My professor walked into science class and put a large jar on top of her desk. She took a bunch of large rocks and filled the jar to the top. She declared, “See, now the jar is full.” She looked around the room and asked us all, “Is it full?” We all agreed. She then took a bag of smaller rocks from behind her desk and carefully put them in the jar. They fell between the big rocks and filled the jar. “Now” she said, “Surely the jar is full.” Skeptically, we agreed. Next she took a bag of sand and poured it into the jar to the very top! “Now it’s full!” she professed. “Of course it is,” we said. She pulled a can of beer from her desk and opened it. She said, “This jar appears to be full. However, remember this visual as you go through your day. Start with the big rocks first, for if you do not, you will not be able to get them in the jar. Think of this jar as your life. What are your big rocks? Make sure the most important things you are working on are the same big rocks as your boss and your fellow workers.” She then poured the beer in the jar and said, “After you have done all your work, remember there is always room for a beer!”
“Big Rocks” such as your job and family responsibilities need to be put first in your life. After the big rocks are in place, you’ll still have room for the little rocks, sand and pebbles, which will fall in between many of the big rocks. If you try to put the little rocks in first, you will never have enough room left to fit all the big rocks!
When we get it backwards, it’s known as “majoring in minor things.” During a recent workshop the participants were once again complaining about not having enough time to get all the work done. We’ve all been in this situation and had the feeling of being overwhelmed. The thinking is all wrong! We will only have 24 hours a day and that will never change. It’s all about PRIORITY management not Time Management. Know your mission, set your goals and prioritize based on your ‘big rocks’.
Apply this idea to your schedule for the coming week. What big rocks do you see staring you square in the face? Make those your top priority and carve out enough time (schedule it!) to accomplish the big rock tasks. Whatever time you have left, you can complete the smaller tasks, some of which you may not get to but can move to the next week. In some cases, those small tasks end up not being done; and you realize they seemed urgent but in the long run, not very important. Plan your big rocks first before other issues pull you away. You’ll be more productive and more focused as a result. Once you get organized take the time to align your priorities with those around you starting with your significant other and boss.