Perry looks at business development by identifying, acting on prioritiesWritten by Natasha Wheeler
Deadwood, S.D. – “We all have potential to do extraordinary things,” stated Kyle Perry at the Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers conference in Deadwood, S.D. on Jan. 17.
Perry is the director of learning and development at the American Farm Bureau Federation. He spoke about Franklin Covey’s Five Choices to Extraordinary Productivity, focusing on one choice, to act on the important.
“What do we do when the going gets tough? We push on harder. It’s important that we are doing it in the best way,” Perry explained.
There are a lot of things that we plan for, but some things still come up unexpectedly, he said.
“There are things we can do when the unexpected does happen, so we are as prepared for it as possible and we can continue to be productive,” he explained.
Goals that he stressed included focusing on what items are important and making high-value decisions.
“We can think about time management, not as linear from the time we get up to the time we go to bed, but rather by making high-value decisions and choosing to be most productive with the time in the day,” he said.
Perry used Covey’s four-square matrix to illustrate the concept, which differentiates between importance and urgency.
“Act on the important, and don’t react to the urgent,” Perry stated.
Using the matrix, tasks and chores are identified for one of the four squares, or quadrants, based on the level of importance and urgency of each task.
“Quadrant one is the quadrant of necessity. It contains stuff that is urgent and important,” he commented.
Last minute deadlines and crises are grouped into this first box.
“When the school nurse calls and says that my son has broken his arm on the playground, I have to take care of that right away. It goes into the quadrant of necessity,” he explained.
The next box is called the quadrant of extraction and is for tasks that are urgent but not important.
“Needless interruptions, other people’s minor issues and unimportant emails are in this quadrant,” he noted.
The quadrant of waste is for tasks that are not important and not urgent.
“These things are what we do to avoid doing the actual work that we need to do,” Perry said.
He clarified that not all unproductive activities fit into this box. Watching TV, for example, may seem like a waste of time to some people.
“Sometimes we have to relax and recharge, so that when it is time to go, we have energy to get up and get it done,” he explained.
Finally, there is quadrant number two, which is labeled the quadrant of extraordinary productivity.
“Stuff that is important, but not urgent goes here,” Perry stated.
Proactive work, planning, prevention and looking down the road are characteristics of tasks in this box.
Perry explained that the key is to ask, “Which of all my priorities is the most important right now? We should pause, clarify what is most important to us and decide. Then, take action on that.”
Evaluative questions that he suggested include asking when the task really needs to be completed, if there are other resources or methods to accomplish the task, if there is another person who might be better for the job, if there is anyone who can help and what the potential impact the task has on our most important goals.
“Am I the best person to do this project at this time?” he questioned.
Defining our roles can help determine the importance of the activity at hand.
“My roles, in order, are Christian, husband, agriculturalist, learner and runner,” he said.
By creating these labels, he knows which priorities should rise to the top and how he can communicate his goals to other people.
“Sometimes I have to explain that I can’t do this right now because this other thing is the most important thing on my plate,” he explained.
Especially when working in groups, Perry noted that it is important to communicate about what is important and what is urgent.
“Everyone operates in different ways, and everyone gets things done differently,” he stated.
He also noted that other people might think that their priorities are the same as his, so he can use this tool to manage his productivity as well as his interactions with family and coworkers.
“Some tasks aren’t important to us, but the relationship is,” he added.
A task that may not be a high priority in his matrix may still go into the quadrant of extraordinary productivity because spending time with that person or acknowledging their needs is important.
“It’s not black-and-white about whether we are going to do something or not. It is about how we say yes or how we say no,” he added.
Perry explained that balancing and communicating everyone’s needs can be an art.
“As much as we’d like to, we can’t create any more minutes in a day, but we can get more out of the minutes that are in our day,” he said.