Habit 1 said that you are in charge, with habit 2 is the first creation (in the mind). Habit 3 is the second creation, in reality. Habit 3 is where you do stuff. Habit 3 to me is the Getting Things Done habit.Put First Things First sounds very logical, yet we mess this one up a lot of times. First Things are not the things that need to be done first, but the things that have to come first. YOU decide what the first things are! In habit 2 you have made a lot of these decisions. The things that make you happy, the things that give you true
fulfillment, those are the First Things.
Covey makes a strong case to plan blocks of time for these First Things in your calender, and stick to them. The rest can be used as filler as there’s so much more that comes your way than only your First Things. Getting Things Done is all about dealing with all the stuff that’s coming at you. Both Stephen Covey and David Allen provide me a piece of the puzzle here. The GTD system would benefit from the time leadership matrix that Covey describes in his book.
The time-leadership matrix
The Eisenhower matrix (Eisenhower is the real inventor) combines importance and urgency into a matrix to make up 4 quadrants:
Q1: the stress quadrant
- This is the important and urgent quadrant.
- This is where you find the the crises, projects close to their deadlines, urgent problems and so on.
- The strategy: Do Now!
- It needs to be done, and it needs to be done fast!
Q2: the value quadrant
- This is important, but not urgent.
- This is where you find education, working on your vision, investing in people and so on.
- The strategy: Schedule time.
- It needs to be done, plan time to do it before it gets urgent.
Q3: the deception quadrant
- It is urgent, but not important.
- This is where you find most interruptions, some meetings, other peoples chores.
- The strategy: Delegate.
- It needs to be done fast, but are you the one that needs to do it?
Q4: the regret quadrant
- It neither important nor urgent
- This is where you find pass-times, some phone calls (you know them), the “too much” activities (too much television, too much internet).
- The strategy: Eliminate
- And why were you doing this again?
Most people are Q1 and Q3 dominant. The urgency gives them a rush, it feels that you’re important, you deal with the urgent stuff. The challenge is to get Q2 as big as possible. The more you invest in Q2, the smaller the need for urgency (Q1 en Q3).
This is a very powerful concept, and I use it in combination with GTD. For all my projects and actions, I think about the relationship between the projects and next actions and the quadrants. If it turns out to be Q3, I define new actions to prevent this stuff from landing on my desk the next time.
Recap of the private victory
The first 3 habits are what Covey calls the “Private Victory”. These three habits will bring you to independence. In short the three habits are:
- You have to do it
- Imagine what you want
- Do it!
The private victory is not an easy victory. Look around you and you’ll recognize one of these three habits in the people that surround you. Surf around on the web and there are a lot of blogs, sites and communities dealing with one or more of these habits.
Next week habit 4: Think Win-Win
Can’t wait? You can buy Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People at Amazon, or as an audiobook here. There’s also an audiobook on this habit alone, or a complete book (the audiobook and the book are NOT the same in this case).