Monthly Archives: December 2016


Have you ever looked back on the day, the week, or even the last month and asked, "Where did the time go?"  I feel so busy all the time and yet if asked, I would be hard-pressed to tell you exactly where my time went.  I set goals at the beginning of the week, feeling optimistic about getting it all done, and yet it somehow doesn't.

The 5 Choices caught my attention because it claims to be a tool that "increases your productivity and empowers you to make high-impact choices about where to invest your valuable time, attention, and energy." I'm still reading it, but so far I've been able to make some changes, reflecting on how I spend my time and being mindful about how I choose to do so.

According to The 5 Choices, we spend our time in one of 4 quadrants:

Quadrant 1: NECESSITY [Where things are "urgent" and important.  This means that they must be done now or there are serious consequences.]

  • crises, pressing problems, unforeseen events
  • deadlines
  • emergency meetings

Quadrant 3: DISTRACTION [Where things are "urgent" but not actually important. This means we believe it must be done now, but there are no serious consequences if we don't.]

  • needless interruptions, other people's minor issues
  • irrelevant meetings
  • unimportant emails, tasks, phone calls, status posts

Quadrant 4: WASTE [Where things are neither "urgent" nor important. This is where we go when we are burned out from being in Q1 and Q3, to escape. Our brains go unconscious and we fill our time with excessive and unproductive relaxation. These activities are OK, in moderation.]

  • excessive television
  • aimless Internet surfing
  • gaming

Quadrant 2: EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY [Where things are important but not urgent. This is where we take charge of our own life, doing things that make a real difference in terms of accomplishment and results. This is the only quadrant where you have to consciously choose to be here - the others happen to you.]

  • proactive work, planning, prevention
  • achieving high-impact goals
  • creativity
  • relationship building
  • learning and renewal

So how do we get to Q2 and spend as much time as possible there?  They propose a skill called "PCD" (Pause, Clarify, Decide).  It's about taking a moment to make conscious choices about your time; to ask yourself which quadrant this would be in and choose to do something that is productive and moves you forward. Relaxation is essential, and is part of Q2, but it's about being thoughtful about your "rest" time, too.

The 5 Choices is a good read for anyone feeling overly busy and wanting to take charge of our time, in order to achieve our professional and personal goals and become as productive as we can be, both at work and at home.

@adamcaplan @jmedved @gnichols