The Cornerstones of Productivity

Updated: Apr 1

The 4 Requirements for Optimal Productivity

Cornerstones are, as the name suggests, the essential aspects of a subject. If, for example, you were interested in physical fitness, the cornerstones of the subject would include: nutrition; exercise; healthy practices/lifestyle. Each cornerstone can, in turn, have its own essential areas of importance, or cornerstones. Consider exercise, which involves cardiovascular conditioning, strength training, flexibility, and rest.

A cornerstone of success, such as the achievement of a goal, is productivity. Productivity has four cornerstones: plan; prepare; pursue; progress. In order to be productive, you’ve first got to be clear about what you want to achieve.

What is your goal or vision?

  • Start a business

  • Increase sales for a business

  • Master a skill

  • Become a subject expert

  • Write a book

  • Lose weight

  • Achieve a degree or rank

  • Become physically fit

  • Run a marathon

  • Publish music

  • Self-improvement

Whatever your goal, if you aren’t productive, you will fail to succeed. This fact requires anyone who is serious about their success to understand what being productive actually means.

The most important key to success is also the most misunderstood requirement for success: productivity. Productivity means: qualified accomplishment; the standard of accomplishment required to attain a goal. Success of a goal is not attained through some generic set of practices; it always requires a unique course to achievement because people and their particular situations are unique.

Therefore, productivity is concerned with everything that is relevant to your specific pursuit of success. Your plan, preparation, and pursuit for success must not be generic, but, rather, specific to what makes you and your endeavor unique—your abilities, knowledge, circumstances, resources, etc.

While the activity of being productive is specific to one’s goal and plan for success, there are three common conditions for productivity:

1. Activity must intend a specific result. Productivity is not incidental; productivity requires deliberate aim. You cannot be productive without an intention to achieve something specific.

2. The results from activity cannot jeopardize the goal. If your goal requires a daily productivity level of “X” and your performance comes up short of “X”, then your activity must be considered unproductive.

3. Activity must contribute to transformation (make a difference) that achieves or helps achieve the goal. Activity must sufficiently keep one on-track with advancement toward success.

In order to meet these conditions for productivity, you must follow a process, a course that will connect you from where you are to where you want to be—having achieved your goal, an objective, or a benchmark toward your goal.

About Process

The successes and failures in life do not occur spontaneously; they unfold across series of processes, some of which we influence and many of which we cannot. Regardless, our lives are subject to and reliant upon processes—natural, social, professional, systematic, procedural, etc.

A process is comprised of a series of steps or sequence of events that collectively, and, often, in connection with other processes, render results, effects, outcomes, some of which we call "successes," and others we call "failures." By whatever name you give, and meaning you attribute, to the results of your actions, results are made possible by processes.

If you're interested in a certain quality of life or certain experience, such as a level of fitness, success in business, degree of learning, or mastery of some discipline, a process will be the transformative means between where you are today and where you can be tomorrow. With regard to the success of your endeavor, productivity will be required and, therefore, your course to success should involve its four cornerstones.

Productivity Cornerstone 1:


Fact: a top cause of failed goals is the lack of planning.

If the success of your goal is important to you, learn how to plan your success. Knowing what you want to achieve does not mean that you know how to achieve. Sure, you have an idea of what’s involved with reaching your goal, but that level of knowledge may be far from sufficient to aptly prepare you for the requirements and challenges that you could face. Additionally, knowing how to succeed and knowing how not to fail are distinctly different. A well-designed plan will account for all aspects of your pursuit of success. The bottom line is: learn how to plan, if your goal matters to you.

A plan is specific to you and your goal. It answers the important questions about your process for productivity, and accounts for all key considerations.

The main aspects of your plan for success will involve these steps:

1. Determine your process – a detailed description of how you will reach objectives in order to progress from where you are now to the attainment of your goal;

2. Identify your RAS considerations (requirements, agents, and safeguards);

3. Set your MPS (minimum performance standard), the results from activity requirement in order to prevent your goal from being in jeopardy of failure;

4. Decide how you will record progress;

5. Select a strategy, such as productivity blocks;

6. Create a Prep Checklist – the requirements for being equipped for productivity.


Among the benefits of having a plan:

  • Can accelerate progress toward achievement;

  • Establishes records for reference;

  • Supports preparation (to be productive) with a checklist of requirements;

  • Clarifies a process—the steps—by which to reach your goal;

  • Promotes optimal performance;

  • Acts as a standard by which to assess—situations, opportunities, etc.;

  • Establishes accountability and performance standards;

  • Guides personal and professional development.

A plan can empower your best self, encourage you to create your life, help you avoid regret, and lead you to your potential—personal and professional.

