Modern Productivity

I had fun this weekend learning a few things about modern productivity; one of my favourite topics (and often – though I hate to admit it – one of my biggest time-wasting addictions…)

I taught an “introduction to social media”  workshop last week for a group of small business owners, and as a thank you I received a generous gift card to Chapters. Hard to beat that!  I absolutely love to read!  I was able to get myself a nice selection of books:

My five gift books

Even better, because I’d spent $100, they gave me another $20 gift card. Man, it’s like Christmas here!

I had decided that after a crazy week of 3 workshops, 1 webinar, a full-morning client meeting, and an afternoon strategy session with a non-profit, I had earned the weekend off, so I jumped right into the first book: The 5 Choices: The Path to Extraordinary Productivity. As I mentioned, I love to waste significant amounts of time learning about and experimenting with anything that has to do with modern productivity. One day it will pay off, I’m sure!

What was interesting in this book (I’m half way through…) was the statement at the beginning about how decisions used to be made in a linear fashion.  We lived in an industrial age, we simplified by creating a linear system to get things done more quickly – assembly line fashion.  If production was slow you just tightened up different steps in the process, and you were good to go.

Now decisions are no longer linear.  Each project and task has so many parts and pieces affecting it, and so many interruptions around it, that we can no longer think in a linear fashion.

I had a kind of epiphany when I read that because I find that everytime I try to set something up in my business, 12 other things are affected by the choices I make.

No wonder we’re tired!  No wonder we need more than one head to sort things out! It certainly makes buiding your team a greater challenge because you need different kinds of thinkers in the group to catch all the holes in the plan.

And it explains why going solo is not a great idea.

I’m grateful for a husband who sees everything from 40,000 feet and can catch all those problematic areas before they bring down my business. I’m even more grateful that I’ve learned to listen to him over the years (it took a while!)

The book – published by Franklin Covey – goes on to explain different tools that will help us make the best use of our time and energy, and how to set healthy boundaries to make the day less stressful.  According to the book, if I’m to master modern productivity, the five choices I need to make are:

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

And I need to plan my day using the Time Management Matrix that Stephen Covey explains in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change which looks like this:

Time Management Matrix

and works like this:

      • Quadrant I: Quadrant of Necessity. Urgent and important matters. Crises, pressing problems, deadline-driven projects. These are things we have and we have to do.
      • Quadrant II: Quadrant of Quality and Personal Leadership. Non-urgent but important matters.
      • Relationship building, planning, recognizing new opportunities, improvements to your workplace, exercise, recreation. These are things that needs to be done but we don’t do it because it is not urgent.
      • >Quadrant III: Quadrant of Deception. Urgent but not important things like phone calls, email, interruptions, popular matters, some meetings. Obviously, these things are not important and most people are deceived into doing these.
      • Quadrant IV: Quadrant of Waste. Non-urgent and non-important matters. This includes trivia, spam, time wasters, distractions, non-productive activities.Totally a waste of time if you do these things.
        The timing is perfect because I’ve taken the last week of March off to get my next quarter squared up.  This book will help me ask the right questions to make sure I’m not over-planning (a common problem for me) or wasting time chasing shiny objects…


Are you finding this in your business? How are you coping with it? Any tips and tricks to share with the rest of us?


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