The 4 P's in Productivity

Updated: Nov 24, 2020

You have a goal. Your pursuit of success necessarily means that you are willing to face possible failure. Your efforts to succeed are tested against potential opposition, of various sorts. Your knowledge and skills are not enough for you to succeed; your capabilities must effectively prove themselves in a set or sets of external conditions.

Is your productivity reliant upon external factors, such as these:

  • Access to a workplace—office, gym, studio, etc.;

  • A colleague, friend, family member, etc.;

  • Access to equipment, resources, supplies, etc.;

  • The weather or certain environment;

  • Transportation

Your best effort to succeed is not merely dependent upon your performance, it’s also dependent upon external conditions (that you may or may not be able to control), and your ability to anticipate, plan, and prepare for the possibility of situations that could impede your productivity.

The most important factor that will determine your success or failure to reach a goal or realize a vision is your ability to be productive. Therefore, it is imperative that you’re clear about what constitutes productivity, which is the most misunderstood requirement for success. At base, productivity is:

(1) a specific level of accomplishment that is required by your goal;

(2) a measurable or verifiable result from activity;

(3) condition-dependent. This means that productivity is not merely based on your activity, but all factors that make your activity, and the quality of your activity, possible.

With these points in mind, we can correctly assert that our best effort to be productive necessitates having a plan. The plan clarifies how we’ll prepare for and pursue a specific goal. Since need for improvement in these areas—plan, prepare, pursue—is common among many goals, and rarely optimal at the outset of an endeavor, progress—learning and changing, accordingly—is also essential to our best effort to be productive. These areas are critically important. In fact, they represent the “four P’s in productivity,” the cornerstones for our being productive. Let’s consider each in turn.



A plan represents a complete conception of how to: (a) bridge a gap between where you are today and where you want to be – the point at which you’ve achieved your goal; and (b) most productively cross that bridge. A plan details a route to success, accounts for potential threats, establishes performance standards, and explains how everything involved to achieve an aim is coordinated to work together as a process for success.

A plan identifies the requirements, safeguards, and agents essential to your being productive. As a dynamic document (always subject to improvement) and guide that promotes optimal achievement, a plan also serves as a record of your thought-process and decisions, which can be a valuable reference for the improvement of your plan.


You may be able to reach your goal without a plan. However, if your goal is important to you, the difference that having a plan offers could infinitely improve your potential for success. Without the support—clarity, direction, steps, and safeguards—of a plan, you become far more susceptible to a variety of influences, mere chance, and being derailed from your potential.

A plan can serve as a filter or standard by which to assess experiences and opportunities, and can empower you to make your best effort to reach your goals, create your life, become your “best self,” overcome challenges and avoid regret.


Achievement of a goal is impossible apart from productivity. Create your plan for success—the attainment of a goal or realization of your vision—with a productivity model. IDEAL is an acronym for a complete five-step model by which to design your plan for success. (Learn more about IDEAL at

An important step towards success is an honest look at why you could fail to reach your goal. Learn about and demonstrate a high regard for the actual meaning of productivity and its requirements of you. Begin with a self-assessment and evaluation of where you stand today. Understand how you could sabotage your own progress; know your “why-not.” Being aware and realistic about your weaknesses, deficiencies, and areas of possible opposition is important to appropriate planning and preparation.

Everyone has limitation, temptations, and areas in which they can improve. Consider yours and plan according in order to make your best effort towards greater success, and a more rewarding life.



Preparation is not an attitude or an emotion; preparation is a response to your plan, and accounts for all aspects—mental, material, spatial, etc.—related to your being productive. According to your plan, preparation is the work to complete a checklist of tasks that, as accomplished, will equip you for the auspicious pursuit of your success.


Most goals fail for lack of proper preparation. The lack of preparation is an unnecessary pitfall to success. Prepare properly in order to safeguard and optimize chances for the success of your endeavor.

A major challenge to productivity is not one’s lack of preparedness to work, but, rather, one's lack of preparedness for why one won’t work. Your preparation to succeed should include safeguards against why you could fail, not merely safeguards that protect and support your progress.


Preparation may involve different types of work, and work in various areas, depending on your endeavor and plan. Some of the areas in which preparation may be useful, or required, could include:

  • self-assessment;

  • placement of safeguards;

  • readying schedules, forms, reports, etc.;

  • arrangements with others;

  • development of materials;

  • mental and/or physical preparation;

  • configuration of support tools—apps, devices, etc.

