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Far from the traditional "be -more -efficient" book with shortcut techniques, First Things First shows you how to look at your use of time totally differently. Using this book will help you create balance between your personal and professional life. It teaches a process that helps you categorize tasks so you focus on what is important, not merely what is urgent.
In order to achieve your goals and be successful in life you need to be a success every day of your life. Everyday you must do something that will take you nearer to your goal.

If you are still happy about what you did yesterday, you have not done enough today.

Everybody has got twenty four hours in a day. I am yet to find a person who has less or more number of hours. But the way we utilize it, makes all the difference in our life. Time is money. And like money we use our time in three ways:

-     Spend it
-     Waste it
-     Invest it

What do you do with your time?

This section is going to give you some tools and concepts that will help you to invest your time wisely. If you take action on the concept that is outlined here and use the tool that you can download, I guarantee you that your life will suddenly jump to a life full of achievement from a life of mediocrity.

You can download the free tools for this section here:

        -   Weekly Goal Setting Sheet      Download now (doc format, pdf format)

        -   Daily Performance Sheet         Download now (doc format, pdf format)

You will need to invest about 15 minutes to half an hour each day on this. But I assure you the results will be mind blowing.

Planning Your week and Next Day

Download the Weekly Goal Setting Sheet (doc format, pdf format)

Planning Different Types of Activities:

There are four kinds of activities that you take in a day, viz:
"Our ideals resemble the stars, which illuminate the night. No one will ever be able to touch them. But the men who, like the sailors on the ocean, take them for guides, will undoubtedly reach their goal."
- Carl Schurz
"What is not started today is never finished tomorrow"
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Reaching Your Goals
Essential activities such as eating, bathing, sleeping, traveling etc.

Necessary activities such as exercising, reading, praying, spending time with family etc.

Important activities related to projects that are you are working on, work, job etc.

Desirable activities such entertainment, socializing and partying, vacationing etc.
Your aim is to strike a balance within these activities while you are planning your week.

Essential activities are unavoidable activities. However, there are some aspects of these activities that you can control.  On the Weekly Goal Setting Sheet pen these activities and how you are going to control these clearly. For example:
-  Eat sensible nutritious diet and avoid junk food.

- The time you will get up everyday and go to sleep.

-  How will you use your time for traveling- such as by listening to inspirational recording, Positive Self Talk, or thinking.
Necessary activities are those that are for your physical, mental and spiritual health, as well as for important relationships; mainly your family. They must always be on top priority. They are also of ongoing nature. Write down these activities with the amount of time you are going to devote to each of them.

The essential and necessary activities will take almost a fixed amount of time everyday. The remaining time is for other two activities. Important activities are related to the deadline based goals/projects that you are currently working on. They may be related to your career, job, education, etc. However, if you are working to loose a few kilograms of weight, then even this is an important activity. Since, it will need some extra effort besides just exercising to keep fit, till you achieve the target body weight. Once these targets are achieved, you can use this time for achieving other targets. Write down these goals that you are working on at the moment in your Weekly Goal Setting Worksheet.

Desirable activities are those that make your life more enjoyable, but you can definitely do without, for a while. You must plan time for these as a reward for honest effort that you are putting in necessary and important activities. However you must definitely keep some time every week for relaxation, watching television, your hobbies, shopping, movies, dinners, clubs etc, but don't over do it. However, if required you may not indulge in these activities for sometime following the principle of delayed gratification.  Write down these desirable activities in your Weekly Goal Setting Sheet with the amount of time you are going to spend on them.

Plan Your First Day

On the space given for daily planner, you will plan the activities for the first day of the week. Start from the first thing that you will do after getting out of bed, followed by next. Write down the scheduled time for those activities that are in your control. For example you can put the time for your exercise, breakfast, going to office etc.

Simply, List out the   activities for the goals/ projects that you are working on along with the time each one is going to take. Do not ignore very small activity also, because these are the one that we tend to forget or procrastinate, such as writing a letter, making a phone call, seeking an appointment etc. Only write down as many activities that you can finish in a day. I will suggest that, though you will allot time for each of them, keep the actual time period flexible, as you may have to change it due to unexpected circumstances outside your control. For example, you wanted to send some mails, but the internet is down, or you called somebody, only to find him/her busy and will have to call back later.

Keeping a Watch on Yourself

Download your Daily Performance Chart (doc format, pdf format)

This is the time for action. What you do now will produce results that will not only fulfill your dream but take you closer towards your dream. So, this is the time you have to keep a watch on yourself.

You will be maintaining a time log for every activity that you do. As soon as you get up, record the time in your Daily Performance Chart. Record the time when you went to bathroom for morning chores, write down the time you started and finished exercising, took your bath, had your breakfast, made a phone call.  Once in a while take a look at the planner and strike out the activities that you have completed.

There will be unexpected assignments and circumstances that will make you deviate from your plan. If required do them and record them in the Daily Performance Sheet. By the end of the day you will have a list of things that you have done.

Analyzing Your Day

The list that has come up during the day will make you feel proud of yourself, and it is important to feel proud of one own-self. Now analyze the days log for the following: This will take approximately ten to fifteen minutes.
-        Activities that you did not do because of your lack of commitment for them. Recommit yourself to them. You may use self talk discussed in 'Success Programing' to develop commitment.

-        Activities that took less or more time then you have planed. Also try to analyze the reasons for that.

-        Identify areas where you used more time then required, or were wasting time. Figure out what you could have done in that time. However, time that you has spend taking a short break and having a cup of coffee, or just talking for five minutes to a friend is  legitimate and should not be considered as a waste of time.

-        In your Performance sheet, write down the things that make you proud of you today and that makes the day worth remembering. Also write down the things that you did not do as a past of your give-up goal. Such as 'didn't loose temper' especially if you are working on self-control or 'smoked eight cigarettes in place of usual ten', are no mean achievement in themselves.

-        Also write down the activities that you could not do or complete. Analyze the reason for it. It may be due to procrastination. Or, it is possible that your other activities took more time then you had planned not leaving time for this one. Possibly you could not complete it because of unexpected circumstances. These are the activities that you will incorporate in the next day's plan.

Planning the Next Day

Now that you are wiser by one more day, your next day's plan will be a better one. As the time passes, you will find that you are getting better and better in planning, and you will always have some time left for yourself in the end of the day. You will be achieving more.

You have to plan the next day exactly the same way you had planned today. Only you will incorporate the pending activities in the next day's schedule. You may also make some changes in the activities that you had planned in the week. May be you could add some more desirable activities in the weekly plan or may be strike out some if required. If you see that you are left with too much time you may consider incorporating another goal and start working on it.

After-word: Like rest of the things this will also require committed and persistent action. Doing this may feel a little strange in the beginning. But do it anyway. As you will see yourself achieving, your self-image will improve. You will feel good about yourself and will allow yourself to enjoy life more. Since, you would be taking control of your life; you will get peace of mind, a sense of security and feel more hopeful. And let me tell you this won't take long to feel that. Maximum that it will take is three weeks, provided you do it with discipline. And the feeling will so exhilarating that you will continue doing it for rest of the life.

This does not mean that there will be no challenges or frustrating situations. There always will be. Some of them will be within your control and some not. In the next section we are dealing with these Enemies of your Goals.
Procrastination - The Enemy Within