5 Choices for Me

The biggest win for me was ruling my technology.  I have been able to use Outlook to remove my paper lists from my desk and to stay focused on what is important (looking at my calendar) and not email.

I am having to schedule ‘review email’ as a big rock to make sure I am not missing any critical to do’s. Overall, I feel less behind on my work.  I am really staying focused (most of the time) on those big rocks.

Aaron, a The 5 Choices to Extraordinary Productivity Participant

Continuous Interruptions

How many times do you get interrupted in an hour’s time during the work day?  Take out a piece of paper and pencil and keep a tick sheet for an hour counting every time that you are interrupted.  Some of those interruptions will come directly from people walking in to your area or office.  But chances are, a lot of those interruptions come from technology (e.g. email, phone calls, texts, notifications).  Technology is not a bad thing.  Technology can make our lives easier to achieve great things.  But it can also make it harder to achieve great things.  Let’s say that you get interrupted 10 times in an hour.  It might take you 1-2 minutes to get back on track even if you ignore or dismiss the interruption.  That is 10-20 minutes that you have lost.

Interruptions can make it very difficult to focus and think deeply.  If you have scheduled time in your busy day to work on a project of some type, be sure to remove distractions and turn off the dings, pings, and rings that will derail your thinking.  You might even consider putting a “do not disturb” sign on your door.  Blocking out distractions will increase your focus and produce better quality results.  You will also find that you will accomplish the task/project quicker than if you start and stop and start again when distractions interfere.  Now, how are you going to spend that extra 10-20 minutes that you have?

Contributed by Todd Musig, Productivity Practice, FranklinCovey

Eye on the Prize

I used to think it was impossible to get myself organized and working more productively.  I always used my Microsoft Outlook to help me keep track my day to day items.  But coming in every morning to an inbox full of things I needed to work on automically made me stressesd.  With the tools I learned in the training I was able to get my inbox more in control.

Taking everything I learned and using it regularly helped me to feel a lot less stressed.  I know it works and it’s helpful.  After several weeks of following The 5 Choices very closely I relaxed it a bit and found that my stress level shot back up.  No more of that.

Contributed by a 5 Choices participant.

Ready to Start the Academic Year

My school brought the 5 Choices to campus at the beginning of June.  The summer was a great time to establish my goals, identify my big rocks, and become better aquainted to Gmail, Google Calendar and Tasks.  The dashboard and badges on the Quickstart site were great for organization and motivation.

Normally, the start of an academic year is hectic and crazy.  There never seems to be enough time with every moment feeling urgent and stressful.  Having completed the Quick Start Challenge I feel prepared to live and work and learn in Q2!

Submitted by a 5 Choices participant

Holiday blues…how to manage the gravel while you are away

This is a question I was recently asked by one of my 5 Choices participants. We all love to take a vacation but what we dread is opening our inbox to see a ton of emails waiting there when we return. So what can we do to help manage that?

Here are some tips I wanted to share and am keen to hear any you may have!

1. Create an impactful and informative out of office message that helps manage the gravel for you. Be specific about your return date and what you want people to do in your absence. Consider who could help with any urgent issues while you are away and be clear about what the sender should do while you are out of office. For non-urgent issues, consider stating that on your return you will reply to any client requests or urgent business issues. For any non-urgent emails, please speak to a colleague or contact you again on your return. This makes it clear that you won’t be responding to every email when you get back.

2. Before you go on vacation, clear your inbox and ensure that any tasks on your master task list are scheduled so that you try to avoid overloading yourself on the first couple of days when you are back in the office.

3. Set up your emails so that you are using color to highlight those important stakeholders’ emails or clients’ emails so that they stand out in your inbox.

4. Block out two large slots in your diary to tackle your emails on your first day back at work, or consider extending your return to work date so that it is one day after your actual return; this will give you an extra day to catch up before people are expecting a reply.

5. When returning to work to action your emails, consider doing this while working offline so you don’t get interrupted by more gravel.

6. If a non-client email is older than 2 weeks old, consider moving it into an archive folder and allocating some specific time to review your archive emails later in the week.

7. Start at the top of your email inbox and work down. Consider filtering by topic so you can see any email chains that have had already been responded to.

If you have any more tips you want to add please let me know!

My Success Story – Wow!

Wow! What a difference!  I had no idea how email controlled me.  Now, I control it by setting time to review it.  I removed all notifications in Microsoft Outlook that would distract me or tempt to look at my email.  This task alone has saved me time.  Talking with my supervisor about Q2 helped him see what interruptions were vying for my time.  He is aware and on-board with getting interruptions in control.  Thanks for this course!!

Contributed by a 5 Choices to Extraordinary Productivity participant

Thank You

The 5 Choices has made a huge impact on me!  I am much more organized and things don’t seem to slip through the cracks like they did before.  Ruling my technology and using the Master Task List has made a huge difference in my life!!  Thank you for this fantastic training!!!

Contributed by a 5 Choices to Extraordinary Productivity participant

I Rule My Technology

Learning these tools is one thing, but living them is a whole different challenge. I have a lot of Direct Reports that cover multiple areas of the business and I find it hard to keep track of it all at time. This new way of thinking has opened up a new way of communicating with my boss and team. I have reorganized my email box and learned to scheduled my “Big Rocks” more efficiently. I RULE MY TECHNOLOGY now rather than it ruling me.

Contributed by a 5 Choices to Extraordinary Productivity participant

Over 7,000 E-mails

Before taking the Franklin Covey 5 Choices Webinar, my inbox had over 7,000 e-mails, my tasks list was a mess of red flags, and my calendar wasn’t really a calendar, but ANOTHER “To Do List”. And I’d like to consider myself a very organized person!

Before getting to what has resulted since the webinar, I just want to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the webinar itself. Our moderator/host was fantastic and kept us very entertained, laughing, and engaged throughout the entire session. That certainly helped motivate me to implement the strategies that she taught us.

After the webinar, my inbox remains at zero, I’ve got folders to keep my e-mails, my task list is organized with actual tasks/due dates/detailed descriptions, and my calendar is what it should be, a calendar.

My Microsoft Outlook’s new look has kept me a lot more relaxed throughout the day. I don’t panic at every e-mail that comes in and try to take care of it that very second. I know that if I just move it to my newly organized task list, it will be taken care of in a timely manner. I also don’t find myself racking my brain each day on my commute to work with  what I have to do that day. I know my task list will let me know in a few short minutes everything that needs to be taken care of, and it will. This has also allowed me to take care of what I need to take care of, and not be interrupted by e-mails coming in that can wait until later. I highly suggest taking off the e-mail preview alert that pops up in the bottom right hand corner when you are receiving an e-mail. Not having that alert keeps me so much more focused on the task at hand.

All in all, I feel less stressed, more organized, and more productive while at work (and away from the office), which always makes for a happier life!

Josh Rosenthal – NY

Managing My Inbox

“Now I still see my inbox twice a day, but I go directly to what matters most: messages from Directors, Managers and my team in the 19 stores we have, and every e-mail has its own specific folder to go in. All other e-mails go to secondary folders that I can consult later. I don’t use a paper planner anymore: just Outlook, and it is much better now.”

5 Choices Participant