First Things First Book Summary - First Things First Book explained in key points
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First Things First summary

Stephen R. Covey, A. Roger Merrill and Rebecca R. Merrill

To Live, to Love, to Learn, to Leave a Legacy

4.6 (768 ratings)
14 mins

Brief summary

First Things First by Stephen R. Covey, A. Roger Merrill and Rebecca R. Merrill is a self-help book that teaches how to prioritize tasks and balance work and personal life effectively. Covey's Time Management Matrix and the Four Quadrants theory are highlighted.

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    First Things First
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    Key idea 1 of 10

    Living a meaningful life isn't about doing things as quickly as possible – it's about doing “first things” first.

    Imagine a fairy offered you the ability to do everything 20 percent faster. Would you accept? Most people probably would, but think about it – would that really solve all your problems?

    Many of us would accept the offer, because we strive to do as many things as we can, as quickly as possible. But actually, this isn't the best way to manage our time. Unfortunately, many self-help books reinforce the myth that it is by encouraging us to make to-do lists and cross off items as we achieve the bullet points.

    That sort of thinking only pays attention to one side of the coin: your commitments, objectives and itineraries – what we can call the “clock of our lives.” It often neglects the other side, the “compass of our lives” – your values, principles and conscience.

    Actually, living a meaningful life isn't about crossing things off a list; it's about using the compass of your life to identify the first things that have a long-lasting, positive impact on your happiness.

    For most people, the first things are personal relationships with family and friends. Have you ever heard of a person looking back and wishing they'd spent more time at the office?

    For instance, imagine that you focus on your career, work your way up in your company and earn a top salary – only to realize that you're now too old to have children. If you've always wanted a family and it's now too late, your career wasn't truly one of your first things. If you're not aware of your first things, you may end up making decisions that make you unhappy in the long-run.

    So after all, you'd be better off not accepting the fairy's offer. Instead, try to identify the first things that give your life the most meaning, and make those things your priority.

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    What is First Things First about?

    This title provides you with valuable insights and guidelines that will help you focus your life on the things that are truly the most meaningful. You’ll learn how to set your priorities, make the best decisions, and develop a keen vision for the future. If you’re looking to create positive change in your life, this book is a great place to start!

    First Things First Review

    First Things First (1994) presents a revolutionary approach to time management and prioritizing tasks to achieve a more fulfilling and balanced life. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • Packed with practical strategies and step-by-step exercises, it helps readers gain control over their lives and focus on what truly matters.
    • By challenging conventional wisdom and providing a new perspective on work and personal life, the book offers a refreshing take on achieving success and happiness.
    • With its compelling anecdotes and inspiring stories, it engages readers in a way that makes managing time and prioritizing tasks less tedious and more enjoyable.

    Who should read First Things First?

    • Anyone who feels a lack of inner peace, balance or meaning in life
    • Anyone who wants to use his or her time more effectively
    • Anyone who has a hard time making big decisions
    • Anyone who wants to improve the quality of his or her life

    About the Author

    Stephen R. Covey was an American professor and author who focused his work on self-help literature and religion. His best-known work, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, has sold more than 25 million copies worldwide. He was listed as one of the “Top 25 Most Influential Americans” by Time magazine in 1996.

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    First Things First FAQs 

    What is the main message of First Things First?

    The main message of First Things First is prioritizing what truly matters in life.

    How long does it take to read First Things First?

    The reading time for First Things First varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in a few minutes.

    Is First Things First a good book? Is it worth reading?

    First Things First is worth reading as it provides valuable insights on time management and finding balance in life.

    Who is the author of First Things First?

    The authors of First Things First are Stephen R. Covey, A. Roger Merrill, and Rebecca R. Merrill.

    What to read after First Things First?

    If you're wondering what to read next after First Things First, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • The 8th Habit by Stephen R. Covey
    • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
    • Live Life in Crescendo by Stephen R. Covey and Cynthia Covey Haller
    • Primary Greatness by Stephen Covey
    • Life Is in the Transitions by Bruce Feiler
    • I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was by Barbara Sher with Barbara Smith
    • Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher
    • Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell
    • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families by Stephen R. Covey
    • Noise by Daniel Kahneman