Which to read first – Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People or Allen’s Getting Things Done?

Scaling / April 2, 2013 / Admin

Stephen Covey wrote The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People years before David Allen published Getting Things Done (GTD). Do you ever wonder if GTD should have been published before Seven Habits?

Both bestsellers explain highly regarded philosophies sought after by millions of people who want to do more with their days. Yet, for all the ethereal wisdom Covey imparts in his tome, it often feels as though he starts Seven Habits readers cruising at 50,000 feet. Covey’s first three habits – be proactive, begin with the end in mind, put first things first – all make perfect sense, of course, but they take clarity of mind to implement.

Maybe the problem stems from his “big rocks in the jar” analogy. Sometimes, dealing with a few pebbles prepares people to handle the big rocks.

Near the beginning of his opus, Allen emphasizes the importance of attaining a state he calls “mind like water.” In a nutshell, you reduce the turbulence in your mind to manageable levels by organizing loose papers, preparing for meetings, prioritizing to-dos and clearing all such minutiae from the runway you’ll use to launch yourself to 50,000 feet.

To keep the runway clear, you need to develop certain habits. For instance, keeping your email inbox empty (or as close to empty as you can manage) and storing all your information in a system you trust both lead to a clear runway.

Here’s the crux: most people and organizations don’t want to spend so much time on their systems that they start to think it might be easier to muddle through their messes. Any worthwhile system must make acquiring and maintaining GTD habits as painless as possible.

Daylite Mail Assistant, for instance, helps people handle what for most is a huge source of incoming information. It quickly generates tasks and events, and lets you link them to contacts and objectives, using just a few clicks inside your Mail window.

If you’re new to both books, read and implement Getting Things Done before you pick up Seven Habits. Working GTD habits into your daily routine will help you clear your mind. Once you get that clarity, you’ll find it easier to launch yourself to Seven-Habits-like heights.


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