A BRIEF MONOGRAPH The Next Generation of

A BRIEF MONOGRAPH The Next Generation of
“Extraordinary productivity is not about time
management, it’s about managing your decisions,
attention, and energy.” —Leigh Stevens
t
The Nex
on of
Generati ty
vi
Producti
A BRIEF MONOGRAPH
76172
© FranklinCovey. All rights reserved.
FRA110447 Version 1.0.7
“Extraordinary productivity is not about time management, it’s about
managing your decisions, attention, and energy.”
–Leigh Stevens
a Brief MoNograpH
Important Notice
© FranklinCovey. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America.
No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by
any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or use of
any information-storage or retrieval system, for any purpose without the express
written permission of FranklinCovey.
Registered and/or pending trademarks of FranklinCovey in the United States and
foreign countries are used throughout this work. Use of the trademark symbols
® or TM is limited to one or two prominent trademark usages for each mark.
Trademarks understood to be owned by others are used in a nontrademark manner
for explanatory purposes only, or ownership by others is indicated to the extent
known.
All persons, companies, and organizations listed in examples and case studies
herein are purely fictitious for teaching purposes, unless the example expressly
states otherwise. Any resemblance to existing organization or persons is purely
coincidental.
Medical Disclaimer: Franklin Covey does not endorse any recommendation in this
program as medical advice for any specific individual. The ideas given in the slides,
printed materials, and by the experts on video are for illustrative purposes only.
Individuals should seek competent medical advice before beginning an exercise
program or adopting any specific health-related content in this program, especially if
they are currently unhealthy or under medical care.
Table of Contents
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Choice 1: Act on the Important,
Don’t React to the Urgent . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Choice 2: Go for Extraordinary,
Don’t Settle for Ordinary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
Choice 3: Schedule the Big Rocks,
Don’t Sort Gravel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57
Choice 4: Rule Your Technology,
Don’t Let It Rule You . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69
Choice 5: Fuel Your Fire,
Don’t Burn Out . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87
Your Extraordinary Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 107
Notes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 110
The 5 Choices to
Extraordinary Productivity
“The crime which bankrupts men and nations is that of turning aside from
one’s main purpose to serve a job here and there.”
–Ralph Waldo Emerson
You’re already a productive person.You get up in the
morning, you go to work, and you do the best you can
to enjoy life and take care of your responsibilities to the
people who depend on you.
But deep down, you feel that maybe there’s more for
you. You want to make more of a difference. You could
probably do better, contribute more, get more out of life.
Maybe you feel you’re shortchanging yourself in some
ways. But you do what you can, and frankly, you don’t
have the time or energy to do much more than you’re
already doing.
That’s why the idea of improving your productivity
might make you sigh a little. On one hand, you’d like to
be more productive. But on the other hand, it sounds like
more work—and you have enough of that to do now.
People already expect more from you than you can give.
They’re always asking you to “do more with less,” aren’t
they?
2
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
Yes, they are. But you both have a misguided idea of
what productivity really is. It’s not doing more. In fact, it
means doing less.
Most of us try to do too much, and as a result, we give
less than our best and finest effort to those few things
that really matter. Extraordinarily productive people
consciously choose to invest that effort only where they
can contribute most.
They give their best to the people and things that
excite them, that fill them with purpose, that really count.
It took Michelangelo four totally focused years to paint
the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.What if he had chosen to
fragment his time among many less monumental projects?
What if William Shakespeare had been too busy with
the theater business to write his plays?
What if Steve Jobs had made a thousand mediocre
products instead of a handful of “insanely great” products?
What if Rosa Parks had decided she had too many
things to do that day to risk going to jail by defying an
unjust law?
What if Albert Einstein had been so stressed out at his
patent-office job that he never took time to think about
the universe?
And what if Martin Luther King, Jr. had never had a
dream?
These and so many other people show us what it
means to be extraordinarily productive. They transform
the world in quantum ways. They have an exponential
impact because they focus intensely on the unique
contribution only they can make.
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
3
“But I’m no Einstein,” you say. “I’m just an ordinary
person—there’s nothing extraordinary about me.”
The truth is, we all have extraordinary things to do
in our own Circle of Influence. It’s tragic if, as Emerson
said, we “turn aside from our main purpose to serve a job
here and there.”
How We Use Our Work Time
30%
70%
Important
Priorities
Urgencies &
Irrelevancies
From the FranklinCovey Time Matrix Survey of 351,613
respondents (as of 2011) from Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin
America, Middle East, and North America, ongoing since 2005.1
• We typically spend about 70 percent of the workday
on problems, crises, and and activities that do not
contribute to the true priorities of the organization.
Because we feel we have to “serve a job here and
there,” we shortchange our “main purpose.”
• We never get clear on our “main purpose”—the
extraordinary contribution we could make in the
roles we play in work and life.
• We work and live by default—dealing with
whatever comes up—instead of by
design—focusing our finest and best effort
on those things with the greatest payoff.
4
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
• We’ve been hijacked by our technology. Flooded
with electronic distractions, we’ve allowed our
productivity tools to make us unproductive!
• We burn out our brains and bodies because our
lives are not our own—we have no time for
building up our own productive capacity.
By contrast, extraordinarily productive people— • Reclaim the 70 percent of the workday that is
spent on lower-value activities.
• Know the extraordinary contribution they want
to make at work and to the lives of the people
who are important to them.
• Block out time specifically to make those
contributions real.
• Leverage their technology. Instead of ninety
emails a day, they have nine—but each one is
strategically important.
• Refresh and recharge themselves regularly so
they can continue to be productive.
These people get amazing results because they act
differently, and they act differently because they think
differently. The enemy of the extraordinary is not our
capability—it’s our mindset!
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
5
The Productivity Paradox
There is no time like the present. There never was.
At no other time in history have we been able to
do the things we can do today—extraordinary things
beyond the imagining of people just a few years ago.
Our information technology has greatly expanded
our powers. We can access nearly all human knowledge
in seconds.We can communicate with anyone anywhere.
By touching a screen, we can buy a book and start
reading it in the same moment. Our smartphones are far
smarter than we are.
This should be the Age of Extraordinary Productivity.
But it isn’t.
For years, economists have been puzzled by what they
call the “productivity paradox.” The vast investment by
business and government in information technology has
not significantly increased productivity, at least by the
traditional measure of output per worker per hour. In
fact, there has been a long, slow decline in productivity
worldwide since 1971.
It’s hard to believe. Hasn’t the digital revolution
exponentially improved productivity? Isn’t it true that
jobs that used to take all day and cost hundreds of
dollars now take a nanosecond and cost a nano-cent? Yes.
Digitization has transformed countless processes of all
kinds. But it has not made human beings themselves
more productive.
We don’t have to look far to see why. The knowledge
work of today is fundamentally different from the
industrial work of the past. However, we have not yet
6
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
escaped the mindset of the Industrial Age, even though
we’re well into the Knowledge Age.
Look at these radical differences between Industrial
Age and Knowledge Age workers:
Choices
Decisions
Tools
Industrial Age
Knowledge Age
Few
Unlimited
Simple, Low Value
Complex, High Value
Straightforward
Complicated and Disruptive
During the Industrial Age, workers on an assembly
line put one part on one machine a hundred times a
day. They had few choices and fewer decisions to make.
Decisions they did have to make were simple and of low
value. Their tools had one, straightforward use.
As knowledge workers, we no longer stand in an
assembly line doing repetitive tasks. We have
comparatively unlimited choices about what to work on,
when, and how. (“Do I answer this email? accept this
meeting invitation? work on this project or that one?”)
And unless we are crystal clear on what we’re trying
to achieve, there are infinite ways to get “there”—wherever
it is.
We’re asked to make complex decisions, many of
which can have high value to the organization. For
example, a salesperson’s decisions on how to use her time
can translate into millions of dollars’ difference to the
bottom line.
Digital technology can make it both far easier and
far harder to be extraordinarily productive. Our complex
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
7
tools can do far more than we are prepared to do with
them. Their potential for increasing our productivity is
limitless—and so is their potential for disruption.
Overwhelming in its impact, the technology that’s
reshaping our lives is not only incredibly useful, but
also alluring. For example, avid blogger Nicholas Carr
confesses himself addicted to email, random links, Google,
MP3s, streaming video, YouTube, and Wikipedia—all at
the swipe of a finger on his iPad. Like millions of us, he
has developed a hunger to be connected.
But now Carr is worried.“Over the last few years, I’ve
had an uncomfortable sense that someone or something
has been tinkering with my brain.… I’m not thinking
the way I used to think.… I worry about my inability
to pay attention to one thing for more than a couple of
minutes.”2
And that’s because he has so much more to pay
attention to. Everyone knows that the information
explosion is huge, but it’s almost incomprehensible how
huge. By the end of the 20th century, the entire sum
of information produced since the dawn of civilization
was about 12 exabytes. We now produce this much
information in about four days. Within the first
decade of the 21st century, annual traffic on the
Internet approached 1,000 exabytes, or 19 million times
the volume of information contained in all the books
ever written.3 But that was just a trickle: the flood is
about to surpass one zettabyte, or the equivalent of the
contents of 50 million Libraries of Congress.4 (The
largest in the world, the Library of Congress in
Washington, D.C., contains nearly 150 million items.)
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
8
And our personal information explosion is also huge.
In fact, we might be in serious danger of drowning
under a tsunami of texts, tweets, IMs, emails, and infinite
social-media updates. We used to get interrupted occasionally. Now the interruptions have become a torrent.
Brain scientists are telling us that our 21st-century addiction
to information may actually be rewiring our brains and
shrinking to nearly zero our ability to concentrate.
The productivity paradox applies to people too.
What’s true for business in general is also true for each
of us as individuals.
Our powerful knowledge tools now put truly
extraordinary productivity within the reach of everyone.
EXTRAORDINARY
PRODUCTIVITY
EXTRAORDINARY
PRODUCTIVITY
2
3
4
5
DON’T REACT
TO THE URGENT
DON’T SETTLE
FOR ORDINARY
DON’T SORT
GRAVEL
DON’T LET
IT RULE YOU
DON’T
BURN OUT
DON’T REACT
TO THE URGENT
DON’T SETTLE
FOR ORDINARY
DON’T SORT
GRAVEL
DON’T LET
IT RULE YOU
DON’T
BURN OUT
1
FUEL
GO FOR tools SCHEDULE
RULE YOURto
But the EXTRAORDINARY
same
that promise
make
us
YOUR FIRE
THE BIG ROCKS
TECHNOLOGY
exponentially more productive also create exponentially
more1distractions2than we’ve
3 ever had4to face. We’re
5 at
FUEL
GO FOR
SCHEDULE
RULE YOUR
ACT ON THE
riskIMPORTANT
of beingEXTRAORDINARY
mastered byTHEour
own tools
and buried
alive
YOUR FIRE
BIG ROCKS
TECHNOLOGY
in an avalanche of information.
ACT ON THE
IMPORTANT
BURIED ALIVE
BURIED ALIVE
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
9
To be specific:
• Ninety-four percent of knowledge workers at
some point have felt overwhelmed by information
to the point of incapacity.
• Knowledge workers say they waste 28 percent of
their time on unimportant interruptions to the
point that they can devote only about 5 percent
of their time to thought and reflection.
• The average knowledge worker receives 93
emails a day. Spending five minutes on each
message would eat up an entire workday.5
• Over 107 trillion emails are sent each year, of
which 89 percent are spam.6
• About half (51 percent) of all professionals
surveyed around the world say that if the amount
of information they receive continues to increase,
they will soon reach a “breaking point” at which
they will be unable to handle any more.7
The problem is, each message represents a person
who needs or wants something from you. You want to
be accommodating, but when you’re buried under a
landslide of commitments, the whole idea of productive
work evaporates.
10
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
The Choice: To Be Extraordinarily
Productive or Buried Alive?
What can we do about this exhausting paradox we
live with?
We can’t ignore the reality that the human brain is a
splendid tool for focusing on a few things at a time, but
a poor tool for handling a lot of things at once. As the
Roman philosopher Seneca said, “To be everywhere is
to be nowhere.”
One answer is to try to get everything done and out
of the way—then (we tell ourselves) we’ll be able to
concentrate. We think if we can just sit down and make
a giant to-do list, systematically work through it, and
attend to everybody’s priorities, we’ll be able to focus.
Many of us live with that fantasy. The problem is, while
we’re taking care of the things at the top of the list, the
bottom of the list is growing out of control. It’s like
shoveling gravel from a pile that gets bigger the more
we dig at it.
Another answer is to file everything—create
folders for all the people and projects at work and dump
everything in those folders. This has the advantage of
moving everything off your desktop and out of sight.
The problem with sweeping the gravel under the rug is
that the rug starts to get lumpy and hard to walk on. All
you’ve succeeded in doing is to sort the gravel into little
piles. You haven’t actually done anything useful with it.
And while you’re sorting and categorizing and filing the
old gravel, the stream of new gravel never stops.
Ironically, we waste so much time and energy on the
gravel that we’re too tired and pressed for time to attend
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
11
to the “Big Rocks”—those really important things we
keep putting off.
This is the situation of people who “live out of their
inbox.” Many of us start work by checking email. It’s
essential. What do people want from us today? Also, it’s
irresistible. We crave new information and can’t stand
to miss anything. We start the day intending to get
something important done, but then the inbox takes
over, and before we know it, the day is gone.
And if we spend our best energy on the gravel of
miscellaneous demands, what’s left for the truly
important priorities?
Brain science helps us understand why we don’t multitask
effectively. Although the creative potential of the mind
is unlimited, the gateway to the mind is strictly limited.
Only one or two things at a time can get in, so they’d
better be the most important things—the right things.
The 5 Choices
Fortunately, there are 5 Choices that, if made consistently,
can make you extraordinarily productive—not just by
getting things done, but by getting the right things done.
The 5 Choices help you distinguish between the vitally
important things that can transform your life and work,
and all the distractions and irrelevancies that threaten to
bury you alive.
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
12
EXTRAORDINARY
PRODUCTIVITY
1
2
3
4
5
ACT ON THE
IMPORTANT
GO FOR
EXTRAORDINARY
SCHEDULE
THE BIG ROCKS
RULE YOUR
TECHNOLOGY
FUEL
YOUR FIRE
DON’T REACT
TO THE URGENT
DON’T SETTLE
FOR ORDINARY
DON’T SORT
GRAVEL
DON’T LET
IT RULE YOU
DON’T
BURN OUT
BURIED ALIVE
The 5 Choices. Making these choices can lead you to
extraordinary levels of productivity. Defaulting on these
choices can make you feel buried alive under the weight of
conflicting demands.
Choice 1: Act on the Important, Don’t React
to the Urgent. Many people think if they could just
do more things faster, they’d be more productive. Their
brains are hijacked by incoming demands; they lose the
ability to discern between important and unimportant
priorities.
