Stephen Covey shares this story in First Things First:
A time management expert was speaking to a group of business students, high-powered overachievers, and said, “Time for a quiz.”
He pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouthed Mason jar and set it on the table in front of him. Then he produced a dozen or so fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them—one at a time—into the jar. When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, “Is this jar full?” Everyone in the class said, “Yes.” “Really?” He asked.
He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. He dumped some gravel into the jar and shook it so the pieces of gravel could work down into the spaces between the big rocks. Then he asked the group, “Is the jar full?” By this time, the class was onto him. “Probably not,” one of them answered. “Good!” He replied.
He reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand, which he dumped into the jar. The sand filled the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked, “Is this jar full?” “No!” the class shouted. “Good,” he said as he grabbed a pitcher of water and poured it in until the jar was filled to the brim.
He looked at the class and asked, “What’s the point of this illustration?” One eager beaver raised his hand and said, “The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit some more things into it!”
“No,” he replied. “That’s not the point. The truth this illustration teaches us is: If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.”
Too often, as business women we let what’s urgent become the “big rocks” and crowd out what’s important—our true “big rocks.”
Look back over the last week. Think about how many of these “big rocks” were in your schedule.
Did you support a colleague in need? Comment on a blog? Talk to the stranger? Tell someone they did a good job? Have coffee with someone you wanted to get to know?
Did you inventory all the good things you are and do? Or just what you aren’t or don’t have? Did you rejoice in your strengths? Cut yourself some slack for your weaknesses?
Did you exercise? Take a walk? Take in the beautiful flowers? Balance out eating the mini-bag of Cheetos with a salad and an apple? Get enough sleep? Use moisturizer and sunblock every day? Did you pay attention to your feelings? Did you show strength by reaching out for support when you needed a boost?
Did you read, watch, or listen to something funny? Play? Dance? Sing along to the radio as you drove? Did you get silly with a friend and giggle until you had to pee? Give yourself permission to take a break or may be even do nothing? Have a rollicking belly laugh?
Did you learn something new? Hold yourself accountable for doing something you said you were going to do? Invest in feeding your soul and that of others? Consider (without beating yourself up) how you could do something better next time?
Did you express appreciation? Feel gratitude? Say thank you? Did you let yourself be satisfied with excellence (which is doable) instead of perfection (which isn’t)?
Did you let your fears control what you did or didn’t do? Did you use your fear as a catalyst for doing what needed to be done? Did you express curiosity rather than judgment?
Did you carve out a few minutes to ponder? Stare out the window? To be and not do?
What are your big rocks and how will you fit them in?
Image source: Pixabay