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Personal growth paradox: Doing last things first March 20, 2014

Posted by Dennis Mellersh in Get Organized, Personal Growth Books.
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The more we study personal development and growth, in our efforts to improve ourselves, the more often we will encounter the advice to “put first things first.”

Stephen R. Covey, in fact, as the lead author, wrote a 370-page book on this topic, First Things First*. Co-authors are A. Roger Merrill, and Rebecca R. Merrill.

The implication is that most of us are often tempted to do last things first.

“Last things” being those activities that are not important.   In his time management matrix Covey presents a quadrant which is now familiar to many: (1) Important and urgent (crises, pressing problems, deadline-driven projects)

(2) Urgent, but not important (some phone calls, some reports, some meetings)

(3) Important but not urgent (planning, relationship-building, empowerment)

(4) Not important, not urgent ((trivia, busywork ‘escape’ activities, irrelevant mail, excessive TV)

In a chapter entitled, The Urgency Addiction, Covey goes into considerable detail about how to overcome the mistake of attributing the quality of urgency to things that are actually not important; how to distinguish between the demands of the four quadrants; and how to manage our time between the four elements of the quadrant.

The book contains this insight: “Urgency addiction is a self-destructive behaviour that temporarily fills the void of unmet needs. And, instead of meeting these needs, the tools and approaches of time management often feed the addiction. They keep us focused on daily prioritization of the urgent.”

With time pressures being so pronounced for everyone these days, we could all benefit from revisiting the ideas and solutions proposed in this book.

* First Things First, A Fireside Book, published by Simon & Schuster

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