How To Feel, and Be, 10 Times as Productive

The farther you are from the “production line,” the less likely you are to be making something tangible:

Businessman making tower

  • building a widget
  • developing software
  • writing a proposal

Or doing a task with tangible results:

  • loading a truck
  • cleaning equipment or floors
  • receiving orders

So what are you doing with all your time that justifies that high salary? Let me guess. I bet you are:

  • talking (in meetings, outside of meetings, to yourself!)
  • writing (emails, reports, memos, plans)
  • reading (emails, reports, memos, plans – and articles that you hope will make your job easier and your company better)
  • thinking (maybe especially about your day in the hopes that if you think about it just right, you will accomplish more!)

Boy, it would be a lot easier to feel like you are making progress if you could count completed widgets, wouldn’t it? The closest you come to that feeling is probably completed meetings and checkmarks on a task list.

That’s scary when you realize that easily half of all meeting time is wasted time and your task list may be padded with any number of items that are there just so you can check something off easily.

Want to feel more productive? Want to be more productive?

The Building Blocks of Progress – Clarity Kernels

Clarity Kernels are the tangible building blocks of cognitive processes. The milestones harvested from the abundance of ideas generated by all that talking and thinking. The tangible outcomes that constitute progress. Identifiable components you can readily articulate, share, and use as a springboard to the next kernel of progress.

All that time you spend talking, thinking, reading, and writing could be far more productive if you always knew specifically which Clarity Kernel you needed next. The good news is, there are only six of them:

  1. A decision
  2. A plan
  3. A problem resolution
  4. A list that helps you make a decision, plan, or problem resolution
  5. Confirmation
  6. Authorization

Know what these six have in common that you can’t say about all the ideas that you talk, read, write, and think about?

  • In all six cases, the outcome is specific and it is easy to know when you are done. When you’ve made the decision, you are done. When you’ve received authorization, you are done. See what I mean?
  • Each is the result of a destination verb:
    • decide, plan, resolve, list, confirm, and authorize.
  • As opposed to a treadmill verb that has no end and can keep you working forever:
    • discuss, review, report, communicate, update, and inform
  • You can easily ask for what you need. “We need to decide …”
  • You can easily get everyone on the same page.
  • Record keeping is simple because the outcome is so clear.

If you create a decisionplan, or problem resolution, you’ve got a tangible kernel to build on. You’ve made progress. If you make a list of tasks or resources to help you create a plan, you’ve made tangible progress. Make sense?

Confirmation is a little different. “Here is what I’ve done to date and what I plan to do next. Am I on the right track?” If you are that specific, what answers should you expect?

  • “Yes”
  • “No”
  • “May I help you with your plan?”

Authorization is a lot like confirmation. “Here is my plan. May I proceed?”

  • “Yes”
  • “No”
  • “May I help you with your plan?”

When you are talking, thinking, reading, or writing without pursuing a specific Clarity Kernel, you will need a lot of luck to produce a logical sequence of these six outcomes. All your time and effort might just as easily lead to more talking and thinking.

When intentionally, especially collectively, pursuing Clarity Kernels, productivity leaps ten-fold. Try it today. In your next meeting. Alone at your desk. In that email you are about to write. Which Clarity Kernel is the stepping stone to progress right now?