Maximize Your Productivity: First Things First

As the title suggests, First Things First, means we should prioritize our tasks and complete all the important tasks first. This is one of the seven habits proposed by Stephen Covey in his best selling book, The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People. Now let us dig deep into it. What most people do these days is, they keep a to-do list or a checklist and they keep on achieving tasks one at a time and get a feeling of gratification once all the tasks are taken care of.

But what First Things First means is that we should prioritize our tasks and only then take action on them. Even prioritizing the tasks is a skill that very few of us are aware of and most of us do it in an incorrect way.   

Let us take a small exercise. It will help us in identifying the most important tasks which will have a significant impact on our lives.  
Identify two things, which, if you do well will have a great impact on your life. These things are your long term goals which you have dreamt to achieve but still, you have not taken any proper action for this. Now write these two things on a piece of paper.   

Now analyze all the tasks which you have been doing in the last few days or even months carefully. Now, do you think that the tasks which you have been doing are helping you to achieve the things which you noted down on paper? Most of the time, we are doing things that will have little or no impact on our lives. The habit, First Things First will help you identify those tasks so that you can move forward to achieve the tasks which you listed down on paper. The things which you noted down on paper are your “Vision Statements.”

Your vision is not a short-term goal which could be achieved in a matter of a few days. It requires intense hard work, patience, and discipline to achieve them. Your vision is something that is highly important in your life and it is going to have maximum impact in your life. First Things First explains to us exactly how we should prioritize our tasks so that we could achieve the goals which we listed down on paper.   

Now let us take an example about a guy which we will call “Munna.” Now Munna wants to become a successful soccer player. We will analyze his tasks and activities so we can see whether he is prioritizing his tasks properly and doing things that will help him become a good soccer player.   

So becoming a soccer player is a long term Vision statement of Munna. Now, this is a brief summary of the tasks which Munna did yesterday which was a Sunday.   

Tasks of Munna
1. He got up late as it was a Sunday.
2. He checked his messages on Whatsapp, to check for important messages and notifications.
3. He ate noodles in his breakfast along with milk.
4. It was a holiday, so he went to play soccer for 1 hour with his friends.
5. He became very tired after playing for some time, so he could not play properly after 30 minutes.
6. He watched pubzee after his lunch in the afternoon.
7. He watched the soccer match for his favorite club in the evening.

  Now when we analyze Munna’s tasks, most of the activities he performed yesterday were not going to help him achieve his long term goal which is to become a soccer player. He should have got up early which would have given him extra time to complete his activities. Instead of checking Whatsapp first, he should have gone for jogging. He should have taken a healthy diet instead of noodles, which would have helped become fit and in that case, he would not get tired after playing for some time. Instead of playing Pubzee in the afternoon, he could have spent time with his family which would have kept him in good spirits. Watching soccer matches on television would do him no good instead he should go to the playground in the evening to play soccer.  

If Munna continues to do these activities for the rest of his life, he will never achieve his long term goal or vision. So if we apply the principle of First Things First, we will identify all the tasks which will have maximum impact in our lives and get rid of activities that are mere time killers and will never help us achieve our long term vision. Now to understand, how we should manage our time efficiently, you can read my blog, Time Management.

1. Identify the tasks which, if you do on a consistent basis, will have maximum impact in your life. These can be termed as your Long-Term Vision Statement.
2. Prioritize all your tasks and activities around your Long-Term Vision Statement and make sure you do not stray away from your Long-Term Vision.
3. Before you begin any task, ask yourself, whether the task you are doing will help you achieve your long term vision.
4. Beware of the time-killers and do not waste your precious time.

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