The 5 Choices: The Path to Extraordinary Productivity

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Simon and Schuster, Dec 30, 2014 - Business & Economics - 288 pages
The time management experts at FranklinCovey share their five critical techniques for avoiding distractions and paying focused attention to our most important goals and tasks in our daily lives.

Every day brings us a crushing wave of demands: a barrage of texts, emails, interruptions, meetings, phone calls, tweets, blogs—not to mention the high-pressure demands of our jobs—that can be overwhelming and exhausting. The sheer number of distractions can threaten our ability to think clearly, make good decisions, and accomplish what matters most, leaving us worn out and unfulfilled.

Now FranklinCovey offers powerful insights drawn from the latest neuroscience and decades of experience and research in the time-management field to help you master your attention and energy management through five fundamental choices that will increase your ability to achieve what matters most to you. The 5 Choices is time management redefined for the twenty-first century: it increases the productivity of individuals, teams, and organizations and empowers you to make more selective, high-impact choices about where to invest your valuable time, attention, and energy.

The 5 Choices are:
1. Act on the Important, Don’t React to the Urgent
2. Go for Extraordinary, Don’t Settle for Ordinary
3. Schedule the Big Rocks, Don’t Sort Gravel
4. Rule Your Technology, Don’t Let It Rule You
5. Fuel Your Fire, Don’t Burn Out

The 5 Choices will not only increase your productivity, it will also provide a renewed sense of engagement and accomplishment. You will quickly find yourself moving beyond thinking, “I was so busy today, what did I actually accomplish?” to feeling confident, energized, and extraordinarily productive.

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About the author (2014)

Jaivon opened his eyes with a start as the plane shuddered beneath him. He looked around and realized it was just turbulence . . . and that he had fallen asleep again.

He had been dozing on and off for the last hour, trying to stay awake so that he could continue working on his notes. "I''m not supposed to be on this plane at all," he thought angrily. "I should be at home with Kalisha!" They had gotten married just a few months ago and were in the process of moving into a new home. This trip had come up unexpectedly.

It couldn''t have come at a worse time. Kali had taken some time off from her job to organize the move and he had done the same thing, but one of his company''s largest accounts needed some emergency technical help, and he was the best one to provide it. "At least no one is texting me right now," he grumbled. "There''s at least one advantage of flying a red-eye."

As he slid back into his crowded, stuffy middle-row seat, he thought about the past few weeks--one crisis after another. As one of the lead developers in a small but growing software firm, his schedule was hectic. He had also recently taken on more team leadership responsibilities, so now he had more people to satisfy. If it wasn''t questions from the sales team, it was issues from his developers. So many decisions to make! His email, instant messenger, and text messages were filled with questions that, apparently, only he could answer. His life felt like this middle seat--crowded--and the problem was only getting worse.

He was originally excited about the company and its prospects when he took the job two years ago. Their product was a cool bit of software, and it was the kind of programming he liked to do. With Kalisha''s work and his job, they had begun to look for a place where they could finally make a home and maybe start a family. "But at this rate," he thought, "we won''t be together enough to raise a family at all, much less begin one!"

Kali''s job was busy also. She was in retail and managed a couple of boutique clothing stores. Because they were open into the evening, she usually came home late. And even then, there was often work to do--checking on the next day''s schedules when people called in sick, following up on inventory, and so forth.

As Jaivon rolled all this over in his mind, he began to feel something he hadn''t felt before--despair. "Will this ever end?" he thought.

Does any of this sound familiar?

While this might not match your situation exactly, our guess is that some of it rings true.

When you picked up this book, you probably did it for one of two reasons:

1. You are looking for some new ideas about how to be more productive. You may actually be managing pretty well, but you want to improve. You want to manage your time better, to get more out of each day. You may want to make more of a difference, to progress in your career, to have more time for those people who are important to you, or to achieve some really important goals.

2. You feel buried every day, and you want some serious help. You may, however, feel more like Jaivon--struggling to stay above the growing pile of things to do and the demands and decisions coming at you all day long. You may feel out of balance and that you rarely have time for yourself. You may feel that your health and relationships are suffering and that your primary goal is just to get through the day in one piece. You know if something doesn''t change soon, you just might explode.

