Productivity and “The 5 Choices”

Dr. Joel Ying, MD

Physician, Educator, Storyteller. He hosts this website for "Living the Present Moment" as a conscious journey of Body, Mind, Emotion & Spirit. Holistic and integrative, his practice includes Tai Chi and Yoga, Craniosacral Therapy, Healing From the Core, Meditation. Always exploring his edges, he shares them in the blog, newsletter, courses, and online study group.

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Do you want to be more productive?

Every day, I wake up to a barrage of emails. I start my day with a schedule of appointments and meetings. Time is scarce and seems to disappear. I am endlessly returning messages, chronically behind, and the big “projects” slip away. I have little energy left to be creative. And then, I go home, wind down, and then wake up to do the whole thing again. The modern world of technology promised greater productivity, but it seems to be only delivering burnout as I watch myself and the world try to keep up with faster and faster technology and communication.

How can we reclaim productivity in a way that is manageable in this modern world?

A friend recently told me about “The 5 Choices” by the time management folks at Franklin-Covey (the day planner, project management people).

I was intrigued by their scientific look at the problem we are facing in a age of knowledge and technology.

The Problem

  1. More decisions
  2. More distractions and demands for our attention
  3. Exhaustion and energy-depletion as we try to keep up

The 5 Choices

What is the solution? How can we continue to be productive?

Here are “The 5 Choices” that you can make as “the path to extraordinary productivity” as promised by the book.  It’s worth thinking about how these choices might impact your life.

  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.

Choice 1 and 2 create better decision management. Choice 3 and 4 create better attention management. Choice 5 creates better energy management.

“Productivity” is a buzzword, and I think part of the problem in the modern world is the emphasis we place on it. (I am just as guilty much of the time.) However, there are other things that make life worth living. We are facing ever increasing numbers of people with burn-out in the modern work environment. In many of our professions, we are going to start to have a shortage. Technology is replaceable in an instant, but skilled and trained people take much more time to replace. Balance is not just a personal choice, but also something that our society will need to face. Finding balance is part of choice 5, but I think we should make it choice 1.

Check out “The 5 Choices: The Path to Extraordinary Productivity” by Kory Kogon, Adam Merrill, Leena Rinne.