016: Five Stages of Productivity – Which Group Are You In?

 

What stage of productivity are you in? Why does that even matter? It matters because once you know the answer to this question, you can be more focused and energized about learning the correct things based on where you currently are. If you are in stage 1, you don’t need to focus on building a team yet or upgrading your current systems. This episode lays out what you might be experiencing during each stage and what you should be focusing on so you can be more efficient and avoid “shiny object syndrome”. 

Discussed In This Episode:

  • Stage 1 – Understand [03:47]
  • Stage 2 – Learn and evaluate [05:06]
  • Stage 3 – Create + commit [10:25]
  • Stage 4 – Delegate [16:12]
  • Stage 5  – Master + refine [18:50]
  • Your plan of action this week [24:30]

Mentioned in this episode:

Related blog posts:

Other Helpful links:

[00:00:01.080]
Welcome to Coffee Powered Systems, equipping women with actionable steps to overcome, overwhelm and streamline business and life. So grab your favorite drink and come hang out with me. I'm your host, Miranda Merten. Hello, hello, welcome back to another episode of Coffee Powered Systems. I'm Miranda and Happy Friday. Go ahead and grab your favorite drink and come join me as we chat some more about personal productivity. I'm having a water tonight. Don't let me drink alone.

[00:00:35.000]
Please come sit with me and chat.

[00:00:37.760]
So on Tuesday, I let you guys know that I had just released a personal productivity pack. If you have not picked that up yet, go on back. You can either listen to that episode. Episode number 15, The Free Personal Productivity Pack. And it includes a bunch of different resources that is going to help you power up your productivity, get you some ideas of how you can delegate, automate your systems. There's a music playlist in there to get you focused in in the zone.

[00:01:09.920]
And one of the first things in it is the five step productivity framework, which is what I'm going to talk about today. What stage of productivity are you in? Do you know? Some people don't know. Some people do. So I'm going to lay out all five stages for you. And at the end of this episode, he should be able to identify with at least one of these stages. And it'll help you moving forward when deciding what you want to learn, what you want to focus on, what you want to move forward with.

[00:01:41.980]
It's going to help you understand where you are, and that's going to help, you know, what to focus on throughout your productivity journey. You can't just jump in and expect to know what to do and still be successful, right? We all start at stage one. At day one. You may be at a different stage right now because a lot of you, you know, everybody is not always on the same page. I've got people that are brand new, new beginners listening to me.

[00:02:12.100]
I've got people that have been in the game for a few years and they already have their systems down and they know what they're using. But we all need to continue learning and we always find something new that we can use. It's the same for productivity as it is for pretty much anything we do in life, right. Pregnancy or learning to play an instrument or starting a healthy lifestyle.

[00:02:36.880]
We all start at the very beginning and at the beginning of all those stages, we're in the understanding what's coming up. We're understanding. We're learning. We're taking in all the information. When we first started to diet, maybe maybe you just started Paleo or you just started intermittent fasting. You can't jump right in to a 16 hour intermittent fast and then expect to get the results that you need. You have to do the research. You understand what it's all about.

[00:03:10.060]
Then you learn everything about it. You understand what happens in your body during those particular times. And then you can decide what you're going to do and implement it and then refine it for what works best for you. So the same thing goes with productivity. I'm going to go through all five stages and you can actually find this download for the entire framework at the Productivity Pack page, which you will find in the show notes. But I'm going to go through step by step here today.

[00:03:42.160]
Each of the stages. And I want you to see if any of these resonate with you. So stage one is my understanding phase. This is where you're understanding productivity. You really don't have any systems in place.

[00:03:57.910]
You have no clear plan of what order you need to do things. You don't do anything on a regular basis. All of your systems are kind of different or piece together. You don't really understand workflows and you lack the motivation of actually wanting to take on new routines or change the ones that you're doing. If you are in this stage, it's perfectly fine. A lot of people start here. But the thing is, we have to know that we're there.

