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First Things First

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  39,976 ratings  ·  567 reviews
From the author that brought you the New York Times bestseller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People comes a guide to prioritizing your personal and professional goals.

I'm getting more done in less time, but where are the rich relationships, the inner peace, the balance, the confidence that I'm doing what matters most and doing it well?

Does this nagging question haunt yo
Paperback, 384 pages
Published January 17th 1996 by Free Press (first published September 1st 1993)
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Donna Henning Try your local library. Many are allowing online registration. If they don't have the book, you might be able to request it through an interlibrary lo…moreTry your local library. Many are allowing online registration. If they don't have the book, you might be able to request it through an interlibrary loan.(less)

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Another terrifically helpful book from the pen of Stephen Covey. I personally found especially useful the two-by-two matrix he discusses as a way to organize yourself. The four resulting quadrants include:

1. Important and Urgent
2. Important, Not Urgent
3. Urgent, Not Important
4. Not Urgent, Not Important

Simply put, most people spend far too much time in quadrants 3 & 4. We also spend too much time in quadrant 1, not that those issues are unimportant, but because we don't manage our priorities w
Jun 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
A thought-provoking model for living by principles rather than your to-do list. It challenges the way most Westerners structure their days and weeks, and shows how to replace your hectic, stressful schedule with a peaceful, fulfilling one. Unfortunately, it's much more verbose than necessary; it's repetitive, with lengthy examples.

Summary: Live a principle-centered life. Listen to your conscience (which acts as a compass to "true north" principles ultimately from God) and put first things first
Hatem Shawkat
Oct 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook, 2017, self-help whole time Issue :((((.... in this book Stephen teaching us the 4th generation in time management

#1st...Is To do List but it was hard to keep it in your eyes so it's not so helpful.

#2nd...Is Calendar like to say 13:15 I am going to club than another hobbit but when you miss something the whole day would go wrong.

#3rd...To write your goals and then try to work on it and I don`t know where`s the time management in this case !

#4th...To Classify your Tasks in a table and th
Feb 08, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2008
This book was a slow read for me, it was really hard for me to get into it, I especially had a hard time with all of the different "quadrants" of organization and such, I'm just not into that. Although, there were a lot of things that I did like about the book. One point brought up is that we use busy-ness as a way to validate ourselves and to feel important, and I think that's very true, and I am starting to realize that it really doesn't matter. I don't have to be involved in a million differe ...more
Loy Machedo
Dec 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Stephen Covey’s book First Things First is an elaborated section of the “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. The book tends to focus on Human Habits through the guidance of a Compass rather than a Clock with its core principle of Quality versus Quantity.

The author helps people achieve habit by presenting the Four Quadrants:
Quadrant I – Urgent + Important
Quadrant II - Not Urgent But Important
Quadrant III – Urgent But Not Important
Quadrant IV - Not Urgent, Not Important

Covey recommends graduall
Kelly  Schuknecht
Feb 11, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: business
I couldn't help thinking most of the time while I was reading this book that it's kind of like a diet book: "All other diets are useless...This isn't a diet, it's a revolutionary new way to approach eating...Do what we say in this book and your life will be transformed forever...blah, blah." When the bottom line is really: Think about what you're eating and make smarter choices. Most time management books are probably similar: "Follow these guidelines, rather than every other time management gim ...more
May 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I have this book so marked that I stopped marking it. I have the audio and the paper back. It's a book I reference to and read multiple times.

If you're looking for guidance on your day to day activities, if you're struggling with your priorities, Stephen Covey's philosophy on the compass vs the clock will sure help you.
Feb 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
For me, this was a new way of looking at "a balanced life." Sometimes we focus so much on the urgent things, that we forget about the important things that aren't necessarily so urgent. Very insightful. It made me think that I need to focus left on getting things done, and more on getting the important things done! ...more
May 14, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Shawndra by: NAPO Virtual Chapter Book Club
Don’t buy the Kindle version but DO READ the book.

This Kindle version is frustrating, disappointing and missing important content. It may say it has new technology and audio/visual but I found no links or content to it. They had some colored infographs but all the diagrams, worksheets and charts they mention are not available anywhere in this version. The format they used for the Kindle must have been previously used for a print book as numerous word breaks are found throughout the Kindle versio
May 26, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone, leaders, teachers
Shelves: h2w2-collection
Teaches you the art and craft of time management. Move away from reactive day to day to do list planning and gets you to view your time as the week proactively scheduling in your priorities with the compass card. The principle of the clock and the compass is right on.
Mar 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: z-2017
First things First is one of those books that was on my mind for a long time, and I’m so glad I finally read it. For someone who’s fascinated by productivity and maximising it through the choices i make on a daily basis, this has been the most impactful book I’ve read in my life.

