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Habit 3: Put First Things First®

“Putting first things first means organizing and executing around your most important priorities. It is living and being driven by the principles you value most, not by the agendas and forces surrounding you.”

                                                                                                                     — Dr. Stephen R. Covey

The Habit of Personal Management

Habit 3: Put First Things First is the exercise of independent will toward becoming principle-centered. Habit 3 is the practical fulfillment of Habits 1 and 2. Habit 1 says, “You are the creator. You are in charge.”


Habit 2 is the first mental creation, based on imagination, the ability to envision what you can become. Habit 3 is the second creation, the physical creation.

This habit is where Habits 1 and 2 come together. It happens day in and day out, moment-by-moment. It deals with many of the questions addressed around time management. But that’s not all; habit 3 is about life management as well—your purpose, values, roles, and priorities. What are “first things?” First things are those things you find of most worth. If you put first things first, you are organizing and managing time and events according to the personal priorities you established in Habit 2.

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Manage Your Time Like a Pro: 7 Tips for Doing What Matters Most 

Learn how to be intentional about how you use your time, so you can respond to unforeseen events in effective 


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The Four Quadrants of Time Management

We spend our time in one of four ways, depending on the two factors that define an activity: urgent and important. Urgent means it requires immediate attention. Urgent things act on us and are usually visible. For example, a ringing phone is urgent. Important things, on the other hand, have to do with results. It contributes to our mission, values, and high-priority goals. We react to urgent matters. Important matters that are not urgent require more initiative, more proactivity.


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