Book Summary : First Things First by Stephen R. Covey

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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 Urgent

Important 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...