“The 5 Choices” by Kory Kogon, Adam Merrill, and Leena Rinne

The 5 Choices

“Everyone has the capacity to do extraordinary work.”

This is the foundation of “The 5 Choices: The Path to Extraordinary Productivity” (2015), written by three executives at Franklin Covey: Kory Kogon, Global Practice Leader for Productivity; Adam Merrill, Vice President of Innovations; and Leena Rinne, Senior Consultant for productivity and leadership development. The book is a practical and helpful guide to planning and organizing your day.

The authors first identify three critical challenges in our lives: 1) We are making more decisions than ever. 2) Our attention is under unprecedented attack. And 3) We are suffering from a personal energy crisis.

Then the authors discuss the 5 choices that can increase our capability in decision management, attention management, and energy management. Some of the principles and anecdotes are influenced by Japanese martial arts and stories. Some of the organization tips feel targeted more to employees and managers of large corporations, who have access to more technology resources. But all of it can be scaled up or down for any business. Each chapter concludes with “To Sum Up” summaries, with a special section about being a Q2 leader, and a handy appendix with the Top 25 Email Protocols and Key Models.

Here are the 5 choices that can lead to extraordinary productivity:

  1. Act on the Important, Don’t React to the Urgent. Important activities, like planning, creative thinking, and relationship building let you take charge of your life and do things that make a difference. Use the Time Matrix to divide your activities and tasks into four quadrants: Q1 Necessary, Q2 Extraordinary Productivity, Q3 Distraction, and Q4 Waste. Before making decisions, Pause-Clarify-Decide whether something is important.
  2. Go for Extraordinary, Don’t Settle for Ordinary. Extraordinary is feeling satisfied and accomplished. Use a Life Wheel to identify the most important roles in your life (parent, spouse, manager, volunteer), and evaluate how you are doing in each (underperforming, ordinary, or extraordinary). Write role statements for each role, articulating what you will do and how you will achieve it. Set goals to focus your attention and energy.
  3. Schedule the Big Rocks, Don’t Sort Gravel. Let go of a lot of the little things and focus on the important things. Create a Master Task List of Q1s and Q2s. Commit to spending 30 minutes each week and 10 minutes each day on Q2 Planning. Review your roles and goals, and schedule a specific tune and place to do Q2 Planning. At the end of the day, “Close out the Day” by reviewing what you have accomplished, identify the few “must-dos” for tomorrow, and organize the rest.
  4. Rule Your Technology, Don’t Let it Rule You. Technology is not the problem; it is how conscious and deliberate we are in using it! Sort everything into Appointments, Tasks, Contacts, and Notes/Documents. Keep everything in one place in each category, either digitally or on paper, so that you don’t miss anything or waste time with duplicate effort. When you receive a document or request, act on it, file it, or dismiss it.
  5. Fuel Your Fire, Don’t Burn Out. Take care of your brain and body. Follow the 5 Energy Drivers: Move, Eat Healthy, Get Enough Sleep, Relax, and Connect with People.

“Extraordinary productivity is a question of being conscious in the moment” rather than reacting to the most recent crisis.

Do you feel as if you don’t have enough time to do everything you need to do? How do you balance work and personal life?

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