Habit 3 — Put First Things First

Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” —Goethe

Habit 1 says you are in charge: be proactive in your own life. Habit 2 says you are the creator of the vision of what you can become. Habit 3 is now the actual physical creation of your vision. It’s the actual doing it. Habits 1 and 2 are essential to habit 3. Developing a proactive nature and having a strong vision make up the foundation of habit 3, the practice of effective self-management.

Management is very different from leadership. Leadership is about being more creative and visionary, and about seeing longer term and the bigger picture. It’s about asking purposeful questions and then managing yourself effectively in order to create the life you have envisioned. Management is about planning and doing effectively, and the ability to make and keep commitments to yourself is key. Covey says that “effective management is about putting first things first, whereas leadership decides what those first things are.”

Management is a discipline of carrying things out. The word “discipline” comes from “disciple.” With a strong vision and a clear sense of purpose, you become a disciple of yourself. Also, having a very clear sense of purpose and direction makes it possible to say no to anything that doesn’t serve that purpose. Habit 3 is about organizing and executing around priorities.

Actions to take