[00:04:27.430]
Some people can function at this level. You know, there's some people that are productive in chaos or productive in the go, go, go. But other people are overwhelmed and scattered. That's when you get that feeling that there's never any time and you don't really understand how you're supposed to figure this all out, how you're going to put all the pieces together. This is your understanding productivity phase. You have to understand exactly what it is and what you can do and the changes that you can make in your life to be more productive if you understand where you are.

[00:05:03.520]
You can understand how you're going to get there. Stage two is the learn and evaluate stage. So once you understand that you are in stage one and you understand why productivity is going to make a difference in your life, whether that's whether you're looking for more personal productivity just in your general life or if you're looking for more productivity in your business life. Maybe your financial budget. Anything like that. Once you understand how much different life could be, if you have a system and workflows in place, then you can step into the learning and evaluate phase where you're going to be evaluating systems and workflows.

[00:05:42.490]
And you are at the stage, you're aware that there are better ways to be productive. You might have tried some tools before, but not successfully. Maybe you tried some to do lists or some other apps and you just didn't really get it. Maybe you've had a bunch of planners sitting on your desk and use it for a couple of weeks, or maybe the first month or two is really good and then it kind of falls off because it doesn't really fit into your lifestyle.

[00:06:09.250]
If that's the case, maybe you're using the wrong type of planner. Maybe your planner is too big. You realize that you like to carry things around in your purse, and if it's too big to fit in your purse, you're not going to use it. If it's too heavy, it's got too many pages. So that's when you need to figure out the style of planner that works for you. Maybe you just need to use your calendar on your phone.

[00:06:32.980]
Maybe that's something that would work for you. But this is the stage where you're going to be figuring that stuff out. You're going to research. You may be have dove into some tech tools before and you have a general routine or a daily plan, but it's not always consistent. So that's where you're at when you're at stage two. A lot of people are in this stage because we know we've used some things before and we also know how productivity can help us out.

[00:07:01.810]
But we're not quite ready or we don't quite know exactly. All the things that are out there that will work for us to move forward. If you are in stage two, it's OK. You just have to begin where you are. You also have to be willing to change if something isn't working. Don't keep walking around with that planer that you know isn't working. Don't keep trying to bullet journal if that's not your jam, OK? Don't try to fit into this box because you see these fancy pictures and somebody's social media just looks awesome and you really wish you could do that.

[00:07:40.690]
But every time you try to do that, it doesn't quite work out. Then that's not for you and you've got to find something else, OK? You are in stage two and you need to do a little more learning and a little more evaluating to see what else is out there. If something is taking you too much time or you can't really understand it, it's messing up your flow, then it's not for you. It's OK to drop something and move on from it.

[00:08:04.510]
I know sometimes we dump money into things and it's really hard to break away from it. Or we have this ideal system in our minds and we think that's the one for us. But maybe you're a sticky note person. Maybe you're not. If you're not a sticky note person putting sticky notes on the wall isn't going to help you. You you can stick all the sticky notes on the wall that you want, but if it doesn't really move the needle for you, then it's not your jam.

[00:08:29.770]
It's not your plan. You can not try to try new things every month. Okay. When you start some of these workflows and systems and you're trying new things out, that's another problem as we switch to fast. People tend to switch to fast. You know, I I tried that app for two weeks and it didn't work, so I tried something else.

[00:08:49.030]
It takes so much time, especially when you are using maybe a digital app or a planner to transfer things over or even just to try something different. Maybe you just put in your to do list instead of putting in your whole system. But even then, it takes so much time to kind of get the hang of it. And then if you don't get the hang of it right away, you jump ship and switch to something else and then you've got to take more time.

[00:09:18.390]
Then upload your to do list again and your reminders and your recurring events and all, you want to put this in there, too. And then you you realize that you already just said that three weeks ago, but you just don't like there was one thing off about that app. So now you've jumped ship again. And now you have to re-evaluate whether or not this new thing is going to work for you. So if you are in stage two, I want you to go back and listen to Episode 14, which is from last week, which was surprised you might already be using the GTD method for productivity.

