The first three Habits (Be Proactive, Begin with the End in Mind, and Put First Things First) deal directly with ways to be more productive. The second three (Think Win-Win, Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood, Synergize) deal with ways to work effectively with others, and the final Habit (Sharpen the Saw) deals with self-care.
A quick review of Covey’s first three Habits could serve as a way to get back on track in those “hamster wheel moments” where you certainly feel busy, but not much is getting accomplished. Below are quick and easy ways to implement the first three of Covey’s 7 Habits. These tips work well for people of all ages. In fact, many elementary schools are now using the 7 Habits to teach students to become more effective learners and are enjoying great results from teaching these habits to the very young.
Habit #1 Be Proactive: Have a “Can Do” attitude; Choose your own actions, attitudes, and moods.
- Avoid complaining about being busy or overwhelmed. You can take control of how you use your time and budget your time in ways that can help you accomplish goals.
- Start listing out what needs to get done. Break “to do” lists into manageable chunks and make a plan for how to accomplish those goals.
Habit #2 Begin with the End in Mind: Plan ahead and set goals for yourself.
- Use planners or checklists (many free templates are available online) to list out any action item you can complete in order to get closer to accomplishing goals, whether the goal is to have a clean house or to complete a task at work.
- Be realistic about what can be accomplished in one day. Beside each to do item, write an estimate of how long the item will take. Add up the time you would need to spend to finish your list, and if it’s too much, determine items to remove from your list.
- Know what is most important at a given moment and stay away from distractions.
- Set up mini-breaks or rewards to enjoy once a set amount of tasks are completed.
- Many times, wanting things done a certain way can lead to procrastination. For example, if you’re trying to write a newsletter article for work, instead of worrying about the format of the newsletter, write the content of the newsletter first and then go back and work on the formatting.
Could counseling or coaching help?
Having a professional offer counseling or coaching could help lead to a greater sense of peace and freedom that can come from more effectiveness and productivity. A professional can help you sort out what is most important in your life and teach you strategies to minimize distractions, set manageable goals for yourself, and organize/plan in ways that actually work for you.
You may want to consider consulting with a professional if:
- You are constantly feeling overwhelmed, busy, or stressed
- You leave the house each morning in a frazzled, harried state
- The lack of effectiveness is showing up in your work performance and performance at home
- A sense of chaos and agitation is taking over your home and workplace, leading to problems in work and family relationships
- You are starting to notice the physical symptoms associated with stress such as high blood pressure, weight gain or loss, or difficulty sleeping.