How do you discipline yourself to do those key important things every day that you know you should do?

The most effective time management tools from Stephen Covey and Ben Franklin are summarized in “Level 5 Time Management: Beyond Stephen Covey and Ben Franklin” by Ken Rogue, Sales Consultant and Forbes Contributor. Here are some excerpts:

“Time management is one skill universal to all disciplines of business and life. These skills decay without constant refreshers and over-compensation with process and systems. We all have huge goals to get organized, but much like our New Year’s resolution of going to Gold’s Gym, the parking lot is full in January, but by May it is mostly empty again…until you learn Level 5 Time Management: building habits of execution through recurring tasks.

I ran the inside sales department for Franklin Quest for four years when they were the biggest training company in the world. Our job was to fill up 200-300 seminars each month with 30-40 people who wanted the peace of mind of being in control of their lives. Those were glory days. We rubbed shoulders with Hyrum Smith, Stephen R. Covey, Denis Waitley, Ken Blanchard.  Today their top seminar is The 4 Disciplines of Execution. They live it. My hobby has been watching over the shoulders of the greats, noticing the patterns, putting the patterns together, and trying to apply them in my life. I have noticed that there are many levels of time management:

Level 1 Time Management: Capture and make a list.

Capture your random thoughts in one place so you don’t forget. A dull pencil is sharper than two bright minds. Evernote is better than any dull pencil. My father is great at this. He learned it in the military. Level 1 is where you manage your minutes.

Level 2 Time Management: Prioritize your task list.

Once you have made a list of tasks, put them in order by priority. The prioritization step takes time. At Franklin Quest we surveyed people to find why they didn’t prioritize: their answer was funny… it takes too much time. Level 2 is where you manage your hours.

Level 3 Time Management: Daily prioritize tasks, controlling events of your life.

The 5 Levels of Time Management

1 Prod.png

An event is a basic building block of time. An event is a task with a date and time (deadline). Covey taught us that controlling the events of our lives brings peace of mind. The Productivity Pyramid builds Long-Range Goals, Intermediate Goals and Daily Tasks on a foundation of Governing Values. What are Governing Values? They are what matters most in your life. Anything you care about is a governing value. (Good or bad. Both Gandhi and Hitler had governing values.)

So how does the Productivity Pyramid work? You set long-range goals, break them down into intermediate goals, and then break them down into bite-sized daily tasks which you write in your Day Planner. Then you prioritize them A (must do), B (should do), and C (could do.) Then if you put a rank order on your A’s, B’s, and C’s with a 1, 2, 3, etc. This is highly efficient and effective. A Franklin Day Planner is one of the best time management tools ever invented.

Ben Franklin had personal Governing Values. At age 20 he outlined 13 values he deeply believed in, worked on one per week for thirteen weeks, then started over, four times a year. At the end of his life he said he believed he achieved each of those values, except humility. Here they are: Temperance, Silence, Order, Resolution, Frugality, Industry, Sincerity, Justice, Moderation, Cleanliness, Tranquility, Chastity and Humility (suggested by his Quaker Friend). He wrote a defining statement after each one. Click here to see what he wrote.   Level 3 is where you manage your day.

Level 4 Time Management: Weekly review your Mission, Vision, Roles and Principles

I just listened again to 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, one of the most copied titles or headlines, and one of the most impactful books ever written. He changed people’s lives all over the world in a way few have. He promoted time management to a whole new level. He often spoke of Mission, Vision, Values and Goals. But in fairness to Franklin, they had values and goals clear back in Level 3. He added the fourth level or four quadrants to be exact:


The Four Quadrant Model is powerful. The key is focusing proactively on Quadrant 2 Important but not Urgent, lessening Quadrant 3 Not Important but Urgent, and killing Quadrant 4 Not Important and Not Urgent by saying that important word, “No.” Dr Covey was a proponent of inside-out (the ‘character ethic) ahead of outside-in (the ‘personality ethic’). Both are important, but first things first.

He believed in universal truths, he called them ‘Principles.’ He argued we can’t break universal laws; we can only break ourselves against them. No amount of argument will change the law of gravity as I slip off of a roof.. gravity rules. He also inserted the critical concept of ‘Roles’ into his model of time management. Roles warrant their own priorities in our model of time management. He warned we needed to find time for the important roles in our life: Spouse, Parent, Child, Partner, Friend, Citizen, Author, Self. 


He warned of spending lots of time building a ladder only to find it is leaning against the wrong wall. Dr. Covey recommended that we begin the week with the important tasks that align with our roles and principles; we put them into our schedule first. Remember, it’s ok to say “No.” Dr. Covey espoused effectiveness more than efficiency; getting the right things done at the expense of getting lots of things done. Level 4 is where you manage your week.

Level 5 Time Management: Monthly execute recurring tasks that build habits

Franklin Covey’s flagship seminar The 4 Disciplines of Execution is about combining effectiveness and efficiency into execution in business. Execution is getting the right things done well, day in and day out. The right things are those Quadrant 2 actions (Important but Not Urgent) that bring the most leverage, but are forever delayed by practicing procrastinators.

