Habit #3: Put First Things First

Time management as a child? Doesn’t that mean how many more minutes can you stall and get more playtime? Not to mention get distracted on the way out the door to a soccer game by adding just one more elaborate superhero drawing to your masterpiece?

If you’ve read our blog posts on the first two habits of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, you know that our tuition-free K-8 elementary school loves sharing great strategies for our students to succeed. At Dr. Joseph F. Pollack Academic Center for Excellence (PACE Academy), we teach our K-8 scholars to take charge, create goals, and with this third habit, prioritize our time to make goals happen.


PACE Academy student in purple Detroit Twirling Steppers shirt, gives a thumbs up at a table where they have colorful stacks of cubes arranged on a form in front of them.


Time = Choices 


Time management is a misnomer. We manage what we do, we don’t manage our time. Time is what it is; seconds, minutes, hours… there is no stopping it. Our success and happiness are dependent on what we do with our time. Making choices about what we do with each hour is what we really have control over. 


At Pace Academy, putting first things first is a conscious choice to have a proactive approach to our day. There are a multitude of things we can do each minute of the day. Without prioritizing, we might find ourselves distracted from what we want to get done. Successful people recognize how they are spending their time and they mind their business. In other words, they put their energy into what is important and push away the distractions that may not be important or urgent.


The Leader In Me program we use at our small K-8 public school illustrates this “time is choices” nicely with Quadrant Thinking. The matrix below identifies and organizes how we spend our time based on how productive we can be.


A graphic with a matrix about time management.

Looking closely at this matrix, you can see that Quadrant 1 is made up of tasks of the utmost necessity. We attend to these daily, and as needed, throughout our lives. Quadrants 3 & 4 can swallow up much of our time (hello smartphones), allowing us to neglect not just what is important and urgent, but also what is important, but not urgent. It is in these two quadrants that most of us spend our time—it’s the path of least resistance. 


Spending our time wisely is Q2 Thinking. We put our attention to the things that will benefit us now and in the future. It’s about being proactive. It’s focusing on every little step we take and making them count!


When we spend most of our time on things that are important but not urgent, we are putting first things first. Parents realize that the urgent and important are also critical and must be attended to, but minding our Quadrant 2 business is powerful. It forces the mindless and distracting tasks to the bottom of our list and makes the best use of our limited time.

Setting Our K-8 Students Up For Success

Yes, it’s not always easy to be on task with so many distractions (you want your child to express themselves through art, just not right now as you’re trying to get out the door), but at tuition-free PACE Academy we teach our scholars powerful habits and give plenty of support while they practice. With smart skills in place, goals in mind, and our fabulous team of teachers engaging our scholars all the way, success is right around the corner.


Here some resources on putting first things first:


Leader in Me - First Things First

How to Teach Your Kids Time Management 

Put First Things First 

Prioritizing: A Critical Executive Function


What steps do you need to take today? Join our PACE Academy Warrior family and prioritize your child’s bright future.


About PACE Academy 

Dr. Joseph F. Pollack Academic Center for Excellence (PACE Academy) is a tuition-free public charter school serving kindergarten through eighth grade in Southfield, Michigan. At PACE Academy, we empower our scholars to realize their fullest potential through meaningful educational opportunities. We partner with our families and community in preparing our scholars to become dynamic leaders in the 21st century by celebrating the importance of collaboration and accountability in all we do. Join our growing school, enroll today!