If you relate to either of these descriptions, or are somewhere in between, you are not alone. In our experience, an increasing number of people are feeling the challenge of accomplishing what they want to in their lives. They see great possibilities, but also feel overwhelmed, rushing from one thing to another, trying to move ahead but worried that they may be falling behind. For many, it seems the more they do, the more comes their way. It''s a never-ending flow of incoming tasks, appointments, obligations, and responsibilities. In some cases, all these things feel like a giant mountain of suffocating gravel pouring over them and threatening to bury them alive.

The purpose of this book is to help you get out from under that gravel, take a fresh breath, and reclaim your life. We will help you dig out by giving you the principles, processes, and tools to help you change the equation--a practical path to overcome the tyranny of the endless flow of the "incoming." These are not quick-fix magic formulas. They will require some work, but each chapter is full of simple and powerful things you can do immediately and that will have a significant impact on your life.

As you begin implementing this material, one step at a time, you will begin to change the equation. You will get unburied and move forward in more productive and fulfilling ways. You will get clear and focused on the things that matter and you will both be and feel truly accomplished at the end of every day.
It has never been easier in human history to accomplish great things. A big part of that is the dramatic increase in the power of technology to make us more productive.

Today''s technology allows a child in Bangladesh to learn algebra from the best teachers on the planet. It allows people from around the globe to instantly see each other''s faces and collaborate in real time. We can access the world''s greatest libraries and publish our own thoughts to people everywhere. Modern technology has enabled people to advance medical practice, decode the human genome, overthrow governments, distribute state secrets, and expose corruption.

With advances in interconnectivity, processing power, and wearable technologies that measure everything from the temperature of our skin to the flow of our blood, the interaction between how we live and think and the technologies we use becomes more inseparable each day. And the revolution is just getting started.

Yet, paradoxically, these same technologies can make it harder than ever to accomplish the things that are important to us.

It is both easier and harder than ever before to achieve extraordinary productivity and feel accomplished in our lives.

The incoming flow of information enabled by today''s technology fills our lives with tasks and demands for our attention which, in the end, may not matter that much. Technology allows anyone who feels like it, anywhere in the world, to drop something into our digital inboxes, requiring us to respond, even if only to say no. We become buried alive by the unstoppable flow of everything that comes our way, which robs us of the energy we could be spending on higher-value activities. In many cases, we have redefined success as simply getting things done on time (barely!) rather than doing the important things with the attention and quality that makes us feel like we are, in fact, doing extraordinary work.

The tech-enabled, hyperpaced nature of our work has impacted our lives to such a degree that people feel overwhelmed like never before. They feel buried in things to do and simultaneously drained of their capacity to do them. They feel agitated and anxious, stressed when they are working and stressed when they are not. It is a semipermanent state of worried restlessness that pervades our culture and drains us of confidence and joy. This is the widespread human cost of the productivity paradox, and it will only become more challenging for people who do not know how to tame the paradox and turn it to their advantage.

The productivity paradox revolves around three critical challenges.
In the early part of the twentieth century as the world was industrializing, huge advances in productivity came from the automation of labor. Work was broken down into small, repeatable tasks on an assembly line that anyone could do. As a result, companies and countries were able to produce goods on a much larger scale. This scaling up of production capability is what built the wealth of the twentieth century.

However, in the twenty-first century, the way value is created has shifted from the manual labor required to put things together to the creative mental labor that designs, engineers, markets, and sells today''s complex processes, services, and products (like software or high-end medical devices). Today''s economic value has shifted from low-decision content work to high-decision content work--from our hands to our brains.

The productivity challenge is that the velocity of incoming decisions required to do our work is almost overwhelming. And what most people do--because they are committed, hard-working people--is that they try to handle this flow in a linear way. They take decisions as they come, handling them one at a time, making them as well and fast as they can, and then moving on to the next one--like an assembly line.

The problem is that high-value decisions don''t come in a predictable order. They are nonlinear opportunities. If we are not aware, we might miss them entirely, or only address them in a rushed, low-quality way. A linear approach in a nonlinear reality is a recipe for failure. Putting our heads down and simply doing more faster does not create extraord

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