, charitable donations, etc
  8. Review subscriptions, credit card bills and auto-debits (to make sure you’re not paying for things you’re not using)
  9. Pat, play with or otherwise communicate with the animals in your life
  10. Take a walk
  11. Call your BFF for no reason
  12. Write a book
  13. Update LinkedIn or other professional profile
  14. Update CV or resume
  15. Reach out to old colleagues
  16. Social media for your side hustle
  17. Self-massage/Acupressure/Reiki/Fascia release
  18. Read poetry
  19. Gardening
  20. Write a love note
  21. Write a thank-you note
  22. Check in with a young person
  23. Clutter clear part of a drawer or shelf
  24. Spend an extra 15 minutes on your appearance
  25. Study another religion
  26. Read Shakespeare aloud
  27. Watch Ted Talks
  28. Coloring/Doodling/Zentangles
  29. Daily Self-Portrait
  30. Needlework/Mending
  31. Clear old files
  32. Daily orgasm
  33. Clear a bit of the basement/spare room/garage
  34. Calligraphy/Handlettering
  35. Listen to music
  36. Review finances
  37. Ask for a testimonial or referral
  38. Give a testimonial or referral
  39. Learn a language
  40. Genealogy research
  41. Gratitude List
  42. Cold plunge


Now, here’s the rub – you’re not going to do this, are you?


Even though you know that picking just ONE THING from this list and spending 15 minutes a day on it could change everything for you….


You won’t do it because you will allow yourself to get distracted….lose focus….let other people’s stuff take priority…find some other way to psych yourself out.




So you need a NEW SYSTEM.


Which is why we created the Get It Done Lab: a 90 Day Productivity Sprint. 


  • You get to spend 15 minutes a day on your work – and there’s a daily accountability check-in if you want.
  • You get the Real Life Planner sent to your door – to keep all the cats herded.
  • You get 21 Days to Get Out of Your Own Way Audio Program – to adjust your mindset.
  • You get two live sessions a month with me – to dig deeper into your transformation.
  • You get a private FB group – if you want to connect with the community.
  • You get the JOY of watching yourself grow and change incrementally – and by leaps and bounds
  • You get to see the RESULTS of spending just 15 minutes a day for 90 days on something that’s meaningful to you.


Please check it out at and see if it’s for you.


We start SOON – please join us.

Yep. This is going to be fun.


Sam’s Get it Done Lab has helped me to blow past some serious creative blocks and fall in love with the process. The process is now lifting me rather than crushing me. Thanks Sam! I can’t wait for the next session to start. – Beth Jaffe


I am super excited and happy about the shift that is already occurring in me with the little I have done already…. – Jodi Johnson


I HIGHLY RECOMMEND to take part in Sam’s Get It Done Lab because except from great advice from the rockstar herself, it’s a perfect way to get consistency in continuously being exposed to thinking/working on your projects – and in the most friendliest cheerleading mategroup. – Roosi

There Is No Such Thing as a Big Decision

There Is No Such Thing as a Big Decision

There is no such thing as a big decision.

There are only little decisions.

And when you allow yourself to believe that something IS a big decision, you instantly psych yourself out, ammiright?

So you have a thought like…

“You know, maybe I want to quit this job….”

“Maybe I want to move…”

“Maybe I should leave this person that I’ve been with for all these years…”

And then you think, “Oh, but it’s such a big decision,” and you frighten yourself into inaction.

All of life is a series of little decisions, and sometimes we make a big deal about the last little decision, but really – that last one is no bigger than all the ones that precede it.

I remember before the first of my marriages (long story) when we were getting our pre-marital counseling from our very hip pastor, and he said,

“Here’s the thing – you two have been deciding to get married since you met. You have been deciding to get married since you first clapped eyes on each other. It’s been a million little steps. A million little yeses. Yes to this first date, and yes to this dinner, and yes to making up after this fight. Now, on the wedding day, we’re going to make a big fuss over this last little yes. Over this last little, ‘I do.’

But remember it is not a big decision. It is the latest in a series of small decisions. And as you stay married, you will continue to make little decisions every single day to stay married or to not.”

And anyone who has been in a long-term relationship will tell you, it’s true. You make decisions every single day to stay together, or to drift apart.

You make little decisions every day about your health, your job, your family, and your relationships, and those decisions shape your future.

If you remember that you only need to make a little decision and then take the next indicated right action, you might decide yourself into a new, better life.

Waking Up Wanting: How Doing Little Things Is the Antidote to Burnout

Waking Up Wanting: How Doing Little Things Is the Antidote to Burnout

If you’re like me, you wake up pretty much every morning thinking about what you want.

And then you spend the rest of the day talking yourself out of it.

Or psyching yourself out of it.

Or ignoring it because you spend every waking minute doing the things that everyone else needs you to do.

