Put First Things First


  • Question: What one thing could you do – which you aren’t doing now – that If you did it regularly,
    would make a tremendous difference in your business or personal life?

  • The next habit involves self-leadership and self-management: putting first things first. Leader
    ship decides what the “first things” are, and management is the discipline of carrying out your

  • As Peter Drucker has pointed out, the expression “time management” is something of a
    misnomer: We have a constant amount of time, no matter what we do; the challenge we face
    is to manage ourselves. To be an effective manager of yourself, you must organize and
    execute around priorities.

  • We don’t manage time. We can only I manage ourselves.

  • Instead of trying to fit all the things of our lives into the time allotted, as many time management
    plans do, our focus here is on enhancing relationships and achieving results.
    We all face the same dilemma. We are caught between the urgent and the important.
    Something urgent requires immediate attention, it’s usually visible, it presses on us, but may
    not have any bearing on our long-term goals. Important things, on the other hand, have to do
    with results – they contribute to our mission, our values, our high- priority goals. We react to
    urgent matters; we often must act to take care of important matters, even as urgent things
    scream for our attention.

  • People get “harried” away from their real goals and values by subordinating the important to
    the urgent; some are beaten up by problems (in quadrants I and HI on the “Time-Management
    Matrix”) all day, every day. Their only relief is in escaping once in a while to the calm waters of
    quadrant IV.

  • To paraphrase Drucker again, effective people don’t solve problems – they pursue
    opportunities. They feed opportunities and starve problems. They have genuine quadrant I
    emergencies, but by thinking and acting preventively, they keep their number down.
    With the time-management quadrants in mind, consider the question you answered at the
    beginning of this section. What quadrant do your answers fit in? My guess is quadrant H:
    deeply important, but not urgent And because they aren’t urgent, you don’t do them.

  • I put a group of shopping-center managers through the same exercise. The thing they said
    would make a tremendous difference was to build helpful personal relationships with their
    tenants – the owners of the stores inside the center – a quadrant II activity.
    We did an analysis of how much time they spent on that activity. It was less than 5 percent of
    their time. They had good reasons: urgent problems, one after the other. Reports, meetings,
    calls, interruptions. Quadrant I consumed them. The only time they did spend with store
    managers was filled with negative energy: when they had to collect money or correct
    advertising practices that were out-of-line.

  • The owners decided to be proactive. They resolved to spend one-third of their time improving
    their relationships with tenants. I worked with the organi7 a year and a half, and saw their time
    spent with tenants climb to 20 percent They became listeners and consultants to their tenants.
    The effect was profound. Tenants were thrilled with the new ideas and skills the owners
    brought them. Sales in the stores climbed, and so did revenues from the leases. 

Nishan Foundation focuses on providing the most effective, evidence-based treatment, exceeding expectations by paying close attention to four key therapeutic principles

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