The Productivity Matrix

February 16, 2018
Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS, CVJ, Fear Free Certified

Dr. Zeltzman is a board-certified veterinary surgeon and serial entrepreneur. His traveling surgery practice takes him all over eastern Pennsylvania and western New Jersey. You can visit his websites at DrPhilZeltzman.com and VeterinariansInParadise.com.

Best-selling author David Allen's self-management matrix is based on varying levels of perspective and control.

In a fascinating TED talk, productivity consultant and best-selling author David Allen described two key factors that will increase your productivity dramatically: perspective and control.

The first key to productivity is perspective, the ability to focus strictly on the important things. Focus means being in the moment and concentrating on the task at hand without letting your mind wander in multiple directions. Focus means leaving work problems at work and home problems at home. It means being 100% focused in the exam room and in the operating room.

The second key to productivity is control. Control allows you to regain stability and the freedom to execute your work. It means spending fewer hours at work. It translates into less financial trouble and fewer health problems, relationship issues and missed deadlines.

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Allen’s self-management matrix is based on varying levels of perspective and control. “We typically realize how badly we need better time management skills when one of these two key elements is suboptimal,” Allen explained.

In Quadrant 1, where you have no control and no perspective, you are a reactor, a victim. You are driven by “the latest and the loudest.” You are completely overcommitted, and you react to relieve the most obvious and immediate pressures and pains.

In Quadrant 2, where you have high perspective but no control, you are what Allen calls a crazy maker. You are a mad scientist, a desperate artist. You may have fantastic ideas, but you are completely disorganized. It’s a form of attention deficit disorder taken to the extreme.

In Quadrant 3, where you have no perspective but high control, you are a micromanager. You are down in the weeds, but still maintain the urge to organize everything. This prevents you from focusing on the important things. You may have an extreme form of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

In Quadrant 4, where you have high perspective and high control, you are master and commander. You have the right amount of perspective and structure. You have the stability to focus and execute. You use your creativity to explore new frontiers. You are “in the zone.”

In quadrants 1, 2 and 3, you’re never ready for what’s coming your way. You're not prepared for opportunities and surprises, regardless of whether they’re good or bad. You have no time. These states are not sustainable long-term.

So how do you reach the coveted state of high perspective and high control? How do you become a master and commander? Allen suggested three steps:

  • Get things out of your head. Allen encouraged his followers to do a complete mind dump. Capture everything that is in your head, either on paper or digitally: work, personal, family, etc.
  • Make outcome and action decisions. In other words, decide what your outcomes or goals are and what your next action should be for each item on your list.
  • Then create a roadmap to define your course of action for the next day, week, month, year, 3 years and 10 years.

Dr. Zeltzman is a board-certified veterinary surgeon and serial entrepreneur. His traveling surgery practice takes him all over Eastern Pennsylvania and Western New Jersey. You can visit his websites at DrPhilZeltzman.com and VeterinariansInParadise.com.