By contrast, extraordinarily productive people don’t
just react to the “incoming.” They carefully discern
important from unimportant priorities, and they are
proactive about investing their time only in those things
that deserve their finest effort and attention.
This is the first choice to make if you want an extraordinary
life. Many people fail to realize they have the power to
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
13
choose for themselves how they will live and work.They
see themselves as victims of their circumstances. But if
you make Choice 1, you literally take charge of your life.
You’re free to create your own future.
Choice 2: Go for Extraordinary, Don’t Settle
for Ordinary. Having made Choice 1, you can now get
clear on exactly what is important to you. Too many see
themselves as “ordinary,” as cogs in a big organizational
machine. They lack a clearly defined, motivating vision
of the extraordinary contribution they could be making.
The truly productive don’t just play the game,
they change the game. They don’t just do what’s
expected, they create their own future. They are not just
“walking job descriptions,” they make a unique difference
that matters.
Choice 3: Schedule the Big Rocks, Don’t Sort
Gravel. If you’ve made Choice 2 and clarified the
extraordinary things you want to achieve in your life,
you’re ready to create a plan to actually make them happen.
So many live life by default. They use what energy they
have on just keeping up, and they’re so often frustrated at
their inability to do even that. Life is just one thing after
another, a stream of undifferentiated “gravel.”
But this is not a picture of productivity. The truly
productive actively plan how they will use their time and
energy, ensuring that it goes to the “Big Rocks” rather
than keeping up with the gravel.
Choice 4: Rule Your Technology, Don’t Let It
Rule You. Now you have your Choice 3 plan in place,
but there’s a problem. You can easily get blown off
course by relentless demands on your time that come at
14
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
you “virtually” every minute. Just when you’re getting
mastery over your own life, your technology threatens to
master you.
Hundreds of apps are available that promise to increase
productivity. Ironically, as we’ve seen, technology can
do the opposite and disrupt productivity. Many people
are “urgency addicts” who can’t look up from their
smartphones long enough to avoid walking into walls.
But you can leverage the same technology to become
extraordinarily productive. You can design a system for
yourself that keeps you focused on the important and
fends off the unimportant.You can draw on the power of
social media to transform your work and your life.
Choice 5: Fuel Your Fire, Don’t Burn Out.
You’ve made Choices 1 through 4. You have a new
mindset, a new plan, and a new system to make it happen.
But without the physical and mental energy to pursue
your dreams, you risk falling victim to your own personal
“energy crisis.”
The crushing stress we live with can bake the
brain—literally. A stressed-out brain is continually
immersed in adrenaline, a high-octane chemical that
overstimulates every system of the body. The result: we
wear down fast, we barely get through the day, we become
exhausted or even ill. And eventually, we burn out.
True productivity requires recharging the brain and
body continually. People inspired by a high purpose can go
far, but if they are actively caring for the brain—feeding,
resting, and exercising it properly—they can go infinitely
farther.
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
15
Why the 5 Choices?
In this book, we’ll do a “deep dive” on each of the 5
Choices.You’ll get a clear picture of what to do and the
results you’ll get if you make them.
Why make the 5 Choices at all?
The ability to distinguish between the important
and the unimportant will be a key competency going
forward in this century. Unless you can discern the Big
Rocks from the gravel, you can forget about productivity.
If you’re obsessed with incoming gravel—whether in
the form of other people’s priorities or a technology
addiction—you’ll never be able to do the kind of
reflective, strategic thinking and work that can create the
future you want.
If you identify and organize yourself around your few
true priorities, you’ll feel more balanced, less stressed,
more deeply satisfied, and more credible because you’ll
follow through on the most important things. You’ll
bypass ordinary productivity to become extraordinarily
productive. That’s the promise of the 5 Choices.
The principles that govern productivity never change.
In fact, those principles are exponentially more relevant
now as people face today’s exponential increase in
demands on their time.The 5 Choices are based squarely
on those principles.
Every day, science reveals more about the infinitely
productive capacity of the human brain—about what
nourishes that capacity and what cripples it. We have
interviewed the world’s top brain scientists to get their
best thinking on these topics. In this book, you’ll read
16
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
about the science behind the 5 Choices and how it can
help you.
For nearly 30 years, we at FranklinCovey have led the
world in helping people get the right things done. We
have taught—and learned from—literally hundreds of
thousands of people in more than 100 countries. Our
planning system and tools have helped millions lead
more fulfilling lives and achieve more fulfilling goals.
We have done more research, thought harder, and shared
more ideas on this topic than anyone else.
We’ve watched intently the revolutionary changes of
our time. From listening and learning with you, we know
that you have far more to do with fewer resources than
ever. We know that you’re buried under an avalanche of
demands. We know that “insanely busy” is no joke for
you. We know that the threats we’ve been talking about
are genuine and personal to you.
We also know that deep down, you have dreams and
goals. You wish you could give more of yourself to the
people and causes you love. You want to make a real,
substantial difference at work. You want to do
extraordinary things with your one life. We know that
you don’t want to live, in the words of Henry David
Thoreau, “a life of quiet desperation.”
We know these things because you’ve told us—thousands
of you. We’ve heard you. The 5 Choices are the answer.
Choice 1: Act on the Important,
Don’t React to the Urgent
“Anything less than a commitment to the important is a
conscious commitment to the unimportant.”
— Dr. Stephen R. Covey
How to become extraordinarily productive?
Figure out what’s most important. Now give the most
important things priority in your life. Everything else
is secondary. Why waste your time on less important
things?
It sounds so easy.
Why then is it so hard? Why do so many feel this
longing to get to the most important things but can’t?
What’s the big obstacle?
When we ask people why they have such a hard time
getting organized and spending their time productively,
they usually answer, “Because I have no discipline.” Dr.
Stephen R. Covey says this: “On deeper thought, I believe that is not the case. The basic problem is that their
priorities have not become deeply planted in their hearts
and minds.”8 In other words, the problem is not with
what they do with their time, but with how they think.
18
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
When it comes to how to invest time, most people
have one of two mindsets: urgency or importance. Whether
you’re operating from a mindset of urgency or a mindset
of importance, it will profoundly affect your life.
The ordinary mindset is to react to the urgent—to
the things that are right in front of us and “need” our
immediate attention. As there is no end to these things,
we believe the only way to be more productive is to try
to do more things faster.
The extraordinary mindset is to Act on the Important—
to take the initiative to determine what the right things
are and to take action on them.
The results we get in life depend on our behavior, and
our behavior depends on our mindset.What we sometimes
fail to realize is that we can choose our mindset.
We all have a choice to make between two mental doors. Behind one of those doors is a vast uni-
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
19
verse of possibility where you—as a talented, thinking,
proactive individual—can create your own future.
Behind this door, you have the freedom to act on the
important things in your life.
Behind the other door is a stifling mass of urgent
demands on your time. Some of them are important,
some not so important, but they all need your attention
now! If you are a passive, reactive person, you are the
victim of whatever falls on you when you open that door.
If you have the urgency mindset, your brain
hovers, waiting.The email chimes, the phone buzzes, a text
message beeps. There’s something new. Somebody wants
you. You’ve got to respond. Like Pavlov’s famous dogs
that were conditioned to salivate at the sound of a
bell, you, too, have been conditioned. And if like most
people you get a dozen of these little interruptions
every hour—do the math—you literally can’t focus on
one thing for more than five minutes!
Your Brain Under Attack
“Where have all the humans gone? To their screens, of course.”
— William Powers
What happens to your brain under the pressure of
constant waves of demands, calls, emails, messages, texts,
images—all of them buzzing, throbbing, and ringing all
day, every day?
The brain contains both short- and long-term memory
centers. Short-term memory is located in the prefrontal
cortex, which acts as a gateway for the rest of the brain.
All the inputs from the world outside come at you
through the prefrontal cortex.
20
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
The long-term storage center of the brain contains
hundreds of billions of neuron cells and another trillion
star cells that connect to each other in virtually infinite
ways. In fact, you have more brain cells than there are
stars in our Milky Way Galaxy. Without any conscious
guidance from you, this vast area of your brain miraculously
regulates your balance, motion, body temperature, sight,
blood pressure, and myriad other parallel processes you
are not even aware of. It is a vast universe of its own.
By contrast, the prefrontal cortex—the gateway
to the brain—can handle only one thing at time.
Compared to the rest of the brain, the prefrontal cortex
is like a teaspoon to the Milky Way.
This is why human beings find it so difficult to multitask.
Physiologically, we cannot give our best conscious effort
to more than one thing at a time. MIT neuroscientist Earl
Miller says, “Trying to concentrate on two tasks causes
an overload of the brain’s processing capacity…. Particularly
when people try to perform similar tasks at the same
time, such as writing an email and talking on the phone,
they compete to use the same part of the brain.Trying to
carry too much, the brain simply slows down.”
The prefrontal cortex just can’t handle the daily flood
that comes at us because it is designed to deal with
teaspoons rather than tidal waves of information.
Constant interruptions not only slow down the brain,
but also raise stress levels. Professor Gloria Mark is an
“interruption scientist” at the University of California:
“When people are frequently diverted from one task to
another,they work faster but produce less.After 20 minutes of
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
21
interrupted performance, people report significantly higher
stress levels, frustration, workload, effort, and pressure.”9
Even more worrisome, the brain that is highly
fragmented and constantly interrupted may be rewiring
itself in ways that make us less productive. Professor
Clifford Nass of Stanford University reports that “the
neural circuits devoted to scanning, skimming, and
multitasking are expanding and strengthening, while
those used for reading and thinking deeply, with
sustained concentration, are weakening or eroding.”
What’s the consequence? “Habitual multitaskers may
be sacrificing performance on the primary task.They are
suckers for irrelevancy.”
“Improving our ability to multitask actually hampers
our ability to think deeply and creatively…the more you
multitask, the less deliberative you become; the less able
to think and reason out a problem,” says Jordan Grafman
of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and
Stroke in the U.S.A.10
Psychiatrist Ed Hallowell now sees in his practice
many people who are so strung out that they suspect
they are suffering from attention deficit disorder. He tells
them that they actually just have a severe case of modern
life. “We have been conditioned by our modern world to
be in a hurry, to allow too many interruptions, to take on
more than we can possibly handle, so we are developing
overloaded circuits.”11
You’re addicted to urgency. A crisis comes up, you get
a dopamine hit, and in time you become dependent on
the rush and excitement. It gives you a temporary high
until the next email hits.
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
22
On the other hand, if you proactively decide that
you are in charge of your time and your life—nobody
else—you begin to get the importance mindset. You
don’t confuse urgent things with first things. You know
that just because it’s urgent, it isn’t necessarily important.
IMPORTANT
So everything we do falls into one of the four
quadrants of this matrix.
Q1
NECESSITY
Crises
Emergency meetings
Last-minute deadlines
Pressing problems
Unforeseen events
NOT IMPORTANT
Q3
DISTRACTION
Needless interruptions
Unnecessary reports
Irrelevant meetings
Other people’s minor issues
Unimportant email, tasks, phone
calls, status posts, etc.
URGENT
Q2
EXTRAORDINARY
PRODUCTIVITY
Proactive work
High-impact goals
Creative thinking
Planning
Prevention
Relationship building
Learning and renewal
Q4
WASTE
Trivial work
Avoidance activities
Excessive relaxation, television,
gaming, Internet
Time-wasters
Gossip
NOT URGENT
The Time Matrix. People spend their time in one of four quadrants,
depending on how urgent or important their activities are.
Extraordinarily productive people try to stay in Quadrant 2.
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
23
Quadrant 1 Is the Quadrant of Necessity
Quadrant 1 things are both urgent and important.
These are the things that come at you that you need
to take care of now. That’s why we call it the “Quadrant
of Necessity.” An angry client is on the phone, a friend
has a heart attack, a key machine breaks down on the
factory floor. Occasionally, a big opportunity comes up
that needs attention now or it will slip away. But please
notice that most of Quadrant 1 is avoidable. That client
shouldn’t be angry in the first place. Frankly, the friend’s
heart attack might be due to some lifestyle choices made
long ago. That machine broke down because of a lack of
maintenance.
Q1 people are urgency addicts. The gateway to the
mind is crowded with critical priorities that demand
attention now!
The return on your investment in Q1 is usually equal
to or less than the time and energy you put into it. It’s
crisis management, what is often called “firefighting.”
Stamping out a fire might preserve something, but it
produces nothing.
What is life like in Quadrant 1? It can be exciting,
particularly if you’re the superhero type who likes to
fly in and save the day. There are people who love the
rush of fighting fires; they thrive on Quadrant 1…for a
while. The urgency mindset has its rewards, but they are
temporary because the stress of living with incessant
crises eventually burns you out.
24
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
Quadrant 3 Is the Quadrant of Distraction
Quadrant 3 things are urgent but not important.
Many people spend a lot of time in Q3 thinking they’re
in Q1. Really, they’re just reacting to other people’s little
emergencies. Phone calls, email, text messages, routine
but empty meetings, people dropping by—all these can
deceive them into thinking they’re getting things done,
but really they’re just spinning their wheels. Meanwhile,
truly important priorities fall off the agenda.
Q3 is particularly destructive because so many people
confuse activity with accomplishment. It’s possible to
squander a lot of time in relatively useless meetings. It’s
possible to answer inconsequential emails and texts and
social-network requests all day. A full calendar and to-do
list don’t necessarily add up to a full life.
Q3 people are also urgency addicts. The gateway to
the mind is very crowded. Q3 has always been the true
enemy of productivity—and even more so now with
the technological tsunami that swamps us. As we’ve seen,
the human brain that hovers constantly over urgencies
on electronic screens is a Q3 brain.
Q3 is also the insidious home of organizational
activities that lost their relevance long ago—reports that
don’t really need to be done, meetings no one finds
terribly useful, even systems and functions that have
outlived their purpose or that could be repurposed to
achieve something more productive. The organizational
corollary to Newton’s law of inertia is “A dumb idea in
motion tends to stay in motion.”
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
25
Sadly, many, many people live in Q3 because they
don’t know what else to do. Either they can’t discern
what’s truly important in the rush of demands on their
time, or their organization has never made clear what’s
truly important.
The return on your investment in Q3 is always less
than the time and energy you put into it because you’re
squandering your efforts on unimportant tasks.
What is life like in Quadrant 3? It can be comfortable
and even pleasant. It’s filled with rings and dings and
buzzes and tweets from all the gadgets in sight.You might
even be popular because you’re so “responsive” to other
people’s priorities, even though you never get to fulfill
your own.You can stay very busy doing things that don’t
mean much in the long run, making little difference,
filling your hours with relatively pointless tasks and
meetings. But in the end, it’s a barren existence. As Dr.
Covey asks, “How thin can you spread yourself before
you’re no longer there?”
