June 1995 // Volume 33 // Number 3 // Tools of the Trade // 3TOT1

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First Things First

"First Things First," by Steven Covey et al., is an encouraging book with useful ideas for people who want to put their lives together. In today's fast-paced society, it is great to have a book that finally places life, love, and leaving a legacy into the sometimes confusing subject of time management. Periodic reality checks, real-life situation, and time quadrants make this a "hitting-home" kind of book. It should be on every "busy" person's list of to-read books!!

Kristin Blum

Julia A. Gamon
Associate Professor
Internet address: jgamon@iastate.edu

Iowa State University
Ames, Iowa

Stephen Covey, A. Roger Merrill, and Rebecca Merrill (1994). First Things First. Old Tappan, NJ: Simon & Schuster Inc., 373 pages, $23.00.

In the past decade, many books have been published focusing on time management, most of which forget that there is more to life than work. If you feel that there is more to life than the office and work, then Stephen Covey's newest book is for you.

Covey's book focuses on the statement "no one on their deathbed ever wished that they had spent more time in the office." Readers are encouraged to develop a mission statement for their lives, focusing on things that are important: family, love, and leaving a legacy.

The great part of First Things First is the use of reality checks throughout the book. After developing a mission statement, you are asked to examine how you are spending your life. What do you think is important? How important are the things--in the grand scheme of life--on which you are spending your time? Covey then offers a brilliant way to evaluate your time management skills using a time management matrix that combines the two factors of urgent and important. It was surprising to me, and others whom I consulted, how accurate this matrix is in displaying how time is spent.

Throughout the book, Covey offers stories and real life situations dealing with problems in time management. These reality checks reveal the need for different methods that concentrate on the important goals in life. Covey offers practical insights about life and what will be meaningful as we look back over a lifetime of accomplishments.

First Things First can be useful to everyone in Extension. No matter how efficient people feel they are or how happy they think their lives are, a little extra lift is sometimes needed. If we in Extension want to improve our programs and our service, the first thing to do is to encourage ourselves. First Things First offers that encouragement. It belongs on your bookshelf.