Book Summary : First Things First By Stephen R. Covey

1289 words - 5 pages

First Things First by Stephen R. Covey.In this book, Covey proposes that previous time management theorists had not gone far enough to accommodate the ever increasing demands on our day-to day life. He proposes a lifestyle which involves working towards balancing key life roles on a weekly basis and being guided by principles, mission and goals. This approach would suggest that we should not be trying to be more efficient (do more things in less time) but to be more effective in the areas of our life that matter the most.The first section of the book introduces us to the concept of the "Clock and Compass." Covey suggests that most of us are guided by our clocks (representing appointments, schedules) rather than our compasses (representing our "true north" direction of values, vision and principles.) He suggests that there are three generations of time management schools which attempt to solve the problem of handling time constraints, none of which successfully enable us to be long-term focused, values-driven AND flexible, As a result, he proposes a fourth generation which seeks to have the advantages of the previous three generations without their drawbacks and enable us to be guided by our inner compasses, not our clocks. In effect we will be able to put first things first.In order to have the right focus Covey asks us to identify our weekly tasks and place them in the following diagram:Urgent | Not UrgentImportant QI | QII|=============Not important QIII | QIV||Covey argues that most people spend the majority of their time doing tasks in Quadrant I, when actually activities that produce most positive results in personal and professional lives are in Quadrant II. If a person spends too much time in Quadrant I, they may escape to Quadrant IV for a while for temporary relief. In order to find more time to spend in Quadrant II, a person can reduce the time spent in Quadrant III. The more time spent in Quadrant II, the more they will see a decrease in the amount of time in Quadrant I.In Section Two - Keeping the main thing the main thing, Covey hopes to shift the reader's focus from pursuing urgent tasks to pursuing important tasks. He asks the reader to identify the main roles they play in life and then to make 3 or 4 goals for each role. In addition to the main roles, there is also a role called "sharpening the saw" which consists of daily work on the physical, mental, social and spiritual being. The analogy being that of taking a little time off from sawing the wood to sharpen the saw, i.e. spending a little time away to work on one's being.When trying to find ways in which more time can be spent on Quadrant II activities, Covey suggests that the reader puts their quadrant II activities into their calendar first - the main role goals, and then build the other quadrant tasks around them.Later in this section, Covey shows how performance is increased when a longer-term vision is used rather than an immediate focus, especially when this vision is a...

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