26
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
51.2% SPENT ON
URGENT ACTIVITIES
30.8% SPENT ON STUFF
THAT REALLY MATTERS
Q2
Q1
27.6%
Q3
23.6%
30.8%
Q4
17.9%
41.5% SPENT ON
UNIMPORTANT ACTIVITIES
Where People Spend Their Time. If you’re a typical worker,
the three reactive Quadrants 1, 3, and 4 round up to nearly 70
percent of your work time.12
Quadrants 1 and 3 Are the
Quadrants of Urgency
As the Time Matrix Survey shows, working people
report spending more than half of their time (51.2 percent)
in the urgency quadrants. Yet, we’ve seen that most of
Quadrant 1 and all of Quadrant 3 is avoidable. In one
alarming decade-long study, researchers examined
the behavior of busy managers in nearly a dozen large
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
27
companies in Europe and North America. They found
that those managers squander fully 90 percent of
their time in urgent but ineffective activities. They are
“well-intentioned, highly energetic but unfocused
people who confuse frantic motion with constructive
action.” And some companies actually reward the frantic
activity rather than results.13
The real toll taken by the urgency quadrants is on
your mind and heart. Because you are constantly
trying to swim against a tide of crises—some significant,
some trivial—you wear out and make little headway.
Your potential stays untapped. As William Powers says,
you get the sense that “life isn’t quite hanging together,
isn’t adding up to what it might. It’s all those unrealized
epiphanies, insights and joys—journeys the mind and
heart never get to take.”14
Quadrant 4 Is the Quadrant of Waste
Quadrant 4 things are neither urgent nor important.
We call this the “Quadrant of Waste” because literally
nothing productive gets done. People who live in Q4
watch too much TV, spend hours and hours playing video
games, surf the Internet into the early morning hours, or
load trivial updates onto Facebook all day.
The human brain that hovers constantly over distractions
on electronic screens is a Q4 brain, doing what William
Powers calls “the digital dance…zipping from email to
email to text to buzzing mobile and back again.”15
Anything you do to excess could put you in Q4—
including things that are harmless or even helpful if done
in moderation, such as exercise, a movie, having a snack,
28
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
or going out with friends. If you depend on Facebook
to build your brand, you probably should be updating
repeatedly. There’s everything right with relaxing and
having fun, as long as it’s not excessive and motivated by
a desire to evade important priorities. There’s everything
wrong with burning out and burning up your time with
mindless entertainment.
Of course, the return on your “investment” of time
and energy in Q4 is zero.You’ve simply exerted yourself
for nothing.
What does it feel like to live in Q4? Momentary
gratification, maybe; but deep down, it’s all self-disgust.
Many people who are burned out in the urgency
quadrants end up here in the evenings to escape the stress
of their daytime lives.
At a deeper level, Q4 can be the quadrant of despair.
People who live in Q4 eat too much or not at all, sleep
too much or not at all, party too much or withdraw into
profound isolation. Emptied of purpose, they’ve found
their way to the frayed fringes of life often because they
see no meaningful alternative.
Quadrant 2 Is the Quadrant of
Extraordinary Productivity
Quadrant 2 things are important but not urgent. This
is the “Quadrant of Extraordinary Productivity” because
here you take charge of your own life and create your
own great future. Q2 people do the thoughtful, creative,
proactive work that changes the world. They act on the
important; they don’t react to the urgent.They plan, they
prepare, they prevent crises. They learn, they create, they
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
29
build relationships. They continually renew their energy
levels so they don’t burn out.They do the things everyone
knows are most important but few seem to get to.
The return on your investment in Q2 is always
more—often exponentially more—than the time and
energy you put into it. Ten minutes to plan your day can
make the other 23 hours and 50 minutes much more
productive. A quick read of the latest journal in your
field can put you far ahead of others in a meeting. And
an afternoon’s outing with your little daughter—just the
two of you—can create a lifelong bond.
The importance of moving to Quadrant 2 can’t be
overemphasized. This is the quadrant of proactivity; the
others are quadrants of reactivity where the passive,
primitive part of the brain takes over. One corporate
leader admits that he devotes very little of his time
to being proactive. “The rest of my life, and I would
suggest most people’s lives, is spent in some sort of daily
daze, reading emails, getting stuck in traffic and going
to meetings that are in some ways diversions…. And the
long-term goals that stand in front of me suddenly
become impossible tasks that can’t be tackled now.”16
Reactivity is hardwired into his brain; challenges that
require proactivity seem insurmountable to him.
When we live in Q2, we engage the sophisticated
executive center of the brain, the frontal lobes of the
neocortex. “The frontal lobes are to the brain what a
conductor is to an orchestra, a general to an army, the chief
executive officer to a corporation. [They are] the brain’s
command post.”17 The more Q2 choices we consciously
make, the more we rewire the executive brain to respond
proactively.
30
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
That’s because each Q2 choice we make
strengthens the proactive brain and suppresses the reactive
brain, which is associated with the limbic system. Our
reflexes are centered in this more primitive part of the
brain—any external stimulus prods it into action, such
as a loud noise, a sudden threat, or even the bell on your
computer announcing an incoming email. According to
the prominent brain scientist and author Richard Restak:
“The prefrontal lobes are the seat of maturity,
judgment, emotional control, decision making, planning,
etc. They are also under attack. The characteristic of the
adult brain is the ability to override the limbic system
with the frontal lobes; that is, to make a conscious choice.
It is this capability that allows us to control our lives and
create the results we want, instead of simply being at the
mercy of external stimuli.”18
How does it feel to live in Q2? Some of the words
we’ve heard: “fulfilled, at peace, energized, in control.”
People who live in Q2 are the highly effective people
Stephen R. Covey talks about. They habitually Put First
Things First in their lives. They do most of the truly
productive work in the world. They transcend the
ordinary and live extraordinary lives. They don’t just get
things done—they get the right things done.
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
31
Living in Q2
“Effective people stay out of Quadrants 3 and 4 because,
urgent or not, they aren’t important.They also shrink Quadrant 1
down to size by spending more time in Quadrant 2.
Quadrant 2 is the heart of effective personal management.”
— Stephen R. Covey
Now you should see more clearly how to Put First
Things First in your life:
• Get out of Q3 and Q4 entirely. Nothing below
that midline is important. No one should have to
live a life of distraction or despair.
• Visit Q1 only when you must. Too much time in
Q1 burns you out because it’s mostly managing
crises you could prevent if you spent more time
in Q2.
• Move to Q2—permanently.
But why should you want to move to Q2? Doesn’t it
mean more work? more effort? Does it mean you have
to do more with less?
No, paradoxically—just the opposite. Let’s dive a little
deeper into the transformation that takes place when
you move to Q2.
From Reactive to Proactive. Q2 people don’t
play the victim. They don’t much believe in the power of
circumstances to control their lives. Instead, they believe in
their own power to transform their lives.They see themselves
not as passive functionaries, but as high-value contributors.
From Crisis Manager to Crisis Preventer. Q2
people know that the cheapest problem to solve is the
one they never have in the first place, so they anticipate,
plan for, and prevent Q1 emergencies. Instead of fighting
32
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
fires, they prevent fires. The more Q2 grows, the more
Q1 shrinks.
From Imbalanced to Balanced. Q2 people
balance the crucial roles they play in life. Unlike the
hyperbusy, out-of-control people in the “urgency”
column (“Someday when I get a chance, I’ll spend some
quality time with my friend/my spouse/my child/my
friend/my mother”), they invest deeply in building those
precious relationships. Instead of neglecting their own
well-being (“I just don’t have time to exercise”), they
regularly renew and recharge themselves.
From Distracted to Focused. They refuse to be
constantly distracted by beeping laptops, throbbing texts,
and singing ringtones that steal their focus. Instead, they
leverage the marvelous high-tech tools that enable great
productivity.They use these tools strategically to fend off
distractions and to sharpen their focus on what matters.
From Burned Out to Fired Up. Q2 people focus
their finest attention and effort on things that really matter
to them, that arise from the organization’s highest priorities
and from their own hearts and minds. These priorities
derive from strategic plans, organizational and personal
mission statements, visions of a better future, and goals that
inspire. Excited people work hard but are not burnouts.
So, what’s a Quadrant 2 day like?
You get a little exercise in the morning, maybe a refreshing
walk; eat a sensible breakfast. On the job, you tackle the
most important things first, the things that will make the
most difference over time, instead of getting buried in a
pile of email. You have lunch with real people instead of
your laptop, so you feed the relationships you value. After
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
33
work, you reconnect with your loved ones—watch some
fun TV or play a game. And all this time, you’re working
toward goals that have real meaning for you.
The alternative is to live in the other quadrants. No
time for exercise in the morning. Grab coffee. Dive into
your email and consume your day answering other people’s
urgencies—some important, some not. This “work”
piles up, so you can’t take time for lunch—only caffeine
keeps you going. Work late and go home exhausted to
an equally exhausted family.You’re so wired up, you can’t
sleep, so you burn up the night in Quadrant 4, surfing
the Internet or TV or gaming.The next day, it starts over.
Though you’re incredibly tired and busy, you never feel
like you’re accomplishing anything meaningful.
So where would you rather live—in Quadrant 2,
or in the other quadrants? Have you ever worked with
someone who is a crisis manager, out of balance, reactive,
distracted, burned out, or just playing the game? Have
you ever been that person?
But if you were a crisis preventer, a planner, proactive,
well balanced, focused, fired up, and actively changing
the game, wouldn’t your life be qualitatively different?
Think about the consequences of neglecting Q2, as
so many are doing more and more in this distracted age.
In the end, if you haven’t chosen to live in Q2, it won’t
matter which other quadrants you choose to live in.
At the age of 26, within the space of what is called his
“miracle year,” Albert Einstein published three scientific
papers that transformed our understanding of the
universe. In these papers, he set out the laws of relativity
that govern time and space and the power of the atom.
34
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
His ideas arose during long hours of what most people
would call daydreaming, in which he did his “thought
experiments.” He knew that riding up in an elevator
makes you heavier—what would happen, he asked himself,
if that elevator were to accelerate infinitely. Would you
become infinitely heavy? He thought about traveling on
a light ray. He contemplated why train whistles change
tune just as they pass. He wondered what matter really is,
and why there is energy in the universe.
What would a 26-year-old Einstein be doing if he
lived in our noisy, attention-deficit 21st century? Would
he be dreaming about what it would be like to ride on
a beam of light? Or would he be updating his Facebook
status for the 13th time today?
Quadrant 2 Versus “Time Management”
Isn’t it obvious that Q2 is the best mindset to have
and the best place to be? Then why don’t more people
move there? Why, according to our decades of research,
do people spend on the average less than a third of their
time in Q2?
The strong psychological barrier to Q2 is the
urgency mindset, which assumes that the key to
productivity is getting things done. There are so many
things to do and, as we say, they all needed to be done
yesterday. People goad themselves, “If only I could get to
everything.” They suppose that the more stuff they get
done, the more productive they are.
This urgency mindset has given rise to an industry
called “time management.” We see an explosion of
productivity tools and apps, all of which claim to help
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
35
you get more things done. They teach you how to make
a to-do list and to schedule everything and sync it all up
and talk about how fulfilling it is to check everything off
your to-do list.
But as we have seen, this mindset is crippling.The key
to true productivity is not to get things done, but to get
the right things done—the important things. In fact, the
key to extraordinary productivity is to do not more with
less, but more about less—about those few priorities that
really matter.
As Dr. Covey has said, “It’s possible to be very busy
and not very effective. You have to decide what your
highest priorities are and have the courage—pleasantly,
smilingly, nonapologetically—to say no to other things.
And the way you do that is by having a bigger ‘yes’
burning inside.”19
“Time management” is really a misnomer.The challenge
is not to manage time, but to change mindsets—to move
into Q2 where you can transform your life, where the
“burning yes” resides.
Create a Q2 Culture
Now you say, “I’d be glad to move into Quadrant 2 if
other people would let me. But in my company, everything
is a Quadrant 1 priority. Everything’s important and
everything has to be done now—or even better, yesterday!”
It’s tough to move to Quadrant 2 if no one else comes
with you. That’s why you’ll want to start building a Q2
culture around yourself. If you think Q2 is a great place
to live, you can be sure others will too.
36
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
We all have a culture—up, down, or sideways, even if
it’s just you and your boss or you and a co-worker.
UP
(Boss/Supervisor)
SIDEWAYS
(Peers, Partners,
Co-workers, etc.)
Q2
CULTURE
SIDEWAYS
(Peers, Partners,
Co-workers, etc.)
DOWN
(Direct Report)
Q2 Culture. You are at the center of your own culture, which
radiates out from you to your boss, peers, co-workers, direct
reports, and so forth. You can influence this culture to move
into Quadrant 2.
Is the culture you live in a Quadrant 2 culture?
Probably not. But if you do a few simple things, you’ll
gradually see a change in the culture around you.
First, see yourself as a teacher and start spreading
the word about Quadrant 2. The key is to share your
understanding of the Time Matrix among the people
around you.
Sit down with your boss and co-workers and sketch
the Time Matrix for them. Ask which tasks, projects, or
other activities belong in which quadrant.This should be
a significant “aha!” for them as they begin to realize how
much time they’re spending on less important activities.
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
37
Soon you’ll hear people using a common language:
“Is this a Q1? Do I need to do it right now?”
“Is this a Q3? Do we really need to do this at all?”
“I think I’m in Q4. What can I do to change?”
“This is a Q2 priority. We need to spend our time on
this.”
This common language helps people judge how much
effort to invest in a task. When you see people emailing
each other saying, “This is a genuine Q1,” you’ll know
the culture is starting to change.
The hardest part of saying yes to Q2 is saying no to
everything else. When someone comes at you with a
request to do something less important, you should be
able to say no courteously and serenely because of the
“deeper yes” burning inside of you. Still, you don’t want
to disregard people and their needs.
If you really want to be extraordinarily productive,
you don’t just surrender to every demand on your time.
In the moment of choice, you pause, clarify the request,
and decide based on the Time Matrix what to do about
it.
38
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
YES
MOMENT
OF CHOICE
INCOMING
NO
ISISITITIMPORTANT?
IMPORTANT?
(PAUSE, CLARIFY, DECIDE)
WINPAUSE
WITHOUT
FIGHTING
CLARIFY
DECIDE
TURN
IT INTO
WHAT IT IS
Is it a Q1, Q2,
Q3, or Q4?
When to Say No. When faced with a choice on how to spend
your time, pause and clarify which quadrant you’re in. If the
request is below the midline, you should say no to it.
Ask yourself, “Is this request a Q1 or a Q2?” If so, you
need to act on it because it truly is important. “Is it a Q3
or a Q4?” If so, find a diplomatic way to say no:
“Is there someone else who could take that on?”
“I’ve got an important deadline to meet. Can we talk
about that tomorrow?” (Usually, if it’s a Q3 request, it
will take care of itself long before tomorrow comes.)
“Let’s schedule a time when I can show you how to
do this yourself.”
“I wish I could help, but I won’t be able to, given the
other priorities I have right now.”
