Productivity from ONE Question.

January 13, 2015


We all look to be more productive.  We look for “secret” methods that others have used to boost productivity.  We have examined “efficiency” checklists to help us do more.  We look at tools that can help us pack in more into our days.  We buy software to make our lives easier and do more with less effort.

And yet we often find that we don’t get the benefit that we wished that we could.

Does this sound familiar to you?  Have I hit a nerve with you?  I certainly hope so, because I am no different that you.  Those items in at the beginning of this post are all things that I have done.  So I hope you didn’t feel embarrassed by agreeing with the items I listed.  I have been there too.

Yet, I still work to find the Holy Grail of productivity.  What is the one (or more) things that I can do to help me get more done with less effort and less time. To get more out of what I do.

Why is productivity so hard?

One of the problems that I see with productivity programs is that they can be pretty complicated.  Worksheets.  Lists.  Priorities. Computer programs.  You name it….and someone has made it into a productivity program.

Now I don’t want to give you the impression that I am against these types of programs….far from it. I find that I have learned, and use, many techniques from a variety of different programs. And great ones can really provide you with an enormous boost in productivity.  But they have to be good.   See my additional note at the end of this post for what I think is a great program, “Wake Up Productive”.

First Start Simple

Before you start using any productivity program, there is one thing that you can do first. Have a simple start.  Before undertaking anything else to boost your productivity.  And it all revolves around asking yourself one question…and answering it honestly…each time you start a new task.  Each time you work on a project.  Each time you put something on a to-do list.  Each time you bring that task, job, obligation or commitment into your life. And it includes asking this question before you start any productivity program!

And because it’s only a single simple question, you can learn to use it in about 5 seconds.  That’s less time than it takes you to read this paragraph.

And you will have mastered a great first step of productivity.

Simply ask yourself this single question.

The question is deceptively simple.  It is only five words.  Yet is packs a powerful productively punch. This question cuts to the heart of everything that you may decide to spend time, effort or money on. And we should answer positively to this question before you do anything.

Most of the time, we start committing ourselves to even the smallest, simplest item without asking this question.  And what ends up happening is that we find we are spending time on worthless items.  Then we kick ourselves for falling into the trap of wasting our time, but only realizing it after the damage is done.  But by using this simple question, you can short-circuit that waste of time, helping you achieve a higher level of efficiency, both mentally (by not wasting our mental horsepower on things we shouldn’t be doing), as well as physically not wasting actual hours of time, resulting in a new found sense of control over our lives.

So what IS this powerful question? What IS this “holy grail” that will help us?

It’s simple:  Go ahead and say it out loud:  “Why am I doing this?

Yup.  It’s deceptively simple, yet devilishly effective.

Each time you do ANYTHING….ask yourself that question.  And you should have a great answer, otherwise don’t do it.

  • Reading this post?  Why am I doing this? A: Because you can learn something useful that you can use the rest of your life!
  • Checking your e-mail?  Why am I doing this? A: I don’t need to do this now…I can do it later more efficiently.  Do it later when it’s more efficient!
  • Eating some candy? Why am I doing this? A: I don’t have a good reason.  Don’t do it!
  • Typing out notes that you took at a meeting?  Why am I doing this?  A: It will be a great record of what I learned, BUT I shouldn’t do it….I should get someone else to do it.

Which brings us to…

The Second Meaning of the Question

This question is so productive, that it actually asks two questions in one.

The first is obvious.  WHY am I doing this?  The focus is on the WHY.  If there is not a good reason for the why…then it shouldn’t be done. Drop it and move on to something else. You have just improved your productivity dramatically.

But the second meaning is this:  Why am I doing this?  The why may be very useful.  It is something that needs to get done.  But the second question is …are YOU the one that needs to be doing it?  Can someone else do it cheaper?  Faster? Better?

Many times we do things out of habit. Maybe because we never consider having someone else do it.  But delegation is a very important skill to master.  This can be one of the fastest and easiest ways to increase your personal productivity and reduce the amount of time you spend on working.  (You can read more on “how to buy time” or learn about resources to help you have others do tasks cheaply such as

Maybe YOU are not the one that needs to do a certain task.  Delegate it to someone else.  Perhaps someone in your business.  Or if not, perhaps to an outsourcing service.  In addition to there are other sources such as and  Use them liberally for tasks that you are too highly paid to do…or you don’t have the skills to do well.

Remember to do ask this question….Hundreds of times daily.

So lets put this into action NOW.  Follow these 4 simple steps.

  1. Ask yourself….WHY am I doing this task of learning how to question each task?  (And your answer should be because you want to immediately improve your productivity.)
  2. Ask yourself….Why am I (emphasis on “I”) doing this?  (And your answer should be because you want to improve YOUR productivity by doing it and not someone else).
  3. Now let’s do it…. Write the question on a post-it note or 3×5 card.  Put it on your desk. On the wall.  In your pocket.  Everywhere you can see it.
  4. Then USE the question all the time.  Use it with the very next thing that you do. And with everything you do daily.

I am sure that you will find that this one simple question, and it’s two meanings, will help you boost your productivity almost immediately. And it will also help you identify various items that you can, and should be delegating and outsourcing.

Remember, using this question is complimentary with other productivity programs… such as “Wake Up Productive”.

So here is to your increased productivity!

Write a comment…right now!…about what you think about this technique.  I look forward to seeing your comments!

Here is to a highly productive and efficient 2015!

As I mentioned above, one of the best programs that I have run across for productivity is this:  Wake Up Productive.  It is enormously helpful to get you to increase your productivity.  I highly recommend it (check out this sponsored link here to learn more about this program: Wake Up Productive).  If you are serious about boosting your productivity, check it out. The videos are free and you are sure to learn something…with no obligation.  The answer to the question, “Why am I doing this?” when it comes to this program is … because it will help YOU become more productive.  It’s something that everyone (including you) can benefit from, and only YOU can do it for yourself.  You can’t outsource self-help

Just FYI…for full disclosure, I do get something if you purchase the program, but I wouldn’t recommend it if I didn’t think it would benefit you.  Go ahead and check it out…I have used it…and recommend it highly.

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S Ruby

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S Ruby

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