Roger Fairhead Certificate JMT Certified

How to make your business Pandemic Tolerant (4)

This is the fourth in a series of blog posts about how to make your business Pandemic Tolerant.

What’s the difference you want to make,
and what makes you different.

In the previous blogs in this mini-series, we looked at identifying the difference you want to make and at what makes you different, in order to figure out how to continue to make that difference and thrive in this new world where pandemics have become a regular feature. We then explored the outcomes that are needed to make that difference, the outputs that are needed to make those outcomes, and so on.

In this blog, I’ll start looking at prioritising and planning the activities that will make the outputs happen so that the difference we want to make is realised, and in the next blog I’ll explore the PRIZE Productivity Planner that provides some practical tools to use to make it all happen.

Are all tasks created equal?

There is a widely shared story that is used to illustrate a helpful time management principle.  It goes something like this.  

A professor had a large wide-mouthed glass jar sitting on his desk, and the jar was filled with some rather large rocks right up to the top of the jar.  At one point during the lecture, he pointed to the jar and asked his students if the jar was full.  One of the students shouted out “of course it is”, and all of the other students laughed and nodded their agreement.  

The professor then took out a handful of gravel from under his desk and proceeded to add them to the jar.  As he shook the jar the gravel settled down around the large rocks, and he asked the class the same question: “Is the jar full now?” The students laughed and someone else shouted out “Yes, it is now!”

The professor then produced a bag of sand and proceeded to pour that into the jar, shaking it down until the jar was filled to the top with sand.  Once more the professor asked his class: “Is the jar full now?” One of the students piped up uncertainly: “Well, I think it is, it looks pretty full to me, but I’m guessing it isn’t.”

The professor nodded and took a bottle of water from his desk and proceeded to pour the water slowly into the jar. He turned to his class and pronounced: “Now it’s full” and asked the class: “What do you think was the point of that illustration?”

One student suggested, “You can always find ways to get more jobs done if you’re creative about it.” The professor replied “Although that’s probably true, it’s not the point of the illustration. The point of the illustration is that to get everything in, you need to put the big rocks in first!”

In productivity terms, the big rocks are the important tasks.  The tasks that will make the most difference to your business. your career, or some other aspect of your life.  They are important, but they never seem to become urgent.  That is, until it is too late to get them done.  

The Personal Productivity Planner has been designed to help you get your big rocks in first, and we do that by identifying what they are, and placing them in the jar first.

As you start your next season, think of the “big rocks” in your life as the things that you can do, that will make this a more productive year for yourself and others around you.  Using the Personal Productivity Planner we will identify the “big rocks” that you need to put into your schedule first, and make room for them in your most productive time.  By saying “yes” to the “big rocks”, the gravel, sand and water can then fill in the space left after the big rocks have been put in place first. 

So, how do we identify the Big Rocks?

Eisenhower Matrix

In 1954, President Eisenhower is reported to have said, “I have two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.”

He went on to explain what has become known as the “Eisenhower Principle” which is how he organised his workload and priorities.  

This same idea has been shared many times since, most notably by Steven Covey in “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, and “First things First”.  

The Eisenhower Matrix uses a grid with one axis showing how important a task is, and the other showing how urgent it is.  Once we have placed our tasks in this grid the idea is to label the Urgent AND Important tasks as the Big Rocks.  The gravel are the Important but not urgent, while the sand tasks are the urgent but not important and the water tasks are neither important nor urgent.  Then action your tasks using this model:

Strategic – The Third Dimension

The Eisenhower Matrix is a two-dimensional model for prioritising your tasks.  In the Personal Productivity Planner I find it really helpful to think of adding a third dimension to the Eisenhower matrix, and that is a dimension to identify those tasks that are Strategically aligned with your purpose.  In the image below I have shown that by adding a third “Strategic” dimension identified as a vertical axis to the original two-dimensional model of the Eisenhower Matrix.  Tasks that are aligned to achieving your Purpose will then stand out among all of the other important activities, which are less aligned with your purpose.

Having found a way to identify the big rocks that make the difference we want to make, we now need to put this into practice.

That can be found in my Personal Productivity Planner, which is available from Amazon. Simply search for Roger Fairhead, and you’ll find links to all of my books, including the Personal Productivity Planner, the Education Version, and the Student Edition.

My next blog post will explore what you’ll find there, and how to find ways to make use of a digital version of the PRIZE Productivity Planner.

About Roger Fairhead

Roger is a Leadership specialist and uses the PRIZE Winning Leadership model to help leaders improve their effectiveness and that of their teams, through remote and on-site delivery of keynotes, group training events and individual coaching sessions.

He is the author of several books including "PRIZE Winning Leadership" and “Personal Productivity Planner”, a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management and a Director of the Global Leadership Network UK with extensive experience in Project Management and Sales.

“He is articulate, tracks complex issues with ease and has an incredible gift for raising pearls of wisdom out of the murky depths of people and process.” His passion is to help people to learn effective leadership skills to lead their teams to capitalize on their strengths and passions to realize their dreams.

Roger also invests into the dreams of families in the world’s underserved communities to offer them small loans that empower them to invest in their future, to provide for their families and give back to their communities.