• Keith Shaw

Productivity Fundamentals

How can I be more productive? How can I find more hours in the day? These are common refrains from busy parents, professionals and workers around the world. Many have asked me how I was able to do an MBA, participate in raising my son, be a good husband, move house, and work full time without dropping dead! My answer is-- ruthless prioritization. I have a fundamental grasp of what is important to me and keeping that front and centre is critical if you are going to be truly productive (and not just busy). Below are some concepts I’ve learned to review regularly to ensure that I keep my eye on the priorities and eliminate wasted effort.

1. Locus of Control. You are in control of your day and what happens in it is up to you. I have taken responsibility for my life and lead it. If I am doing something I don’t like or wasting time (and we all do, some more, some less) that’s on me. Once you decide that you are in control, you can shed the excuses. The victim mentality is a sure way to lose motivation and drive to go after what you want. And notice I say “what you want”. If what you are doing is not aligned with what you want or what you want to see more of in the world, you can change that. It can hurt sometimes, but recognize that you have the power to change your situation and circumstances.

2. Know your Roles! Before you can be productive (and I know you’re itching to know detail, colored pencils? Apps?) you need to know what it is you actually need to do and how you know if you are achieving that. I’ve done a lot of work, for example, creating markers for myself so that I know whether or not I’m being a good father to my son, a good husband to Tanja, a good friend, a valuable contributor at work etc. “My Top 5 Book List”, (link below) contains a great resource to help walk you through a ‘roles and goals’ exercise; check it out!

3. Discipline. If you know your WHY (see point 2) and expect that you can influence the situation (see point 1) you set yourself up for more success in the discipline category. For example, if I believe I can create a great presentation and am clear on how it fits with my roles in life (e.g. supporting my company’s mission) I’m able to buckle down and focus on its completion. How do you prevent things getting in the way? That’s point 4.

4. Say NO! A lot. We High Performers love to say YES! We love to bask in the glory of “my word how do you get so much done!” Truth for many of us though, is that buried in a lot of busy work and other peoples’ priorities there is only a small amount of “great work” actually happening. It hurts to say no, especially when you know you can help. Again, we need to keep our eye on the priorities. When I was doing my MBA we joked, don’t fail, don’t get fired and don’t get divorced. While tongue in cheek, there’s an important awareness of priorities in this advice. We need to know what’s important and everything else has to be scrutinized carefully lest we get distracted from the path. In my coaching I have specific tools I use to help clients evaluate new opportunity as aligned or not, with their current missions.

So there you have the fundamentals for productivity. Surprising perhaps that I’m not talking about apps, planners, and getting up at 4am. In my next article I’ll share some of the daily routines I use to set myself up for a day that’s productive and not just busy. A day I feel happily exhausted from, not drained and depleted. For now, get out a journal and write a few ways you can increase your understanding of these concepts. Download the book list, share what works for you and have a great day for all the right reasons!

If you want to learn about my coaching its simple! Contact me on Facebook Messenger or at my email ( Coaching is fun, and can change your life! I’d be happy to chat with you about how I can support you reaching your next level. We all have more to contribute, let me help you make your greatest difference!

Link to my Top 5 Books:

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