Productivity Cornerstone 2:


Being prepared (to pursue your goal) is not an emotion; being prepared is the condition of practical readiness to execute your plan for success. You may not always feel motivated, which is a state of mind that can be resolved. However, once you’re “oriented” toward being productive, you’ll want to be properly supported to achieve targeted progress toward your goal.

Being prepared to chase your goal means you have completed the Prep Checklist established in your plan.

Noteworthy: a major challenge with productivity is notour lack of preparedness to work, but, rather, our lack of preparedness for why we won’t workthe lack of preparation for our “why-not”, the reasons that make us our greatest obstacle to success.

Preparation is not a one-time activity. As you discover how to be more productive and improve your plan, the requirement for being prepared to pursue your goal will also evolve.

Being prepared involves completing all items on your Prep Checklist, which should be developed as you plan. Basics action items that are common among checklists include:

1. Setup your support tools—apps, resources, memberships, etc., whatever is appropriate to your plan;

2. As applicable, prepare your approaches, routine, and workspace;

3. Setup safeguards for productivity and against opposition to productivity;

4. Create an ARMED schedule and/or WSO (weekly schedule of objectives);

5. Development your productivity strategy;

6. Setup equipment, prepare materials, stock supplies, etc.;

7. Develop relevant knowledge.


Being prepared supports your success by optimizing your process. Among other benefits of being prepared:

  • Success is more profitable;

  • Increased efficiency;

  • Improved effectiveness;

  • Sustained motivation.

  • Your best effort to be productive—to succeed;

  • Succeed sooner, save time;

  • Minimize opposition, difficulties, delays, etc.

Productivity Cornerstone 3:


Action confirms what you know, and reveals what you need to know, which allows you to improve your ability to achieve. Action drives the potential to succeed and discover—the chance to learn and improve from challenges and failure. Discovery creates building blocks for greater accomplishments, which is dependent upon your efforts to pursue.

While our pursuits give us the opportunity to prove what we know, they are more useful as a means by which to discover how to improve. The outcome of a pursuit—successful or not—is not solely reflective of your ability; pursuits involve extraneous conditions, which include a host of factors and variables that can have a wide range of impact on your pursuit. When you pursue a goal, you put your ability to achieve to the test – a test that is subject to altering conditions—inside and around you.

The requirements of a pursuit are relative to its aim, but often require one to:

1. Orient

2. Adhere to scheduled activities;

3. As possible, manage scenarios and conditions in which we must be productive, in order to avoid or minimize interference or opposition;

4. Reach targeted objectives;

5. Complete productivity block successfully;

6. Document progress, observations, and ideas for improvement;

7. At very least, make a MRE (minimum respectable effort).


The benefits from our efforts to pursue can be diverse and certainly include:

· Discovery of how to improve;

· Advancement toward your goal;

· Validation of your plan and preparation;

· The potential to succeed;

· Development of new opportunities.

Productivity Cornerstone 4:


The value of the progress cornerstone is clear: if we deny opportunities to develop ourselves, we deny our potential to become, achieve, and succeed, which runs counter to any plan, preparation, and pursuit for success.

Through progress we can achieve our most meaningful success: personal development. As necessary as our actions are to achievements, if we do not progress—apply what we have learned, change—, we will not meet our potential. Our potential to become, achieve, and succeed requires us to develop ourselves—throughout life—, and prove our discoveries worthwhile.

Consider these fundamentals to support your personal and professional progress:

  1. Apply TIDE: think, inquire, decide, execute;

  2. Look for SWEET insights (strengths, weaknesses, effectiveness, efficiency, thought-process) from regular assessments, and focus improvement efforts accordingly;

  3. Implement revisions of your plan as you discover how to improve;

  4. Invite feedback about your thought process and decisions;

  5. Research and study;

  6. Develop your awareness;

  7. Understand CTT thinking (creative, conceptual, and critical thought processes).


As mentioned, progress is the cornerstone where we may achieve our most meaningful success, and excel to meet our potential. The benefits of our personal and professional development are numerous, and can include:

  • Greater success, more easily;

  • Empowerment;

  • Richer relationships;

  • Development of wisdom;

  • Enjoyment of a more meaningful life (includes career);

  • Increased peace;

  • Greater awareness and resourcefulness…

It is impossible to reach any goal without being productive; productivity is the common denominator among all successful endeavors. If you are serious about the success of your goals, master productivity across each of its cornerstones—plan, prepare, pursue, and progress. And understand what productivity requires of you – specifically. Don’t take unnecessary chances with your success. Learn how to actually be productive, and enjoy greater success sooner.

Copyright © 2020 Steven Robert Young. All rights reserved.

#StevenRobertYoung | #IDEAL


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