The 5 Choices: Don’t Let Your Busyness Kill Your Productivity


The 5 Choices offers time-stressed employees and managers strategies to manage attention, energy, and decision-making.

the 5 choices

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There is more advice than ever on how to successfully manage your time. There are more books, apps, blogs, courses, seminars, videos and podcasts than ever before. Try as we might to keep the emails, appointments, notifications, tasks and deadlines to a manageable level – there always seems to be more. 

Welcome to the productivity paradox. We have incredible time-saving technology, but have gotten worse at time-management.

Most of us try to battle the paradox with willpower. “I’m going to manage my time better,” we say. As we create a new to-do list that we are determined to stick to, no matter what. Then the phone rings or we get another email and everything goes downhill from there. Our once carefully crafted to-do list is now overflowing.

Welcome back to the productivity paradox. 

For most of us, this represents life, a constant struggle between efficiency and trying to stay afloat. Some of us even run our businesses this way.

Is there any hope for getting out of this cycle once and for all? 

Beat Time Management with Discernment and a Total-Life System

Kory Kogon, Adam Merrill, and Leena Rinne would say that there is a way out of the paradox. In their book “The 5 Choices: The Path to Extraordinary Productivity”, they assert that our primary problem is not the to-do list, but with the person making the to-do list.

In other words, us. We are the obstacles to our own time management.

The decision begins with 5 conscious choices that you make to achieve your goal. To go in the right direction, we need two things: discernment and a strong system. As defined in The 5 Choices, discernment is the ability to choose the right thing at the right time. In terms of time management, this means knowing how to prioritize.

Discernment, however, is conducted at a deeper level than prioritization. It’s not a simple matter of guessing which activity is more important than another. Discernment, as used in The 5 Choices, involves identifying who you want to be and prioritizing things so that you achieve that identity. 

To learn how to prioritize effectively, the authors offer the Franklin Covey Time Matrix, a simple 4 quadrant graph which breaks down any event into a category for better prioritization. Readers are provided instructions on how to use the FranklinCovey Time Matrix on a personal and business level. 

The system aspect of the book deals with creating the habits and strategies to make time management a regular part of your daily life and habits. Unlike other time management books, the authors take a more comprehensive approach to time management Time management is not something you do one time, it is something you do daily (encouraged by a challenge in The 5 Choices).

Time management doesn’t occur in isolation, but happens with everything you do. As an example, The 5 Choices asks readers to consider all of their roles that require their time and are important to them. A working mother would be asked to consider how much time she devotes to her family, her significant other, her parents, and others. This would represent a more accurate representation of her life instead of simple to-do list. 

Learn How to Manage Priorities or You’ll Be Stuck with Crisis

One of the strongest features of The 5 Choices is the emphasis on using time management at work.

The book covers typical obstacles at work  like email, phone, excess meetings, etc., but it also does something a little different. The 5 Choices covers how to implement time management on a group and company-wide level. Readers are encouraged to observe and challenge their efficient behaviors and practices to see if it’s really productive. Managers are encouraged to identify their team’s core priorities and foster a culture that truly enforces time-effective ways to reach those priorities. 

In short, connect with the why behind your priorities, then protect them with a good system, no matter where you are.

Helpful for All, Especially Helpful for Time-Stressed Managers

The 5 Choices will especially appeal to any fan of time management books, especially readers of books like “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” and the “Four Disciplines of Execution” by Sean Covey. The 5 Choices was written by graduates and instructors of the FranklinCovey system, so the book utilizes this framework and style for their book. 

The book is particularly relevant to mid-level managers who need time management support personally or want to improve the use of time with their team. It has lessons that apply to everyone, but the content is highly geared toward people who have the ability and freedom to implement some of the principles in the book. 

About the Authors

Kory Kogon, Adam Merrill, and Leena Rinne are time-management consultants at FranklinCovey. They can be found at The 5 Choices website and their book can found on Amazon. This review is based on an electronic copy provided for review purposes.

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Charles Franklin Charles Franklin is a Book Reviewer for Small Business Trends. He has a background as a professional reviewer, and is also a content provider and customer relations professional.

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