The more you say no, the more time you’ll have for
the yes—the true priorities of Quadrant 2. You’ll get
used to it, and others will learn that you live in Q2.
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
39
If you teach others about the Time Matrix and
practice what you teach, you will be creating a Q2
culture around yourself. Everything starts with you, and
there’s the catch.
In a way, it’s easier to just default to the
urgency mindset. Everything’s important. Everything’s
urgent. Whatever needs to be done, you do it. You
schedule it and follow through.You take care of business.
Everyone thinks of you as a good time manager.You’re even
popular because of it. You’re a “people pleaser.” They all
know they can count on good old you.
But it takes initiative from deep inside yourself to
focus on important things that aren’t urgent. You react
to the urgent, but in Q2, you have to act to make important
things happen. Nothing in Q2 comes at you—you come
at Q2. You have a proactive mentality. You’re firm about
the “few and the true” priorities that will make the most
difference. You might be less popular with some people
because you say no a lot, but the “yes” is worth it.
In other words, to move to Quadrant 2 takes a conscious
choice. That’s why it’s the first of the 5 Choices. The
other four provide you with the process and tools that
will help you move to Q2 and stay there. But unless you
make Choice 1, the others don’t mean much.
Think about it this way:You’re moving to a beautiful
new home, the place you really want to be. Of course,
moving can be messy and challenging at first, but the
destination makes all the difference. The 5 Choices will
get you to that destination.
40
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
Teach to Learn
IMPORTANT
The best way to learn is to teach. Use the Time
Matrix below to teach others about the mindset of
extraordinary productivity.
Q1
NECESSITY
Crises
Emergency meetings
Last-minute deadlines
Pressing problems
Unforeseen events
NOT IMPORTANT
Q3
DISTRACTION
Needless interruptions
Unnecessary reports
Irrelevant meetings
Other people’s minor issues
Unimportant email, tasks, phone
calls, status posts, etc.
URGENT
Q2
EXTRAORDINARY
PRODUCTIVITY
Proactive work
High-impact goals
Creative thinking
Planning
Prevention
Relationship building
Learning and renewal
Q4
WASTE
Trivial work
Avoidance activities
Excessive relaxation, television,
gaming, Internet
Time-wasters
Gossip
NOT URGENT
Choice 2: Go for Extraordinary,
Don’t Settle for Ordinary
“Every life has the potential to be lived deeply.”
— William Powers
You’ve made Choice 1: Act on the Important. You’re
determined to move into the quadrant of extraordinary
productivity. Like the brave ant in the picture, you’re not
going to carry crumbs all your life.You’re going to carry
the strawberry.
42
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
Choice 2 is about “getting clear on the strawberry”—
on what is most important to you. When you really
examine your heart and mind, you get down to the few
things that really matter to you and deserve your best and
finest effort.
People with the ordinary mindset tend to do what’s
expected of them and no more. Doing what’s expected
takes enough out of them as it is. Why do more than
that?
As we’ve said, it’s not a question of doing more, but
of doing less—less of the merely expected and more of
the truly remarkable. People with the mindset of going
for the extraordinary carry as few crumbs as possible.
They know exactly what their top priorities are and
focus their strength on them.
Put simply, Choice 2 is to clearly define those most
important priorities. This exercise provides clarity to a
brain that is fogged up by a multiplicity of distractions.
Dr. Daniel G. Amen told us: “To harness your brain’s
power, it needs direction and vision. It needs a blueprint.
You are more likely to be successful if you define success
clearly, specifically, in writing, with detail.”20
You will be living by design, not by default.
Making Choice 2 keeps you on the path toward
extraordinary productivity rather than the path of
“settling,” which leads you to being buried alive under
the weight of conflicting demands.
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
43
EXTRAORDINARY
PRODUCTIVITY
1
ACT ON THE
IMPORTANT
DON’T REACT
TO THE URGENT
2
3
GO FOR
SCHEDULE
EXTRAORDINARY THE BIG ROCKS
DON’T SETTLE
FOR ORDINARY
DON’T SORT
GRAVEL
4
5
RULE YOUR
TECHNOLOGY
FUEL
YOUR FIRE
DON’T LET
IT RULE YOU
DON’T
BURN OUT
BURIED ALIVE
As we’ve seen, organizing your life around your
most important priorities is the key to extraordinary
productivity. But what are your Quadrant 2 priorities?
Where do they come from?
We constantly hear people talk about their highest
priorities and the anxiety they feel at being unable to get
to them.“I want to make a difference at work, but I don’t
seem to be able to get there, no matter how much effort
I make. And in my company, you’re a slacker if you’re not
the first in every morning and the last to leave at night.
I get home late. I have no time or energy for family or
friends. There’s no time for games or films or concerts,
no chance to just talk. Everybody else is strung out too.
I’d like to get to know the neighbors, connect with my
old friends, help out in the community. And exercise?
There’s just no time.”
44
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
Identify the Key Roles in Your Life
Ultimately, your highest priorities come from your
deepest self—from who you are. And you are actually
many different selves. You might be an engineer or a
lawyer or a teacher. More than that, you’re also
someone’s child or brother or wife or mother. You’re
also a thinking member of society, a citizen, a helper, a
learner, a friend. And maybe you’re a musician or a
scholar or an athlete. All of these roles are important to
you; they make you who you are.
When we speak of the roles you play, we are not
talking about ordinary roles defined by your gender or
function or the expectations others have of you. We’re
talking about Quadrant 2 Roles defined by what’s
important to you at a fundamental level—by the impact
you have in those roles on your own life and on the lives
of those around you.Your most basic values derive from
your Q2 Roles.
Here’s what we mean by the radical difference
between a functional role and a Q2 Role.
Functional Role
Q2 Role
Accountant
Investment Maximizer
Father
Dad
Director
Catalyst for Change
Banker
Small-Business Promoter
Grandparent
Greatest Fan
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
45
What’s the difference between “I’m an accountant” and
“I maximize the value of investments for my company”?
A functional role is just mechanical, whereas a Q2 Role
is about making a difference that energizes and rewards
you and those who depend on you. Any man can be a
father; but there’s all the difference in the world between
a father and a dad.
Moving mentally into Quadrant 2 means that you
fundamentally change how you see your roles in your
personal life and on the job. Now you say, “But I can’t
redefine my work role. It’s already been defined in my
job description.”
If you are simply working as a job description, you’re
deep into a reactive mindset. A job description isn’t very
different from an instruction book for putting a machine
together. But you are not a machine. You’re a thinking,
talented, unique human being with extraordinary things
to do. Instead of passively doing what’s expected, reset
your brain: “What does my job really require from me?
What contribution can I make here that no one else
could make?”
Instead of tackling whatever job is expected of you,
start asking why you should do this job in the first place.
This is the great Q2 question.
A college student who needed money went to work
on a telephone help desk for a large online retailer. His
role? Customer-service representative. It came with a
perfunctory job description. After 15 minutes of training,
he put on a telephone headset, clicked on his computer
screen, and took his first call: “I’m so sorry you received
the wrong product. Let me help you with that.” Thirty
46
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
more calls that first afternoon convinced him the world
was full of cranky people.
One day between calls, he got up to stretch his legs and
walked around the call center. He counted 200 people
just like himself, all of them chatting with irritated
people. Idly, he did a few mental calculations. If all these
people made the same salary he did, the company was
spending two or three million a year on this operation.
But then he thought, “Why do they spend all this
money fixing problems that never should have happened
in the first place?”
The question bothered him. He started writing down
the reasons for the calls he got, and soon saw patterns in
these complaints. He realized that if the shipping
department just did a couple of things differently—fairly
simple things—many of his calls would go away. They
could easily prevent these problems.
So he decided to talk it over with his manager, who
was smart enough to take the idea seriously. Soon
the volume of complaints dropped. And the former
customer-service representative, whose job had been
to fix problems, now saw himself in a new Q2 Role:
“Customer Problem Preventer.” Once he got clear on
the contribution he could make, extraordinary things
happened.
He shifted from an ordinary mindset to an
extraordinary mindset in these ways:
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
Ordinary
Extraordinary
Function
Contribution
Tasks
Outcomes
Low Impact
High Impact
Play the Game
Change the Game
Disengaged
Engaged
47
He no longer saw himself in terms of his function
as an interchangeable part of a machine. No longer
passive and reactive, he now saw himself in terms of the
proactive contribution he could make.
Instead of settling for doing the tasks he was assigned
to do, he began to think in terms of outcomes that were
truly important to the organization. In other words, he
became clear on the “job to be done.” Supposedly, his job
consisted of answering ringing phones, an urgency role if
there ever was one—or so it seemed. But that wasn’t really
his job at all! It was only a means to doing his real job,
which was to build loyalty among the firm’s customers.
Rather than squander his energies in low-impact
work, he chose to invest his energies in high-impact
work that would actually make a measurably important
difference to the company’s balance sheet. The company
not only wasted less money on rework, but they earned
more business from more loyal customers.
So many ordinary people just “play the game.” He
chose to change the game. So many just accept the rules
as a given without actually employing their own brains
48
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
and asking themselves, “Is there a better way to win this
game?”
Finally, he went from being disengaged in the
work—it was just a means to an end, a way to get tuition
money for college—to being mentally and emotionally
engaged in solving an important problem. There
is a world of difference between an engaged and a
disengaged brain.
Now, remember that this young man was a college
student with no training, in an entry-level job with no
career track at all. His example illustrates the power of
a Q2 mindset. It shows that any role—no matter how
menial—can become transformative.
Your Q2 Roles:
• Represent your true responsibilities and
relationships.
• Express your deepest values, highest aspirations,
and greatest contributions.
• Give a balanced perspective to your life.
• Should be limited to a few (five to seven).
Q2 Roles are the sources of meaning for you. You
don’t really understand the meaning of parenthood until
you become a parent. You don’t really grasp what it
means to be a doctor or a soldier or a scientist until you
become one. You might like music, but you don’t really
feel what it is to make music unless you’re a musician.
Q2 Roles are also the source of balance. Your Q2
Roles add up to your whole life—your heart, mind,
body, and soul. You have roles defined by relationships
that fill your heart; your mind is engaged in your work;
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
49
your body needs constant renewal and recharging; and
your soul needs meaning and purpose. A balanced life
requires attention to each of these roles. An imbalanced
life loses track of them.
Most important, a Q2 Role is actually a vision of an
extraordinary contribution you could make. In his book
Hamlet’s BlackBerry, William Powers makes this profound
observation:
“Great artists, thinkers, and leaders all have an unusual
capacity to be ‘grasped’ by some idea or mission, an inner
engagement that drives them to pursue a vision,
undaunted by obstacles. Beethoven, Michelangelo, Emily
Dickinson, Einstein, Martin Luther King—we call them
‘brilliant,’ as if it were pure intelligence that made them
who they were. But what unites them is what they did
with their intelligence, the depth they reached in their
thinking and brought to bear in their work.”21
When you are truly “grasped” by your roles—as a
creator, a nurturer, a learner, an agent for change, or
whatever it might be—you move into a Quadrant
2 mindset. What you do with that role is the very
definition of extraordinary productivity.
Craft Q2 Role Statements
Moving into Q2 means redefining the roles you play
in life as Q2 Roles. You do this by crafting a Q2 Role
Statement that renames the role and defines what success
looks like in the role.
For example, what if a teacher reformulated his or
her role as “learning coach”? That view of success might
change radically from “covering the subject” to “enabling
students to become lifetime learners.”
50
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
What if a grandmother—a natural role—redefined
herself as “my grandson’s greatest fan”? Her vision of
success in that role would take on a fundamentally
different character.
One of the most inspirational things you will ever do
is to craft a Quadrant 2 Role Statement that sums up
what that role in life really means to you and what you
want to achieve in that role.
AS...
(ROLE TITLE)
I WILL...
(EXTRAORDINARY
OUTCOMES)
THROUGH...
(ACTIVITIES)
Here’s the formula for crafting a Q2 Role Statement:
1. Start by retitling your role.You’re not just a
product developer, you’re a “Thought Leader.”
You’re not just a salesperson, you’re a “Customer
Problem Solver.” You’re not just a runner, you’re
a “Human Bullet”! Give your role a title that
sums up the extraordinary thing you do in that
role.
2. Explain simply and clearly the extraordinary
outcomes you will achieve in that role. “As a
Customer Problem Solver, I will connect my
customers with solutions that fit them exactly.”
“As a Thought Leader, I will help my company
gain worldwide influence.” “As a Human Bullet,
I will be a top competitor in every race I enter.”
3. Explain briefly how you will achieve those
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
51
outcomes. “As a Customer Problem Solver, I will
connect my customers with solutions that fit
them exactly, through tailoring current products
or creating new ones.” “As a Thought Leader, I
will help my company gain worldwide influence
through well-researched and carefully crafted
products.” “As a Human Bullet, I will be a top
competitor in every race through off-road and
high-intensity hill workouts.” This step gives your
Q2 Role Statement specificity as you define the
action you will take to realize your role.
To help you craft this statement, ask yourself questions
like these:
“What do I see myself doing and achieving in this role?”
“Who are the people I most influence when I’m
in this role?”
“What would I want those people to say about me
in this role?”
A Q2 Role Statement transforms your mindset and
expresses the value, contribution, and difference you
want to make in the world. So give some thoughtful
attention to crafting your Q2 Role Statements.
Set Q2 Goals
In your Q2 Role Statement, you’ve defined a vision of
success. Now sit down and define the specific actions you’ll
take to achieve that vision.We call these your Q2 Goals.
Many people resist this step. They don’t want to be
“tied down” by anything like a Q2 Goal. They want to
be “free.” They’re happy just “doing their best.” Brain
52
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
science, however, tells us that ambitious, well-defined
goals are essential to extraordinary productivity:
“Evidence from more than 1,000 studies conducted
by researchers across the globe shows that goals that not
only spell out exactly what needs to be accomplished, but
that also set the bar for achievement high, result in far
superior performance than simply trying to ‘do your
best.’ That’s because more difficult goals cause you to,
often unconsciously, increase your effort, focus, and
commitment to the goal, persist longer, and make better
use of the most effective strategies.”22
A Q2 Goal is not a casual goal.That’s why you’ll want
to define it very specifically in these terms: “From X to
Y by When.”
• “I will go from 220 pounds to 180 pounds by
July 1.”
• “I will reduce customer complaints from 700
a week to 150 a week by the end of the fiscal
year.”
• “I will launch a marketing campaign that will
increase revenues to our division from $1.3 million
to $1.6 million by the end of the third quarter.”
Of course, you don’t have to be rigid about this. With
some goals, the “X to Y by When” is implied:
• “I will complete leader certification by
September 30.”
• “I will capture at least five good leads per week
this quarter.”
• “I will make personal contact with each of my
grandchildren this summer.”
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
53
The Q2 Role Statement for our young
customer-service representative might look like this:
“As a Customer Problem Preventer, I significantly
increase customer loyalty through identifying patterns of
problems and ways to stop them from happening.”
