Which of the 5 choices will you make this week? (Part I of III)

I’m a fan of Stephen Covey and his organization.  He’s the one that wrote 7 Habits of Highly Effective People that really is a staple for any leader’s library.  A group of authors from the Franklin/Covey organization just published a new book that appears to have some great questions to ask ourselves in order to be more productive.  The book is The 5 Choices, The Path to Extraordinary Productivity.


The authors, Kory Kogon, Adam Merrill and Leena Rinne suggest that there are 3 basic challenges of the productivity paradox which are:  we face an overwhelming flow of decisions, our attention is constantly challenged and we feel a drain on our personal mental energy.  I’m not sure any of us would argue with those premises.

This week I wanted to focus on the first two choices which fall under the DECISIONS category.  Next week we’ll cover the choices associated with attention.

Choice 1:  Act on the important.  Don’t react to the urgent.
Easier said than done, right?  In a 6-year research study by FranklinCovey of 351,613 respondents, people indicated that 60% of their time was being spent on important things and about 40% was on things that were not important to them OR their company.  That boils down to 832 hours per year being wasted on unimportant activities for each individual on your team.  How much money is that?  If you pay an employee $20 an hour that totals $16,640.

Choice 2:  Go for the extraordinary.  Don’t settle for the ordinary.  Extraordinary is defined as living and working at your best, where you bring your whole self to what you do and tap into talents and energies you uniquely have to offer.  Mostly, they say, it is about doing work you feel great about.  There’s this gentleman, Jerry, at the Barnes and Noble I frequent in Roanoke.  Every latte or sandwich I order is made with care and a technique that makes it extraordinary when he takes the time to deliver it to my table as I am reading or typing.  He focuses on what is important and does his job in a way that inspires me to be better at mine.

Here’s an EXERCISE you may want to use for you and your team this week.


  1. Identify one activity that is very important but not urgent that you are not spending time on but need to be in order to reach your desired outcomes this year.
  2. Identify one activity that is not important but always seems to be urgent that you can eliminate this week.  For instance, how many times are you interrupted during the day and how much time are those interruptions costing you?
  3. Make a commitment to take the time you save for item 2 and spend it on item 1 this week.

Do a “round” where each member of your team takes a couple of minutes to discuss what their answer was for #1.   What similarities did you hear?  How might you hold yourself and each member accountable to their commitment this week?


  1. Have each team member write down each of the roles they play.  For instance, you might write down father/mother, husband/wife, son/daughter, project manager, friend.  You could have many other roles.  We are looking for the top 4-6 that would fall under the category of you most important ones right now.
  2. How would you rank yourself in each of these roles?

Underperforming might be defined as “I’m not doing what I should be in this role and haven’t spent much time or energy on it.”

Ordinary might be “I do what is expected in this role.”

Extraordinary may be “I am excited about the valuable contribution I am making in this role.”

  1. Take a moment to celebrate, assess or validate how you ranked yourself.
  2. Craft a quadrant 2 role statement for each role such as:  AS A Project Manager I WILL build a team that pushes the boundaries of what is possible BY looking for places where clear processes and better technologies can unleash the creativity of our team to do more compelling work for our clients.

Do a “round” and let each team member talk about one of the roles and the statement they made for it.

Know this week that sometimes you will be extraordinary and other times you may underperform.  This life, if we are lucky, is a marathon, not a sprint.  Try to focus on the 4th agreement in the famous book, The Four Agreements.  Simply do your best every day.  Your best will change.  Doing it is all that is required.



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