As Habit 2 is the habit of personal leadership, Habit 3 is the habit of personal management. The crux is that leadership is doing the right thing, management is doing things right. It is the ‘art of control’ and Habit 3 – time management – is the art of controlling events. How do you execute with leadership and vision in mind?
Time management addresses two measures – urgency (time critical) and importance (mission critical). In the 21st century, due to the immediacy of personalised communication and broadband, many of us have adopted an urgency mentality – it pops up, it must be read/assessed/done NOW! And that is all done regardless of (a) its level of importance and (b) whether it should ever actually be done at all. Habit 3 invites (demands?) that you use the ‘independent will’ in your Stimulus-Response Gap to make an assessment as to where, in a matrix, the task lies. The matrix looks like this:
I won’t insult you with a detailed explanation but as you can see, the most important things lie ‘above the line’, and this is the point at which you must decide where your task lies. If it’s below the line, it can wait. If it’s above, do it. If it’s above and to the left, do it now!
The best place to be is ‘Quadrant B’ and it’s where you do the preparation: planning, proper recreation, envisioning, etc. It’s where you ‘think’ so that ‘stuff’ like emergencies either don’t occur, (thus shooting you unprepared into Quadrant A), or are anticipated, meaning QA isn’t so uncontrolled. But you can’t prepare in QB unless you have done the work in Habit 2 to assess your mission, which requires work in Habit 1 to help you recognise you are responsible, that what you intend is in your Circle of Influence or Centre of Focus, and that you are seeing things as they should be (paradigm).
You see, now, how the Habits and basics all gel?
The way to plan is to find a tool into which you can place your TANC – tasks, appointments, notes and contacts (although the need for the latter has been electronically usurped since the book was written in 1989). You manage your time by keeping a one-stop shop for this stuff. Then, when you make an appointment, you record a note about how/why it was made, write down the appointment, and plan any preparation for that appointment in the task list so that it’s all done in QB before the QA appointment takes place.
There is a whole lot more in the book about time management but this page really boils it down.
Covey wrote a whole book in 1994 about interpersonal time management, i.e. on Habits 2 and 3, which I recommend. It’s called First Things First.