Then he would ask himself, “How can I carry this
role forward?”
He would make goals—actual numerical goals—
to reduce the volume of complaints. After studying
the issue, he found that most complaints arose over
misdirected shipments and credit-card charges. He
found that the company took 732 calls each week about
shipment problems. In consulting with the shipping
department, he figured that about 150 of those calls were
due to a simple scheduling issue that could be fixed.
He also found that many resellers were getting their
credit-card orders questioned simply because they
didn’t fill out the orders properly. He took on the job of
tutoring them.
So his goals looked like this:
• “Reduce calls about misdirected shipments by 20
percent by year end.”
• “Tutor every reseller in the system on the proper
way to fill out credit-card orders by year end.”
In tracking his progress on these goals, he paid close
attention to the patterns of complaints and continued
to get to the root of the customers’ problems. Winning
at this game excited him. Sure enough, complaints went
down and customer-loyalty scores went up.
54
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
Note that he set only a couple of Q2 Goals.The more
goals you set, the less likely you are to achieve them with
excellence. Remember, the principle is to focus your finest
attention and effort on the “few and the true” priorities.
Your roles and goals will change with different seasons
of your life. You get a new job. You go back to school.
You sign up for a community project. The birth of your
child means you take on a thoroughly new, profoundly
meaningful role. And with the change in roles will come
a change in goals.
That’s why you should revisit your Q2 Roles and
Goals periodically—at least once a year.You might have
entirely different roles this year, or you might make
minor changes or no changes at all in how you formulate
your roles and goals.
At the beginning of the year, transfer your Q2 Roles
and Goals into your personal-management tool so you
can easily revisit your record of what you want to achieve.
And remember that your Q2 Goals are the only ones
truly worth pursuing. They enable you to realize your
vision of an extraordinarily life.
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
55
Teach to Learn
The best way to learn is to teach. Use the tool below
to teach others why and how to craft Q2 Roles and
Goals.
Q2 ROLES AND GOALS STATEMENTS
ROLE
TITLE
STATEMENT
GOAL(S)
ROLE
TITLE
STATEMENT
GOAL(S)
56
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
Choice 3: Schedule the Big Rocks,
Don’t Sort Gravel
“What’s at stake is the important things we could be accomplishing in
our work and in our lives and our ability to enjoy them.This is a function
of our ability to discern what really matters and act in productive ways
to carry these things out in our lives.”
— Dr. Richard Restak
True productivity, as we’ve seen, requires a shift to the
Q2 mindset.
We can illustrate this shift by visualizing a pile of big
rocks next to a pile of gravel. The big rocks represent
truly important priorities that are not urgent. The gravel
represents everything else. Next to these two piles is an
empty jar that represents the amount of time ahead of
you.
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
58
The question: What will you put into the jar first?
It all depends on your mindset.
If you have the urgency mindset, you pour the gravel
in first. Why? Because you have to take care of all the
urgent gravel first before you can turn your attention to
the big rocks. They aren’t urgent, see? The problem is,
when you try to put the big rocks into the jar, there isn’t
enough room. It’s full of gravel. So the truly important
priorities, perversely, always take second place to less
important things.
But if you have the Q2 mindset, what do you do? You
put the big rocks into the jar first and then add gravel.
If there isn’t enough room for all the gravel, it doesn’t
matter much.
This is why Choice 3 is Schedule the Big Rocks,
Don’t Sort Gravel.
EXTRAORDINARY
PRODUCTIVITY
1
2
ACT ON THE
IMPORTANT
GO FOR
EXTRAORDINARY
DON’T REACT
TO THE URGENT
DON’T SETTLE
FOR ORDINARY
3
SCHEDULE
THE BIG ROCKS
DON’T SORT
GRAVEL
4
5
RULE YOUR
TECHNOLOGY
FUEL
YOUR FIRE
DON’T LET
IT RULE YOU
DON’T
BURN OUT
BURIED ALIVE
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
59
Now that you’ve made Choices 1 and 2, you’ve decided
what “extraordinary productivity” means for you—it’s
summed up in your Q2 Roles and Goals. By making
Choice 3, you organize your life around those “few and
true” roles and goals.
Choice 3 is to put the Big Rocks—those activities
that will enable you to achieve your Q2 Roles and
Goals—into the jar before you add the gravel.
Nevertheless, we understand that it’s not that simple.
We know how hard it is to move to Q2 because the
gravel doesn’t just disappear if you ignore it. Besides,
although the gravel might be relatively inconsequential,
a lot of it still needs to be done.
The key is to develop the Quadrant 2 Planning habit.
People with the ordinary mindset “don’t have time to
plan. Things are moving so fast, it’s pointless to make
plans. You have to take things as they come.” These
people are so busy driving, they don’t have time to
consult the map. Although they have no idea where they
are, they burn a lot of fuel and cover a lot of ground, so
they must be making progress, right?
By contrast, extraordinarily productive people do
Quadrant 2 Planning. They have a clear vision of their
key roles and the extraordinary goals they want to achieve
within those roles. They map out the course to that
destination. They frequently and regularly check the
map to ensure they’re following that straight course
toward their goals.They are careful about planning for the
journey. They can’t afford not to plan.
60
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
That’s why the following Q2 Planning process will
help you, as Stephen R. Covey says,“keep the main thing
the main thing.”
1. Create a Master Task List.
2. Do Weekly Q2 Planning.
3. Do Daily Q2 Planning.
1. Create a Master Task List
Most of us have a big pile of mental gravel: email
inboxes, a stack of papers that need attention, a to-do list,
a social-media page that cries out for updating, phone
calls to return, people to get back to. The pile grows
every second.
Many people spend hours a day just trying to manage
all this mental gravel. When we ask people what’s in the
pile, they admit that most of it is Q3 stuff. But it weighs
on them. To get to Q2, it helps to clear the path of all
this gravel and then systematically manage it so it doesn’t
pile up again.
You do this by creating a Master Task List. Use
paper or go to the task bar on your computer and record
everything you need to do in the upcoming week—tasks,
errands, appointments and calls you should make,
messages you should send, and so forth.
Then review your Q2 Roles and Goals. Circle
everything on your Master Task List that advances those roles
and goals.These are Big Rocks. Everything else is gravel.
Keep your Master Task List in a notebook or a task
application so you can review it regularly.
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
61
2. Do Weekly Q2 Planning
Now, at the beginning of each week, find a quiet place
to do about a half hour’s Q2 Planning for that week. It’s
called Q2 Planning because you are focusing on:
• Proactive things to do to advance your roles and
goals.
• Creative thinking.
• Crisis prevention.
• Building relationships.
• Learning and renewal.
The setting is important. Brain scientists agree that
getting away, disconnecting from the noise, is essential to
this kind of higher-level thinking. Psychologist Dr. Heidi
Halvorson reports that “when people engage in the right
kind of planning, their success rates go up on average
between 200 and 300 percent.”23 Your Weekly Q2
Planning time is a classic Q2 priority.
Why do Weekly Q2 Planning? Because the week
is a manageable unit of time. Business offices, schools,
and other organizations generally operate within the
framework of the week, designating some days for
business and others for relaxation or inspiration. It’s
easier to “get your head around” a week than, say, a
quarter or a month.
62
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
Q2 ROLES
and GOALS
WEEKLY Q2
PLANNING
TAKE AT LEAST
1
CONNECT
with your
roles and
goals
INCOMING
30 MINUTES TO…
Q2 DAILY
PLANNING
2
SCHEDULE
the Big
Rocks
3
ORGANIZE
the rest
YES
MOMENT
OF CHOICE
NO
Weekly Q2 Planning Process. Start by reviewing your Q2 Roles
and Goals. From these, you’ll derive tasks that will help you
advance those goals — these are the Big Rocks that go into
your schedule first. Then organize everything else around the
Big Rocks.
1. Connect with your Q2 Roles and Goals and
your Master Task List. Review them and remind
yourself why you wrote them. For each of your
Q2 Roles, ask yourself this question: “What are
the one or two most important things I can
do this week that will have the most impact on
fulfilling this role?” The answers to this
question are your Big Rocks for the week.
2. Assign them to your schedule.
3. Organize the rest—fill your schedule in with
gravel, if you choose.
Now, it’s important to be realistic. Just because you
begin your week with a great plan doesn’t mean the
week will cooperate.
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
63
A good sports team will always plan some plays and
practice them hard. They might even perfect a few plays.
But as soon as the game begins, the odds are pretty high
that things won’t go as planned. Does that mean the team
shouldn’t plan at all? No, because the odds are also high
that the game will go better with planning than without it.
Weekly Q2 Planning is about creating the perfect
“play” for the week, so you have a benchmark for making
decisions. Otherwise, you could slip back into the
urgency mindset and helplessly react to what comes at you.
In your planning session, keep your focus on your Q2
Roles and Goals. No gravel can be allowed to displace
them. Without Q2 Roles and Goals, we are likely to slip
back into the urgency mindset. As Robert A. Heinlein
has said, “In the absence of clearly defined goals, we
become strangely loyal to performing daily acts of trivia
until ultimately we become enslaved by it.”
Asking the question “What are the one or two most
important things I can do in this role this week?” helps
you to keep that focus.
Some Big Rocks become permanent fixtures of
your calendar. You set aside “Q2 Time Zones” for them
because they recur weekly or daily. For example, the
“Customer Problem Preventer” in the customer-service
center had a goal to reduce shipment complaints by 20
percent. To achieve that goal, he had several tasks to do.
Each day he would sort his calls by category, so he set up a
15-minute time zone for that task at the end of each shift.
He scheduled another time zone for regular meetings
with his manager to review his findings. He designated a
time zone for writing scripts to try out on customers.
64
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
Some weeks he discovered other Big Rock tasks.
Once he identified credit-card mistakes as a key
problem, he set himself the task to study the system
for taking credit cards to see where mistakes could be
prevented. This task required a certain amount of time
each day for several weeks.
Those tasks he had no time for he entered into his
Master Task List for future scheduling.
Thirty minutes a week for Weekly Q2 Planning will
transform the week.
3. Do Daily Q2 Planning
Now find 10 minutes a day to do Q2 Planning for
the next day. In a quiet place, close out your day. Review
your tasks and appointments. “Capture the gold” from
the day—insights, questions, decisions, or milestones
you want to keep a record of. Identify your “must-dos”
for tomorrow—your Big Rocks and any Q1 priorities
that come at you. Make sure your plan is realistic: don’t
overplan a day that’s already full.
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
65
DAILY Q2
PLANNING
TAKE AT LEAST
10 MINUTES TO...
YES
INCOMING
1
CLOSE OUT
the day
MOMENT
OF CHOICE
2
IDENTIFY
the few
“must-dos”
3
NO
ORGANIZE
the rest
IS IT IMPORTANT?
(PAUSE, CLARIFY, DECIDE)
Daily Q2 Planning Process. At the end of the day, take 10
minutes to close out your day by reviewing events and
noting important things you want to remember. Then
identify your “must-dos” for the next day and organize other
tasks around the must-dos.
Weekly and Daily Q2 Planning are essential to staying
in Q2. The few minutes you invest in Q2 Planning each
week and each day will pay dividends as you see your
most important goals being achieved.
Although this process might seem routine, it’s
important to recognize what’s happening to your brain
as you develop the Q2 Planning habit. According to
Harvard brain scientists Jeff Brown and Mark Fenske,
as you “frame ordinary tasks in terms of the positive
outcomes they produce,” the brain produces more
dopamine, which plays a key role in motivating you to
do them. Certain brain regions “kick into gear to move
you from intention to action.”
“To the extent that you can find a way to feel inspired by
the everyday tasks essential to reaching your goal, the more
likely you are to complete the goal. Feeling the reward
in everyday activities is important, especially when goal
66
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
attainment is a long way off, as with academic and career
aspirations.”24
Because you repeatedly connect to your Q2 Roles
and Goals, each day becomes imbued with meaning and
purpose. You feel like each task carries you toward an
important end. Your chances of achieving something
extraordinary increase.
The 30/10 Promise
Here’s a promise. If you will spend 30 minutes a week
and 10 minutes a day doing Q2 Planning, your entire
week will be transformed.
Now you’ve made this great plan and a new day
begins. Then the phone rings. An email arrives. Somebody’s standing at your office door. The boss wants to
see you. Each moment presents a new challenge to your
Q2 resolve. Sometimes the whole universe seems to be
conspiring to drag you back into the urgency mentality.
In that moment of choice, pause, clarify the importance
of this new demand, then decide. Don’t just reflexively
surrender to the urgent, or your Q2 vision is doomed.
What are the scenarios that hit you broadside? What
are the challenges you face that can wrench you away
from your Q2 agenda?
Whatever they are, remember you always have a choice.
You can choose urgency, or you can choose Q2 (which
you will do if you consider the consequences). If so,
eventually you become so adept in this mindset that you
reflexively choose Q2 in the moment of distraction or
interruption. The 30/10 Promise will be fulfilled. And
your life and work will be transformed.
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
67
Teach to Learn
The best way to learn is to teach. Use the process map
below to teach others why and how to do Q2 Planning.
Q2 ROLES
and GOALS
WEEKLY Q2
PLANNING
DAILY Q2
PLANNING
YES
MOMENT
OF CHOICE
NCOMING
NO
IS IT IMPORTANT?
(PAUSE, CLARIFY, DECIDE)
WIN WITHOUT
FIGHTING
TURN IT INTO
WHAT IT IS
68
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
Choice 4: Rule Your Technology,
Don’t Let It Rule You
“A real challenge in everyday life is the continual push-pull, the friction
between the external world trying to capture your attention and the internal
world where you focus on achieving your most important goals.”
— Dr. Edward Vogel
Possibly, the most significant threat to your
productivity is the very technology designed to accelerate it
—your smartphone, your laptop, your tablet, your television.
We all know people who believe that if they could
just get the latest and greatest gadgetry, they would
become heroically productive. This is usually a fantasy.
They think it will save them from the hard work of
running their own lives.
Then there are people who are slaves to texting,
tweeting, messaging, and mailing—and they enjoy their
servitude. Captivated by their tools, they rarely look up
from them. Clearly, this is not the route to extraordinary
productivity; still, most of us are hooked to one degree
or another.
According to eminent clinical psychologist Kathleen
Nadeau, “We can start craving overload. The same brain
circuitry that is involved in other addictions is also involved
in technology addiction.” But there is good news too.
70
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
“We can rewire our brains. We can develop habits of
thought that keep us in charge, that help us maximize
the conscious mind so that we do not literally lose
ourselves in a storm of distractions.”25
Extraordinarily productive people choose to leverage
technology rather than let it rule their lives. Choice 4 is
Rule Your Technology, Don’t Let It Rule You.
