First Things First Book Summary, by Stephen R. Covey, A. Roger Merrill, Rebecca R. Merrill

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1-Page Summary of First Things First

Overview

Wouldn’t it be nice to focus on the things that bring happiness, joy and meaning into your life? This book will help you do exactly that by showing you how to find balance in all aspects of your life. It’ll teach you why we often fail at our goals, and what you need to do differently.

In addition, you’ll learn why we’re so addicted to urgency and how Gandhi overcame his shyness.

Big Idea #1: Living a meaningful life isn’t about doing things as quickly as possible – it’s about doing “first things” first.

Some people might take a fairy’s offer to do everything 20 percent faster, but is that really what they want? If it was, would it solve all their problems?

Many people would accept the offer, because they want to do as many things as possible. However, this isn’t the best way to manage time. Self-help books also reinforce this myth by encouraging us to make lists and check items off when we complete them.

This passage discusses the importance of balancing your commitments and objectives with your values, principles, and conscience.

In reality, living a meaningful life is about identifying the first things that have an impact on your happiness and using those to guide you.

Most people place a lot of importance on their relationships in life. It is not uncommon to find someone who wishes they had spent more time with their friends and family instead of focused excessively on work. For example, imagine that you make your career the most important thing in your life without considering everything else that makes up a fulfilled life, such as spending time with loved ones and getting married. If you’re too old to have children by this point because of your obsession with work, then you haven’t made good decisions regarding what really matters in your life—work was never one of them.

So, you’re better off not accepting the fairy’s offer. Instead, identify the things that give your life meaning and prioritize them.

Big Idea #2: Instead of focusing on what’s urgent, focus on what’s important.

Most people spend their time doing things they think are important, such as going to work and visiting family.

A problem is that we often do things based on urgency, not importance. We choose to do urgent tasks rather than important ones because the urgent ones are more time sensitive.

In Western cultures, stress is a status symbol. If someone is stressed from having too much work, we assume they must be important. People who aren’t stressed often want to defend themselves and don’t seem insignificant.

We have a biological tendency to focus on urgency, which can distract us from what’s important. For example, if you’re busy with work that day and your boss asks you to join him for dinner, you might choose the business dinner over spending time with your family. This decision could cause distrust in your relationship with them because they don’t feel as though their needs are being met. However, it’s much easier to prevent this issue than fix it after the fact.

If you’re not spending time with your family, then that’s what will make you happy in the long run. However, it may be difficult to do this because work is urgent and important. But if you can find a way to spend time with your family without sacrificing too much of your job responsibilities, then that would be great.

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Big Idea #3: Having a high quality of life depends on meeting your needs and focusing on your principles.

So, the first step in focusing on what’s important is figuring out what those things are.

To improve your life, you must fulfill the four basic needs of humans:

First Things First Book Summary, by Stephen R. Covey, A. Roger Merrill, Rebecca R. Merrill

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