Habit 3 focuses on putting first things first. It acknowledges the fact that it is acceptable to say no to certain things in order to focus on things which are of a greater importance. It is all about practicing effective self-management.


Habit 3 suggests that rather than focusing on things and time, we should focus on preserving and enhancing relationships and on accomplishing results. We should categorise things into 4 time management quadrants:


  1. Urgent and important – crises, problems that arise
  2. Not urgent but important – building relationships, preparations
  3. Not important but urgent – interruptions such as emails, phone calls
  4. Not urgent or important – irrelevant emails, excessive TV


The way in which you spend your time is a result of the way you see your time and the way you see your priorities. Quadrant 2 management is how to manage our lives effectively by listening to our aims from Habit 2 – from a centre of sound principles, from knowledge of our mission statement, with a focus on the important as well as the urgent. Quadrant 1 can’t be ignored but should be shrunk down in comparison to Quadrant 2. Quadrants 3 and 4 must be avoided as much as possible as they will reduce becoming more effective – to stay as effective as possible you should try and stay within Quadrant 2.


Weekly planning is much more effective than daily planning. Organising on a weekly basis provides a greater balance for including all the activities you wish to complete. Looking at your mission statement and taking time to plan your week’s tasks in advance can be much more effective for your week ahead.


Finally Habit 3 focuses on delegation – a critical skill for self-management. Delegation allows you to devote your time to your most important tasks as well as allowing personal growth for individuals and organisations. Convey talks of 2 types of delegation – Gofer delegation which delegates what to do and how to do it and Stewardship delegation which focuses on results rather than methods.


Effective managers concentrate on Stewardship delegation which takes more time initially but it is time well invested. It gives people the freedom to choose how they wish to get the mutual results discussed. Rather than you being the ‘boss’ and someone else being the ‘supervisor’ it gives people more responsibility and the freedom to make their own decisions:


“Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is.

Treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be.”


Overall Habit 3 is about practicing effective self-management – you must plan ahead weekly, prioritise your workload successful and not be afraid to say no and delegate to others when necessary.


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