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Highly effective people are known to focus on discovering opportunities around them. They then utilize these opportunities to their advantage keenly taking into consideration their principles and values. They do this in order to achieve personal or organizational goals (Hergenhahn, 2005).
The decisions they make are centered and focused on already defined mission statements. For one to benefit fully from concepts of Habit 2 Put First Things First, one needs to have thoroughly understood and internalized Habit 1 and Habit 2. Habit 1 focuses on the individual’s character development (pro-activity).
It is through the character that one develops in this stage that he or she is able to refrain from activities that do not contribute towards the achievement of the defined goals. Habit 2 begins with “an end” in mind. Stephen Covey (2004) emphasizes on creating a clear vision of one’s objective. This has to start with analyzing one’s current situation in order to know one’s position. It is by so doing that one is able to come up with a personal or organizational constitution.
The latter draws clear guidelines and regulations towards achieving the short term and long term goals. The said goals converge to form the mission statement. The purpose of this study is to critically analyze the ideas and concepts of Habit 3 Put First Things First. The study reveals how this habit may be applied in the real world through use of practical examples. A look at the 2 X 2 matrix, delegation and recommendations will help to exemplify better the concepts of Habit 3 Put First Things First.
The 2 X 2 Matrix
Highly effective people recognize the activities that are important to them and those that are not important (Gazzaniga, 2010). With the use of 2 X 2 Matrix, Stephen Covey (2004) classifies the day to day activities into four categories;
|-Pressing matters |
-Deadline driven activities
|– Prevention |
– Implementing systems
-Planning and preparations
-Improving professional knowledge
– Telephone Calls.
– Interruptions; a colleague walking in to the office
– Unplanned meeting
|– Trivial |
– Busy Work
1. Important and urgent are classified as Quadrant 1. 2. Important and not urgent are classified as Quadrant 2. 3. Urgent and not important are classified as Quadrant 3. 4. Not important and not urgent are classified as Quadrant 4. For effective management, Quadrant 1 activities should be given preference.
All tasks should be evaluated to determine the important activities and their urgencies. It is good to deal with all important and urgent matters first. Deadline driven projects should be given priority too. Crisis matters and pressing problems should be considered first as well.
To manage your life effectively based on the principles and values outlined in your mission statement, you have to focus on activities of Quadrant 2 especially the important activities which are not urgent. This works a long way towards improving your production capacity. For example, instead of embarking on planning each day at a time, it could be ideal for you to focus on weekly activities that are inline with the accomplishment of your personal goals and roles.
For instance, a person who intends to reduce 10 kilograms of his or her body weight in one month can come up with a whole week schedule that outlines the activities he or she will undertake each day in order to reduce the desired weight. In the weekly plan, he or she can specify the diet to take each day taking into consideration the amount of calories his or her body requires and adjust his or her meals to suit the required calories.
He or she can also plan for the exercises to undertake each day of the week. He or she may allocate two days for jogging and three days for indoor gym activities. Another important aspect of Quadrant 2 involves preparation. A student who wishes to excel in his or her exams must do certain things that may enhance the chances of academic excellence for the particular student.
This would involve studying all the course materials exhaustively and ensuring that he or she has covered the entire syllabus. He or she should embark on thorough revision of the entire course work. He or she can engage other students in discussions on the different topics in the course outline. A review of past exams would help him or her in understanding how the questions in the exams are set.
The same case would apply to an engineer who wishes to be highly effective in his career. The engineer may consider enrolling for an advanced course in his profession. This would help him or her sharpen his professional skills and knowledge. He or she would also actively participate in seminars and workshops with an aim of boosting his or her professional attributes. Sometimes people engage themselves in activities that take a lot of their time.
Those activities may not be necessarily important to the fulfillment of their goals. These are activities of Quadrant 3 which comprise urgent activities but which may not be very important or necessary. These activities are portrayed as urgent because they involve other people who may be important to people’s lives like friends and relatives. Activities of Quadrant 3 may have nothing to do with the realization of people’s personal goals. Sometimes these activities may be depicted as important.
They may persuade many people to put more time and energy on them. They may not be as important as perceived. For example, in an office setup, a colleague may come to your office to make an acquaintance. A small discussion may ensue and without both of you noticing, a substantial amount of time may eventually be wasted which would have otherwise been spent working towards the accomplishment of your organizational goals. Telephone calls may be other forms of distractions.
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Your callers make take a lot of your time by engaging you in conversations that may not have a productive impact on your work. It is important to know the purpose of the telephone call and assess whether it is worth giving your time to at that particular moment. It is from that point that you would be able to decide whether to take that call, postpone or ignore it. Though the internet is the greatest information tool, it has been misused in most organizations hindering the latter from achieving their goals.
In certain cases, you may find employees busy on the computers creating the impression that they are doing something substantial towards execution of the company’s mission. On the other hand, those employees may be busy chatting with their friends through the various social sites, responding to emails from their friends or surfing in the internet for materials of their personal interests.
All these things are not essential in a person’s life that is why Covey (2004) classifies them as not important. They have very little significance to the attainment of the mission of any given company. Some small issues may arise in an organization prompting concerned managers to call for the so called “urgent meetings”. In such circumstances, the meeting agendas may not be carefully drawn and the parties participating in the said meetings may not be taken into consideration.
Such meetings may not be adequately prepared for by all parties eventually leading to wastage of time by the concerned parties. These meetings may not add any value towards the fulfillment of the company’s mission. Quadrant 4 illustrates activities that are not important as well as not urgent. Certain people may give excuses of being busy with the intention of avoiding certain duties or activities given to them by their respective organizations.
One may be surprised to find out that these people may not be as busy as they may portray to be. A closer examination on the lives of the said people may reveal that they may be engaged in activities that are not so important like watching movies, reading newspapers and novels. Ideally, it is important to reduce the time taken on these activities and concentrate more on the activities that would lead one to being highly effective in realizing either one’s personal or organizational goals and objectives.
A highly effective person ought to understand that it is not possible to accomplish all the activities that will help him or her achieve the intended goals. It is therefore important that one identifies the specific activities to work on in achieving one’s goals.
One needs to realize the strengths and weaknesses of the people that one plans to work with. By so doing, one would be capable of understanding the abilities of different people. When delegating, it is important to avoid telling the persons concerned what to do. It is imperative let them know the vision and goals to attain. Let them understand the desired values. Let them realize and appreciate your principles.
A person whose goal is to cut 10 kilograms of body weight in one month can delegate his or her diet planning to a professional nutritionist. If the person is a vegetarian, he can inform the nutritionist beforehand. By so doing, he would be letting the nutritionist know his values and principles. This way, he or she would have simply delegated some part his or her goal to a professional who can better handle the given assignment.
Proper time management is the key towards being highly effective for any one. With good time management, one may be able to effectively employ and implement Habit 3 Put First Things First.
Proper scheduling of one’s activities is the foundation towards implementing Habit 3 put first things first (Palmer &Woolfe, 1999). Quite often, unexpected activities may arise and may have to be dealt with. A highly effective person should create a means of adapting to the unexpected activities when they arise.
Covey, S. R. (2004). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. New York, USA: Free Press A Division of Simon and Schuster, Inc.
Gazzaniga, M. (2010). Psychological Science. New York, USA: W.W. Norton & Company.
Hergenhahn, B.R. (2005). An introduction to the history of psychology. Belmont, USA: Thomson Wadsworth.
Palmer, S. M., &Woolfe, R. (1999). Integrative and eclectic counselling and psychotherapy. London, UK: Sage Publications.