March 15, 2016

7 Habits: Habit 3 - First Things First

Here's an intro to Stephen R. Covey's 3rd Habit of Highly Effective People. 
For introductino to all 7 habits, read the introduction post.

But first, a quick note...
Ever since my busy time in high school I've been a list-maker. OR at least I was...until about the time I got married. Now I don't consider myself a list-maker, but more of a minimalist, prioritizer.

Lists are valuable to see items and things to be done, or noted. But if we stop at just a list, then we still have chaos. It's just chaos named. Taken one step further the list can then be ordered by priority.

So how do we prioritize our tasks and things that call on our energy and time?
This is where Covey's 3rd Habit helps...

It's helpful to evaluate what is urgent and what is important and then weed away what isn't.
So when an event or task pops into your radar, the questions to ask are...

  1. Is it urgent
  2. Is it important (to what I order of priority)

Now, some people don't need a lot of fun, so they won't have it in their important quadrant (things they value), but if its important to you, then throw it up there! If it isn't, then it don't. The categories are great because they allow you to tailor your activities to your needs. Once you do this long enough it's easier to judge your activities and events calling you all over the place without needing this exercise.

But, if you never take time to evaluate your needs by which are important or not, or which are urgent and not, then you will experience a lot more chaos than needed.

So how do you find out what is important and what isn't? Well, this is the physical creation stage of your you need to back up into the mental stage of creation first. This involves some thoughtful, personal time to delve into what you really value--establishing your personal priorities.

Like earlier, if you value fun, then that is important to you and you need to plan to get some in, even if it's just a little. I know I value trying new things and breaking routine...but that sometimes gets cut in my I have to make sure I try to get that in or I don't feel as light and happy as I generally like to be. I also know that I value a peaceful home...but that sometimes get nixed when I'm yelling at the kids because of urgent things that cause stress and make me lose sight of my important things. But...if I know I value and want a peaceful home, even in those times of emergency, I can say "ok, this isn't the norm, and that's ok temporarily--for this emergency--until I can calmly get back to what I value."

  • Quadrant one is great because it helps us manage what is needful. Yet if we spent 100% of our time on that quadrant, we'd lose focus. 
  • Quadrant two allows us to focus and stretch ourselves to more fully live and enjoy ourselves in important things that get cut because of urgency. If we think 80% management and 20% focus, then we can have a good balance.
  • Quadrant three could entail all those push notifications, texts, and facebook notices that call your attention loudly and right away, but aren't really your priority. They try to force their way into your focus--but actually detract from it. A good idea for these distractions is to minimize them. Turn off notifications you don't need or get email notifications instead of tweets, so you can order and read them at a specific time you've set aside later...which takes away their false urgency." 
  • Quadrant four is just a pure waste of time. If it isn't urgent and important (this is a blessing) because it's an easy clue as to what should be cut.

When I know who I am and what I stand for and value most, then it's easy to place events and stress in proper perspective. Try to spend the most time in quadrants 1 and 2. Knowing that occasionally 3 and 4 will creep in--hopefully temporarily. If so, notice them and then cut them as needed so they don't throw you off-balance.

*for more on Covey Habits...stay tuned.

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