Habit 3 - Put First Things First

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

The Next Step - Learning How to Put First Things First

Being proactive is making choices: choosing your mood, attitudes, and behaviors. Beginning with the end in mind means having a vision that directs your life toward effectiveness. Habit 3 - Put First Things First is about time and life management. The "First Things" are the things that are most important to you. It means bringing together proactivity and your vision to prioritize what needs to be done. We spend too much time on things in life that are not important, or seem to be important but don't help us accomplish what really means most to us. Putting first things first simply means that we should identify what is really important to us and make sure that most of our time and efforts are spent on those things. It's about living in harmony with our principles and putting our life goals into action. In the video below, Steven Covey talks more about the actions of Habit 3.
Stephen Covey: Goals and Priorities

Putting the Big Rocks in First

Prioritizing your life can be summed up using the analogy of "putting the big rocks first". Imagine we had a container to fill with rocks. The container represents our time and effort. It is definite and limited. No matter what we do, our time is not limitless. There are only 24 hours in a day. The "big rocks" represent those things that are most important to us: principles, values, long-term goals, and relationships. "Small rocks"represent all the things that we do that are less important or not important at all. Many times these things seem important, but don't align with our personal vision and goals. If we "put the small rocks in first", we may not have room for the "big rocks", or most important things. How often do we let the "urgent" things of daily life get in the way of putting our time and effort into the things that are most valuable? If we "put the big rocks in first", we will find that there is enough room for everything, big and small, and we will realize the effectiveness of living life centered on values, principles, goals, and relationships.
Big Rocks First

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Source: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey (1989)