Most conversation about productivity focuses on the first three levels. If you’re feeling stuck, it may be time for you to access the hidden fourth level of productivity.
Here’s an overview of all levels.
Level 1: WHAT?
Many people only focus on Level 1 productivity. Level 1 productivity is the WHAT. This level has two tiers.
Level 1-A: ACTIONS
Most people start with the micro-tier, which focuses on specific actions:
What do you need to do?
What needs to get done?
The market for productivity apps is flooded with task-management and to-do list apps to help you corral and organize the micro-tier of what.
Now you’ve got a list of things you need to do. And maybe that list is so long and you’re a little (or a lot) overwhelmed by it.
Level 1-B: OUTCOME
The macro-tier of WHAT seeks to help you out of that overwhelm by pulling back to a bigger picture. This WHAT is the focus on the outcome you seek to accomplish.
What is it you really want to accomplish?
What is the result you’re after?
Level 2: WHY?
Level 2 productivity seeks to help you harness your motivation and purpose as fuel for what you desire to do. Level 2 productivity remembers to ask that all-important question: WHY?
Why do you need to do this?
Why do you want to do this?
What will this do for you, or others? (Even here, it comes back to WHAT).
The idea is that if you have a compelling reason for what you need or want to do, it’s not just a list of boring tasks, and it will be easier to get things done.
A clear understanding of WHAT you need to do and compelling reason WHY you want to do it can take you a long way, but it doesn’t always get you where you want to go. That’s where Level 3 comes in.
Level 3: HOW?
Level 3 productivity helps you through the barrier of HOW. Sometimes you know what you need to do, and you know why it’s important, but you don’t know how to do it.
Under the umbrella of HOW is
There may be many ways how to do something. Knowing your bigger what and your why can help you identify the best how for the outcome.
A good HOW — fluent technique, sustainable systems, a proven process, coherent methods — can help you accomplish your work with greater ease and less effort. If you set something up well the first time, and have a good process or technique, you likely won’t need to redo it. That saves a lot of time and energy.
Most people start and end with the WHAT. Some consider the WHY. Even fewer consider the HOW.
Productivity discussions generally end with Level 3. If you’re clear on your WHAT and your WHY and not seeing results, what do you do? Typically, you go back to change the WHAT or the HOW. You revisit what needs to be done, or you change your system, process, technique, or method.
If you do this enough times, you might feel stuck.
This is when you need Level 4, a crucial and rarely discussed level that holds the key to working with ease and grace and finding that mysterious and mystical flow state.
Level 4: WHEN?
Level 4 is WHEN. This is the game-changer.
Level 4 is about the seasons: timing, energy, and rhythm.
When is the best time to do this task?
When is the best season for this outcome?
When are energy levels aligned with what I need to do?
Several years ago, my grandpa advised me to “live my life in accordance with the laws of nature.” I realized that “laws of nature” meant “rhythms of the seasons.” So I began to study the different energies of the seasons and I aligned my life to them.
This was a game-changer.
Like Level 1, Level 4 also has a micro and a macro component.
Level 4-A: Individual
The micro-tier focuses on the individual.
You are a part of nature, not separate from it.
You need different levels of energy, focus, and attention for different tasks. Those levels will vary at different times of day. There may be 24 hours in a day, but those hours are not all created equal. You sleep for some of them. Maybe you get that 4 pm dip or your eyes glaze over at 10 pm.
Understanding our individual rhythms can help us accomplish more with less effort. Instead of struggling to push the rock uphill, you suddenly find that you’re rolling the rock downhill — or at least on a flat surface.
The micro-tier of WHEN is about identifying when is the right time for you to do a certain task, based on your individual rhythms.
Level 4-B: Nature
The macro-tier focuses on the energy of nature and the seasons.
Each of the four seasons of the year — Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn — has a specific energy to it. There are seasons when the energy is high and intense, which support persistent and consistent efforts, and there are seasons where the earth slows down and becomes more still, which call for us to back off.
When we work with this energy, instead of against it, we move through life and our work with greater ease.
One big shift I made was that instead of following the Gregorian calendar, I harness the natural energy of the moon cycles and the turns of the Earth in my planning process. My mid-year and end-of-year reviews are now aligned with the Summer and Winter Solstices, rather than arbitrarily set for the end of the calendar months.
The Energy of the Current Season
This Saturday is the June solstice, marking the start of Summer in the Northern Hemisphere. At the Solstice, the Earth slows down in its rotation, providing energy that supports us in slowing down to take stock of where we are and plan for the months ahead.
In addition to the Solstice, two other events occur this Saturday: the new moon and a solar eclipse.
Together, the three events create a potent energy for taking stock and hitting reset on the year. When we harness this energy, we can create magic.
If we don’t know how to work with it, it can cause chaos.
It’s a perfect time to gather in community to connect, realign with our vision, and get clear on the path forward. I’m inviting you to join me for a special ritual. I’ll guide you through the WHAT, WHY, and HOW to supercharge the second half of 2020.