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What You Should Know About The Franklin Covey 5 Choices to Extraordinary Productivity

Recently, I was held against my will attended the Franklin Covey The 5 Choices to Extraordinary Productivity course. Of course this wasn’t a voluntary thing – typical Corporate America let’s-make-more-money-by-wasting-everybody’s-time-for-days-on-end bullshit that we’re all subjected to. Thankfully things are going well with this blog, Cracking OkCupid, and some other projects. I’m hoping my time in the torture chamber office world will be coming to an end pretty soon.

As if I didn’t need more motivation, the Franklin Covey 5 Choices to Extraordinary Productivity program is providing plenty more. After just one day of listening to the droning of a woman with the title of “Productivity Expert”, (bullshit title, look familiar?) I feel confident that I’m qualified to state that the Franklin Covey 5 Choices to Extraordinary Productivity course, book, and overall content is designed as nothing more than a money making scheme for Franklin Covey – and an absolute waste of time to employers, employees, and any company that actually wants to increase their productivity.

If you require proof that Franklin Covey is in the business of making an absurd profit for providing nothing of value, look no further than the $14.95 pens they sell on the Franklin Planner website.

At least my class included a pen.

If anyone wants to buy it, I’ll sell it for $9.97 and include a copy of my book, Cracking OkCupid, with it.

Act fast.

The Franklin Covey 5 Choices To Extraordinary Productivity

Though I wouldn’t recommend the Franklin Covey 5 Choices to Extraordinary Productivity, I think it’s important to first list the 5 choices Franklin Covey claims will lead you to extraordinary productivity. Take a look at their website, course description, and decide for yourself.

Here goes.

Choice #1: Act on the Important; Don’t React to the Urgent

Choice #2: Go For Extraordinary; Don’t Settle for Ordinary

Choice #3: Schedule the Big Rocks; Don’t Sort Gravel

Choice #4: Rule Your Technology; Don’t Let It Rule You

Choice #5: Fuel Your Fire; Don’t Burn Out

Anyone who has read this blog for any period of time recognizes that the above “choices” are simple, day-to-day decisions and tasks we all carry out – the only difference being that they’re put into fancy sales copy to make it sound appealing to idiotic bosses who are fooled into believing that these 5 steps to extraordinary productivity will turn their organization into a cash cow.


Let’s break down the 5 Choices to Extraordinary Productivity one by one.

Franklin Covey 5 Choices to Extraordinary Productivity Choice #1

Act on the Important; Don’t React to the Urgent

Let’s put this in real life terms in relation to this very blog. Let’s say that This Is Trouble was my sole source of income. My ability to eat, pay rent, and shower all revolve around the website(s) associated with it staying online, handling traffic loads, and obviously – making money through various channels.

Imagine that one day, the website goes completely down. During that period of time, I am effectively losing money; the opportunity cost of lost sales because of the site being down.

Question: Should I react to this urgent situation?

No shit.

To not do so will affect my literal livelihood. Of course, I am taking this choice at a literal definition. However, most people who are in the workforce recognize that they have multiple tasks at their job, some of which are more important than others. The real issue is that they’re incapable of handling the workload given to them, or management simply expects too much. Rather than hire better employees (here’s my thoughts on welfare) or hire more staff to reduce workloads, companies would rather pay Franklin Covey to tell their employees to make the choice.

Guess what – I just gave the exact same advice, and it was free.

Franklin Covey 5 Choices to Extraordinary Productivity Choice #2

Go For Extraordinary; Don’t Settle for Ordinary

Most people are average, hat tip to Christian McQueen.

This is a fact of life.

Part of it is naiveness to the truth of the world. That’s why this blog is called This Is Trouble. While I mostly talk about dating and self-improvement, the reality is that most people are so plugged in to the matrix that they fail to realize how different their world could be. Once your eyes are barely opened, the floodgates often follow.

So yes, people are and will continue to be average. This is especially true at corporate drone jobs – like I currently have. Newsflash, employers: people are not suddenly going to go from just-skating-by to superstar after taking a two day course. Especially for a place they likely dread heading to, and spend 75% of their day finding some way to pass the time.

Want to know how to make people above average? Pay for performance, not for showing up. I get paid the same whether I work 16 hours a day or sneak out early and make it a 7 hour day; 4 of which were spent working on side projects.

