First Things First: Understand Why So Often Our First Things Aren’t First by Stephen R. Covey


When I was in university and people used to say “I don’t have time!” when the deadlines for our projects used to come close and I’d start bossing them around – my response was always the same, “If you don’t have time, make time”.

More than 10-years after graduating from university, I’m only just learning how much time is important. Sometimes I look back and realize how much precious time I wasted back in those days. Unbeknown to me at a conscious level, I’ve picked up most of the habits of great time management techniques ever known. One of them happens to be the ability to prioritize, which is the key subject of Stephen R. Covey’s ‘First Things First’.

This book gives a clear description of how dividing tasks between categories of un/important vs. not/urgent results in the most effective and efficient use of time. Stephen R. Covey calls this a compass of the 4th generation of time management. There are two co-authors of this book who also give examples of how they’ve been implementing the use of the time management compass in their careers and their teams.

First Things First

Here’s a glimpse of Traditional vs. 4G Time Management (sourced from the book):

Traditional Time Management:

  • Efficiency
  • Practices
  • Management
  • Schedules
  • Urgent Things

4G Time Management:

  • Effectiveness
  • Principles
  • Leadership
  • Relationships
  • First Things

Recommendation: Anyone looking for resources to get organized and learn prioritizing of tasks at work.

Rating: 6.5/10

Next book review is on ‘Delivery Happiness’ by Tony Hsieh – CEO of Zappos.

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