BOOK REVIEW: First Things First by Stephen R. Covey

ABOUT THE BOOK (from Amazon):

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


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 gimmick you’ve read about, because this is not a gimmick. This is the right way to approach time management.

Needless to say, I was not a huge fan of this book.  It took a long time to get to the point and then there were some great take-aways (about chapters 2-5) and then the rest was just painfully boring.  If you’re hungry for some time management advice, read chapters 2-5 and that’s really all you need to know.  The bottom line is: Don’t get caught up in urgency addiction, plan your days according to what you really need to get done and don’t get caught up in things that are unimportant.

Published by Kelly Schuknecht

Kelly Schuknecht is a marketer with a background in the publishing industry. She is passionate about all things related to books and loves helping authors navigate the world of social media for book promotion. She recently launched the course Marketing Your Book on TikTok.

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