Getting Things Done: Personal Productivity

In this series of blogs I want to help you move into action.  To do this requires a system and most of these blogs will talk about a system I use and the thinking underpinning it.

Before we look at the system however, we need to understand the importance of the steps we have already discussed in previous blogs and videos, as the foundation to the system, if you will.

In the Hedgehog and 1-Thing planning exercises that we discussed in the previous blogs, we spoke of the concept of Purpose, Priority and Productivity.

What we mean by this is that while one certainly needs systems and tools to be productive – and that is where many people have focused their efforts – however, doing the right things is certainly more important than doing things right, therefore priority comes before productivity.

Personal productivity without priority is not possible.  How can you be productive if you don’t know what the most important thing you have to do is – i.e. the thing that will have the greatest impact on moving you towards your goals?

Equally, we cannot establish the priority of things to be done if we don’t know the context, i.e. what our purpose is – the hedgehog and visioning exercises that we looked at in the last blogs.  How can you know the most important goal and thing to do, if you don’t know what you are trying to achieve in the long term?  Stephen Covey summed it up well, many years ago, in his book “The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People”, when he talked of climbing the ladder to the top, only to find it leaning against the wrong wall!

So, the order is, Purpose, Priority and Productivity, from the bottom up, like our three-part pyramidal logo and our tag line of Clarity, Strategy and Action.

This model or approach is holarchial, where the ‘whole’ is governed by its parts. Each level is self-contained as you move up the model, in that it includes the underlying levels.

For example, letter, word, sentence, paragraph, chapter, book.  Each level is self-contained in that it includes the levels below.  So a letter stands on its own.  As does a word, in that it contains letters.  No letters, no words.  But words don’t require the next level up, sentences, to exist.  But sentences require the level below, words, and so on.

Productivity (the top level) requires the level below, Priority, to exist and it in turn requires Purpose.  No purpose, no priority.  No priority, no productivity.

So, if you have not worked through identifying your hedgehog, done the visioning exercise and clearly articulated your enduring purpose, values and mission, then becoming more productive is pointless.  Remember the well-worn cliché, “the greatest of all mistakes is to do really well what need not be done at all”.  The key is to first understand your “Why” and “How”.  Then focus on the “What”.

If you have not done so, I recommend that you review the previous blogs and videos and develop your purpose and priority now, before proceeding.

Remember, the blogs and videos are the same.  Read one and watch the other.  Also, please share these with your friends and colleagues.  Get them to subscribe to the mailing list.  I am putting all the wisdom, thinking and tools I am accumulated in over 30 years in business into these series of blogs and videos, for everyone, for free.  I want them to get to everyone who needs them.  I don’t know who they are – you do.  So, give your friends and colleagues a heads up and make the effort to share.

On a light note, here are a few quotes to finish up:

“I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days attack me at once” – Ashley Brilliant“The ancestor of every action is thought” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“It is hard to fight an enemy who has outposts in your head” – Sally Kempton