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First Things First Hardcover – January 15, 1994


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1 edition (January 15, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671864416
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671864415
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (138 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #111,538 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

What are the most important things in your life? Do they get as much care, emphasis, and time as you'd like to give them? Far from the traditional "be-more-efficient" time-management book with shortcut techniques, First Things First shows you how to look at your use of time totally differently. Using this book will help you create balance between your personal and professional responsibilities by putting first things first and acting on them. Covey teaches an organizing process that helps you categorize tasks so you focus on what is important, not merely what is urgent. First you divide tasks into these quadrants:
  1. Important and Urgent (crises, deadline-driven projects)
  2. Important, Not Urgent (preparation, prevention, planning, relationships)
  3. Urgent, Not Important (interruptions, many pressing matters)
  4. Not Urgent, Not Important (trivia, time wasters)

Most people spend most of their time in quadrants 1 and 3, while quadrant 2 is where quality happens. "Doing more things faster is no substitute for doing the right things," says Covey. He points you toward the real human needs--"to live, to love, to learn, to leave a legacy"--and how to balance your time to achieve a meaningful life, not just get things done. --Joan Price --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

This is the latest time-management book from the author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Stephen Covey unveils a powerful time management systems here that really works.
Mark Forrester
This book helps you make time for the NOT urgent but important things that are Quadrant II, where long term success lye.
Maritsa
As a business coach ,I am always looking for good time management books to recommend.
Alicia Marie

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

85 of 85 people found the following review helpful By Lisa Shea HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 9, 2006
Format: Paperback
The Stephen R. Covey engine has kicked out numerous books on self-help, and they consult 200 out of the top 500 Fortune companies. After all of those books and years, they have heard enough stories and waded through enough crisis situations to get a good handle on what works and does not work in all of those environments.

Now, if you've read every book they're written, then undoubtedly you're going to begin this book and say "I've read this all before". Naturally, when they begin a book, they have to assume that some readers haven't read the other books yet. They have to catch them up on the background and basics. If you don't need that primer, then skim for a while. It's not a bad thing, it's a normal thing. It's how book writing works :) If you pick up book 5 of Harry Potter, you still have to go through a little bit of scene setting for the .00002% of the population who skipped the other books and lept into Book 5.

So now, onto the key points of this specific book. Time management is good. Organizing your goals is good. But all of these things are only good if your goals are actually valid ones. If you spend all your time creating to-do lists, and carefully plotting out weekly goals ... but your goal is to get a "bigger fur coat" while your children are starving and you're miserable at work, something is out of sync. This book is all about making sure that what you do is what you REALLY want to do. It's about a higher level of time management.

So they're not saying the other time management systems are bad. They explicitly say that each has its place in life! However, if you work very hard every day to climb a ladder, and find after many years that the ladder you've climbed was against the wrong wall, then you'll be very disappointed.
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193 of 220 people found the following review helpful By Max Jones on January 22, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have to get a couple of things out of the way right now to make you understand why this book has been so important to me (and could be to you as well). First, I am definitely someone who shuns most self-help tomes--I think most of them are crutches for weak people too lazy to get their acts together or too clueless to embrace a little common sense. Second, my prior experiences with the Covey cult were less than satisfying, as I had a boss (now departed) who talked the Covey talk but did not (I now see) truly walk the walk. This book differs from the _7 Habits_ texts in that it really deals with taking the general Covey concepts ("principle-centered living") and giving them a practical sheen--in this case by applying them to time management. Learning to divide my activities between "urgent" and "important," planning my life around certain "roles" that I have to fill, and composing a "mission statement" (a much more realistic and helpful version of year 2000 New Year's resolutions for me)--these were the concepts that have really helped me organize my life as efficiently as possible (and I was already pretty organized). I highly recommend buying the book and then following up by getting a Franklin Covey planner, where you can take the lessons from the book and start building your time and life around them. I have loaned the book to several friends and students (I teach high school) and all of them have benefitted from it in some way or another. Buying _First Things First_ will be one of the best things you can do for yourself.
And I can't believe I just wrote a positive review of a self-help book. Trust me on how helpful this book can be.
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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Marie Jones on June 29, 2001
Format: Paperback
I admit it, I was a Covey cynic. I hadn't read him, but had heard him quoted ad nauseum. Now, I'm a convert. This thoughtful book transforms bland time management techniques into tools for re-examining your life in terms of personalized mission statements. In this rushed world, the idea of deeply knowing what you want out of life and making sure that your activities fit in with that knowledge is radically different. Balance is emphasized, with that balance organized around your roles in life and real human needs, "to learn, to live, to love and to leave a legacy." Covey divides all activities into four quadrants: 1.Important and Urgent (crises, deadline-driven projects) 2.Important, Not Urgent (preparation, prevention, planning, relationships) 3.Urgent, Not Important (interruptions, many pressing matters) 4.Not Urgent, Not Important (trivia, time wasters)
The idea is to keep your activities primarily in the second category and to consciously choose activities because of what's important, not because of what's urgent. Covey et al also provide a list of the "Wisdom Literature" from around the world to help you ground your personal mission and life goals in the philosophies that have explored these ideas through the centuries. Don't try to read this book without allowing plenty of reflection time. After you've read the book, you'll allow plenty of reflection time for everything.
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46 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 20, 2000
Format: Audio Cassette
The strength of the abridged audiocassette is the conviction in Dr. Covey's voice. It will convince you that this is an important subject.
The weakness of this audiocassette is that you will learn the principles behind Quadrant Two Time Management, but not how to do it. As the audiocassette will tell you, you will need to buy the book, study it, and then start doing it. I thought this was so substantial a weakness that I graded the book down two stars for this limitation.
If you are pretty sure you want to use this method, go directly to the book. If you are not sure, listen to this audiocassette. I found a copy in my local library. Perhaps you can, too.
The time management technique here is intended to be a fourth generation of that method of getting more accomplished. The main different is that the goals here are to achieve more balance in your life by having you focus first on doing what is most important to you that will make the most difference. You will plan weekly, and reiterate your planning to learn from your experiences of the prior week.
Quadrant 2 is the area where activities are important, but not urgent. These activities are often overlooked, or are pushed out of the way by urgent activities, including ones that are unimportant.
The time management process is designed to handle all elements of your life, personal life as well as work. An analogy is used to putting big rocks, gravel, sand, and water into a jar. If you start with the big rocks, you can get everything in the jar. If you start in the opposite order, you'll never fit the big rocks in.
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