For an entrepreneur, these are the keys to a good business. These little daily drops into the reservoirs that sustain life when cash flow is uneven, growth unsteady and morale suffers:

Making the calls. Answering messages. Balancing the books. Walking the floor. Testing the results. Hitting your numbers. Reporting back. Meeting with your people. Calling your customers. Listening to voicemail. Building relationships of trust.

Habits shape us. It is what we actually spend our life doing that reveals who we really are. One of my favorite quotes is by Frank Outlaw: “Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch actions, they become habits. Watch your habits, they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”

It is only our actions that bring results. In business, as an entrepreneur or executive, talk is cheap. Key actions that are pursued until finished, follow through… this is what matters. In life, habits shape our character. The character of our business is its culture. And it is the recurring small things that shape a culture. These principles are extremely relevant. So here is the key Level 5 question: How do you discipline yourself to do those key important things every day that you know you should do?

“Character is the ability to follow through with a resolution 
long after the emotion with which it was made has passed.” Brian Tracy

Has your life ever been like you were on a roller coaster? How is it right now? One of life’s profound lessons: Steadiness. If I would do several things every day I would be steady through the day. One: get up early. Another: end the day by writing in my journal a debrief of my day. So I had an idea. I bought a large piece of poster board, a sharpie marker and a yardstick. I came back and marked a chart with 60 columns and several rows. I put ‘Get Up on Time,’ as the first row on my chart with 60 check boxes across the top, enough for two months.


I called it my ‘Reservoirs’ chart. I hung it on the inside of the door that went out of my apartment so it would just sit there in my path and bother me until I did my daily recurring tasks, and marked it. I did OK for a few days, then a few weeks, and then I never missed. Research at Franklin-Covey showed that it takes somewhere between 21 and 28 days to build recurring tasks into a habit. After I had built all four daily recurring actions into habits, I dramatically improved in my steadiness. I seemed strong all the time. Then I added a fifth item, a sixth, a seventh, then I was checking 24 things on my chart every day. Write a letter. Eat right. Exercise. Memorizing a Read a Story to the Kids. Friday Date Night with Wife. Monday Family Night with Kids. Then I printed a chart for work: Be 5 minutes early. Check voice mail. Return email. Make 50 prospecting calls. Manage by walking around. Talk to 3 clients. Daily reports. Weekly meeting preparation, etc.

Things started to take off. My reservoirs started to fill. I taught my teams to do the same. Daily Recurring Actions. Habits. We became the fastest growing department at the second fastest growing company in America. The darkness left. The roller coaster of life steadied out. That is Level 5 Time Management, where you manage your month and your habits.

Oh, and make it a great day, a great month, and a great year. Ken Krogue, Sales Consultant, Forbes contributor”

Set a Breakthrough Goal Today


“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” poet Mary Oliver asks us. Is there something you’ve always wanted to do, to experience, a special place to visit.. but haven’t yet?

Are you ready to make a quantum leap ahead by setting and achieving a breakthrough goal? Imagine one that would “fast forward” you into feeling life as thrilling or excited by the challenge of playing a bigger game, or by sharing your wealth, experiencing greater opportunities, meeting more exciting powerful people, really going for something new and exciting.

Your breakthrough goal should energize you and up-level how you think and everything you do.

It may be a new skill that would land you that promotion. Or that hiring an assistant would free you up to have you home for dinner with your family every night. If so, list the tasks you can delegate and qualities of your ideal assistant, make your need known, and soon you’ll have that support. 

Perhaps your breakthrough goal is as simple as generating $500 more every month so you can be debt-free faster or to create a family vacation fund. If so, figure out now what you can do to bring in that extra $500 and do one thing today to get it. If you’ve dreamed of flying a plane or learning falconry.. think big and today take one step toward realizing it.

If you have any difficulty creating a clear vision of your ideal life, setting personal or career goals, designing a simple plan or taking the right action steps to achieve these dreams, for sure give us a call to help you along, keep you on track and celebrate with you when you’ve arrived!


The Pyramid of Success

Coach John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success contains fifteen habits that he had his champion players develop through daily basketball practice, inspiring his players to summon their best anytime, becoming more enthusiastic about their performance. The essence of the Pyramid is knowing that life, like basketball, is a team game which takes Industriousness, Friendship, Loyalty, Cooperation and Enthusiasm to improve and win.

Coach Wooden valued mental and physical quickness more than any other skill – playing on the verge of being out-of-control but still being in control. He taught his players “Be quick, but don’t hurry” and “think small” to concentrate on quick but proper and correct execution that would become automatic on the court and out in life. “Intensity makes you stronger. Emotionalism makes you weaker.” His second level of success includes Self-control, Alertness, Initiative and Intentness.

Coach Wooden modeled his own college coach and mentor, Coach Lambert, who believed paradoxically that the team making the most mistakes would probably win, because it’s expected that players will make mistakes, and failure to take initiative is often the biggest mistake of all.

Imagine a world in which everyone, every parent, educator, professional, group member and leader applied the Coach’s wisdom and lived life demonstrating all 15 Principles of the Pyramid of Success. What can you apply or do this week to improve your own and others’ lives?

 “Success is peace of mind 

which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing

 you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable.”