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I enjoyed both "Getting Things Done" and "First Things First." And in various forums, it seems that each time management philosophy has it's disciples and detractors. Personally, I think the systems harmonize quite nicely.
GTD is more about building a high performance task executing machine. You are the machine, of course, and David Allen seems to understand the mechanics of that machine quite well. For example, even though we are naturally skilled at planning - mapping out the steps needed to achieve a specific outcome - we are poorly equipped to remember the task we need to do at the exact moment when execution is required (it's why we set the book we can't forget in front of the door so we run into it on our way out of the house). This is because our minds can only focus on one thought at a time. Allen prescribes an extensive solution to capture every commitment, create to-do lists and reminders, and apply contexts so you can batch all of your activities while @ the store, @ home, or @ the weekly meeting. It's a nearly air tight method to make sure you don't drop the ball on any outstanding commitments (as long as you use it faithfully, of course).
Covey on the other hand does not spend so much time ensuring you capture every task on your mind. His focus is on determining which activities are more important, based on your personal mission statement as applied to the various roles you play in your life (business owner, youth group volunteer, father, coach etc.) This analysis allows you to categorize activities within one of four quadrants:
Quadrant I - urgent, important
Quadrant II - not urgent, important
Quadrant III - urgent, not important
Quadrant IV - not urgent, not important
Covey might argue that in our GTD system, we could be going 100 miles an hour fulfilling every commitment that crosses our desk. But we may look back in 10 years and decide that, as productive as we were, we weren't pointed in the right direction. Covey doesn't recommend simply neglecting tasks, or course, but rather gradual shifting our daily activities toward Quadrant II, important activities that are not urgent (by doing these, our goal would be to reduce the frequency of Quadrant I).
Another difference is the weekly planning. Covey really emphasizes the importance of calendaring activities for the week - starting with the "big rock," followed by pebbles, then filling the rest with the sand. If you first put in the sand, "the thick of thin things," there's no room for the big rocks, the most important activities.
Allen on the other hand feels that beyond actual appointments, the weekly calendar is usually thrown out quickly anyway. So we should rely on intuition, supported by the to-do lists in your GTD system, to decide what is the best activity to do at any one moment in the day.
So in a comparison to building a doghouse (the only thing I've personally built in my life), I look at GTD as the system that keeps all of the tools perfectly organized. It a great system to make sure everything is there at our fingertips the moment we need it, so our doghouse building becomes a highly efficient assembly line. Covey on the other hand is more about the blue print that we always check to make sure we're building the doghouse correctly. Which one is better is really about where you are. If you're already highly productive, but concerned about priorities, Covey will probably be a good guide. If have clear goals you want to achieve, but commitments keep slipping through the cracks, GTD may fit the bill.