productivity_toolsHave you ever been fed up with your productivity blueprint not helping you achieve your goals and wanted to throw it out? Have you wanted to just throw away all systems and just take action to achieve an outcome? This post follows my thinking that led to a new, simplified and lightweight productivity blueprint to help focus on fewer goals over a shorter period and operate in a cycle to become help me become a goal achieving factory. It might help launch you into the same journey to develop your own productivity blueprint for the next year!

Not progressing towards goals

Lately I’ve been busy and haven’t had the extra energy or motivation to work on some of the goals I set at the start of the year.

Every year around November-December I review my productivity blueprint and systems and think about what I’m going to do next year.

I was tired of not achieving some of those goals and thought the processes and systems were not motivating me to take action. I was stuck repeating the same things, even though I followed my process.

Another problem was I included reoccurring things like writing blog posts and exercising, as goals. So I felt like I was acting on the goals, however didn’t spend any time on the non-reoccurring goals like studying a particular book – and these were the things I really wanted to do. I just felt completely stuck on them because I didn’t have the extra energy or motivation act.

Will it be more effective to focus on actions and not waste any time on processes or systems?

This time I thought, instead of spending time coming up with another productivity blueprint yet again, maybe all I need to do is write 12 things, each on a separate card, and just have one card in front of me for each month. Looking at it every day and making sure I took some action each day and achieved each card at the end of the month.

I thought, forget about designing processes and systems, taking up lots of time, and just do this simple approach this time.

After doing some research on process vs. outcome, I re-discovered this article I read over a year ago – Forget about goals. Focus on this instead. I remembered how wise I was to focus on process rather than outcome by the simple example:

The author was fatigued near the end of his workout. If thinking about reaching a specific goal such as lifting X weight, he would have completed the last set and possibly injured himself. However thinking about systems instead, he had no trouble stopping the workout and moving on. If he keeps working out consistently, he’ll lift heavier weights in the long run. Goals being about the short term result only whereas systems being about the long term, always win.

The problem with the old productivity blueprint

Last year I had simplified my productivity process to a blueprint with some focus lenses and a few systems, and a separate list of about 8 goals for the year that would feed into my task management system.

I completed the reoccurring goals (writing and exercise) however spent all my energy and time on those. Having these particular goals worked out very well when I had these as goals for the first time in a previous year.

However this year, it resulted in me becoming complacent and not acting on the non-reoccurring goals nor doing anything related to the broad focus areas, and this made me feel stuck. I felt like I was repeating the same steps every day and not making progress.

I realised I did still need both goals and systems. However I needed to simplify the system further and make it more practical and focussed.

Tweaking the productivity blueprint to change focus and discard irrelevant aspects

Now I’ve taken what worked, discarded the rest and changed the goal setting.

I listed all the individual productivity techniques and systems that I have actually been using and want to use, as well as two new ones that I really needed to stop neglecting as they would be very effective in resolving that ‘stuck’ feeling.

Then connecting these in a spiral on a page of the systems and techniques I’d use every day, going out to every 1-2 days, going out to the systems I use once a week, and finally goal setting and reflecting each quarter and back into the core systems again.

Visually it looks a little like this.


No reoccurring goals

Over the years I had successfully integrated the reoccurring goals into my routine and although I wanted to keep doing them, I didn’t want them to take away from achieving those non-reoccurring goals as that achieving the non-reoccurring goals is what would make me feel progress.

So I didn’t consider the reoccurring goals as goals anymore – I added them to the spiral of systems since they had really become systems.

New quarterly goal setting approach

Instead of having a large list of goals I thought I would take some wisdom from the 12 week year. I would pick just 2 goals to achieve over a 3 month period. Then the next quarter, pick another 2 goals.

Each day, I’d do my planning for the next day as always, and put an action for one of these two goals on each day. Then I’d look at these 2 goals every day and plan what I had to do to achieve them by the end of the 3 month period.

Revitalised and refocussed productivity blueprint

This way I’ve:

  • Got a very simple 2 goals and 3 months to think about every day, along with my tasks for that day and that’s it
  • My reoccurring goals no longer interfere with this, as they are now just part of my systems; so I am guaranteeing focus on my 2 non-reoccurring goals and I won’t feel stuck.
  • With only 2 goals, I will definitely be able to take action on them.
  • I still have all my productivity systems listed in one visual place, simplified to the practical things I do and want to keep doing consistently to make it inevitable that I’ll achieve my 2 goals and have consistent productivity while doing it.
  • I don’t have any focus areas or other broad things that I never act on anyway – these will now be one of my 2 goals if I want to improve in those areas

Now I have a very simplified, practical productivity process that will become a goal achieving factory, fed by 2 simple goals and a plan every 3 months, and I haven’t lost or forgotten about any of the effective productivity steps I’ve learned along the journey.

P.S. Just writing and doing some research for this post, I’ve found so many systems other people have designed to increase productivity. I think my new system will help me direct my focus to my 2 goals using my productivity systems while remaining very light weight, not requiring time spent on the process itself.

You’ll need to try a productivity process, then bend and adapt it till you come up with something that meets your needs!

How do you revise your productivity systems? Or have you found something that works perfectly for you?