The 3rd habit of highly effective people

My god-father gave me The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People soon before he died – he called it a classic, something that won’t date.  He was a highly effective headmaster of Cottesmore School, a boarding school for 7-13 year olds.  It’s an amazing place and he was an amazing man in many ways.  An effective Headmaster wouldn’t be the first person I would typically look to for business leadership inspiration, but with a little reflection it is of course an excellent place to look.  Multiple, highly engaged and demanding stakeholders, tight budgets but the possiblity of consistent profitability, long life-time value, huge importance of “company” culture…the list goes on.
I’m 3 habits in and wanted to write about habit 3 – Put First Things First.  The 1st 2 habits, “Be Proactive” and “Begin with the end in Mind”, were great but areas I already consider myself fairly proficient at.  It was Habit 3 where I sat up and really paid attention as he convinced me that if I put what he suggested into practice I could become 20%,30%, 40%+ more effective over time.
It’s all about prioritising the right tasks…
Stage 1: Consider all the different roles you have in life (e.g. for me: Husband, Father, Partner at Episode 1, Investor at Episode 1, Partner at EtonPreneurs LLP, Individual, Friend)
Stage 2: Think about 1 task/action for each of your roles that would add most value to your success in that role over the long term.
Stage 3: Create a 2×2 matrix of your goals/tasks for each role with “Importance” and “Urgency” as the 2 axes.  I completed the matrix only for my professional roles:

Then take your tasks/actions from Stage 2 and place them in the correct box in the matrix.  Do all or most of them sit in box 2 (important, not urgent) and thus get shunted to make way for all the important urgent tasks that end up running (or should I replace that first “n” with an “i”?) our lives?  They all sat in box 2 for me, as Covey suggested they would.  I’m pretty disciplined and despite that know that I keep putting them off and this exercise just reminded me.  It was annoying.  So what can we do about it???
Stage 4: Fill in a Weekly Worksheet.  Here’s a link to a blank template so you can see what I’m talking about.  This forces you to create weekly goals per role and to allocate them each to a day.  I create 3 goals per role max, but sometimes only manage to think of 1 or 2 for a role.  You then allocate the goals across the days of the week and ensure they all have a day allocated to encourage completion.  Of course you then allocate a specific time in the day to get each goal done.  You may not achieve them all, but you have a much better chance of doing so if you’ve allocated a time.  The best time to do this all is Sunday evening for me – I hit Monday morning with a clear view of my goals for the week and can block parts of my calendar to achieve them.
It’s pretty simple, but I’ve already found it effective.  E.g. one of my goals for my role as an Episode 1 Partner was to write a blog per week and I allocated it to today, and now it’s almost done!  It would have otherwise slipped to Friday and then slipped again because something “important and urgent” would have taken over.  One of my goals as a Friend was to check in with a friend whose father recently died – I did that today in a break.  Had I not had this process up and running I imagine I wouldn’t have even thought to make that call as I am always distracted by “urgent important” tasks both and work and at home.
Try it out.  You may, like me, get some long-term goals both articulated and completed.  Managing the 1st is okay, but it’s worthless unless you actually get them done.

Adrian Lloyd
Half Swiss. China obsession at Oxford. Tech obsession at Stanford GSB. Strategy consulting to Venture Capital. Tennis, skiing, Cresta riding. 4 young children, a boxer. Fabulous artist wife, Print-maker.



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