Franklin Covey’s 5 Choices

Posted: August 13, 2012

Each member of my team attends the Franklin Covey workshop on “The Five Choices to Extraordinary Productivity.” Nobody likes to attend workshops, but after attending this particular one myself I found its themes very valuable. I would like to use this weekly post as a way of summarizing what I learned at the workshop and how I can apply it to my career.

1. Act on the Important, Don’t React to the Urgent

This essentially means to discern the important from the less important. There are urgent things and there are important things. Everybody thinks that their tasks are important and urgent. Therefore, I have a ton of people begging for my immediate attention. These tasks range from the workplace to my personal life, whether it is one of my project managers needing my assistance with a difficult subcontractor or my wife calling to tell me to stop at Trader Joe’s to pick up milk. Both of their needs seem urgent and important, and to them, they are. Franklin Covey taught me how to prioritize my time. My project manager’s needs are urgent but my wife’s needs are important because she needs that milk for my kids. Things of importance have to come first over things that are urgent otherwise we run around like chickens with our heads cut off.

2. Go for Extraordinary, Don’t Settle for Ordinary

We all have the capacity for greatness in the roles that we play. Evaluate all of your roles. I am a father, son, brother, husband, friend, engineer and business owner. Wow, I’m already tired! Ask yourself, am I underperforming, performing ordinarily or performing extraordinarily? How can I fix my underperforming and ordinary roles and maintain my extraordinary ones? Well, I don’t know if I can do that, so I have to prioritize. That brings me back to Choice 1. As you can see, all of these choices interrelate.

3. Schedule the Big Rocks, Don’t Sort Gravel.

This is just a cute little metaphor for once again, you guessed it, prioritizing. Take a look at your to-do list. I know that for me, a Big Rock is a two o’clock meeting with my accountant. If I don’t get checks out on time I have angry subcontractors and annoyed employees. I like to avoid these things, so meeting with her is a huge priority. An example of gravel would be working on my speech for a private school convention in September. Sure that speech is important, but I still have time. E-mail is another big example of gravel for a lot of people. We all waste so much time checking our e-mails! Make rules for yourself!

4. Rule Your Technology, Don’t Let it Rule You

This one makes me laugh. My kids are always making fun of me and my wife when we struggle to use our i-Phones or setting up Skype on our laptops. You want to be in harmony with all of your tools. You deserve to be, I’m sure you spent enough money on them! Have a system. What do you keep track of on paper? What do you store in your Smart phone? What do you record on your tablet? What do you file in your desktop or laptop? Then really sit back and ask yourself why you do those things. How can you streamline these processes? Synchronize your tools and save yourself time and frustration. No one likes to dig for stuff!

5. Fuel Your Fire, Don’t Burn Out

I think that this is probably the most important theme in the workshop. You are better in all of your roles when you are properly functioning and healthy. The best way to ensure these traits is to do the following: move, eat, sleep, relax, and connect. Try new things to improve in all these areas. Seek advice from others. Then, start carrying out these activities and commit to them. Remember, it takes three weeks to form a habit! In no time you will be capturing the gold!