Prepare according to the needs of your plan. Preparation can involve anything related—directly and indirectly—to your efforts to be productive, which can include strategies, motivation, schedules, use of apps, and the development of your knowledge and skills.

Preparation can be critical to the success of your goal. Its contribution to the effectiveness of a plan cannot be overstated. Therefore, question how you have prepared. As with your plan, as you learn what your success actually involves, improve each area in which preparation is required, accordingly. Your plan, and how you’ve prepared to execute that plan, contributes to your potential for success, just as they can account for your failure.



Once you have planned and prepared it’s time to realize what you intend; it’s time to pursue your goal, otherwise your potential and hopes will remain unrealized. Pursue is the third or four cornerstones that define productivity. When you pursue, you put your knowledge, skill, and how you’ve prepared to the test with action.

The pursuit aspect of productivity should be engaged with confidence that certain actions will yield specific results. Without such confidence, your pursuit will necessitate discovery of what is and is not useful to your progress and achievement.


The pursuit of goals and visions contributes to making life meaningful. A goal is always pursued with reason, for some purpose that we determine, because goals require intention. We also pursue goals in order to fulfill needs and responsibilities, which is part of living well.

A meaningful pursuit, however, requires clarity about its intention, which is not always easy to derive. Subconscious ulterior motives can lead some endeavors and skew our assessments. The closest that we can come to being more aware—of ourselves, especially—, however, involves a twofold step: (1) complete honesty; and (2) a willingness to face ourselves (specifically, our fears).

Greater clarity about our pursuits can sustain motivation, improve planning and preparation, and aid our success in dealing with challenges.

NOTE: Again, the “why” question about your pursuits is yours to answer. You can only benefit from efforts to increase your awareness of yourself and how you invest your life. Regardless of what you recognize about your pursuits, and whatever is true about your motivation, that truth stands. The point is: there may be a difference between the on-the-surface purpose for a goal and the deeper, more accurate purpose for a pursuit.


How a goal is pursued is relative to the goal and its plan. Increase chances for success: plan, prepare, and pursue your goal or vision with these in mind:

  • Always learn, and, accordingly, be willing to change;

  • Know your why-not, the reasons that you could fail to reach your goal. Plan and prepare accordingly;

  • Use productivity strategies, such as time blocks;

  • Know which practices support your being productive;

  • Achieve your minimum performance standard (MPS);

  • Monitor your progress, and record your results;

  • Revise your plan and efforts as you discover how to improve.



The Greeks had a word for what is perhaps the most important kind of progress that we can make in life. The definition of the word (pisteuó [a verb]) involves taking action in accordance with one’s beliefs and values. Throughout life, as we learn, in order to make meaningful progress, change (evidenced by action) is required. Failure to change, as beliefs and values develop, constitutes a failure to progress in life.

In terms of your goal, progress must align with the requirements for your being productive. As you pursue a goal and learn how to improve your productivity, change—in your planning, preparation, and pursuit—becomes necessary in order for you to progress. Failure to recognize your limitation—of knowledge, ability, etc.—and change is a failing that will compromise your greater success.


Progress—in knowledge, ability, pursuits, faith, etc.—is the key to our personal and professional development, how we become our “best” selves and achieve our greater potential. Progress makes life richer, and can lead us to wisdom and peace. It is through our discoveries and applying the lessons learned—throughout life—that we build meaningful, and successful, lives.


Progress does not necessarily mean improvement or growth. Progress, sometimes, involves learning that the road you’re on had led to a dead-end, then looking for a new and useful course.

Progress is achieved through the willingness to learn and, as appropriate, reflect or apply what has been learned. Given the aforementioned, it is important to note: there are qualitative aspects involved with learning, and several possibilities among those aspects, which include:

  • an open-minded learner who unwittingly trusts questionable information;

  • a closed-minded learner who rejects valid information.

The value of learning is not merely in having learned something, but, rather, in the:

(1) quality of reception and assimilation of information, and

(2) use of or regard for what has been learned.

The issue here is not about correctness or logic; the issue is genuineness.

As we work our ways through life, along the courses to our goals, we will, frequently, believe in the merit of our judgments and subsequent decisions. As we’re able to progress well, we are more likely to see our mistakes, which create growth opportunities for us. Progress is the effort to work through the maze, as it were, discover, adjust, and continue onward. Never refuse to see when you’re stuck in a corner. Allow yourself to make mistakes, learn, and advance to greater achievements. After all, this is the natural process of life and to success.

Copyright © 2020 Steven Robert Young. All rights reserved.

#StevenRobertYoung | #IDEAL | #Productivity | #Motivation | #Sales


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