One of the most important books in the personal development and self improvement space is Stephen Covey's classic The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The principles outlined in the book are indeed timeless truths. In the book, Covey said there are three basic steps you must take to get what you want out of life.

1. Understand you can achieve success

2. Define what success represents, for you

3. Organize you life around its achievement

These steps are not a secret to success, but rather a roadmap, a blueprint. The real secret lies in the fact you must first choose to embrace and begin living these steps.

In his follow-up book, First Things First, an outstanding resource on time management, Stephen Covey explains that most people are driven by the concept of urgency. But to really effect positive change in our lives, we need to reorganize the way we spend our time; based on the concept of importance - not urgency. For most people, the problem is that we are continually doing the urgent stuff – what we refer to as the “problem of the day” at the expense of what is truly important.

The term “time management” has become a cliché. People often wish they had better time management skills, or managed their time better. However, it’s not a matter of managing your time; it’s a matter of staying focused on what you want to achieve.

Time is a fixed asset in your life. There is no getting around the fact that the next second will bring you closer to the next minute then closer to the next hour, and so on. This fact is one of the few indisputable laws of nature. However, you can gain control over time by locking in to what you want to accomplish – at any given time.

Here’s how it works:

Begin each day with a plan in mind. Be sure to plan to do the things that are most important to you. For example, you may want to spend time reading a book, visiting a website, researching new career or educational choices. Your plan may be to spend a quiet evening with your family. Make certain you stay focused on accomplishing these items. Remember, how you use your time is a choice, not an obligation.

Avoid “time-killers.” When you arrive at work, don’t check your email as your first activity. Typically, what appears in your Inbox are low priority items, but we sometimes give the highest priority to them. Instead, plan your day. Socialize with your co-workers and direct reports. At home, time-killers can be watching too much television or aimlessly surfing the Internet.

Take time for yourself. Allow yourself the freedom to drop into a coffee shop and spend 15 minutes enjoying a latte and a newspaper. Soak in the tub or catch a SportsCenter. The goal is to re-charge and re-fuel in order to be fully present for yourself and for others as you focus on what is most important in your life.

You can indeed control time. You can decide what activities deserve your time and which ones do not. Take a step back and take an honest inventory of what is draining you and your time and what is keeping you from working on the things that will help you achieve success in all areas of your life. It’s about time you give yourself this gift.

Author's Bio: 

Alex Blackwell is the author of The Next 45 Years - a website dedicated to sharing and creating happiness, life balance and success for the rest of our lives. To read more inspirational stories and articles, please visit: