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So What Is Your Big Rock?
When people first start studying time management, it is really easy to get caught up in the details of keeping yourself on track. It reminds me of the old saying about “can’t see the forest for the trees.” People get so caught up in the details of working toward their goals that lose track of what is really important in life.
In his book First Things First, Stephen Covey tells a great story that really illustrates this point. It goes something like this:
One day, a time management expert came to speak to a group of advanced business students. Standing in front of the group he said, “Okay, time for a quiz.” He pulled out a one-gallon Mason jar and put it on the table. He then grabbed about a dozen fist-sized rocks and placed them into the jar one at a time. When no more rocks would fit inside, he asked the class, “Is the jar full?” When everyone said, “Yes,” he asked, “Really?”
Reaching under the table, he pulled out a bucket of gravel and proceeded to some into the jar. He shook the jar causing the gravel to work down into the space between the big rocks. Then he asked the class again, “Is the jar full?” Well, the class wasn’t going to be fooled again so one of them answered, “Probably not.” “Good!” he replied.
He reached under the table and this time brought out a bucket of sand. He started adding the sand to the jar until it filled and spaces between the rocks and gravel and asked the class if the jar was full. This time the class shouted, “No!” Once again he said, “Good!”
Taking a pitcher of water, the time management expert began to pour it into the jar until it was filled to the brim. He then looked out over the class and asked, “What is the point of this illustration?”
One student raised his hand and said, “The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, you can always fit something else in.” The speaker replied, “No. That’s not the point”
He went onto explain that this illustration teaches us that if you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never have time for them all. What are the Big Rocks in life? You mate, your children, your loved ones, your education, your dreams, charitable work, your health, or maybe just the things you love to do. If you don’t put the big rocks I first, you will never fit them all in. If you spend your time worrying about the little things, then your life will fill up with little things and you will lose the quality time to spend on the big important stuff.
So ask yourself: What are the Big Rocks in your life?
-- Excerpted the Level One Time Management Course at The FireStar Institute
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