Stephen Covey Quotes on Time management & Prioritization

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Stephen Covey quotes on time management and prioritization

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If you’re looking for ways to improve in time management or to decide which tasks should be done before others, this post will help you a lot. Here, we’ll be discussing Stephen Covey quotes on time management and prioritization because he’s one of the foremost experts on the topic.

In business, one of the constant challenges is time management and prioritization. There’s always many “good things” you could be doing, but there’s also always a better and best thing for you to do. It’s important to be able to sort thru the “good things” and choose the best things to drive results in your business and life.

If you don’t have a formal practice that helps you to prioritize and invest time in the most appropriate tasks, then it’s important to find an advisor like Stephen Covey whose helped thousands (and possibly millions) of people with planning more effectively.

Who is Stephen Covey?

Stephen Covey is an American author whose most known for his book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. What most people don’t know is that growing up, he was considered “athletically inclined” until a faint accident.

After losing the ability to compete athletically, Covey’s attention was turned more academically, and he’s become one of the most influential business leaders of our time. In addition to writing “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, Stephen Covey also wrote the books:

  • The 8th Habit
  • First Things First
  • Principle-Centered Leadership
  • and, The Leader in Me — How Schools and Parents Around the World are Inspiring Greatness, One Child at a Time

To see this content in video format, check it out below:

Stephen Covey Quotes on Time Management and Prioritization


In life, it seems like some people get lots done within 24 hours and others get very little done. In fact, some people are earning millions in 24 hours and others are barely earning anything.

How is it that some people can use the same amount of time to impact thousands more people and make millions more dollars, and others barely can influence themselves and their small social circle? One of the overarching benefits of reading 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is that you learn about the prioritization techniques used by the most successful people.

Time management and prioritization is key, and here are some of Stephen’s Covey’s quotes that can give insight into how we should manage our time for maximum effectiveness:

“When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective.” 

In other words, trust makes communication efficient which saves time.

“The ability to subordinate an impulse to a value is the essence of the proactive person.” 

“Our behavior is a function of our decisions, not our conditions.” 

“How different our lives are when we really know what is deeply important to us, and keeping that picture in mind, we manage ourselves each day to be and to do what really matters most.” 

“Begin each day with the blueprint of my deepest values FIRMLY in mind then when challenges come, make decisions BASED on those values.” 

“Proactive people focus their efforts in the Circle of Influence. They work on the things they can do something about. The nature of their energy is positive, enlarging and magnifying, causing their Circle of Influence to increase. Reactive people, on the other hand, focus their efforts in the Circle of Concern. They focus on the weakness of other people, the problems in the environment, and circumstances over which they have no control. Their focus results in blaming and accusing attitudes, reactive language, and increased feelings of victimization. The negative energy generated by that focus, combined with neglect in areas they could do something about, causes their Circle of Influence to shrink.” 

Stephen Covey’s Four Quadrants

Four people with checkmarks covering their heads symbolizing Stephen Covey's four quadrants

Added to his quotes, Stephen Covey had a four-quadrant philosophy that can really help you to improve how you prioritize day-to-day activities. In his book, he described how some people go from “fire to fire”. For example, they might go from a heated debate with their spouse to a flat tire to a health crises, and they seem to always go from crises to crises uncontrollably.

On the other hand, successful people don’t go from crises to crises because of the way they divide their time. Let me explain more…

Quadrant One Activities

In Quadrant one activities are important and urgent. They are crises and pressing problems like:

  • Car accidents
  • Health emergencies
  • Vehicle emergencies
  • Professional emergencies
  • and anything that can’t be put off for another day

While it seems like it would be impossible to minimize the frequency of quadrant one activities, you can. People who are highly successful don’t monopolize their time with quadrant one activities.

Quadrant Two Activities

Quadrant two activities are important but not urgent. These are activities that can easily be put to the side and underestimated because they aren’t urgent, but they include thing like:

  • Planning
  • Preventative activities
  • Disciplines
  • and other activities that prevent quadrant one crises from happening.

Highly successful people spend alot of time on quadrant two activities like business planning, life planning, exercise, maintenance, and other activities that prevent emergencies.

