- Think of tasks in a 4 quandrant type system
- How to talk to people, understand first and then be understood
- Good, useful content given throughout the book
- Long winded in some area's of the book
- I had a hard time 'connecting' with the author
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change By Stephen R. Covey was an interesting read for me, I bought this book at the same time that I bought Getting Things Done by David Allen (which a review will be written soon). I decided to read Getting Things Done first since it was the primary reason for the purchases. So when I started reading this book, I had just begun to incorporate the GTD system into my life. I'm not sure if this affected my overall opinion of this book but I thought that Its important that mention it right from the start.
There were two parts of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change that gave me an improved perspective on how to live my life. The first, and I believe this one will be very power for a lot of people, was thinking of all of your tasks as being a part of 4 quadrants. The quadrants are as follows, Urgent and Important, Not Urgent but Important, Urgent and Not Important and finally Not Urgent and Not Important. What Covey says is that most people are stuck in quadrant 1 for the majority of their time. What you need to do, is move most of your effort away from quadrant one (Urgent and Important) and put it into quadrant 2 tasks (Not Urgent but Important). What this does, is take care of those items that will eventually become quadrant 1 items when they come due. So, with some effort and time put into concentrating on quadrant 2 items, you will have start to have less quadrant 1 tasks, because you would have already taken care of them while there were still in quadrant 2. This has more benefits then meets the eye, people will start to see you as someone who can be counted on to get things done in time. You will have less stress because you will have control of what you do in your day, instead of being controlled by the constant rush to complete quadrant 1 tasks. And finally you will be getting the things that are really important completed, where you might have put them off in the past because they weren't urgent.
The second point in the book that really hit home for me, was how to more effectively talk to people, Stephen Covey says that you must try to understand first before trying to be understood. He explains a method on how to accomplish this type of listening skill. This goes against most peoples conversational nature, so it really is a difficult habit to completely incorporate into your life. Its easy to do it when you are consciously trying to, but you will find that you slip back into your old habits very easily. I recommend reading the book to get a better understanding of how to do this because he goes into this in detail to make sure the reader knows how to accomplish positive win/win results through empathic communication. I will try to explain how I interpreted Stephen Coveys method. When you are in a conversation with someone, it is important to say back to the person what you understand to be the meaning of what they said. What this does, is allow the person to know how you interpreted their statement, which means they can clarify if need be. This route also allows people to open up and share exactly what they are feeling towards a situation, because you are allowing them to go into detail on what they are saying. By doing this, you begin to understand exactly where the person is coming from, and this allows you to loose any preconceived judgements and alter your stance to better suit both parties in the discussion. This I feel can be a very powerful tool to use in any communication, and I am working to incorporate this into my daily life.
There are many other good points and thoughts throughout the book which make it a worthwhile read. With all of this being said the first few chapters of this book went really slow for me, and I didn't really connect with Stephen Covey the way I usually connect with an authors writing. I found reading parts of the book more like a chore, then a desirable read, and this left me with mixed feelings over the book. Although some parts to me seemed a little long winded, or over emphasized, in the end I do believe that this is a very good book to read, because it has a lot of fundamentally good practices and ideas that you can use to grow as a person.