EXTRAORDINARY
PRODUCTIVITY
2
3
ACT ON THE
IMPORTANT
GO FOR
EXTRAORDINARY
SCHEDULE
THE BIG ROCKS
DON’T REACT
TO THE URGENT
DON’T SETTLE
FOR ORDINARY
DON’T SORT
GRAVEL
1
4
RULE YOUR
TECHNOLOGY
DON’T LET
IT RULE YOU
5
FUEL
YOUR FIRE
DON’T
BURN OUT
BURIED ALIVE
By making Choices 1 through 3, you have a clear
view of the extraordinary things you want to accomplish.
But having made these choices, you still face a serious
hazard from incoming disruption—the more than 100
trillion emails sent each year all seem addressed to you.
The electronic blizzard you face can blind you to the
future you want to create, and you end up once again
struggling to “get things done.”
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
71
Dr. Nadeau reminds us that two distinct parts of the
brain are at work. “The primitive, reactive part of the
brain deals with what comes at you. It’s excited about
getting things done. The higher, more thoughtful part
of the brain is proactive—it’s excited about getting the
right things done. So, what’s the consequence of trying
to get through more and more of what comes at us?
What happens when we overload the brain with too
much input?
“As the brain gets overloaded, as you take on
more than you can handle, as you deal with repeated
interruptions and commands and conflicting demands,
these deep, primitive centers of the brain get activated.
You get distracted, you forget, you become inefficient,
and you underperform.”
The lower brain can get hooked on the lure of
new texts just as a dog gets conditioned to salivate at
the sound of a bell. Because we sometimes get useful
information when we answer a call or read a text
message (“Congratulations! You just won the lottery!”),
we find ourselves mindlessly picking up and checking
our phones every few minutes—whether anyone has
called or texted us or not.
So we’re faced with an exasperating paradox. On one
hand, we feel a surge of excitement when we even look at
our smartphones. On the other hand, we feel overwhelmed
when we see 1357 unread messages on the screen.
To make sure the higher brain stays in charge, you
make Choice 4. You ensure that your technology works
for you instead of against you. The Q2 Process Map
below shows how to do that.
72
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
Q2 ROLES
and GOALS
WEEKLY Q2
PLANNING
ACT
• APPOINTMENT
• TASK
FILE
• CONTACT
• NOTES/DOCUMENT
DAILY Q2
PLANNING
YES
MOMENT
OF CHOICE
INCOMING
NO
IS IT IMPORTANT?
(PAUSE, CLARIFY, DECIDE)
WIN WITHOUT
FIGHTING
TURN IT INTO
WHAT IT IS
LINK TO
LOCATE
The Q2 Process Map. A flood of incoming information
threatens to distract you from your Q2 Roles and Goals. Act on
or file important information; delete the unimportant. Make the
3 Master Moves to direct that flow of incoming information so
you can use it.
As a Q2 thinker, you use your finest efforts to advance
your Q2 priorities. Any incoming message or request
can disrupt those efforts. So you automatically pause
and clarify: “Is this an important item? Will it help me
advance my Q2 priorities?”
If the answer is yes, act on it or file it for future
reference. If no, delete it.
Design a System to Manage the Core 4
If you’re like most people, information comes at you all
day from all directions. Your smartphone takes messages,
texts, and tweets. Your email accounts fill up like a
clogged sink.You take a phone call and write the message
on any piece of paper that’s handy. Y
our workspace is
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
73
cluttered with letters, documents, and sticky notes. You
might take notes on your phone or on your computer
or in a notebook or on any available legal pad—or all of
these.You tell yourself that someday, you’re going to get
it all organized, but it seems an overwhelming chore.
The Q2 Process can help you get control of this clutter.
ACT
ACT
••
••
APPOINTMENT
APPOINTMENT
TASK
TASK
FILE
FILE
••
••
CONTACT
CONTACT
NOTES/DOCUMENT
NOTES/DOCUMENT
The Core 4. Every incoming item of information can be
classed as an appointment, a task, a contact, or a note. Act on
appointments and tasks; file contacts and notes.
There are really only four kinds of information—
appointments, tasks, contacts, and notes/documents.Think
of them as the Core 4. The key to managing important
information is to categorize everything under the Core 4.
As the Q2 Process Map shows, once you’ve decided
an item is important, you have two choices: act on it
or file it. If you can act on it, it’s an appointment or a
task and should go on your calendar or into your Master
Task List for later scheduling. If you can’t act on it, it’s a
contact or a note and should go into the appropriate file
folder, either electronic or paper.
74
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
for paper
“Everything in one place.”
Many people prefer to use a paper-based planner to
track the Core 4.They have appointment pages, task lists,
contact information, and notes pages all under one cover.
The obvious advantage of this system is “everything in
one place.”
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
75
for digital
“Everything in every place.”
Other people track everything digitally.The advantage
of this system is “everything in every place”—you can
access the same information on your smartphone, tablet,
or laptop if you have syncing capability.
Still other people have a blended system. You might
prefer to record all your notes on paper—find a sturdy
notebook and keep it within reach so anything you write
goes there. If you use an information-management app
like Lotus Notes or Microsoft Outlook, you can keep
all your tasks in the task bar, your appointments in the
calendar, and contact information in the contacts list.
You might want to devise a system for cross-referencing
your paper notes to digital information; for example,
you could indicate in your calendar under a meeting
appointment where to find notes you’ve taken to prepare
for the meeting.
Whatever system you use, be consistent. It’s easy to get
into a real muddle if you have multiple calendars, to-do
lists, and notes all over the place.
76
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
Make the 3 Master Moves
In the martial arts, a “master move” is a basic maneuver
for defending yourself. To keep the onrush of electronic
messaging under control, practice the following 3
Master Moves.
win
without
fighting
turn it
into what
it is
link to
locate
1
2
3
Use rules and
filters to handle incoming messages
for you.
Extract the Core 4
from all incoming
messages.
Label or insert
appointments,
tasks, contacts, and
notes/documents
so you can easily
locate them later.
Win Without Fighting.The story is told of a venerable
karate master who tired of fighting young challengers. He
easily bested them, but they never stopped taunting him;
at length, he refused to take on any of them.
One day a particularly insistent challenger simply
would not go away without a fight. So the old master
said to him, “Very well, but I will not fight you here. We
will fight on the island in the bay.” So the two men got
in a rowboat and made their way to the island.
When they arrived, the younger man jumped from
the boat onto the shore ready to do battle. As for the
older man, he simply rowed away, leaving his challenger
alone on the island.
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
77
The moral of the story: The easiest battles to win are
the ones you never have to fight.
Apply this lesson to your technology. Many of your
emails are no doubt Q3 — inconsequential, maybe even
unsolicited.You can set up rules to route messages to the
appropriate folders and to block unwanted emails.
1
Right-click a
message like
the one you
want to filter.
In the menu that
appears, select Rules.
2
3
Select Always
Move Messages
From: <sender>.
78
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
4
In the Rules and Alerts dialog box that
appears, navigate to and select the
folder you want the messages moved to.
5
Click OK.
The rule is
created and
run on existing
messages as
well as those
future incoming
messages that
meet your
requirements.
You are returned
to your Inbox.
Win Without Fighting. If you receive emails you don’t want,
follow a process like this one to automatically delete messages
from those sources.
There’s no need to spend your valuable time trying
to figure out what to do with unimportant messages.
If you don’t create an automatic filtering system, you
end up being the filter yourself, trying to wrestle with
500 messages a week. But you would probably rather be
doing something important.
From the Q2 Process Map, you can see that this
master move is your first defense against the “incoming.”
You’ll never face a moment of choice over a message you
never see.
Turn It Into What It Is. Go to your inbox. If
you’re like most people, you’ll find there an intimidating,
undifferentiated pile of gravel. As technology writer
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
79
David Weinberger says of the mass of electronic messaging
we’re subjected to, “Everything is miscellaneous.”
If unimportant items somehow get through your
filter, delete them.
Then turn important messages “into what they are.”
Categorize each item as one of the Core 4 — as an
appointment, a task, a contact, or a note.Tasks go on your
task list, appointments into your calendar, and notes into
appropriate subject folders. Of course, add contacts to
your contacts list. Some personal-management apps let
you drag and drop tasks into your task bar, appointments
into your calendar, and so forth.
Turn an Email Into an Appointment. Click the email and drag it
into your calendar. Assign it a time, save it, and close.
This master move is your second line of defense, as you
sort incoming items into their proper categories. Schedule
brief appointments with yourself—maybe two or three
times a day—to “turn your messages into what they are”
and make them actionable. Then you can stop worrying
about what’s sitting in your inbox. It will be empty.
Link to Locate. Some important messages connect
with others. For example, you might receive an email
from a customer related to an upcoming meeting. You
can electronically link the email with the appointment
so you don’t have to look for it later.
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
80
In the figure below, you have an appointment with
Ren to finish preparing a customer-feedback report.You
can select the actual draft report and drop it right into
the appointment; now you can access the report and the
meeting information in one place.
1
Click in the body of the appointment
and then select the Insert tab.
2
Select Attach File.
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
In the Insert File dialog box,
navigate to and select the
document you want to insert.
81
3
4 Click Insert.
5
Now a copy of the
document appears in the
body of the appointment.
Link to Locate. You can link a document to an appointment so
everything you need for that meeting is accessible in one place.
In the day when information was recorded only on paper,
things couldn’t be filed in more than one place. But with
digital information, you can put the same item in several
82
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
relevant places. Suppose you are scheduled to give a
presentation to your professional association.A lot of incoming
information deals with that event. Or you receive an e-ticket
for your flight, so you drag and drop it into the appointment
on your calendar. But you can also save it in your airline-ticket
folder. Someone sends you a report you can use for your
presentation, so you drag and drop it into the appointment.
But you can also save it in your presentation folder.
“Link to Locate” means you never lose track of important
information because you can find it in multiple places.
The Q2 Process Map enables you to direct the flood of
information into usable channels. You have now aligned
your information tools so you can access everything you
need quickly.
Use Productivity Accelerators
Now you can use your technology to accelerate
your real work instead of hindering it—to get to what
William Powers calls “the real magic of these tools, the
catalyst that transforms them from utilitarian devices into
instruments of creativity, depth, and transcendence.” 26
Your rule for acquiring technology is not to ask,
“What’s the latest and greatest?” but “Which tools will
help me best achieve my Q2 Goals?”
Regardless of your objectives, there’s usually “an app
for that.” There’s no end to the wealth of applications for
increasing your productivity—but there’s also no end to
the poverty of a life wasted on mindless technology.
Social media might be the most impactful tool for
accelerating your productivity.
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
83
A community used to be a group of people in one
location. Now a community can be a group of people
who are never physically together but who share common
goals and interests. This is the whole point of social
media: Web-based and mobile technologies that enable
people all over the globe to talk to each other at will.
Unfortunately, too many people use social media
for Q4 purposes—as a seductive way to squander their
time. The poster boy for Q4 is the famous character
Richmond Avenal of the British comedy show The IT
Crowd, who is so wrapped up in his technology that he
forgets to eat and comes down with scurvy.
Think about how you as a person with a Q2 mindset
might use social media: to do wide-ranging research, to test
an idea on a lot of people at once, to connect with an old
friend and renew a relationship, to blog about a key issue and
invite ideas, to form a book club—the possibilities are endless.
Consciously live by these guidelines for using social
media:
• Participate with a purpose: “What do I want to
learn and why?”
• Follow the few:“Which few sites will help me
achieve my goals?”Trim the time you spend on those
that have nothing to do with your real priorities.
• Choose your level of participation: “Should I be
a contributor, a joiner, or just an observer?”
• Create a “Q2 virtual community,” a group of
people who can advise you and whom you can
account to in achieving one of your Q2 Goals.
84
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
• Subscribe to podcasts and blogs that help you
with your Q2 priorities. One of the best things
about social media is the flood of information
and creative ideas you can tap into for your own
purposes. For example, if you love news blogs,
consider signing up for an aggregator service to
simplify your access.
• Set up a time zone for reviewing the sites that
are most important to you. Too many people fail
to set boundaries on social media, and between
Twitter, Facebook, email, and so forth, they end
up trapped in Q4 before they realize it.
We invite you to check out The5Choices.com for
evergreen thinking on how to increase your productivity. Here
you’ll find people sharing ideas on the best productivity tools,
insights on getting the most out of your technology, and the
views of the best thought leaders around the world.
Also, consult The 5 Choices Technical Guide companion
to this book for ways to accelerate your productivity
using the tools you already have.
Making Choice 4 helps you escape the technological
trap that alarms neuroscientists such as Dr. David Rock:
“I am sensing a dramatic upswing in people’s sense of
overwhelm.… It’s social media. Like delicious desserts,
it’s hard to say no to. The brain loves it so (my brain
included). Getting any work done these days with Twitter
on in the background is like putting a ten-year-old
child in a candy store and telling them they can’t touch
anything; they will be constantly distracted.”27
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
85
Creating a system to master your technology isn’t hard,
although it takes a little investment of time up front. Once
your system is in place, you’ll find it easier and easier to say
no to the “candy store” and to say yes to the Quadrant 2 life.
86
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
Teach to Learn
The best way to learn is to teach. Use the Q2 Process
Map to teach others how to manage incoming information.
Q2 ROLES
and GOALS
WEEKLY Q2
PLANNING
ACT
• APPOINTMENT
• TASK
FILE
• CONTACT
• NOTES/DOCUMENT
DAILY Q2
PLANNING
YES
MOMENT
OF CHOICE
INCOMING
NO
IS IT IMPORTANT?
(PAUSE, CLARIFY, DECIDE)
WIN WITHOUT
FIGHTING
TURN IT INTO
WHAT IT IS
LINK TO
LOCATE
Choice 5: Fuel Your Fire,
Don’t Burn Out
“The energy of the mind is the essence of life.”
— Aristotle
You’ve made Choices 1 through 4. A new sense of
purpose governs your life, and you are excited about the
extraordinary things you’re going to do.
But if you don’t have the physical and mental energy to
follow through, you’re likely to get discouraged and give up.
Our mode of life today—constant stress, poor diet,
lack of exercise and sleep—leads to what scientists call
“exhaustion syndrome.” The rest of us call it burnout.
We continually “push through” each day, postponing the
renewal time our bodies and brains need. The mantra is
“work like crazy and then crash.” And we get rewarded
for the ordinary mindset; it becomes a badge of honor
to brag, “Our team was up till midnight.” “I worked
through the whole weekend.” “Vacation? Are you crazy?
No time!” But in the end, this pattern is killing our brain
capacity, and it’s no good for the organization either.
If we work in Quadrants 1 and 3 all day, strung out
on urgencies and emergencies, we naturally end up in
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
88
Quadrant 4, numbing our minds with games or pointless
Internet surfing or trash TV.
By contrast, extraordinarily productive people are
wise enough to consistently recharge their mental
and physical energy. Because they have a Quadrant 2
mentality, they maintain a constant flow of fuel to the
mind and body so they can perform at their best every day.
