Be Present and Productive 

 September 9, 2020

5 gears

Even if you were rocking work-life balance before COVID-19, you’ve likely been searching for a new rhythm to be present and productive. The 5 Gears can help.

5 gears

FIFTH GEAR is Focus Mode, the concentration of attention to projects that require sustained focus. Strategic planning, critical thinking, and design all fall into this category. In Fifth Gear, we may “get in the zone” and lose all sense of time. Post a “Fifth Gear” sign outside your workspace. Ask others to interrupt only if it’s urgent. Focus allows us to be highly productive with time-intensive projects in need of sustained attention.

FOURTH GEAR is Task Mode, AKA multi-tasking. Emails, phone calls, meetings, to do lists. Many of us spend much of our time in Fourth Gear. It can be highly rewarding to mark things off our list, even if they are not high priority items. Like Fifth Gear, Fourth

Gear is productive, just in a different way.

THIRD GEAR is Social Mode, interacting with others around diverse topics, such as hobbies, travel, sports, or the latest TV series. The conversation may involve

numerous people. It is fluid. Discussion flows from topic to topic, which may shift up to Fourth Gear work, or down to the deeper conversations of Second Gear.

SECOND GEAR is Connect Mode: a time for interacting with others on a more personal level. Whether at home, socially, or at work, we gain a deeper understanding of who others are, how they think, and what matters to them. In Second Gear we are present, without distractions or tasks. We focus our attention on one person or a small group of people.

FIRST GEAR is Recharge Mode, a time to unplug and replenish our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual energy. First Gear may be solo or involve others. It includes exercise, recreational reading, hobbies, and experiences – whatever energizes you. It also includes sleep! First Gear is our chance to refuel, so we don’t run out of gas. In this way, First Gear is different from crashing. First gear is proactive. It allows us to work

from our rest, not merely rest from our work. Imagine what your day may be like if you started with First Gear instead of email, social networks, and news.

REVERSE GEAR is Responsive Mode, a time to “back up” and say we are sorry. We are all wrong sometimes. Having healthy boundaries includes taking personal responsibility for our errors and apologizing. You would never buy a car without reverse. There are some situations you can’t get out of without the ability to back up. Similarly, without Reverse Gear, the functionality and health of relationships is limited.

Think about it:

  • Which gear(s) do you need more of?
  • Which gear(s) are you over-utilizing?
  • What action steps will you take to create better balance – and let all the Gears work for you?

PS -- The above is an adapted excerpt from my forthcoming book In the Company of Family: How to Thrive When Business is Personal. It's scheduled for release later this month.

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About the author

A former CPA, my career started at a Big 5 accounting firm. As part of the Family Wealth Planning group, I saw the challenges of family business and family wealth. The cons often overshadowed the enjoyment of working with family. I was convinced there had to be a better way, but could not find anyone who could help navigate the intersection of family, business, and wealth. Determined, I left my career in finance and earned a Masters in Psychology.In the almost two decades since, I have learned how families can thrive -- even when business is personal. Let me help you, your family, and its business thrive.

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