Cutting Off Many Q4 Items

“Regarding The 5 Choices strategies, I’ve been doing more the “30” than the “10” in the “30/10” scheme. I’ve been putting the Big Rocks in my agenda. And I had the opportunity to talk with many people about the Time Matrix.  My husband and I have been able to cut off many Q4 items from our lives. Now I need to execute the 5-Week action plan.”

5 Choices Participant, March 2012, Brazil


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

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

Is Laundry or Expense Reports a Quadrant 2???

I get asked this question many, many times by 5 Choices participants when we are having rich discussions around determining what is important and what is not, what is urgent and what is not.  Quadrant 2 is the ideal place to be and so many times people will sidle up to me on a break and say….”well…what do I consider my laundry? It seems so menial…..why would it deserve such an important place like the famous Quadrant 2″?

Think about it.  Is doing the laundry important?  Of course it is, and it needs to be planned right?  If you plan when you are going to do your laundry to avoid BAD CONSEQUENCES or enjoy GOOD consequences it is “important and not urgent”.  It is a Quadrant 2 event that you have under control.

We all know what happens when we suffer the consequences…open your bureau or closet and suddenly we are in crisis because we have NO CLEAN SOCKS!!!!!!!  Now you really have a Quadrant 1 on your hands.

Same thing with your expense reports.  I travel very heavily, sometimes 4 cities in a week, each one needing a separate expense report.  This is a big rock for me, a Q2.  I am going to get them done before the week ends no matter why.  Why?  Two reasons; I want my money soon, and second there is not a worse time waster than having a pile of expense reports from 4 weeks accumulated that I need to sort through and figure out.  It’s urgent, I’m stressed, and it is NOT WORTH IT!!!!!

So what’s my point?  Quadrant 2 is the quadrant of action.  It should contain the most important things we need to do WITHOUT LETTING THEM GET TO URGENCY.  It contains our most pro-active work and thinking…and it also contains the day to day important things that we need to have well planned to accomplish with quality and less stress.  It actually makes me feel extraordinarily productive, actually!!!

The 5 Choices Has Changed My Life

Taking and applying the 5 Choices has changed my life, increased my productivity dramatically on the job and has had an amazing effect on my personal life!

I was soooo good at meeting deadlines, keeping up on the actions with the due dates, making sure all the Q1’s and Q3s’ got done. People described me as organized, and productive. But there were all these things I should do that I just never got to because they had no deadline, no due date – until they became a Q1 and THEN they got done. Taking the course, and reading the 5 Choices monograph made me realize I was very efficient by not effective.

I attended a 5 Choices World Tour event (a 3 hour overview of the class) on Nov 1, 2011 and that night I created a Big Rock zone from 7-8am each work day, where I could focus on a big rock – something important but not urgent. Luckily I kept a list. Because in two months I had accomplished amazing things and got one of my best reviews ever. I got through so much! So over the Christmas break I went back and read the monograph and then I started implementing all the Choice 4 ideas. Wow was that exiting! I got approval to take the full class, where I learned more, and thought wouldn’t it be amazing if I could teach the class!?! I have now completed training 3 groups and am preparing for two more. This is in addition to my regular learning program management job, at which I have done exceptionally well in spite of the increased workload.

What I didn’t expect is how the concepts would seep into my personal life. I work hard during the week and on the weekends by the time I have done the laundry, and figured out shopping list, and done some cooking, and paid bills – I was done. Tired. Out of steam. Now I have a Big Rock  – something important but not urgent – scheduled for either Saturday or Sunday morning. I do it FIRST, and then do all the other stuff, and I am feeling so much more in control of my life! I find I apply the principles constantly, cleaning out my closet, organizing my files, planning trips, etc.

Working on my role statement also improved my relationship with my husband – I wrote out my role statement as Robert’s best friend and partner and reviewed it with him. He was blown away but said to be truly extraordinary it would be wonderful for him if I added one more piece, something I didn’t even know he wanted me to do. I added his recommendation and we have a quarterly review meeting to see where we are, and each chose one Big Rock to do each quarter – and are making significant progress! We feel so much more in control.  Robert loves it and appreciates so much the effort I am putting into being an extraordinary wife.

So you can see I am off to another great year thanks to the 5 Choices!

Submitted by Elise, a FranklinCovey Client Facilitator

Seeing the “End in Mind” to Completion

“I believe the greatest impact of applying the 5 Choices training has been the feeling that I have had a breakthrough in being able to see an ‘end in mind’ and set intermittent goals to get there versus setting an ‘end in mind’ goal that had to be attained all at once.”

5 Choices Participant, March 2012, USA

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

2 Weeks Strong and Counting…

A little over 2 weeks ago I attended the 5 Choices course. Since then I have reduced my stress considerably by scheduling my “Big Rocks”, and being able to view and review my day and week. My boss says she would like to take the next offering! I am feeling much more organized and confident of my goals, and moving forward at a faster pace than before.

Submitted by Gene Dahl, FranklinCovey Client

No Longer Taking the First-in, First Out Approach

“No longer am I taking the first-in, first-out approach to getting work done. For the last five weeks on Sunday evening I plan out my week and schedule my Big Rocks for the upcoming week. Then every morning I take 30 minutes to review my daily schedule and adjust things as necessary to optimize my work day.”

5 Choices Participant, March 2012, USA