Habit 3: Put First Things First

“How do I focus on my highest priorities?”  Synopsis:  Stephen Covey calls this the habit of personal management. This is about organizing and implementing activities in line with the aims established in habit 2.  Covey says that habit 2 is the first, or mental creation; habit 3 is the second, or physical creation.

7 Habits Overview post HERE.
Habit 1 Overview post HERE.
Habit 2 Overview post HERE.

If you are ready to challenge yourself to achieve better effectiveness in your personal and interpersonal life – please read on.

Habit 3: Put First Things First.  This habit helps you identify and eliminate unimportant activities that rob you of your time.  This allows you to focus on what matters most in your personal and professional lives.

Most things that we do each day can be divided up in two different ways: they’re either urgent or not urgent, and they’re either important or not important. Obviously, we wish for the things we do to be important, but we’d also like for them not to be urgent, because urgent things cause stress. Urgent is defined as an activity that you or others feel requires immediate attention, while an important activity is one that you find valuable and that contributes to your mission, values, and high-priority goals.  So, ideally, an effective person focuses on things that are important, but not urgent.

Covey points out that we should strive to do this in all aspects of our life, no matter which hat we’re wearing at the moment: employee, parent, spouse, volunteer, etc.  Then, within each of those roles, one should define specific goals that they wish to accomplish: important short-term goals. For example, in my role as a wife, I might have a goal of spending XX amount of hours with my husband outside of the home each week (movie, park, walk, etc.)

Once you’ve defined a couple of goals for the upcoming week for each of your roles, literally schedule them in. Add these things to your schedule and don’t let anything interfere with them. Because these items are not urgent, you have some flexibility on when to do them, but because they’re important, you must schedule them and keep it on the schedule.

Next time I will introduce Habit 4: Think Win-Win.

Until then…


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