Start with the rocks!

This is quite a common story and you will have heard it before, I’m sure. When life gets super busy, and I’m planning my week, month or year I ALWAYS find it useful to ‘start with the rocks’. Here’s the full story to illustrate what I mean.

The teacher stands at the front of the class. He has a table in-front of him with a large transparent storage jar on top. The class is full of intelligent people.

The teacher quietly reaches under the table and starts bringing-out small rocks, placing them carefully into the jar until they reach the top. He asks the class “Is the jar full yet?” and is met with a confident response of “Yes!”.

The teacher quietly reaches under the table again and starts bringing-out handfuls of gravel, which he slowly drops into the jar. He shakes the jar and the gravel drops between the rocks. He asks the class “Is the jar full yet?”. This time the class is a little more hesitant but most agree that the jar is now full.

The teacher reaches under the table a third time and brings-out scoops of sand which he pours into the jar. As expected the sand falls in-between gravel and rocks all the way to the top of the jar. The teacher reaches under the table one last time and brings out two bottles of beer, pouring each one into the jar. The liquid makes its way between the grains of sand.

“Now is the jar full?”, asks the teacher. The class smiles and cautiously agrees that the jar must now be full!

What’s the message?

Each rock, piece of gravel and grain of sand represents a task. The jar represents our capacity to complete the tasks.

If we pour the sand into the jar first, we’ll never be able to fit in the gravel or rocks. Likewise, if we pour in the gravel first, it’s unlikely we’ll also get the rocks to fit.

The rocks represent the biggest and most important things in our life: our family, our pets, our hobbies. The things that give us the most meaning, purpose and joy.

So, when you’re planning your week, your month or your year, always start with the rocks! I always put birthdays in my diary first as days to take-off work. I then add other special dates important to me and my family. Everything else then gets planned around that, starting with the tasks that will make the biggest and most positive difference to my business.

Take a look at your diary today and see if you can move a few things around to make room for your rocks!

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