Do you practice first things first?

I am looking ahead to next year already. What about you? I think it’s important to have goals, to have a direction, to know where I’m going with my business (and my running). Otherwise how am I going to get there. But sometimes in the rush, the drive, the pressure to succeed, do I forget what’s most important to me? Do I forget to focus on first things first.

For example, I’ve been a bit unwell recently, so my running has been on the back burner. I am still taking my beginners group out for their runs on Saturday morning. We just did week 3, so we’re up to 3 minutes run/3 minutes walk, and they are all doing brilliantly. But I’ve not been doing much other exercise. I have stopped walking my daughter to school because she’s started walking with a friend who recently moved. She can now call in for her friend on the way so she doesn’t need my company any more. That was a mile each way every morning so it kept me ticking over even when I wasn’t exercising. And because I have not been well, I haven’t been doing my club’s Tuesday evening or Thursday morning run. So I haven’t been stretching either. Not good, is it?

I have been filling up this “spare” time with extra time on the business. Therefore in danger of being all business and no play. And that is NOT a good place to be. It put me in mind of Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Habit 3 is Put First Things First. In other words, think about what is most important not just what is urgent, and spend time on the important things.  He uses an urgency vs importance matrix – see below.

Covey urgency importance matrix

Adapted from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Dr Stephen Covey

Something that is important and urgent would fit into Quadrant 1 – an extreme example might be that the house is on fire; other examples could be a deadline driven project or a crisis! Quadrant 2 might be important but not urgent for example, relationship building, planning, personal re-creation such as exercise, meditation, family time, horse-riding, reading with your children etc.  Of course if you procrastinate and leave something important for long enough, it becomes urgent. And there are plenty of time-wasting activities that we do that are neither urgent or important.

Quadrant 3 (not important but urgent) might include some telephone calls, some meetings, some bills etc.  Then Quadrant 4 – not important and not urgent are the time-wasting or time-filling activities that we do.

Covey encourages you to actually schedule or allocate time in your diary for those important Quadrant 2 activities.  I recognise that I am not spending time on some of my Quadrant 2 activities. Even if I am not up to running, I can go for a walk. Go to the woods and do some photography to refresh myself. All work and no play is not good for the soul.

My question for you today “Do you practice first things first?” What’s stopping you? What are you going to do to change that? Leave a reply below – I’d love to hear what you are going to change.





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