Three authors are listed on the cover, but make no mistake: Stephen Covey is the name that would have been there, had he still been alive. The 5 Choices was written by three senior managers in Covey’s organization and is completely in line with his previous books, especially The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and First Things First. It fully complements and updates these two bestsellers, bringing Covey’s ideas into the 21st century.
The goal, as outlined in this book, is not just to be productive—it’s to be extraordinary productive. The key, as the title suggests, are 5 choices and here they are:
- Act on the important, don’t react to the urgent
- Go for the extraordinary, don’t settle for ordinary
- Schedule the big rocks, don’t shovel gravel
- Rule your technology, don’t let it rule you
- Fuel your fire, don’t burn out
The first two are about decision management and Covey’s well-known time management matrix is the starting point, which divides all tasks into four quadrants based on urgency and importance. The ultimate goal is to be a ‘Q2’ person and stay in that quadrant (important but not urgent) as much as possible.
Point three and four are about attention management and the last choice has to do with energy management. The last chapter focuses on maintaining a solid energy level through healthy eating and working habits, like exercise and not sitting all day.
The 5 Choices
The 5 Choices is a great how-to guide for those wanting to become more productive using Covey’s methods. Especially those struggling with priorities will learn tons here. The practical tips on handling your email efficiently for instance could be a huge time saver for many.
But the book’s biggest strength is the unrelenting pressure to focus on what matters, on what can make us extraordinary. That was Covey’s strength and it’s well reflected in this book as well. In that sense, the book inspires you to be a better you and go for gold.
If you’re familiar with Covey’s books and methods, the content may not be very new or fresh to you. But knowing something and actually doing it are two completely different things—which incidentally is the core message of this book. Even for me, and I already use Covey’s matrix, it was a welcome addition and refresher course, covering some topics in more depth than previous books.