Traditional time management states that to do things more efficiently would lead to control of life, peace, and fulfillment. This book disagrees with this concept and proclaims trying to control life to be happy is futile. The authors believe that instead, principles or universal laws are in control of our lives and time management with a principle-centered focus is the answer.
Section One, "The Clock and the Compass," discusses the fact that many find a gap between time spent and what is important. The clock only approach to time management is said to widen this gap. Instead, a look at what is important or first things (ability to live, love, learn, and leave a legacy) would help to align (inner compass) life's activities with the activities that increase quality of life.
To exemplify these assumptions, it is pointed out that people frequently lament regarding their time and how it is spent, "I feel like I'm being torn apart...There is simply too little of me to go around" (p. 17). Some become even more aware of this struggle in a dramatic way, after experiencing a loss of some kind (loved one dies).
Three generations of traditional time management approaches are discussed (Chapter 1). First generation is based on reminders or checklists; keeping track of the things you want to do and check the list at the end of the day to put unaccomplished tasks on tomorrow's list. This approach allows for some flexibility, one adapts to doing what is most important, however a weakness includes that a lack of structure allows important commitments to be ignored. First things, in this case, are the things that are right in front.
Second generation includes planning and preparation, with goal setting, calendars, and appointments. More is accomplished with this approach, however schedules are put over people. Wants have a higher priority than needs or what is fulfilling. First things are what is on the schedule.