Quadrant Three Activities

Quadrant three activities are the things that habitually can be escalated in importance subconciously if you’re not careful. It’s things like:

  • Phone notification
  • Social media
  • Email
  • and, Unimportant phone calls

While quadrant three activities may need to be done from time-to-time, it’s important to be conscious of which activitie are quadrant three activities, so they don’t stop you from getting high priority tasks done.

Quadrant Four Activities

There’s a rise in consumerism and it’s marked by an excess of quadrant four activities. People will spend excessive amounts of time on Netflix, watching entertaining videos, playing video games, and spending time on activities that don’t positively impact their overall life goals.

To be highly successful, it’s important to identify quadrant four activities and keep them to a minimum.


Overall, it’s very important to be intentional about how you’re spending your time. It’s very easy to get consumed into day-to-day activities and take the time spent for granted, but we all meet those moments (like funerals or seeing someone who is kidnapped, held hostage, or with chronic illness) where we realize how finite time truly is.

Your life has a purpose, and I want you to fulfill that, but in order to accomplish it, you’ll need to be intentional about daily time management and priotization. I’m hoping this article is helpful for you, and it helps you to eliminate time-wasters and get on track with healthy productivity habits.

If you (or someone you know) is looking to start or grow a business, check out my free coaching. It’s 7 days where you’ll be able to ask questions about growing your business and get my best responses for free. Get started with 7 days of coaching here.

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8 thoughts on “Stephen Covey Quotes on Time management & Prioritization”

  1. Tiffany Domena

    Hello Tiffany, I agree with you that time management has become a hassle on its own. In the world of serious distractions due to the various gadgets and news popping up, getting things prioritised is becoming increasingly difficult which leads to improper management of our time. Stephen Covey’s quote using the quadrants is really great to know of and I picked up a couple of messages to which I will apply to my life to increase productivity from me. Thanks for sharing

    1. Tiffany Domena

      I agree! All the modern gadgets can be a blessing to improve communication, but hearing the notifications and having so many competing activities going on can definitely be distractions that prevent productivity if we’re not careful. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Tiffany Domena

    Hello Tiffany. This post is really helpful. I am not sure I have heard of Stephen Covey but his story of how he rose from being declined athlete to becoming a force to reckon with in the business world. I also have this problem of prioritising and it is destroying my relationship with people I cherish. I think I need to pay attention to some specific things like in those quadratic activities. Thanks for the  insightful post

    1. Tiffany Domena

      Stephen Covey’s work is very insightful regarding time management, prioritization and other things. You should check it out.

  3. Tiffany Domena

    I was just smiling reading through this post because I’m a bit if a scattered person. I don’t usually make plans, I just jump to doing what I’m doing and it gives me stress alot, because I find myself doing two things at once alot. This really affect me at the end of the day. Seeing this post makes me eager to change this aspect of my life. I’ll purchase some this book “7 habits of effective people” and hope it works for me. 

    1. Tiffany Domena

      I highly recommend the book! It’s one of those books that sticks with you for life and you find yourself quoting it and referencing it over and over.

  4. Tiffany Domena

    I am a fan of Dr. Stephen Covey. When he was still alive, I followed him by buying his books, attended his seminars, and watched his videos. I even tried applying his lessons, although they’re sometimes hard to strictly implement, it’s worth the try. The challenge for today is, most of today’s youth are shallow. When shared with these kind of principles, they just laugh. I experience this as an online marketing coach, the followers I got are young people. They’re faced with time management issues, looks problematic, but when taught with principles like this, they laugh. How do I work around this problem?

    By the way, thanks for the quotes. I grabbed one today and posted on Facebook.

    1. Tiffany Domena

      Stephen Covey’s principles all require lots of self-discipline and ongoing reminders almost like teaching young kids to brush their teeth every day. Don’t give up on them because they laugh in the beginning. Persist. Try to break down the disciplines into bite-sized pieces, and get them to practice for short-terms and celebrate. Once they start seeing the benefits, they will start implementing more and more, but it takes time and persistence. Celebrate the baby steps!

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