Roger Fairhead Certificate JMT Certified

Personal Productivity Planner

Thank you for purchasing a copy of the
PRIZE Winning Leadership
Personal Productivity Planner

I am looking forward to sharing this journey with you towards your
Best Year Ever“.

So, why would I want to use the Personal Productivity Planner?
… and how do I make the best use of it?

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 that to the jar.  As he shook the jar the gravel settled down around the large rocks, and then he asked the class the same question again: “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 cautiously: “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!”

“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.

The central theme of the Personal Productivity Planner involves asking the question: what are the SIX things that ONLY YOU can do, that will have the biggest impact on your business, career, family or some other aspect of your life, and that will help you to achieve your SIX PRIZEs for this year, one for each of six areas of responsibility in life.  Of course, there are not always going to be six things, six areas and six PRIZEs, and the duration doesn’t always have to be six weeks, however, we use that as a rule of thumb where in practice it is unlikely to be less than four or more than eight things, PRIZEs or weeks.  

You can read more about these PRIZEs in my book PRIZE Winning Leadership, however, these PRIZEs are the Differentiators that make the Difference you want to make and the next step is to identify your priorities by using the process outlined in Part 2 of the Personal productivity Planner.   

For the Personal Productivity Planner we usually use a calendar year on which to base the process, while in the Business Productivity Planner it’s often the Business or Fiscal Year, and then each each quarter is separated into two halves to make eight “6×6” periods of six or seven weeks.  In the Educational Version and the Student edition we use the six half term periods and the summer break to define seven “6×6” periods for the year.

So, now we need to make that happen, and this is the heartbeat of the PRIZE Productivity Planner.  The next step is to look at the next six weeks or half term, and identify the 6 things that ONLY YOU can do that will have the biggest impact in the next 6 weeks – hence the term “6×6”.  Then take a look at this week and identify the SIX things that ONLY YOU can do, that will have the biggest impact this week, and finally take a look at today and identify the SIX things that ONLY YOU can do, that will have the biggest impact TODAY.  And do them.

The core of the paper based solution is then a weekly planner with a week to a view, and the instructions for completing this are in your Personal Productivity Planner


If you would like to share any thoughts, ideas or other feedback, then please get in touch and let me know by email to roger@rogerfairhead.com

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.