There’s a reason our hearts beat constantly instead of
once a year: our cells need regular refueling. The greater
the load on the muscles, the more energy required and
the faster the heart beats to supply the glucose and
oxygen that fuel the muscles.
There’s a key principle at work here: You can’t live
on last month’s meals, just as you can’t draw strength
from last year’s purposes.You need to create a consistent
rhythm of renewal, like the beating of the heart, to keep
the brain and the body fully charged.
This is Choice 5: Fuel Your Fire, Don’t Burn Out.
EXTRAORDINARY
PRODUCTIVITY
1
2
3
4
ACT ON THE
IMPORTANT
GO FOR
EXTRAORDINARY
SCHEDULE
THE BIG ROCKS
RULE YOUR
TECHNOLOGY
DON’T REACT
TO THE URGENT
DON’T SETTLE
FOR ORDINARY
DON’T SORT
GRAVEL
DON’T LET
IT RULE YOU
5
FUEL
YOUR FIRE
DON’T
BURN OUT
BURIED ALIVE
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
89
You can’t hope for extraordinary productivity in your
work and life unless you make Choice 5.
Brain scientists tell us that mental energy comes from
two sources: a high purpose in life and the right kind
of fuel. If you’ve made Choices 1 through 4, you have
a high purpose designed by yourself. Achieving what
is meaningful to you requires expending energy, but it
also fills you with energy. Professor David Ulrich says,
“Meaning is not a dropped coin we pick up by chance. It
is more like fine pottery we craft.” If you love what you
are crafting, you can put in unflagging work even when
you’re tired.
But a high purpose is not enough. Your brain also
needs a constant, even flow of fuel.
Glucose is the fuel of the brain. Both lollipops and
apples can provide glucose. But lollipops—or sugar
drinks or doughnuts or candy bars—inject the brain
with a huge hit of glucose that then drops off fast. It’s
like repeatedly racing an engine and wearing it out.
Because it metabolizes differently, an apple refuels
the brain at an even, unbroken rate. It’s like recharging a
battery instead of blowing it up.
Extraordinary productivity requires the “apple
approach.” You can’t race an engine at a high rate and
expect it to perform well over time. Neither can you put
your brain through the spike-and-crash cycle of modern
life and expect to stay productive.
Now you say, “But I’m okay. I may be busy, and I
may be under a lot of stress—who isn’t?—but I’m not a
burnout.”
90
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
You can be pretty good at sporadic bursts of energy,
but even at low levels, chronic unrelieved stress on the
brain creates a kind of slow-motion crash. According to
research by the Swedish psychologist Agneta Sandström,
“Small daily stressors can accumulate to create chronic
burnout.”28 It may be a long, slow decline, but it’s a
debilitating decline nevertheless.
Scientists agree that the drivers of brain health are
exercise, diet, sleep, relaxation, and human connection.
You can’t expect to be extraordinarily productive unless
the brain is clear, available to you, and running at optimum.
What you do about one driver affects the others; and
when you deliberately work on all five drivers, you
generate a constant flow of energy throughout the day.
CONN
EAT
EC
T
MOVE
AX
P
R
EL
SL
EE
The 5 Energy Drivers. Brain scientists agree that proper
exercise, diet, sleep, relaxation, and human connection
recharge and even rejuvenate the brain.
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
91
Notice that none of the 5 Energy Drivers is urgent. As
we’ve said, in today’s workplace it’s often a point of pride
to neglect them; a busy person has no time for any of
them. So we burn through the day on coffee—who has
time for lunch? We put in long hours—who can get to
bed at a decent hour, much less connect with family or
friends? And exercise? “I don’t have a minute to myself,”
we say, boasting about our intense busyness.
The 5 Energy Drivers reside in Quadrant 2; they
are not urgent, but they are highly important. Twenty
minutes of aerobic exercise in the morning creates new
brain cells. A good breakfast and a lunch with friends
are never urgent, but they power up the brain for
productivity. During sleep, the brain grows novel
connections essential to focused, creative work.
Choice 5 is not just about diet and exercise. It’s
about creating the conditions for optimum brain health
and extraordinary productivity. People with a Q2
mentality work on the 5 Energy Drivers consciously and
deliberately.
Move
Moving might be the best thing you can do for your
brain. The simple act of walking measurably improves
the brain’s productive capacity. While sitting at a desk,
you’ve probably experienced a “mental block” when you
couldn’t think; frustrated, you get up, walk to the water
cooler, and suddenly everything becomes clear.
The human body was meant to move. Our distant
ancestors walked everywhere, and we are physiologically
programmed to walk 6 to 7 kilometers a day.
92
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
Students of the brain now know that aerobic exercise,
which moves the large muscles of the body, stimulates the
production of brain chemicals called neuromodulators,
such as dopamine and serotonin.These chemicals govern
mental focus.
When dopamine floods the prefrontal cortex—the
executive center of your brain—your ability to focus and
concentrate increases.When dopamine dries up, according
to Dr. Manfred Spitzer of the University of Ulm,
Germany, “the frontal lobes no longer do their job
properly. [Speech and thought] are guided to a lesser
degree…they become less planned and less goal- and
thought-directed.”29 In other words, exercise tightens
your mental focus as well as your muscles.
The more active you are, the more dopamine
receptors in your brain; an obese, sedentary person
actually has fewer dopamine receptors and, therefore,
more trouble concentrating.30
Moving increases not only the brain’s focus but also
its capacity. Scientists once believed that the number of
brain cells was fixed at birth, but we now know that’s not
so. “Nothing helps the growth of new brain cells more
than aerobic exercise,” says Dr. John Ratey of Harvard
Medical School.
“Exercise itself doesn’t make you smarter, but it puts
the brain in optimal learning mode. Studies in rodents
have showed that running leads to an increase in new
brain cells in the hippocampus, which plays a large part
in learning and memory. Also, studies of adults who
exercise regularly show increased blood flow to the
hippocampus.”
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
93
Surprisingly, the benefits of one bout of exercise a day
can be canceled out by sitting the rest of the day. “We’re
getting a new study every other week showing that even
if you are in shape and you exercise, sitting kills your
brain cells.”31
Suppose you sleep 8 hours per day and exercise 30
minutes in the morning. The remaining 15½ hours are
typically filled with home and work responsibilities that,
more often than not, require prolonged sitting. You sit
during the drive to work, at the computer before lunch,
during lunch, in meetings after lunch, during the drive
home, at dinner, and while watching TV at home. You
might spend up to 95 percent of your waking hours
sitting.The data indicate that this is typical for a majority
of adults.
This lack of motion releases chemicals that put your body
to sleep.They decrease blood flow to your brain, lower your
alertness, and impair your thinking and judgment.
Fortunately, this problem is easy to solve. Get up and
walk around!
If you sit at a desk all day, start your day with a 10- or
20-minute walk. Then take “brain breaks” periodically.
Get up from your chair at least every 90 minutes to walk
around, even if it’s just to the coffee machine or to visit
with a co-worker. Take a walk on your lunch hour.
“When you stand, your brain is acting 7 percent
more effectively than when you sit because the large
skeletal muscles are activated. Standing turns on the frontal
cortex so you can think more clearly.
“The biggest challenge is to establish a routine and
a ritual. We know how hard this is, but once you start,
94
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
it takes on a life of its own. It’s never too late. I know
of 93-year-olds whose brains change when they start
exercising. If you’re in middle age and you start an exercise
program, you’ll push back your brain age 10 to 15 years.”
It’s a biological fact: An active body is essential for
sustaining energy to the brain. What creative ways could
you move during the day, given your work environment?
Dr. Ted Eytan of Washington, D.C., holds meetings
on foot. He calls it “WWW — Working While
Walking.” “When you’re scheduled to meet with
someone, ask permission to try doing it on foot. If the
answer is ‘Sure!’ meet the person at the appointed time
and just start walking.
“It’s a great way to bring fitness into the work
environment. You can have a destination in mind, like
the nearest coffee place, or not. You’ll not only get
business done, you’ll enjoy a different kind of relationship
building. There is something about sharing a walk with
someone.”32
Shimon Rura in Boston works a full day on a
computer. Until recently, it meant he didn’t get much
exercise.
“Then I started using a treadmill desk. Rather than
sitting, you walk at a slow pace. Because the human body
has evolved to walk long distances, a healthy person can
comfortably walk several kilometers a day. After just a
few days, I was consistently walking six or seven hours.
“I love it. I’m not just doing something healthy
without taking time from work. I’m working better
because of the steady supply of exercise. My concentration
is sharp and my energy level remains steady.”33
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
95
Brain scientist Richard Restak walks at least three
times a week “for a half hour to 45 minutes at a brisk
pace in different locations around the city. That way I
combine exercise with new surroundings, which keeps
mental activity high.”
“Consistent aerobic exercise leads to the growth of
tiny new capillaries in the brain that bathe the neurons
with nutrients. Anyone of any age who walks three times
a week for 45 minutes will increase cerebral blood flow
and improve their focus and attention span.”34
Eat
Instead of recharging with healthy food, we often
try to quick-fix our energy levels with refined sugars
or artificial stimulants. This does indeed give us a spike
of energy, but the boost is temporary; and this pattern
damages our bodies and brains. It may get us through the
day in the short term, but it’s a poor substitute for the
sustained, healthy energy we need for clear thinking and
high performance.
“You can use food for better mental energy during the
day, but you have to be smart about it,” says Dr. Daniel
Amen. “Start with high-quality calories. A 400-calorie
sack of licorice is absolutely not the same thing as the
equivalent in calories from a salad with a piece of wild
salmon, blueberries, and walnuts.” Dr. Amen gives these
guidelines for fueling the brain:
• Water. Your brain is 80 percent water, and
anything that dehydrates you actually steals your
mental energy. It’s important to drink six to eight
glasses of water a day.
96
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
• Protein. High-quality protein is absolutely
essential for the neurotransmitters that keep
your mental energy stabilized.
• Smart carbohydrates. Take in low-glycemic
carbohydrates that don’t raise your blood sugar
but are also high in fiber, which actually helps
stabilize your blood sugar.
• Healthy fats. The brain is 60 percent fat. An intake
of healthy fats helps you absorb nutrients and any
supplemental vitamins you take.
• The “Rainbow.” Eat foods with many different
natural colors because they are filled with
antioxidants that improve your energy and help
keep your brain young.
“Most people eat lots of simple carbohydrates in the
morning, such as pastries and cereals. It’s a big mistake.
Simple carbs drive down their blood sugar and they feel
fuzzy and tired. It’s much better to have protein in the
morning—eggs, meats, nuts. Pancakes or pasta are much
better in the evening when you don’t have to focus.”35
Additionally, the kinds of foods we eat may be less
important to brain health than the number of calories we
consume. Cutting calories slows down the onset of diseases
like dementia, cancer, diabetes, and other illnesses
associated with the loss of brain function. As a rough rule
of thumb, a person who eats 35 percent fewer calories
will live 35 percent longer, according to Dr. Restak.
“In order to tune up your brain and reduce your
likelihood of Alzheimer’s disease, you don’t need to cut
back drastically on your calories but simply keep your
calories low enough to prevent obesity.”
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
97
So how do you sustain an even glucose level during
the day so you’re not “spiking and crashing”?
Dr. Restak advises cutting back on the fast food that
so many of us depend on at work.“Fast-food diets impair
memory in some animals and make the brain more
vulnerable to toxins. Reducing the amount of fat and
empty calories in your diet might improve your memory
and increase your resistance to diseases that stress the
brain.
“Foods that slow the rate of cognitive decline include
fruits and vegetables, especially green leafy ones that
contain Vitamin E. Also, fish truly is a brain food. People
with high levels of omega-3s from fish have lighter
moods and much less depression. They also improve
their memories.You don’t have to eat a lot of fish—just a
couple of servings a week seem to be enough.”36
Sleep
When you’re tired, the logical thing to do is to sleep.
However, most of us are getting less sleep than ever—on
average, 45 minutes less than just 25 years ago. Most
adults are biologically wired to need seven to nine hours
of sleep a night. When you get it, you’re happier and
more focused.
But when you don’t, you build up a sleep debt and
start to burn out. If you get less than four hours of sleep
five nights in a row, you perform as if you were legally
drunk. In today’s high-stakes world, the last thing you
want is impaired judgment, but that’s what you get when
you’re not well rested.
98
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
In one experiment, participants who had just finished
a training course were divided into two groups. One
group was kept awake that night while the other group
got a normal night’s sleep. The next day both groups
were tested on the skills they had supposedly learned
during training. Those who had been allowed to sleep
showed “a significant and continuous improvement of
performance.” The sleep-deprived group showed no
improvement, and could not perform better, even after
two more full nights of sleep.
A good night’s sleep allows the brain to process what
it has learned and to restructure itself around the new
ideas. By contrast, “someone who continuously jumbles
his natural day and night rhythm with artificial light, shift
work, or keeping going all night impairs his memory.”37
“In our hard-driving world, sleep gets no respect,”
says Dr. Restak. “The fact is, the more we sleep—up to
a point, of course—the better we perform. Why is that?
Well, think about tomatoes. During the day they store a
lot of energy and at night use that energy for growth. A
similar process occurs in the brain. During the day, the
brain takes in a huge amount of information. At night,
the brain, like a tomato, grows by changing its structure
to accommodate the new information.The brain doesn’t
turn off during sleep. Because the brain is rebuilding
itself rapidly based on the day’s events, our dreams tend
to be associated with what we learned during the day.
The brain is literally building memories.
“Depriving your brain of sleep is like over-practicing
a muscle. For example, if you practice a move in tennis,
it will improve for a while. But if you continue beyond
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
99
a certain point, you’ll start to deteriorate as your muscles
tire. So you stop practicing and let the muscles relax.
The same is true of the brain. Sleep restores the learning
circuits in the brain. If you learn something while awake,
you can increase your chances of remembering it by
‘sleeping on it.’”
So sleep makes you smarter. The brain restores and
restructures itself around new information, generating
new insights. How often have you struggled with a
problem, gone to bed hopeless, and awakened with fresh
answers? Dr. Restak recounts a famous experiment in
which people were shown the letter sequence H I J K
L M N O and asked to name one word this sequence
reminded them of. No one came up with the correct
answer, so the researchers sent them home to “sleep on
it.” Next morning, they reported their dreams. Several of
them had dreamed of fishing or diving or sailing, which
eventually suggested the right answer. The secret word
was water — the sequence of letters was “H to O,” in
other words, H2O, the chemical formula for water. Sleep
changes our brains in a way that encourages the discovery
of new and meaningful connections.38
Push yourself to stay awake, and you’ll push yourself
off the cliff of burnout and poor performance. It’s just
possible that your extraordinary life depends on getting a
good night’s sleep every night!
Relax
We live in a high-pressure environment. It’s
exhilarating, but it can also drain away our energy. While
a certain amount of stress is actually energizing, if the
100
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
stress goes on too long, it can turn toxic and damage our
bodies and our brains.
