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First Things First Paperback – January 17, 1996

4.1 out of 5 stars 1,623 customer reviews

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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

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.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; Reprint edition (January 17, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684802031
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684802039
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,623 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,563 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A. Eby on September 13, 2002
Format: Paperback
The first time I read this book, I hated it. Just flat hated it. That was my junior year of high school. Flash forward a few years to college, and it's on the reading list again. "Why, oh why?" I moan. Then I read the thing. And you know what I discover? It's a masterpiece.
Chinua Achebe describes "Things Fall Apart" as a response to Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness", which is, comparatively, a denser, perhaps less accessible read. The parallels are there: the ominous drumbeats Marlow describes as mingling with his heartbeat are here given a source and a context. We, as readers, are invited into the lives of the Ibo clan in Nigeria. We learn their customs, their beliefs, terms from their language. Okonkwo, the main character, is the perfect anti-hero. He is maybe Achebe's ultimate creation: flawed, angry, deeply afraid but outwardly fierce. To have given us a perfect hero would have been to sell the story of these people drastically short. Achebe's great achievement is in rendering them as humans, people we can identify with. So they don't dress like Americans, or share our religious beliefs. Who's to say which method is correct, or if there has to be a correct and incorrect way. Achebe provokes thoughtfulness and important questions. His narrative is easy to read structurally, but the story itself is painful and frustrating. It is worthy of its subject.
"Things Fall Apart" provoked some of the best classroom discussions I've ever experienced. As a reader, it has enriched my life. My thanks to Achebe for his marvelous contribution to literature. This book has a permanent place on my shelves.
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By A Customer on April 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
The first two-thirds of "Things Fall Apart" is an affectionate description of the culture of an Ibo clan told from an insider's viewpoint, focusing on the life of Okonkwo, one of his tribe's most respected leaders. The customs and religion of the Ibo village are described with sympathy and simplicity, creating a sense of nostalgia for a way of life completely exotic to Western sensibilities, but making the reader feel the force and logic of a traditional culture seen from within. This idyllic description is clouded by the reader's awareness of the culture's fragility, a foreboding sense of pity and of looming disaster. Disaster comes, of course, in the shape of white missionaries. In the last part of the story, evangelizing Christians and English colonial administrators establish themselves in the Ibo village, and act to corrode and unravel the traditional life of the Ibo people. An escalating series of misunderstandings and conflicts between the whites and natives lead to the inevitable tragic ending. In the last paragraph of the novel, the perspective shifts suddenly to that of the English colonial adminstrator, and ends with one of the most powerful and affecting last lines of any novel I've read.
This book was thoroughly enjoyable, and I recommend it unreservedly.
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Format: Paperback
The more the reader thinks about Things Fall Apart, the more he becomes aware that the heart of a story is about the struggles of an individual and less about what is a compelling and unsentimental survey of Nigeria's Ibo culture just before the arrival of white settlers.

The story's protagonist is Okonkwo, who at first appears to be a model warrior and self-made man who slowly discovers that the attributes he believed would serve him well as an adult instead breed a fear of failure and profound frustration. He is a complex and heavy-handed head of his household who is at once sympathetic and cruel.

Most of the story is told before the actual appearance of the first white settlers, but their pending arrival hangs over the middle part of the book like a rain cloud. By the time it actually happens in the last 50 or so pages of the book, Okonkwo has been driven into exile, his life a shambles. He has only a slim hope of redemption, and that is shattered by the arrival of the settlers.

Okonkwo's story is a relevant one even at a time when cultural and political imperialism has turned away from Africa toward the Middle East, Latin America, and Eastern Europe. But more important than its relevance is its artistry: it is a deceptively simple epic tale somehow packed into just over 200 pages, and one of the most impressive first novels on record. Don't miss it.
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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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