7 Habits: Put First Things First


The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey focuses on the principles of fairness, integrity, honesty, and human dignity. At iLEAD, we believe consistent development and growth are vital to one’s well-being and to our community as a whole! The concepts explored in this book can be useful for people from all walks of life at all ages, and they deserve to be revisited! We hope you find our brief summary of each habit in upcoming Monday Messages useful, and we encourage you to explore the habits at a deeper level by demonstrating and practicing them in your own environment.

Habit 3: Put First Things First

Habit 3 is all about prioritization. While people’s priorities vary, prioritization is good as it allows us to gain new perspectives. It is essential that each of us develop our own habits and priorities to meet our own goals.

Putting first things first is the physical creation of one’s goals. Learning how to prioritize one’s activities according to one’s goals is essential for turning goals into a reality. Proper prioritization helps one work more effectively because it eliminates needless work, or at least arranges it appropriately. According to Covey, prioritization is about learning how to manage yourself.

Covey promotes the Time Management Matrix (also known as the Eisenhower Matrix) for identifying and arranging priorities. This matrix helps people to focus on identifying higher-value tasks and accomplishing results by first classifying their daily activities by urgency/importance, and then approaching them based on the quadrant of the matrix in which they fall. Using this matrix, one’s daily activities can be categorized into four quadrants:

Quadrant 2 is about having personal leadership and focusing on the important tasks that have long-term effect. This quadrant reflects one’s life goals and desires, which are linked to one’s life purpose. It is the magic quadrant on which people should focus, and yet it is often the most neglected.

There are two reasons why Q2 tasks are often neglected. First, Q2 tasks (for example, taking care of one’s health or pursuing one’s dreams) don’t often present visible urgency until it is too late. Second, Q2 tasks require more time and energy investment before one sees results. Unfortunately, this conflicts with modern society’s desire for instant gratification.

We encourage you to spend some time this school year evaluating your time and priorities and try plugging them into the matrix! Keep in mind that Q2 tasks reap the most reward in the long run. Think of time spent in Q2 as sowing seeds for an abundant future harvest!


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