Leadership Spotlight: Maura Thomas

Maura Thomas an expert on productivity and work-life balance and is the most widely-cited authority on attention management.  Maura is, in her words, “motivated to live life by design.” She has trained thousands of individuals on her proprietary productivity system, which aims to teach time management skills with a modern twist. 

Maura has been featured on many major news outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fast Company, and The Harvard Business Review. In her Leadership Spotlight, Maura shares how her past as a “worrier” and her first job at a paper-based planner company shaped her path to empowering individuals to lead more productive lives, in and out of the workplace. 

What sparked your interest in personal productivity?

I started my career, almost straight out of college, at a company that sold paper-based planners and productivity training on the planners. Starting there so young, personal productivity seemed like a very common business skill. When I left there after almost a decade, I was surprised to learn how much people were struggling (and it was only getting worse with continued technology development) and how much the skills I had could impact people’s lives. Realizing that was the a-ha moment that made me passionate about sharing the message and helping people to learn to bring their unique gifts to the world in a way that invigorates and inspires them, rather than stressing and exhausting them.

How are you able to apply to identify and use your strengths and weaknesses to your advantage professionally?

I grew up as a worrier, but mainly I worried about things I couldn’t control. That might have made me a little bit of a control freak, but it’s also made me independent. When I feel like things are in my control (like my professional life), I’m not afraid to take risks. Even when I can’t control the circumstances, I know I can control how I respond to them, and that gives me confidence.

I used to have no filter—I said whatever came to my mind. As a result, I’ve said several things that I regret. I remember these things, but I try to remember them in a way that allows me to learn from them, rather than beat myself up about them (but I did that for a while, too). I think I’ve become a better listener, and a lot more diplomatic, as a result.

What motivates you to share your knowledge about productivity?

I think it’s so important to be happy, and to help other people be happy. I’m motivated to live life by design, and help other people do the same.

What would you tell your 20-year-old self?

The world is so much bigger than you think. Find your tribe, and create your community.

What are 3 things you want other women to know?

  1. You have more control than you think. Take charge!
  2. You CAN design your life, and there are others waiting to help you do it.
  3. Ask for what you want, 100% of the time.

Maura Nevel Thomas is an award-winning international speaker and trainer on individual and corporate productivity and work-life balance, and the most widely-cited authority on attention management. Her clients include the likes of the U.S. Army, Old Navy, and the American Heart Association. She is a TEDx Speaker, founder of Regain Your Time, author of Personal Productivity Secrets and Work Without Walls, and was recently named a Top Leadership Speaker for 2018 in Inc. Magazine. Maura is frequently cited as an expert in major business outlets including Forbes, Fast Company, and Huffington Post, and she’s also a regular contributor to the Harvard Business Review, with articles there viewed over a million times. Follow her on Twitter @mnthomas.

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