[00:09:55.650]
That is where I talk about how you're gonna keep it simple without being overwhelmed. Basically, you're just going to capture information, organize the information and take action. That's another thing that people tend to do is over complicate it at stage two. It's basic, it's simple. Write the stuff down, create the plan in order and step by step and then do the plan step by step. That's it. All right. So stage three, the next stage is going to be actually goal creation and follow through.

[00:10:31.440]
This is the commit and create stage. Now, at this stage, you've got knowledge of all the tech tools. You know what kind of paper planner you like to use, whether you like to have the daily or the weekly agenda or have the times in there with the hour. Or maybe you just need, you know, ten lines, ten blank lines per day.

[00:10:55.380]
Everybody's different and everybody sets up their schedule different. So that stuff is going to matter. But after you've researched and figured out exactly what's going to work for you, you have your simple daily routines and goals in place. You want to evaluate them a few times a year. That stuff is going to maximize your productivity at stage three.

[00:11:18.420]
You're going to take it slow and make the decisions in order to get everything under control. And in order. So this is where you choose your project management app. You say I'm going to commit to using Asana. I'm going to use it for this many months. You know, if after three months it really isn't working. I'm going to move on. But you've got to commit to using it for a good amount of time. Two weeks is not going to be long enough unless you get in there.

[00:11:45.060]
And it's really clunky and it just doesn't make sense for you. Then by all means, jump ship, but don't input your entire life into it immediately. If you're just testing the waters, just throw one simple workflow in there, throw something that has a daily or weekly reminder in there so you can kind of go through the flow and have an idea of how the system works and how it feels for you.

[00:12:10.920]
Download the mobile app as well as the desktop app so you can see how those work as you're working through it. I do most things mostly on on my laptop. I just. There's something about having the desktop version open for me that really works. Whereas a lot of people like the mobile. I always have the mobile app option so that if I am on the go, I can still access it. But mobile's not really for me. Mobile apps usually do tend to work slightly different.

[00:12:42.090]
They don't always have all the functionality. So I tend to steer towards the desktop versions and you'll find that out. You'll figure out what works for you. That's fine. Not everybody's gonna use same thing at stage three. You're also going to be setting up your business systems, like having a place to have your brand strategy and assets easily findable and clickable. If you have to input your colors or your podcast RSS feed somewhere, you know exactly where to go to get those, get your fonts, get your colors and everything so that you're not scrambling and going, oh, where did I save that?

[00:13:23.070]
Oh, I know. I had some in Canada. Let me go see if that colors in there and maybe I use the web clipper for that. And yeah, you're gonna put everything, you know, that includes affiliate links, passwords, whatever your business or even your daily at home life. If you're, you know, also doing home management, you have to have a singular place where that stuff lives so you know where to go. I know people that have home binders, so if you need something, you quickly go open up the home binder, flip to the section and there it is.

[00:13:58.230]
I do have a home binder. I don't use it all the time, but I know that if I need to look at my auto records or my pet records, the last time Scout got shots or the last time I took my car in for maintenance or it got a major fix, I know exactly where to look for that information. I don't have to go to. Scrolling through emails and bank statements and trying to match up when? Oh, in March, I got the dog groomed.

[00:14:25.620]
And it usually costs this much. So let me go scroll down and figure out when I did that. Yeah, no. So if you're going to do something like that, home binders are a great way to do that. Or if you're gonna go completely digital, you can do that that way as well. If you haven't set these systems up already but you do understand the benefits of them, then you're in stage three. You just got to capture the information and get it going and understand how to setup your structure.

[00:14:56.910]
Also in stage three, you can start setting goals. You're going to want to set up your goal structure. And I spoke about this back on Episode twelve, which was understanding goal hierarchy to properly use your task manager. So if you haven't set up a task manager or project manager, get understanding the hierarchy of setting your goals will come in super helpful. Remember, you won't have your goals, your milestones, your projects, your tasks and have those all laid out so that when you do open a new planner or new app, you are categorizing everything correctly.

