The 4 ‘R’ Method for Productivity

Those of you that know me can attest that I am productivity obsessed. It’s almost self-defeating because any marginal improvements in my time are immediately swallowed by another listicle, article or guide on productivity-zen.

Scratch that. It’s not almost, it is self-defeating.

In the last few months I have begun to whittle away the excess and focus on a simple set of metrics for driving towards personal, professional and emotional growth.

I call it the 4 ‘R’ method.

Like most entrepreneurs or those in the start-up community I flit between periods of inspiration and focussed delivery (work) whilst trying to balance a family life (being a good Dad is extremely important to me) and ensuring my partner does not pack her bags and leave me in frustration whilst also making a semi-committed approach to health and fitness.

It’s like juggling 5 balls except one ball is a time-bomb, one ball will die if I don’t feed it, one ball will leave me, one ball pays the bills and the other ball we can just label sanity.

It is not easy.

But then, nobody said it would be.

And, I love it to be honest.

In an effort to streamline this I now simply devote a small box in my daily notebook entitled 4R.

Read.

Write.

Run.

Review.


I ask myself these questions every day;

Did I read something to improve me professionally?

Did I write something to move my brand, my team or my company forward?

Did I run (or engage in some form of fitness)

Did I review my responsibilities and take action?

It is a simple system which relies a lot on what is not written rather than an explicit list.


If you read one article or chapter of a book every day, consider how much more you knowledgeable you would be about within your trade.

Did you write something to drive your brand forward (just write the damn blog post already) or improve your company (time for a white paper)? Maybe it is time to put together some coaching for your team or the department needs some facilitation and a slide deck. Be creative but get writing.

Did you maintain your health and fitness today? It does not have to be a run; it can be a power walk, some sprints, callisthenics or anything to keep your blood moving and ensure you can run around with your kids in your 50’s.

Take a pause, schedule an uninterrupted window and review something. It could be your photo collection (those DSLR snaps of your holiday won’t process themselves), your kids homework or simply do the dishes for your partner and help clean up. Maybe they desperately need you to move that pile of books you swear you are just about to read…


There is no magic to this approach and I have toyed with the idea of making it more data-driven but that would be really defeat the point.

For matters of productivity there is value and sanity in trusting your instincts.

You know you should finish that well thumbed copy of Touching the Void. You don’t need an excel spreadsheet to tell you it has been 96 days since you last published something.

And, you don’t need a reminder app to tell you that your son is tugging at your arm asking you to play with his toy cars in a city made of books.

Write. Read. Run. Review.

There is more I could write but I gotta go, my son is driving a police car over my new book on procrastination.


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Steven Feeney is an Agile Coach and loves reading, mountaineering and talking startups. He is the founder of Sure Summit Consulting and Slicing Pineapples Creative Agency.

When not speaking in the third person he blogs at stevenfeeney.com and medium; He can be reached via@steven_feeney so don’t be a stranger.

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