The Five Choices – Recapping a Presentation from the Midwest Business and IT Summit 2015

I had the pleasure of attending the Midwest Business and & IT Summit in St. Louis. One of the presenters, Dan Glasscock (@danglasscock) of Oracle, discussed “The 5 Choices: The Path to Extraordinary Productivity” which is a book by the time management experts at FranklinCovey.

Before diving in, you must understand a principals from Stephen Covey’s seminal work, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The 4 Quadrants of Important / Urgent. The objective to remain extraordinarily productive dictates that you spend as much time in Quadrant II (non urgent / important zone) as possible. The figure below explains in more detail.


The 5 Choices

1. Moment of choice.  

There is a moment before you decide what action you will take. This moment is ‘The Moment of Choice’. You must become concious of these moments as they happen. It is critical that you:

  • Don’t react to urgent.
  • Decide on important.
  • Pause,  clarify. Decide

2. Go for extraordinary results.

Don’t settle for ordinary.  Extraordinary means balance, accomplished, your own agenda. For some, this means you’ll simply sleep better at night knowing you’ve made choices that coincide with you primary goals. This implies that you understand what extraordinary results you are trying to achieve. If you do not, this is an excersise worth investing some time in.

Think through:

  • What’s most important few items in your life?
  • Are they overly balanced to work?
  • What are your strengths and needs?

Once you can articulate what is really important to you:

  • Set goals (smart) to improve on needs.
  • Set important not urgent goals.
  • Remind yourself of the goals frequently so they are embedded in your subconscious and will be triggered at the moment of choice.

    3. Big/little rocks analogy.  Schedule big rocks don’t sort gravel.

In this analogy, big rocks are the big objectives you’re aiming to complete. Gravel and Sand are the minutia that often take over our day. See from the figure below that if you put sand and gravel in the container (your day) first you will not have space (time) remaining for the big rocks. However, if you put the big rocks in first, there is plenty of space for the smaller items to fill in.


The speaker advised some practical tips:

  • Keep only one task list
  • Since Q3 & Q4 tasks are not important, let them go. e.g. Delegate to the floor.
  • Don’t be bound by the list.
  • Time block on your schedule – 2 hrs for big rocks
  • Don’t feel guilty about telling people ‘no’
  • Auto-reject rules in outlook
  • Time zones: Give yourself 10 minutes a day,  30 minutes  week to organize time for tomorrow / next week. Be sure you’re focused on the Q2 goals.

    4. Only have one system for everything.  Rule your technology.

The areas to focus on are:

  • Appointments. Use one Calendar.
  • Tasks. One task list.
  • Contacts. Not your phone and your CRM and your…
  • Notes & documents.
  • Email management. The speaker recommended

    5. Fuel your Fire. Don’t burn it.

These are practical tips to increase your energy level over the day.

  • Move around.
  • Drink water. 64 oz a day. How often do you hit that mark?
  • Sleep. Naps are good for you and so is 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
  • Spend time focusing on a key relationship