[00:15:36.540]
The worst thing is to go in willy nilly to a new thing and be like, Oh, I'm in name. This folder business and this folder clients and name this folder family.

[00:15:49.350]
And then you start putting things in there and then you go back to find something. You're like, wait. That setup doesn't even make sense. That shouldn't be in that folder. This should be a milestone. This should be a task. And then you have to redo it. So you want to structure that out before you even put in your task manager and it'll be a lot easier and a lot smoother. Stage four is delegate. This is where you can start to do task and project automation and delegation at this stage.

[00:16:23.220]
You're pretty familiar with everything. You're familiar with your systems. You're familiar with how your home and your business are running. You have routines, whether that's morning routines or nighttime routines. You are familiar with all the mainstream tech tools and you've made some goals. You've made some quarterly goals, yearly goals, and you have a plan of how to get from point A to point B. At this stage, your productivity might still go in waves, but you can now start to automate things and delegate things to family or team members and you are using your systems effectively once you are able to use them effectively.

[00:17:11.480]
That is why you are able to let go of things, because, you know, X, Y and Z runs this way. I can totally let Susie Q do this because, I've already got the system down. All she needs to do is manage it. Or maybe it's just something like auto bill pay and all you have to do is set the date and then just make sure that you either have the money available or you're checking in every once in a while to make sure that everything is still setup.

[00:17:43.370]
I like to check I do have a bills, a couple of bills that are automatically drafted out of my checking account, like the gas bill and phone bill and stuff like that.

[00:17:55.790]
I don't do everything on auto, but the ones that I do have automatically come out. Usually I have them. It's because they have a discount rate.

[00:18:04.580]
If you do, OK, but for those I do like to check in and make sure they're still connected so that they don't say, hey, your payment was late because the automation dropped off. For some reason. So you still want to keep on top of things that are automated or delegated. But the good thing is you don't have to do it as often and you don't have to keep such a tight watch on everything. You can automate your social media.

[00:18:32.030]
Maybe you can plop everything into Buffer at the beginning of the week and have it ready to go out. Maybe transcriptions you can send off to a transcription company or have your assistant do it. And the Productivity Powerpack also has some ideas. If you need more ideas on what you can automate and delegate. The last stage is stage five master and refine. So this is where you have your action plans and productivity and you are now very tech savvy. You have your daily routines in place.

[00:19:05.840]
You follow them pretty religiously. You don't even have to look at your planner anymore to figure out what it is you're doing. You know that Sunday nights you do a weekly review. You know that nightly at 9:00 before you go to bed, you're doing the review of the next day. It's kind of like clockwork and you're super consistent at stage five. Consistency is your middle name, and you are aware of how to use all of your advance tools for project management.

[00:19:37.250]
And you can easily balance all of your daily activities without feeling overwhelmed. So at stage five, you're not feeling that scattered and confused and overwhelmed and anxiety filled day anymore. Everything's either on autopilot or you just kind of know how it works. You know, when you drive from point A to point B. Like, sometimes you drive to drive your kids to school in the morning and you've been listening to the radio or singing or doing whatever.

[00:20:08.210]
And then all of a sudden you're at school. It's because you've been on autopilot. You automatically know how to get there. Subconsciously, you've already driven to school because you've done the route so many times. That's what it's gonna be like for you on stage five when it comes to your productivity. At this stage, you're also okay with letting go of more tasks so you can refine your systems. Maybe something. Maybe you've looked at something and you want to tighten it up.

[00:20:35.330]
You want to tighten up your production schedule for your podcast or your blog. And you realize that maybe you have three steps in there that can easily be turned into one step. This is where you're going to refine your systems and you're like, okay, I can do this a little bit better. Or why do I have two or three different social media scheduling apps when this one over here actually also does Instagram. And this one also does this one. I can just knock this down to two or maybe even one auto scheduling app.