I couldn’t help but regularly highlight passages. There were so many gems in this book, and perhaps the most important quote I highlighted, that has relevance to everyday life is:
“The key to quality of life is in the c
Jul 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I wrote this review when I read this book two years ago, and it's still up to now one of the book that influenced and affected my life the most:

First Things First is a self-help book written by Stephen Covey and Roger & Rebecca Merrill. The book aims to teach us how to put our first things first trough a time management system and defining the priorities in our lives. This excellent book had a real impact on my life, and I always recommend it to people who are willing to make their lives more ef
May 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
A deeper reflection on one of the 7 Habits, this book develops the "4th generation" of time management. Such skill involves knowing inherently one's value and then creating quadrant II space to achieve what is most important. The Laws of Life, such as the principle of the Farm and emotional bank accounts must be considered. The book frequently challenges the paradigm that busy = success and instead replaces it with the value of the compass over the clock, i.e. why scramble in the wrong direction ...more
Aug 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
Taught me about keeping the first things, the most important things, first.

To keep most of my time on what is important and not urgent. Preparation, prevention, planning, and relationships.

To Live, to Love, to Learn, to Leave a Legacy
Sep 08, 2015 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. I had to read this for school and it wasn't as helpful as I hoped it would be. Probably an amazing book if you have a fulltime job at a company and a family, but seeing as I am a student with a parttime job as production employee, this was almost completely useless. ...more
Jun 14, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: improvement
Not as big a jump for me personally, as this book is a bit of a refried 7 Habits. There are some decent tips/pointers.

I recommend skimming this one rather than intently reading it.
Feb 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Talks about how people are most important
Jan 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Still one of the best books about how to spend your time.
Mireille Duval
Jun 21, 2022 rated it liked it
I started it a couple of years ago and put it aside but then felt a need to pick it up again. Honestly, I've never been that busy that I've felt I needed better time-management, but time-management is still an interest of mine, so here we are. I thought this principle-based approach was interesting if a little nebulous. Essentially, be a good person and things will fall into place, or something like that. My father loved Covey, so reading it made me feel closer to him, and emulating him is proba ...more
This book was full of all kinds of great knowledge and skill sets for busy people. Must have if you want some great time management, goal setting, and organization skills.
Izzy Beh
Oct 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I like how to the point this book is. Normally these types of books are all about improving your professional life, but the authors talk about creating a well-rounded life by identifying the all of the roles you have in your life and applying their framework to each of those roles. You will get little out of this book unless you actually practice the principles that they teach.
Nov 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I first read this book in about 1990 and the content is as relevant today as it was back then. I learned so much from this book that has served me well for 19 years of professional work, and every time I reread a section it just reminds me how important if is to make sure you are doing first things first.

I feel that Covey has a great mind when it comes to achieving your personal best, and this book puts the rubber to the road. The materials in this book about setting goals, translating your goal
Dec 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
First Things First from a different perspective. While we are stuck with 'efficiency' and managing the stream of Quadrant III (Not urgent and not important) things that is coming at us each and every day, this books encourages us to focus on those Quadrant II things (Important but not urgent) that we seem to be neglecting.

To live, to love, to learn, and to leave a legacy. The book focuses on planning your week with these roles and human endowments in mind. Fulfilling these needs requires a caref
Mitalee | TheAvidBookerfly
Jan 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: w-book-summaries
Key message -
Too often, we focus on the wrong things in life, which results in stress and disharmony. To increase your quality of life, you need to identify your priorities, replace urgency with importance and create balance between all your tasks. You can do this by having a future-oriented vision, which will help you set effective goals. When you put your “first things” first, instead of putting the urgent or smaller things first, you’ll achieve happiness and inner peace.
Actionable advice -
Semi-Academic Eric
I am re-reading this, taking the time now to examine it closely, make notes, and do the exercises. In the past, I dipped into it, took some things to apply, and left the rest. I figured that the other books by Covey and the training by FranklinCovey would give me most of what I needed. I'm still curious about what I might have missed. And, I am interested in comparing some core ideas here with those works the authors claim to pull from. ...more
Naie Eian
Dec 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If you think that living in emergency mode is not the optimal way of living, you are right and this is the perfect book to read in order to reflect about real arguments that support your way of thinking and to realize how what you always knew deep inside is true. And most importantly, if you need a support to be acompaigned in the journey of creating a balanced way of living, this is the book. I loved it and this is exaclty what I was looking for.
Rhonda Rae Baker
Dec 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This is a great book to keep yourself focused on working life with a possitive outlook. Many books out there tell you to just press on and/or to have faith. I liked this book because he walked you through the processes...a great one to take your time with...let the process change and prepare you for success.
May Ling
Jun 13, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: business
I liked the description of the different sorts of competence. A great way to articulate why some organization shave larger process/staffing problems that are not about smarts or great technical ability.
Apr 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Re-read It get you thinking what is important and what isn't. This book has help me with staying accountable to myself. This books help me also to stay on track with my Franklin Covey (Quest) planner. ...more
Jul 22, 2013 rated it it was ok
Starts off focusing reasonably, if not originally, on the 4 quadrants (not urgent and not important, not urgent and important etc.), but degenerates into ranting about people not being successful entirely because of their inability to focus on not urgent, important tasks.
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Stephen Richards Covey was the author of the best-selling book, "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People". Other books he wrote include "First Things First", "Principle-Centered Leadership", and "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families". In 2004, Covey released "The 8th Habit". In 2008, Covey released "The Leader In Me—How Schools and Parents Around the World Are Inspiring Greatness, One ...more

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