Sometimes you wake up thinking of what you want in a dreaming way….with a gentle feeling of longing.

Oh, wouldn’t it be wonderful to have my own business and not have to launch out of bed right now and start hustling for someone else…

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to take a trip – to go somewhere special….

Gee, wouldn’t it be great to be able to spend time on this hobby or activity that I love…

Other times, your desire shows up as vicious self-criticism.

Ugh. I can’t believe I haven’t done XYZ yet…

I’m such a failure – I haven’t lost this weight or even started exercising….

I feel like a loser because I haven’t written that book yet…

This early morning self-punishing is a hard way to greet the day, don’t you think?

Other times you just wake up feeling sort of dead and empty.

I don’t even know what would make a difference for me….I’m just so tired of my life….

I’m so sick of going to the same office and saying the same things to the same people over and over again…

Between the needs of my family and the needs of my job, I’m too tired to even know what I want…

And when you repeat this pattern day after day, you wind up with that horrible hamster-wheel feeling.

Because burnout doesn’t come from working hard – it comes from working hard and feeling like it doesn’t make any difference.

So the antidote to burn-out is MEANING.

And a great clue to finding meaning in your life is to look to those things you wake up wanting.

If you look underneath your feeling of dissatisfaction, you may find some interesting questions:

Where is the joy in my life?

Where is the zhuzh? The energy and sparkle?

Where is my power to change things?

These are excellent questions. You may even want to use them as journaling prompts, hm?

Let us take a moment right now to agree that this strategy of “wanting something, then not giving it to yourself all day” is not creating the life that you want.

So let’s think of a new strategy.

We’re going to do this right now.

And here’s our new, easy strategy.


1) Pick One Thing You Want to Change

There might be several areas in your life that you want to see changed or a number of things you want to do. Since the purpose of this exercise is to explore this new strategy, I want you to just Pick One.

Pick whichever one bubbles up first for you – big or small.

OK – have you chosen an area of your life you’d like to change?


Now write that down so you don’t start second-guessing yourself before we’ve even begun.


2) Think of One. Simple. Tiny. Easy. Step.

Write down one simple, easy thing you can do today that will help you make the change you wrote down.

Simple = this step isn’t complicated; you probably already know how to do this.

Tiny = this step will take less than 15 minutes and is easily affordable or free.

Easy = you might even enjoy doing this step.

And I don’t care how dumb it seems. Or how much you feel like it’s not going to help. Because we’re just experimenting, right?

See, it’s your ego that wants to make big moves. Your ego wants to make it an all-or-nothing scenario. Your ego wants to make these big sweeping decisions.

I’m here to tell you your life will change thanks to tiny incremental actions.

Maybe your Simple Tiny Easy Action is to spend 15 minutes cruising some job websites – just to see what else is out there. (Can you see how this moves the inner conversation from, “Ugh I should really quit this job but I can’t afford it blah blah blah,” to “I’m going to just do a little check on what else might be out there for me.” Much more manageable, yes?

Or maybe your Simple Tiny Easy Action is to spend 15 minutes dancing in your kitchen, just to feel the pure joy of moving to music.

Maybe you want to spend 15 minutes writing just 200 words of a book.

Maybe you want to spend 15 minutes reaching out to a friend.

Maybe you spend 15 minutes staring at a blank piece of paper. That’s OK. A little time facing white space never hurt a person.

And here’s the wonderful news: if you do your Simple Tiny Easy Action – your whole day will be different.

It’s possible that the whole trajectory of your life will change.

But – for sure – your day will change.

3) Repeat This Process Tomorrow

And the day after that. And the day after that. And the day after that. And the day after that.

This is how we change our lives.

This is why I wrote the book, “Start Right Where You Are: How Little Changes Can Make a Big Difference for Overwhelmed Procrastinators, Frustrated Overachievers and Recovering Perfectionists” (New World Library).

When people looked at my life and asked me, “Wow, how did you go from being a broke actor in Los Angeles who never had two nickels to rub together to being this prosperous business owner, thought leader, and author?” (hair toss, hair toss)

It wasn’t just one thing. It was a lot of simple, tiny, easy decisions. It was a lot of simple, tiny, easy actions in a lot of areas of my life.

And it’s not just me – I’ve helped tens of thousands of clients change their lives with this process, most recently with our breakthrough 90-day program, The Get It Done Lab.


Sam’s Get it Done Lab has helped me to blow past some serious creative blocks and fall in love with the process. The process is now lifting me rather than crushing me. – Beth Jaffe


I am super excited and happy about the shift that is already occurring in me with the little I have done already and… just the basic shift in attitude…really the most important question regardless…what do I *really* want? That’s what matters. – Jodi Johnson


 You can do the same. Starting right now.

