6 Steps That Will Jumpstart Your Productivity Cycle and Impact

A Series of Questions for Leaders to develop Clarity, Insight, and Action

This is the Picture we all hope for in our Leadership and Business journey


A wide road and a clear destination.

This is more like what actually happens.


The road is steep and winding and our destination neither clear nor visible.

The 6 Stage Productivity Cycle

The outcome of following this cycle will be to develop Clarity, Insight, and Action to make step-change in productivity of yourself, your team, and your operations.

Productivity_Cycle_LRF 2 copy










I challenge you to work on the six questions in the diagram:

  1. How will we create clarity for our selves, our organizations, and our customers?
  2. How will we open up time for reflection
  3. How will we create new insights and stretch our thinking?
  4. How will we practice the new skills needed to reach our goals?
  5. How will we develop action plans and then manage our attention and focus?
  6. How will we move our new skills and actions into continuing habits?

Why work with questions and habits?

No two people are alike and our brains and thinking are unique to us. My solution or someone else’s solution will not be a match for the solution that you need. By exploring some useful questions, you can create that solution that is a match for you.

Authors have said that 60% or so of our actual actions every day are defined by habits, good or bad.

Two quotes capture my thinking on this:

“At the end of the day, the questions we ask of ourselves determine the type of people that we will become.” 

– Leo Babauta of Zen Habits

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.”

― Will Durant

Questions to consider in the Productivity Cycle Steps:

Step 1: How will we create clarity for ourselves and our organizations?

5 questions to help create clarity

  • What are all of the commitments and tasks that are before us?
  • What are the 3-5 key things we want to achieve in this year?
  • What is our big “Why?”
  • How could we categorize our work in terms of great work, good work, and bad work (credit for this to Michael Bungay Stanier and his book, “Do More Great Work”)
  • Can we take our goals through a process of Mine, Define, Refine, and Shine?

Step 2: How can we open up time for reflection?

4 questions to open up time

  • Before opening up email or any application, take time to consider those 3-5 key focus points each morning and write just a sentence or two.
  • Who could you schedule time with to be a thinking partner on a regular basis?
  • Could you consider hiring a coach for 3 to 6 months?
  • Post your list of key focus points on the bathroom mirror or have them as your screen saver.

Step 3: How can we uncover new insights and stretching our thinking?

5 questions to find insights

  • If there were no constraints, what would remarkable look like? What, if it happened would surprise you and others?
  • What is the 20% that provides 80% of the value?
  • What if we had scale our work by 10X or shrink it 1/10X?
  • What would make it ridiculously easy to do?
  • What would be the very simplest or fastest way to do it?

 Step 4: How will we learn, build new skills, and new habits?

5 questions to begin learning and practicing

Two resource books are: “1st 20 Hours” and “Practice Perfect”

  • What is the specific skill we want to learn?
  • What are the detailed steps of that skill?
  • How might we intentionally practice those steps?
  • How can we get feedback as we practice?
  • How can we move the new skill into a habit?

Step 5: How will we develop action plans and then manage our attention and focus?

7 questions to create an action plan gets you going

  • Using David Allen’s work in Getting Things Done, what is the list of projects that we have?
  • From that list of projects, what are the next physical action steps that we have?
  • Thinking from the perspective of a 90-day plan, what would be the steps for each of the next few weeks?
  • What might be the metrics that we use to know whether we are seeing success?
  • Where can we block out 60-90 minutes of time for concentrated work on one project?
  • Given that our work is fast and busy, what might be the little steps that we could be making?
  • How can we find an “accountability partner” to reflect with?

Step 6: How will we move our new skills and actions into continuing habits?

5 questions to begin moving new skills into habits

  • From the book called “Mini-Habits”, how can we link and build small habits into bigger ones? How can we take the new practices and make them into the new “habits” in our life?
  • What does our current rhythm of performance and recovery look like? Are we practicing or performing and then allowing time for reflection and recovery?
  • Are there things that we repeatably do where we could write up a process list or a checklist for to remind us?
  • In the book, “The Power of Story” or “The Corporate Athlete”, they describe a process of creating a set new rituals, or habits that can be strung together to make easier to stay on track.
  • Michael Hyatt proposes that for every goal, we have a list of significant whys to help us stay on track.


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