Habit 3 – First Things First or Self-Managing

This chapter of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (Amazon Affiliate Link) focuses on the practical day-to-day actions required to honor the principle-centered focus represented by Habit 2. After taking time to develop a personal mission statement, an over-arching focus for one’s life, Habit 3 offers practical advice to develop daily and weekly habits to improve time management and reinforce Habit 1, Be Proactive.

The chapter starts by asking the following question:

What one thing could you do (that you aren’t doing now) that if you did on a regular basis, would make a tremendous positive difference in your personal life?

Next, it breaks activities down into four quadrants as follows:

Most people, even good managers, spend their time in Quadrants I and III. Loafers tend to hide out in Quadrant IV. Leaders spend their time in Quadrant II, minimizing the need for time spent in the other three quadrants.

The discussion that stands out most in this chapter is the discussion of Independent Will. The idea that motivation comes from within and, no matter what happens at work, you answer to your own set of values and standards.

“Be as you wish to seem.” – Socrates

This means that every choice, every decision, every commitment answers to the greater purpose you have selected for your life. This gives the individual the autonomy and to say “No”” with a greater “Yes!” in mind. Guilt-free. This is the answer to habitual people-pleasing.

As they say, 80% of the results come from 20% of the work. My answer to the first question above, the most important thing I have not been doing, became evident when I became unemployed two weeks ago: Downtime. Without it, I’m irritable and frazzled and unable to do the one thing that is easily my highest priority: being in the moment with people. How can one connect with others when you’re a million miles away? You can’t! It’s hard to ignore these obvious answers just because the implementation is difficult or requires discipline.

“The successful person has the habit of doing things failures don’t like to do. The Successes don’t like doing them either, necessarily. But their disliking is subordinated to the strength of purpose.” – E. M. Gray

I challenge you to take an honest look at your life and ask yourself: Where are you spending your time and what can you do differently?

Discussion of the remaining habits can be found here.