Each chapter is dedicated to each of the habits, which are represented by the following imperatives:
* Be Proactive. Here, Covey emphasizes the original sense of the term "proactive" as coined by Victor Frankl. Being "proactive" means taking responsibility for everything in life, rather than blaming other people and circumstances for obstacles or problems. Initiative, and taking action will then follow.
* Begin with the End in Mind. This chapter is about setting long-term goals based on "true-north principles". Covey recommends to formulate a "personal mission statement" to document one''s perception of one''s own purpose in life. He sees visualization as an important tool to develop this. He also deals with organizational mission statements, which he claims to be more effective if developed and supported by all members of an organization, rather than being prescribed.
* Put First Things First. Here, Covey describes a framework for prioritizing work that is aimed at long-term goals, at the expense of tasks that appear to be urgent, but are in fact less important. Delegation is presented as an important part of time management. Successful delegation, according to Covey, focuses on results and benchmarks that are to be agreed in advance, rather than on prescribing detailed work plans.
* Think Win/Win describes an attitude whereby mutually beneficial solutions are sought, that satisfy the needs of oneself as well as others, or, in the case of a conflict, both parties involved.
* Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood. Covey warns that giving out advice before having empathetically understood a person and their situation will likely result in that advice being rejected. Thoroughly listening to another person''s concerns instead of reading out your own autobiography is purported to increase the chance of establishing a working communication.
* Synergize describes a way of working in teams. It is purported that, when this is pursued as a habit, the result of the teamwork will exceed the sum of what each of the members could have achieved on their own. “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” * Sharpen the saw focuses on balanced self-renewal. Regaining what Covey calls "productive capacity" by engaging in carefully selected recreational activities.