The Fundamental Productivity Blindspot: Overlooking Opportunities for Improvement


Hatched by Glasp

Sep 21, 2023

4 min read


The Fundamental Productivity Blindspot: Overlooking Opportunities for Improvement


In today's fast-paced world, knowledge workers often find themselves overwhelmed by the demands of their work. While many believe that the threat to their productivity comes from AI and automation, the real danger lies in their own lack of productivity. This fundamental productivity blindspot prevents them from recognizing the immense opportunities for improvement that are right in front of them every day. In this article, we will explore the symptoms of this blindspot, the timeless productivity principles that can help overcome it, and three actionable steps to improve productivity in knowledge work.

Symptom 1: Underestimating our potential to improve:

Throughout history, we have repeatedly overlooked fundamental technologies and innovations that were sitting right in front of us. We tend to underestimate our own potential to improve and believe that there is nothing more to be done. However, the truth is that there are always opportunities for improvement, no matter how advanced our current technology may be.

Symptom 2: Overestimating our daily productivity:

Another symptom of the productivity blindspot is our tendency to overestimate how productive we are on a day-to-day basis. We often fail to recognize the inefficiencies and time-wasting activities that hinder our progress. By being more aware of our actual productivity levels, we can identify areas for improvement and make meaningful changes.

Symptom 3: Underestimating our lack of productivity:

On the flip side, we also tend to underestimate just how unproductive we are. We may feel busy and overwhelmed, but in reality, we may not be accomplishing as much as we think. By acknowledging this lack of productivity, we can take steps to become more efficient and effective in our work.

Symptom 4: Underestimating the power of continuous improvement:

Many knowledge workers fail to grasp the incredible power of continuous improvement because they struggle to understand the concept of compounding. It can be difficult to see how small, incremental changes can lead to significant improvements over time. By embracing continuous improvement and making it a priority, we can harness the power of compounding to enhance our productivity.

Symptom 5: Lack of understanding about deliberate improvement:

One of the key issues with productivity improvement is that we don't fully understand what it means to be deliberate about improvement. We often settle for mediocre results and fail to actively seek ways to enhance our productivity. By developing core frameworks for improving productivity and dedicating time to deliberate improvement, we can break free from this blindspot and unlock our true potential.

Timeless Productivity Principle 1: Specialization:

Specialization has been a timeless productivity principle that has proven effective for centuries. By identifying our areas of comparative advantage and focusing on tasks where we excel, we can increase our productivity and make a greater impact. Warren Buffett, the top investor in history, considers specialization as a central mental model for making better decisions.

Timeless Productivity Principle 2: Continuous Improvement Through Experimentation:

Just as the productivity of manual workers skyrocketed with the introduction of continuous improvement practices, knowledge workers can also benefit from this approach. By embracing experimentation and constantly seeking ways to improve our processes and workflows, we can unleash our potential for greater productivity.

Timeless Productivity Principle 3: Standardization:

Standardization, coupled with continuous improvement, has been a game-changer for productivity throughout history. By establishing a standard of quality and ensuring that everything we produce meets this standard, we can eliminate inefficiencies and streamline our work. Autonomation, or the "Stop-Fix" approach, has been a surprising innovation that has dramatically improved productivity and quality in various industries.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Specialize: Take the time to identify your areas of comparative advantage and focus on tasks where you excel. By leveraging your strengths, you can increase productivity and make a greater impact.
  • 2. Experiment: Instead of simply creating a to-do list, create a to-improve list. Embrace experimentation and constantly seek ways to improve your processes and workflows. By making continuous improvement a priority, you can unlock your true potential.
  • 3. Standardize: Define your standard of quality and ensure that everything you produce meets this standard. Implement the "Stop-Fix" approach to eliminate errors and improve productivity. By establishing a standard and upholding it, you can streamline your work and enhance your overall productivity.


The fundamental productivity blindspot that plagues knowledge workers can be overcome by recognizing the immense opportunities for improvement that exist right in front of us. By understanding the symptoms of this blindspot, embracing timeless productivity principles, and taking actionable steps to improve productivity, we can unlock our true potential and make a greater impact in our work. Remember, where there is a will, there is a way. The way to enhanced productivity has been found; now, it's up to us to find the will to pursue it.

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