Which one do you think most people will pick?

Franklin Covey 5 Choices to Extraordinary Productivity Choice #3

Schedule the Big Rocks; Don’t Sort Gravel

If you don’t get this one, well…you’re living under a rock.

I kid, I kid.

Self-explanatory: tackle the big stuff, and don’t fret the small stuff. I actually agree with this advice, but I’m going to give better advice – again, FOR FREE. Franklin Covey should hire me at this rate.

Rather than “not fretting” the small stuff (i.e. do it later), outsource the small stuff. Let me give you two examples.

Example 1: When I was a senior in college, one of my last economic classes was primarily online based. The homework and assignments were all Internet based, even the tests were online. And yes, this is a 400-level senior level economic course. College is a joke. Of course, while we weren’t supposed to do stuff as a group, I saw the value in doing so. So rather than trying to learn all of the little nuances (“gravel” in the words of Franklin Covey) of this absurdly difficult economics class, I gathered a group of twelve people to take the tests together.

I gave each person in the group a section to learn, and then organized the date, place, and time to take the test together. Everybody came prepared with their one section, and we all killed the test.

It wasn’t until the last test of the year that the professor caught on and told us we couldn’t use the library to take group tests. So I got the group together at my apartment instead.

I got an A in the class and I hardly ever opened the textbook.

Example 2: While every word I pen here is 100% original, I don’t always take care of the details myself. I’m not big enough to bring a virtual assistant online full-time, but I sure as hell outsource the small things that I don’t want to do or that I know are going to tax me beyond my thresholds.

I hire people on Fiverr, eLance, etc. to fix small bugs in code, edit things, or do little things here or there. While I recognize you can’t do something like this at a desk job, you can apply this concept to most things in life.

BONUS Example: Say you hate doing laundry. Your apartment complex doesn’t have a washer and dryer, the nearest laundromat is ten miles away, it costs you $10 to do your laundry there – and it takes up two hours of your time when you add it all up.

Now let’s imagine there is a laundry delivery service that picks up and drops off your laundry within 24 hours for $30. Let’s say you make $20 an hour at your job.

Do the math. Add in your personal happiness (the joy of not having to do laundry) and it’s simply a no brainer.

The Franklin Covey 5 Choices to Extraordinary Productivity would rather you chuck the laundry aside as a piece of gravel and pick it up later when you have no clear dress shirt for your night on the town.

Franklin Covey 5 Choices to Extraordinary Productivity Choice #4

Rule Your Technology; Don’t Let It Rule You

I actually fully agree with this one so I’m not going to run it into the ground like I am on the other 4 steps.

However, I should note that the Franklin Covey course section on technology has a lot of details on how to create rules in Microsoft Outlook. Sorry, but this is not bleeding edge tech. They’re not teaching a CCNA class. This is basic Microsoft Office functionality that everybody who has a desk job should know.

And if you don’t, there are courses far, far more affordable on how to do this. Or, you know…Google.

Franklin Covey 5 Choices to Extraordinary Productivity Choice #5

Fuel Your Fire; Don’t Burn Out

It’s funny that this is a direct contradiction to choice #2 about going for extraordinary.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s easy to burn out. I do sometimes on this blog. But in the Franklin Covey class, the instructor actually stated that watching TV, playing video games, or just vegging out should be a regular hour or two of your day if you need to unwind and avoid burnout.

Sorry, but extraordinary people don’t waste too much time watching other people accomplish shit.

Do you think Bill Gates made a billion dollars by being average? No, he worked his ass off. Same applies to almost any self-made million or billionaire.

Work-life balance means that you take care of yourself, and have an identity outside of work that makes you truly happy. This is what prevents burnout. Not watching the Kardashians for an hour a day before you log back on to finish reading your work emails at home.

Franklin Covey knows better and should be ashamed of themselves.

But, hell – they sure know how to make a buck. Enjoy the $15 pens, suckers.

There will be a follow-up post regarding the Franklin Covey 5 Choices to Extraordinary Productivity, in which I’ll go into detail why in general, “productivity” classes are worthless.

Have you ever been forced to take a “productivity” class at your job? Did you find yourself, or any of your colleagues, any more productive?

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