Being Effective (part 4)


Habit 3 would be the second (physical) creation, fulfilling and actualising Habit 1 – that we are the creators who write our own script – and Habit 2 – the first (mental) creation of who we want to be.

Habit 3 consists of discipline and time-management. Discipline is to say ‘yes’ to certain things for the very mission or purpose Habit 2 visualises, and ‘no’ to other things (i.e. activities in Quadrant III & IV) – even if we may often not like it. Time management is about organising and executing priorities. However, Covey and Tolkien offer an enlightenment here:

“the challenge is not to manage time, but to manage ourselves.


Here, we should not forget to focus on maintaining the P/PC (production/production capacity) balance, because Habit 3 is ultimately about maintaining relationships and achieving results.

So how exactly do we go about organising and prioritising?

But before that, if we find that we are either: 1) unable to prioritise; 2) unable or unmotivated to organise around these priorities, or 3) lack discipline to execute our priorities; we have actually not internalised Habit 2. So let’s go back and review it! … …

I would like to add here that when we say we don’t have time to do this this this, we actually mean that this this this is less of a priority. Given the New Year, when we loudly exclaim to all our friends that we will shed those excesses and reduce our weight, and then later whine about how we don’t have the time to go exercising or whatever, what this means is that losing weight is less of a priority than gorging down all those doughnuts and sweet sugary stuffs and whatnot. But is that really what you think?

This is also why a principle centre is important, as it provides a paradigm to that of Quadrant II. Only when we see our mission/goal as of utmost priority, would we direct our “independent will”, and devote time into Quadrant II matters.

[c] May seem unrelated, but for those who follow the series, you’ll know what I mean ^^ WILLPOWER YEAHHHHH!!

Prioritising helps put first things first, but how do we carry them out? No! Don’t get out your daily planners or to-do lists. Scheduling our time on a daily basis, warns Covey, merely focuses on the urgent – the “now”. It only presents a myopic perspective and ignores the bigger picture, of organising activities in the context of principles, mission, goals and roles.


I won’t go into the ‘Delegate’ part, but anyhow, Covey opens our eyes into the way we do things:


Admittedly, we usually tend to focus on addressing Quadrant I & III activities which are “urgent”, thinking that striking a to-do one after another on our list means that we have achieved a lot. However Covey reminds us that we merely react to urgent matters. With Habit 2 establishing our long-term goal and what is important, we should proactively tackle Quadrant II of important matters, which contributes to our mission, values, and high-priority goals. Yet because Quadrant II activities are not urgent, we unfortunately don’t give much attention to them.


Putting first things first, we write down our ultimate roles and goals for that particular week. Because of the ‘nature’ of each individual Monday, Tuesday, etc., arrange your priorities for the week for each day. By ‘daily adapting’, i.e. taking into account whatever you really need to do for the day (such as meetings so forth), consciously leave some time for completing those Quadrant II priorities. There are many free downloadable variations of the weekly planning worksheet here:

How will you make full use of your time, contributing to a greater purpose and by extension, a deeper sense of fulfilment in life?


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