[00:21:09.350]
You can also start to upgrade your systems, whether that's because your team is growing or whether that's maybe you need more features. If you wanted to switch tools like you're like, oh, well, Trello was working for us, but I think we need something a little bit more with a little more features.

[00:21:29.600]
You can at this point switch tools and it wouldn't be that much of a blip to what's going on. And hopefully at this point, you've got someone to help you. So you're not the one that's gonna be transferring all the data over. All they have to do is, you know, switch it tit for tat. If we were using buckets over here, this system uses folders. We're going to just transfer him over there, called different things, but we already know how this works.

[00:21:56.880]
So it's not going to be that much of a hiccup. All right. So those are the five stages of productivity. Which one did you end in? Did you figure it out? As I continue on with this podcast, I'll give you advice for every stage that I just went through. And once you know where you are, you will know which tasks you can take action on.

[00:22:21.660]
If you're a stage one or stage two, then a lot of the tip Tuesdays are going to help you because those are giving you ideas on new tools and learning. So that's going to be the research, understanding and learning phase. It might also help the stage five. That is looking to jump ship to a new tool. Or looking to upgrade. Or maybe you've been waiting for something to come along. It's also going to help that. But the key is, once you know what state you're in, you're gonna know what you are looking for.

[00:22:55.680]
So if you're stage four and then I do an episode on project delegation that might be more relevant for you at stage four, it's not going to be relevant for you if you're stage one or stage two. But not to say that you won't learn new things from the other stages, but it'll help you be aligned and less distracted. You want to get away from that shiny object syndrome where it's like you hear somebody talking about this fancy new thing over here and you're like, oh my God, that would be amazing.

[00:23:25.440]
But you're not even on stage one for that product yet. You know, that's like, oh, this fancy new streaming app just came out where you can stream to 15 different social media sites all at one time and bump up your YouTube channel and blah, blah, blah. And you're like, oh, that sounds fantastic. I should totally buy that. But you don't even have a YouTube channel set up yet. Okay. Like, you don't need to be going over there buying stuff that you don't need that you may never even use.

[00:23:57.540]
I mean, some things if there's like a lifetime deal and you just don't want to miss out or you want to get them on the ground floor and you know that you will absolutely use this thing, then.

[00:24:08.910]
Sure. Go ahead and jump in there. But if you haven't even started a YouTube channel yet and you're not even sure if YouTube is your jam, why would you buy this upgraded mega YouTube product? Just don't. OK, keep focused. Focus on the stage where you're at.

[00:24:26.430]
Start where you're at. And then just take it one step at a time. OK. So the action step for you today. I want you to review the stages that I just went through, decide what stage resonates with your current situation and kind of figure out, are you a stage one? Are you a stage four? Go through the identifying factors and determine where you are. And based on that, you can determine if you should be learning more, if you should now be setting goals and routines, if you should be refining your routines or upgrading.

[00:25:02.100]
And I want you to understand and commit to your particular stage so that you can move forward. I mean, learning is not linear, by all means, but knowing where you are will help you go step by step for sure. All right. That is it for today. Thank you for joining me again. You can find all of the links mentioned in the episode down in the show notes. This is Episode 16. You can find all of the show notes for this particular episode at Miranda Merten dot com forward slash 16.

[00:25:37.560]
Thank you for joining me today. I will see you next time.

[00:25:41.850]
Thanks for listening to Coffee Powered Systems. You can find links to everything mentioned in the episode. Down in the show, notes are on the Web site at Miranda Merten dot com. If you enjoyed this episode, share it with another bestie who would love it too.

[00:25:54.270]
And join me here next time.

Listener Q + A – Have a question you’d like me to answer on a future episode? Send me a message!

Q+A time! If you have a question about productivity, workflows or just want a recommendation, click the button below to leave a voice recorded message for me. You don’t have to download anything or put in any info, just hit record and send. I’ll answer your question in an upcoming episode!

 

Five Stages of Productivity – Which Group Are You In?

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