How a simple productivity sequence can change your results

How often are you struggling with the feeling of not being productive enough? How often do you think about all the things you should be doing but simply don’t seem to be able to get around to them?

Way too many people think that being productive means doing lots and lots of work in a given time. However, this is not productivity – it’s just being busy. And busyness is not the answer to today’s fast-paced, demanding business world.

Productivity is never about getting more things done. It is never a story about how busy you can get. It is not even about out-of-the-ordinary multitasking skills. It is not about how much you can fill your plate.

Productivity is the art of determining the things that need your attention, which are the activities that have an impact and create meaningful results. Productivity is the art of creating a cohesive plan and consistently taking execution seriously.

  • Productivity is about not overloading yourself with meaningless tasks, about knowing when to say no, and focusing on the right things.
  • Productivity is about having a clear vision of your destination and building great habits that will take you there.

Productivity is what happens in between planning and results.

It is the steps that you take daily to move closer and closer to your goals. Productivity is not about working hard all the time; it’s about working smart. And that’s what this article is all about – uncovering the productivity secrets and learning how to master achieving results. In a nutshell, a clear sequence for unbeatable productivity looks like this: set very clear goals, map out your plan, get organized, create a robust system that will help you achieve your goals, develop the habits that will keep you on track, and get you to your goals.

Sounds simple, right? But in reality, it’s not always easy to stay productive, especially when you’re juggling many different tasks and responsibilities. So what happens? Why are we always looking for more productivity tools and solutions, why are we constantly searching for the next best thing to solve or time problem?

The main culprit for losing focus and direction, getting sidetracked and overwhelmed, or ending up doing way too many (unnecessary) things is lack of clarity, where clarity means a razor-sharp idea which you can put into words and act upon.

You see, the productivity problem shows when we think that having a “rough idea” is enough. This starts the vicious circle: taking random action is only natural with this unclear destination, and arbitrary action creates unexpected results. Inevitably we end up moving in circles, spinning the wheels, hustling and puffing, constantly trying the new shiny solution to a problem that has never been adequately defined.

With that being said, the obvious first step to becoming more productive is CLARITY. Taking the time to clearly articulate what you want to achieve is the key to smashing this vicious circle at its core. Interestingly, this is the step that most people tend to skip or rush through. Typically, there is a tendency to start planning, working on all the details, looking for perfection, running into action  towards an idea that’s been barely sketched out.

You might be tempted to fight me on this one and argue that you are always setting goals and that most people do so. I fell into the same trap. More than once. Until I figured out that goals can sometimes still be random, out of alignment, or unclear. This always happens when the vision, the main objective or destination is not clearly defined, when there is confusion between vision and goals.  Simply put, vision is long-term, future-oriented, and an end in itself, whereas goals are short-term, precise targets, the means to an end.

In this light, the proper sequence for productivity is :
Vision – Goals – Effective planning – Fearless and Consistent Execution

Vision is all about defining the main objective and knowing why you want to do what you want to do. Vision helps us differentiate between just doing all the things and choosing the activities that have a meaningful impact. Vision is the essence, it is what is keeping us inspired, motivated, aligned, and focused. Vision is what gets broken down into Goals, the milestones that need to be achieved to fulfill the vision.

Effective planning is all about mapping out the best way to achieve the goals. But when the fundamentals, vision and goals, are not clear and properly articulated, effective planning or solid strategy, are just words thrown around and will never get you anywhere.

And all of the above, regardless of how clear they are, would not have you throw the big party and celebrate achievements unless you start taking consistent, fearless action. One step at a time, one strategically planned step at a time. Action that matters, action that ties everything up and moves the needle.

So you see, actual productivity has nothing to do with how full is your calendar, or if you are a master juggler of tasks. Productivity is not about color codes or expensive planning systems. The fancy tools and apps are not the answer, they are the support.

Clarity, brought on by the willingness to answer the questions (why, what, how, when) is what is at the core of true productivity, if we define productivity as the capacity to drive a task to a desired result.

Gabriela Manciulea

Founder and CEO Calibrated Leadership
Business & Leadership Consultant