1. Be Proactive
2. Begin with the End in Mind
3. Put First Things First
4. Think Win-Win
5. Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
7. Sharpen the Saw
Covey reminds us that there are two factors that influence our effectiveness: Urgency and Importance. He numbers the quadrants like this for the four combinations:
#3 These are favors we do for others, helping them with disasters that have nothing to do with us. In an HBR article "Who's got the Monkeys", William Oncken, Jr. and Donald Wass write that leaders must, when people come into the room with monkeys on their back, know how to send them out with their original monkeys and some of the leaders. I'm a pleaser at heart, so I often take too many monkeys from others.
#2 These are important things to us but they are strategic and aren't on fire, so we ignore them to our peril (that will eventually turn them into #1)
#1 These are our own 'fires' likely based on poor execution: multi-tasking, neglecting self, family, etc.
Make a quick list of your Top 10 to-do items and map them to this table. Be brutal. As Gallagher the comedian once said "You can't have everything, where would you put it?"