The 5 Choices for Extraordinary Productivity

After holding this book The 5 Choices for more than 2 years, I have finally finished reading it early this year. What took me so long? Not productive enough? Not really. I guess it’s due to I practice each choice once I finished reading it. My own experiment with implementing these choices and trying to make things work, among other things, that took me this long to finish the book.

So to celebrate that I have finished one book this year, let me share how I have been practising these 5 Choices.

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

During Choice 1 and 2, the following 4-quadrant diagram is very useful in making decision and I have shared previously about Choice 1: Act on the Important.

I have shared on my previous post about how I use OneNote to focus on Q1 and Q2. As I moved on to Choice 3, I have learned to focus only on scheduling the rock and don’t mind the gravel, which means schedule those tasks in Q1 and Q2 and make sure to get things done. This is easier said than done as many Q3 and Q4 tasks will eventually creep up. It’s up to the individual’s ‘super power’ to ignore the unimportant tasks.
Moving on to Choice 4 is more interesting as technology is really a big part of my life. I live, teach, and breathe technologies. For many times, I really think I spend too much time on my mobile, replying what seemingly important/urgent WhatsApp messages or trying to reply the emails from boss that I received at 10 pm. Everyone knows this is unhealthy but how many of us really do something about it. Don’t let technology rule you! It’s really an important reminder. I rely a lot on my mobile apps and software at work but I have to stop myself from spending too much time on them. I consciously put away my mobile by 10 pm when I go to sleep. I don’t reply anything when I wake up until I reach my office by 7 am.
What really interesting takeaway in Choice 4 is The Core 4: Appointments, Tasks, Contacts, Notes/Documents.
Act File
Appointments Contacts
Tasks Notes/Documents

The reasoning about The Core 4 is we receive all kind of requests/tasks every day. We should act by scheduling appointments (tasks we need to do on specific times) and list down the tasks (where no specific time decided yet). We should file contacts, notes and documents for future reference, preferably all in one place or at least we know where to find them.

The book recommends either paper based system or fully digital system or blended system to store The Core 4. Here is my blended system:

The Core 4 Paper Digital
Appointments Quick/Short appointments Repeating/Scheduled appointments (weeks or months ahead)
Tasks Daily to-do list To-do list that takes longer time to finish
Contacts Email/Mobile contact
Notes/Documents Scribble section on the organizer OneNote for everything

I chose a blended system because I still like to write on paper so I use my organizer planner to put in short and quick appointments that come up on that day or the next day. I like to use Google Calendar to schedule repeating appointments such as weekly meeting or classes and some scheduled meeting that are weeks or months ahead. I like the reminder feature from Google Calendar that will prompt on my mobile to remind me. As I have shared before, I put my tasks of Q1 and Q2 on OneNote. Not so much of Q1 now as I put them mostly on paper for my daily to-do list. My Q2 tasks that sometimes take longer time to complete is on OneNote. I only keep contacts on either my mobile or GMail. I love to scribble words on paper during meetings and free times, just to get inspired sometimes. For everything else, they are all on OneNote where I have different sections and pages for almost everything.

Lastly on Choice 5, the most important message is don’t burn out, which means we need to take good care of ourselves. Productivity is only achievable with healthy functioning brain and body.

So if you haven’t heard of The 5 Choices yet, do check out the videos on this website. The lead author Kory Kogon gives very impressive explanation on the 5 choices. Hope you find this post useful somehow and all the best in achieving extraordinary productivity.


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