My Best Work

In a former a job, I had the responsibility of blogging twice per month for a company column. I was supposed to write the blog and submit it on a Friday. Someone else on my team would proof read for spelling and grammar errors on Monday morning and the blog would be posted by 2:00 p.m. on Monday afternoon.  This gave me almost two full weeks to choose a topic, to formulate ideas, and to write. It was a very “Q2 Plan” and it should have worked well. The problem is, I rarely followed it. Instead, I would wake up Monday morning and frantically chose a topic. I would quickly write the blog and send it off to my team. Sometimes I would get it to them by 10:00 a.m., but sometimes it would be noon. Of course, I never really thought about what this did to the person who had to proof it or the one who had to post it. The blog would always magically appear by 2:00 p.m. and I thought all was well. Since I was in a leadership position, no one ever complained or alerted to me to the crisis going on behind the scenes.

Then I learned about the 5 Choices and as I listened, I started to recognize some things. First, I realized that I often believe I work better in “crisis mode”. I like the rush of adrenaline. At the time, I didn’t see it as a biochemical and primitive reaction. I believed it was a rush of prime creativity. Second, I started to see how often I was creating a “Q1 Crisis” for the members of my team.

It was apparent to me that I needed to make a change. So after the class, I decided to follow the plan. I picked my blog topic as I drove home that day and I gave myself until Thursday to think about the subject.  I then scheduled an hour to write on Thursday. On Friday morning, I scheduled an hour to preview my work, made changes and I sent the blog off before noon. My team wondered out loud if I was leaving for vacation. “No”, I told them. “I’m just trying to follow the plan.” They looked skeptical.

Overtime, as I broke my bad habits, team members told me how much they appreciated the extra time to get their work done. They missed fewer mistakes and even started adding new elements like photos and graphics to make the column more fun and appealing.  And I noticed something else. Despite my belief that I worked in better in “crisis mode”, the blogs I wrote after I started to follow the plan were 1000% better than the ones I wrote before. After all this time I’ve learned something new. It is this: When I give myself time to think, to widen my perspective, and to review my thoughts… when I work in PLANNING mode… This is when I do my BEST work!

Contributed by Suzette Blakemore – Regional Practice Leader – Productivity

The Sandwich Effect

As a “middle weight” manager, I am sandwiched in from above & below from those who report to me & for those to whom I report.  Additionally, with vendors, other departments and the organization’s initiatives, I am being squeezed out of my Quadrant 2 home and placed into the prison of Quadrant 1.  Eveyone wants whatever I have to offer yesterday.  I don’t know what to do with myself anymore. 

It was such a blessing to simply hear the metaphor, “schedule the big rocks.”  Those are my non negotiables.  They help me learn to say, “No!” without feeling guilty (or afraid of retaliation!).  Those big rocks are vital to my work & home life.  Every day now, I write down 3-5 big rocks, and if I can get 2 of those done, I have accomplished more than I would have had I never scheduled them to begin with.  Big Rocks are awesome!

Submitted by Katherine Wiley, FranklinCovey Client

Superhero Does Q2 Planning

I have been amazed at how two big ideas have shifted my paradigm around productivity and effectiveness. 

The first is the concept of going for extraordinary.  I have begun to name my key roles, using  a “Superhero” moniker, because superheros embody the transition of simple, ordinary people into extraordinary human beings.  For example, instead of being a Client Partner at FranklinCovey – I want to be “Greatness Guy”.  It’s not meant to be silly or flip, nor do I plan on leaping between Chicago skyscrapers in red tights.  But thinking about greatness as I look at my roles helps set a higher standard for me as I approach work. 

The other big idea is around Q2 Weekly Planning.  I have been able to significantly increase my Q2 activities, with great results and incredible changes in my personal energy. 

I just shared some of the 5 Choices ideas with my college son.  He is skeptical…but, so are a lot of folks when they first meet a superhero!

Submitted by Mark Berry, FranklinCovey, Client Parnter