Phrase used to emphasize the importance of focusing on necessary preliminary, preparatory, or immediate tasks at hand rather than the ultimate goal or result.

You want to retire rich from selling a screenplay to Hollywood? First things first: learn how to write a screenplay.

Stephen R. Covey uses this principle in his philosophy of time management. You want to use your time more efficiently? First things first: figure out what your values are, what's most important to you.

The name of a 1964 manifesto of disgruntled folks in the advertising industry who wanted to put communication ahead of consumerism: First Things First Manifesto