I cut my professional canines on Alan Lakein’s time management techniques. He taught me to always have something to do and to always make sure I’m doing the most important thing.

Then I read the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey and that completely messed up my existing view of time management.

Lakein taught me to classify tasks as either A) important, B) less important and C) not important. His methods make sure you remain focued on your A tasks while throwing your C tasks into a drawer to be forgotten.

Then Stephen Covey asked me to write down two things that I could do that would most improve my personal and professional lives. Learning a new skill, finding a new job and starting a family — these are all things that are important to your life but not critical to get done right away.

So they never get done.

It turns out that those things that create the greatest benefit in your life aren’t very important to get done right now. As a result, using Lakeins method you would never make it to those life changing tasks. Instead, you’d spend you’re life forever working on the hottest issues. This is know as fire fighting and it leads to burn out.

Stephen Covey suggested that you instead schedule your life to work on those important but low priority tasks and then schedule your A list tasks around those tasks to insure you get those important life changing tasks done.

So, there you go. Two alternate views on scheduling that actually work well together once you understand them.

P.S. I love the 7 Habits book. If you get a chance, read it!