Here’s the thing: Every day is precious to us. We do not know when our last day here is.

Do not wait to move forward on having the life that matters to you.

ahem….I am officially a VERY big deal : )

ahem….I am officially a VERY big deal : )

Image of painted lines on the ground, including the word "zone"

So my friend Greg pings me the other day with a little audio clip of ME being featured on the Stuff You Should Know podcast….

and you could have knocked me over with a feather.

Because I’ve never been on that show.

I mean – SYSK is in the top 15 of ALL podcasts!

So how did it happen?

Turns out that LinkedIn Learning is a sponsor of SYSK, but you know how podcasts love to make their ads sound all chatty? Well, apparently they decided to feature one of my LinkedIn courses called, “Time Management for Busy People” and so the hosts talk about me and how awesome I am for a minute, and then they cut to an audio clip of me from the course, and then they go on to say that LinkedIn Learning is really great and people should check it out.


So cool, right?

And here’s what I want you take away from this little story:

There are wheels turning you do not know about.

There are forces for good that are shaping your future right now.

There are opportunities that you never dreamed of (like being featured on one of the world’s most popular podcasts) that are unfolding.


Success cannot find you if you keep yourself locked up.

Success cannot find you if you never show your work to anyone.

Success cannot find you if you never talk about what you do, or if you are always self-deprecating.


So please – share your creativity with someone today.

You never know what might happen.


P.S. If you want to hear the clip, just find the Stuff You Should Know podcast on whatever platform you use (Apple, Stitcher, Google, etc) and go to the episode that was posted on Tuesday, July 13, called “Radium Girls.” My bit is about 32 minutes in. Enjoy! – S.

By The Way, You Look Really Great Today

Inner Glass Ceilings- Part 1

Inner Glass Ceilings- Part 1

Image of painted lines on the ground, including the word "zone"

The thing I thought we would talk about today is the inner glass ceilings- The self-limiting behavior that you may not even know that you have. This will be a 2-part blog post because I think this is so important, and I have a lot to say about it.

I did a call earlier this week with my friend, Susan Harrow, who’s a public relations expert and she has a little course about how to get featured in a magazine. I posted about it in this Facebook group. And I thought for sure you guys were going to go crazy for this.

I thought for sure, you’d be like, Oh, I would love to have my product in a magazine. I’d love to have my art in a magazine. I’d love to be quoted in a magazine. I’d love to have my essay featured in a magazine. I’d love to have my book in a magazine. I thought for sure you guys would be all over that, like white on rice.

And it’s not that you weren’t. I mean, people definitely enrolled and the response was good, but it was not as enthusiastic as I had expected it to be. And then I thought about it and I really sort of put on my empathy head, my empathy heart, and kind of tried to feel into what was going on. And I realized it was this.

That really, the idea of being in O magazine was not so much thrilling to a lot of you- it was terrifying. That level of success and visibility felt threatening. It felt like maybe it was something you wouldn’t be able to handle. What if everybody thinks I’m great and then you have to be great all the time.

What if I get overwhelmed? In a lot of ways it felt to me like y’all were just kind of taking yourself out of the game before you even had any information.

Before you even thought, well, I could go to the free thing about how a person gets featured in O magazine… I could do that much research just to see if it’s something I might want. Rather than just saying, Oh, no, no, no, that’s not for me. And I wrote a big post about it. It’s on this Facebook page, about how you were taught to be modest, you were taught to defer, you were taught don’t toot your own horn. Don’t think you’re so big. Don’t get too big for your britches. Who does she think she is?

Tall poppy syndrome, all that you were taught by your family, you were taught that by school, you were taught that by the culture. And even more, this sort of second level: everybody gets that “don’t toot your own horn” message, men and women alike, but then women get an extra little message that says, “let the men go first.”

“Don’t outsmart the boys. Don’t make the boys look bad, stay in the back. Be the power behind the throne. Be the supportive help. Everybody else’s things are more important than your things.” When women get rewarded for it, they don’t get rewarded. Women are expected to help everybody with everybody else’s thing first.

And if they put their own stuff first that’s selfish, right? She got that message. I certainly got that message. Everyone I know got that message. It’s not your fault. It’s no wonder that to suddenly fight back against a hundred years of cultural programming that says, do not seek out the spotlight for yourself, that when somebody says, hey, you could be in a magazine, you could be in the spotlight. You feel like, oh that doesn’t seem like such a good idea. It feels risky. It feels like I might get teased. It feels like I might get punished. It feels like people might not like me. And all those things are true.

I guarantee you, when your work starts to get more popular, there will be people who do not like you for sure. But what you find is that it matters less. When you’ve had five social media friends and one of them doesn’t like you, that’s a big deal, but if you’ve got 50,000 social media friends and 50 of them don’t like you, it’s not that big of a deal.