Big Rocks Prioritisation Theory

This is a story with a moral: planning is the key to time management - and stress reduction. It appears in many forms - always reported as true!
Here's my version, with some food for thought at the end:

In the book “First Things First” Stephen Covey describes a story that one of his associates experienced on a seminar. In the middle of the lecture the presenter pulled out a wide-mouth jar and placed it on the table, aside to some fist-sized rocks.
After filling the jar to the top with rocks he asked, “Is the jar full?”
People could see that no more rocks would fit, so they replied, “Yes!”
“Not so fast,” he cautioned. He then got some gravel from under the table and added it to the jar, filling the spaces between the rocks. Again, he asked, “Is the jar full?”
This time the students replied “Probably not.”
The presenter then reached a bucket of sand below the table, and dumped it on the jar, filling the spaces between the rocks and the gravel. Once again he asked “Is the jar full?”
“No!”, the students shouted.
Finally, he grabbed a pitcher of water and filled the jar completely, asking to the public what they could learn from that illustration.
One of the participants answered, “If you work at it, you can always fit more into your life.”
“No,” said the presenter. “The point is, if you don’t put the big rocks in first. . . would you ever have gotten any of them in?”
This little story can be applied to all aspects of your life.
The question then becomes: out of all your activities, what are the big rocks? More importantly, are you making sure that they are going first into the jar?
The professor then produced two cans of beer and proceeded to pour them into the jar, effectively filling the empty spaces between the rocks, pebbles, and the grains of sand. The students laughed. “Now,” said the professor as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life.
“The rocks are the important things – your family, your partner, your health, your children, and your close friends - things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter, like your job, your house and your car. The sand is everything else. The ‘small stuff.’ If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the rocks.
“The same goes for your life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness: Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out dancing.
There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, give a dinner party, and fix the disposal. Take care of the rocks first, the things that really matter. Set your priorities; the rest is just sand.”
One of the students raised her hand and asked what the beer represented. The professor smiled; “I’m glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of beers!”

Now what can you glean from this for yourself?
What are your big rocks? What do you care about in life? What are your top priorities?
What do you want? What goals do you have in connection with your family, your friends and your life partner, your career, your health?
If you don’t currently have a romantic partner, are you making the time to meet new people? Is optimal fitness important to you? What about spirituality, community service, politics or finding new ways to make a contribution to society? What about having fun, seeing the world and enjoying new adventures?
Take a minute right now to jot down what you consider the big rocks in your life.
After you finish writing down the five, six or ten areas that are a top priority for you, think about how much time you are spending in each area. Is your life balanced, or has one area of pressure taken over your time?

Are you willing to make a commitment, right now, to putting those big rocks in the glass jar of your life? To make a positive change now?

The point is: unless you put the big rocks in first, you won't get them in at all.
Plan time-slots for your big issues before anything else, or the inevitable sand and water issues will fill up your days and you won't fit the big issues in (a big issue doesn't necessarily have to be a work task - it could be your child's sports-day, or a holiday).

Put the Big Rocks First


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