Change your priorities by putting the BIG rocks into the jar first.

Here’s a lesson in how to change your priorities and better manage your time that I use in my talks and workshops. An expert in time-management was speaking to a group of business students, and to drive home a point he used an illustration the students never forgot.

He pulled out a glass jar and set it on the table in front of him. Next, he produced five fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar. When the jar was filled to the top, and it was clear that no more rocks would fit inside, he asked the group, “Is the jar full?”

“Yes”, replied the class. “Really?” he said. He then reached under the table, and pulled out a bucket of gravel. He poured some gravel into the jar and shook it, causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks. 

Again, he asked the group, “Is the jar full?” By this time, the class was on to him. “Probably not“, one of them answered. “Correct“, he replied. He then reached under the table, and brought out a bucket of sand. He started pouring the sand in the jar, and it filled all the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel.  

Once more he asked the question, “Is this jar full?” “Yes!” the class shouted back.”Correct”, he replied. Then he asked, “So what is the point of this illustration?” One keen student raised his hand and answered: “The point is that no matter how full your schedule is, you can always fit more in.”

“Incorrect“, replied the speaker, “That’s not the point. What this lesson teaches us is this: If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never fit them in at all”.

Too often we fill our time being busy with the little stuff – the gravel and the sand – without leaving enough space for the BIG rocks. Work and career is often a BIG rock that comes with lots of gravel and sand, leaving little or no space for other BIG rocks such as physical health, mental wellbeing, family, relationships, personal growth, spirituality and recreation.

While you are reflecting on this story, ask yourself this question: “What are the BIG rocks in my life?” And then put them in your jar, first.

change your priorities and put the big rocks in first
Richard Sauerman
Richard Sauerman
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