Too much stress drains dopamine from the brain,
reducing your power to think reflectively and assimilate
new knowledge. Also, you lose your creativity. “Anxious
people, generally speaking, only reproduce what they
already know,” according to Dr. Manfred Spitzer.39
You manage stress most effectively by making Choices
1 through 4, which puts you back in the driver’s seat
of your life. Additionally, new research shows the
stress-relieving power of creating a rhythm of relaxation.
Dr. Agneta Sandström emphasizes regularly relaxing
the brain. “It’s okay to get stressed, but you also have to
find time during the day to rest. Just as your muscles can
get tired, so can your brain.”40
It’s essential to regularly disconnect the brain from the
intense work of our busy days. When we create patterns
of disconnecting, we create space for perspective and
room to breathe, both physically and mentally. We make
better decisions and increase our creative capacity.
When you disconnect, completely remove yourself
from the pressures you are facing and any technologies
that may interrupt you and engage in something
totally different and totally enjoyable—whether alone
or with others. If you find it really hard to disconnect
from a stressful situation, that’s generally a signal that
you are stuck in a rut and need to disconnect more
than ever.
The journalist Matt Richtel joined a group of
scientists who experimented on themselves by totally disconnecting for several days. “They wanted to take a look at
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
101
what was happening to their brain and their perspectives—
and by extension, ours—as they got off the grid.”
They took a raft trip down the San Juan River in
southern Utah, one of the most remote places in North
America. They had one unbreakable rule: no mobile
phones and no Internet. “The reason why I say the rule
was not breakable? There was no cell-phone coverage.
There was no Internet. Right after we launched our rafts,
one of the scientists said it’s the end of civilization, by
which he meant your cell phone will no longer work.”
At the end of three days, the group noticed something
happening to themselves. They called it “the three-day
effect. You start to feel more relaxed. Maybe you sleep
a little better.… Maybe you wait a little longer before
answering a question. Maybe you don’t feel in a rush to
do anything.Your sense of urgency fades.”
The scientists came away from the experiment
with the “unequivocal” conclusion that downtime was
essential for brain health.
This kind of Quadrant 2 downtime gives the brain
a chance to process information and make sense of it.
“Those neural networks and those new neurons make
their way from the hippocampus, a part of the brain that’s
kind of a gateway for memory, into the rest of the brain.
In short, during downtime, you record memory, you set
the basis for learning.”41
A vacation is extremely important for the brain, but
you can give your mind a chance to recalibrate and
rebalance in as little as 5 to 10 minutes during a busy day
or in longer periods throughout the week. The idea is to
build a rhythm of regular off time.
102
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
When stress is high, sometimes the natural tendency
is to bear down and run faster. In times of extremely
high pressure, however, it is more important than ever to
stick to this pattern. Not only does it keep you healthy,
but it improves your performance.Your thinking is more
qualitative, your ideas more creative, your moods under
control; and you simply perform better because you are
keeping your fire burning instead of burning out.
Connect
Just as knowledge workers should disconnect
periodically from their technology-driven days, they
should connect with other people regularly and often.
In today’s electronically interconnected world, it
is easy to miss the one-on-one interaction that makes
relationships strong.Taking time to reach out and engage
with the important people in our lives can be incredibly
rewarding and renewing. People who have a number of
healthy, nurturing human relationships are far more resilient and happy during times of challenge. If you keep
to a rhythm of regular connection with these important
people, you build a reservoir of energy. Plus, as you focus
on contributing meaningfully to these relationships, your
own worries fade and you gain a broader picture of life.
The brains of people who live constantly in the
urgency mode are bathed in adrenaline and cortisol,
the hormones that jolt you awake and keep you alert.
“Stressed-out folks…can have elevated cortisol levels all
day long. When your cortisol level is high, your body
is stuck in fight-or-flight mode.” Your veins and arteries
are constricted, your blood pressure spikes; “chronically
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
103
high cortisol levels can lead to a host of physical ills.” You
become negative, anxious, and unproductive.
The antidote to these stressor chemicals is another
hormone called oxytocin, an “anxiety reducer,” the
“antistress chemical.”42“Oxytocin,”says neuropsychologist
Sarina Rodrigues, is “a marvelous, amazing, and elegant
hormone. It’s related to generosity, trust, empathy.…
It can actually calm the brain down. It can also lower
heart-rate responses during psychosocial stress.”43
Professor Kerstin Uvnäs Moberg calls oxytocin “a
ready-made healing nectar. Under its influence, we see
the world and our fellow humans in a positive light; we
grow, we heal.”44
Oxytocin is released when we connect with people
who are important to us. A touch, a warm handshake,
or just being in the presence of a friend, a loved one,
or a trusted co-worker can stimulate the production of
oxytocin. It puts the brakes on stress. That’s why regular
and frequent connection with others is essential to
your mental and physical health and, therefore, to your
productivity.
Supposedly, we are more “connected” today than
ever. We have Facebook friends, Twitter networks, and
unlimited texting and mobile-phone minutes.As valuable
as these connections can be, they do not take the place of
actual human contact, of being authentically present to
other people.Yet, technology threatens to supersede time
spent with friends and family.
Dr. David Rock compares the digital kind of connection to empty calories. “I have a sense that we are rapidly
moving toward giving people 24/7 easy access to ‘empty
104
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
neural calories.’ These calories, in the form of perceived
social connectivity, increase the overall stimulation of the
brain, but may not do much to make our brains more
integrated, adaptive, or functional. In fact, just like sugar,
some types of neural stimulation leave you wanting more
and more, without ever feeling satisfied. The result can
be a reduction in healthy neural functioning.”45
Real connection means showing affection, respect,
and emotional support. It also means investing time.
Lunch with colleagues, regular spouse or partner dates,
one-on-one time with friends — these are Big Rocks in
your schedule if you want to stay healthy and productive.
The 5 Energy Drivers are so crucial to your
productivity that you should create Q2 Time Zones in
your calendar for each of them.
To live your extraordinary life requires more than
ordinary energy. Yet, so many of us are so worn out and
worn down by the urgencies and emergencies of life
that we end up suffering from a personal energy crisis.
As with other crises, living in Q2 eliminates the energy
crisis.
Making Choice 5 is not an ordeal but a release from
useless stress, ill health, and loneliness. And it’s easier than
you think. A few minutes of exercise every day, sane
eating habits, rest, relaxation, and getting together with
people you like—these are not burdens but benefits.
Establishing these few rituals can energize your life and
make you exponentially more productive.
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
105
Teach to Learn
The best way to learn is to teach. Use the 5 Energy
Drivers model to teach another person how to recharge
mental and physical energy.
CONN
EAT
EC
T
MOVE
AX
P
R
EL
SL
EE
106
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
Your Extraordinary Life
“A man may be very industrious, and yet not spend his time well.”
— Henry David Thoreau
You have now made the 5 Choices that lead to
extraordinary productivity. You take the initiative to act
on the “few and the true” most important priorities.
You have a vision of the extraordinary things you can
do in the essential roles of your life. You take charge of
your time through thoughtful planning.Your technology
serves your ends.You make time to nurture and energize
your productive capacity.
To get the full picture of what these 5 Choices can
mean to you, put yourself in the place of Jennifer in the
stories below.
Life Before the 5 Choices
Jennifer arrives at work, opens her inbox with trepidation, and begins almost unconsciously to sort through
and respond to the 50 emails that have arrived since she
left the office the night before. Her Outlook rings to
remind her of a meeting, to which she hurries off. The
108
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
rest of the day, she bounces from the inbox to meetings
with interruptions in between. She has no time for the
critical thinking required to generate the exponential
leaps her company needs to make. At the end of an
overwhelmingly busy day, she is exhausted but left
wondering what she’s really accomplished. She’s not
sure how she can keep up the pace, but she’s also afraid
to slow down. She doesn’t want to look like she’s not
contributing. At the conclusion of the workday, she
collapses in front of the television and then repeats the
pattern the next day.
Life After the 5 Choices
Weeks later, Jennifer excitedly comes into the office.
Now she’s confident. She knows where she’s going in
life and what contributions she wants to make to the
company’s future. Having already planned her week,
she quickly checks her plan for those tasks that, if
accomplished today, will have the highest impact on the
organization and her personal life. During the previous
weeks, she has successfully “detoxed” her inbox and
has put in place rules and filters to win the email war
without fighting. She also has new skills that make
technology her servant and not her master. Because she
has the habit of Weekly and Daily Q2 Planning, she’s
blocked out time for all of her important activities,
including those that require critical, creative thinking and
self-renewal. She knows when to say no or to negotiate a
particular request. She knows how to effectively manage
her capacity and energy for work and understands the
science behind effective change. She has a mindset that
enables her to self-orient toward the important and to
make significant contributions at work and in life.
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
109
Whether or not your life is like Jennifer’s “before” life,
your future life can mirror Jennifer’s after she made the 5
Choices. We’ve known thousands of people like Jennifer,
and we’ve seen and rejoiced in the extraordinary lives
they lead. We know it can happen for you too.
The 5 Choices are before you. May you choose wisely.
110
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
Notes
1. See “Time Matrix Survey” at The5Choices.com.
2. Nicholas Carr, The Shallows:What the Internet Is Doing to
our Brains, 2010, pp. 5-16.
3. Mark Liberman, “Zettascale Linguistics,” upenn.
edu, http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/000087.html. Nov., 12, 2010.
4. Lynn Stanton, “Exaflood Could Be Zettaflood by 2015,”
Telecommunications Reports Daily, Oct. 1, 2007. http://
www.discovery.org/a/4239. Nov. 12, 2010.
5. Jonathan B. Spira, “The Knowledge Worker’s Day: Our
Findings,” Nov. 4, 2010. Basexblog.com, http://www.linkedin.com/news?viewArticle=&articleID=238699716&gid=1
913261&type=news&item=238699716&articleURL=http%
3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ebasexblog%2Ecom%2F2010%2F10%2
F28%2Fwhat-we-learnt%2F&urlhash=WkV9.
6. “Email Statistics Report 2010-2014,” The Radicati Group,
http://www.radicati.com/?p=5290; Message Labs Intelligence 2010 Security Report, [email protected], p. 6.
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
111
7. LexisNexis, “2010 International Workplace Productivity Survey: Too Much Information,” http://www.lexisnexis.
com/media/press-release.aspx?id=128751276114739.
8. Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,
New York: Simon & Schuster, 1989, p. 158.
9. Cited in John Naish, “Is Multitasking Bad for Your Brain?”
Mail Online, Aug. 11, 2009. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/
health/article-1205669/Is-multi-tasking-bad-brain-Expertsreveal-hidden-perils-juggling-jobs.html.
10. Cited in Carr, The Shallows, p. 140.
11. Interview with Dr. Ed Hallowell, Feb. 20, 2011.
12. See “Time Matrix Survey” at The5Choices.com.
13. Helke Bruch, Sumantra Ghoshal, “Beware the Busy
Manager,” Harvard Business Review, Feb. 2002.
14. William Powers, Hamlet’s BlackBerry, New York: HarperCollins, 2010, p. 27.
15. Powers, p. 27.
16. James Loehr, Jack Groppel, “Extraordinary Productivity,”
Chief Learning Officer, May 17, 2004, http://clomedia.com/
articles/view/extraordinary_productivity
17. Elkhonon Goldberg, The Executive Brain, Oxford University Press, 2001, 2.
18. Interview with Dr. Richard Restak, June 18, 2011.
19. Covey, p. 156.
20. Interview with Dr. Daniel G. Amen, June 2, 2011.
21. Powers, p. 13.
22. Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson, “The 3 Biggest Myths About
Motivation That Won’t Go Away,” Fast Company, Jun. 1, 2011,
http://www.fastcompany.com/1756747/the-3-biggestmyths-about-motivation-that-won-t-go-away.
23. Interview with Dr. Heidi Halvorson, June 28, 2011.
112
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
24. Jeff Brown, Mark Fenske, The Winner’s Brain, Cambridge
MA: Da Capo Press, 2010, pp. 38, 72.
25. Interview with Dr. Kathleen Nadeau, June 26, 2011.
26. Powers, p. 31.
27. David Rock, “Are Our Minds Going the Way of Our
Waists?” Huffington Post, Jan. 5, 2009, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-rock/are-our-minds-going-thew_b_389163.html.
28. Carrie Arnold, “Burnout Gains More Recognition Among Psychologists,” Scientific American, May
9, 2011, http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.
cfm?id=depressed-or-burned-out.
29. Manfred Spitzer, The Mind Within the Net, Cambridge,
MA: MIT Press, 1999, pp. 277, 284.
30. “Scientists Find Link Between Dopamine and Obesity,”
Brookhaven National Laboratory news release, Feb. 1, 2001,
http://www.bnl.gov/bnlweb/pubaf/pr/2001/bnlpr020101.
htm.
31. Interview with Dr. John Ratey, July 12, 2011.
32. Ted Eytan, “The Art of the Walking Meeting,” Ted
Eytan, MD Blog, Jan. 10, 2008, http://www.tedeytan.
com/2008/01/10/148.
33. Shimon Rura, “The Treadmill Desk: Exercise for the Sake
of Hacking,” Shimon Rura’s Blog, Nov. 14, 2007, http://
rura.org/blog/2007/11/14/the-treadmill-desk-exercise-forthe-sake-of-hacking/.
34. Richard Restak interview, Jun. 18, 2011.
35. Daniel Amen interview, June 20, 2011.
36. Richard Restak interview, Jun. 18, 2011.
37. Manfred Spitzer, “Learning During Sleep: Offline
Reprocessing,” Jul/Aug 2005, Education Ministerial Meeting, Organization for Economic Cooperation and De-
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
113
velopment, http://www.oecd.org/document/38/0,3746,
en_21571361_44559030_35302118_1_1_1_1,00.html.
38. Richard Restak interview, Jun. 18, 2011.
39. Spitzer, Inside the Net, p. 275.
40. Arnold, “Burnout.”
41. Matt Richtel, “Digital Overload:Your Brain on Gadgets,”
Fresh Air, National Public Radio, Aug. 24, 2010.
42. Susan Kuchinskas, The Chemistry of Connection, Oakland
CA: New Harbinger Publications, 2009, pp. 8, 10, 52, 76.
43. Joe Palca, Flora Lichtman, Annoying:The Science of What
Bugs Us, John Wiley & Sons, 2011.
44. Kerstin Uvnäs Moberg, The Oxytocin Factor, Da Capo
Press, 2003, p. x.
45. David Rock, “Are Our Minds Going the Way of Our
Waists?” Huffington Post, Jan. 5, 2009, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-rock/are-our-minds-going-thew_b_389163.html.
114
THE 5 CHOICES TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY
Was this manual useful for you? yes no
Thank you for your participation!

* Your assessment is very important for improving the work of artificial intelligence, which forms the content of this project

Download PDF

advertisement