“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” which has sold over 30 million copies in over 40 languages, is one of the most significant business books of all time.
Dr. Stephen Covey’s lifelong mission was to “unleash the human potential.” The 7 Habits are the accumulated wisdom he blended into a comprehensive framework that allows one to be effective in their work and personal life.
The 7 Habits have the ability to introduce skills like goal setting, organization, time management, team work, conflict management, collaboration and communication. Those already familiar with the habits can also strengthen these skills.
There are steps to create habits that help you personally, and there are other steps that help you deal with and understand others. Ultimately the hope is that the participant will experience renewal — knowing that to be your best you need to feel your best mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
The 7 Habits were developed to help people deal with issues that can hamper their productivity, creativity and personal health. But can they also apply to dealing with the coronavirus? Let’s examine the third habit — PUT FIRST THINGS FIRST.
Put First Things First builds on Habit 2’s goal setting by teaching us to keep going, watch for obstacles and distractions and ignore them or find a way around them. We also find out how identifying priorities will help us reach our goals.
Most people fall into one of four quadrants when it comes to getting things done:
The “Procrastinator” is addicted to urgency. They thrive under pressure and like to put things off until it becomes a crisis. Stress helps them think. They rarely plan ahead because they like the rush of doing everything at the last possible moment. The only problem is they create stress and anxiety for themselves and others as well as the very real possibility of burnout. Most of the time what they accomplish is mediocre at best.
The “Yes-Man” has a hard time saying NO to anything or anyone. He tries so hard to please others that he usually pleases no one. A victim of FOMO—fear of missing out—he can’t handle everyone having fun without him. The “Yes-Man” usually ends up always being a follower, never a leader. The lack of discipline leads to always feeling like a doormat.
The “Slacker” just wants to hang out and would rather do anything Than concentrate on a task. Mindless pastimes are the best use of their time. They can forget appointments easily, distracted by what they’re doing at the moment or not wanting to stop. They can’t be counted on and are viewed as lacking responsibility. They could miss opportunities by simply being disconnected from what’s important.
The “Prioritizer” is where highly effective people spend their time. He looks at everything going on and decides what’s most important—the big rocks — what needs to be done first and done well. Once completed, he looks at the small rocks, the little things that are not so important but take up time. By planning use of time a sense of control is achieved, as well as balance between the big rocks and little rocks, and tasks are done well.
During this pandemic we should be thinking, “What’s the most important thing for me to do today? Am I prioritizing my time to benefit me, my family, and our health?” By learning to manage our priorities and recognize distractions, Habit 3 will become the best way to meet our goals.
This column is written by Diane Braun, project manager for Youth First, Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to strengthening youth and families. Over 39,500 youth and families per year have access to Youth First’s school social work and afterschool programs that prevent substance abuse, promote healthy behaviors, and maximize student success.