Time Management – Prioritize Your “Big Rocks”

There never seems to be enough time to do all we need to do. All day long, items on our checklists grow while time withers away.

That said, we all get the same 24 hours in a much more with their time? The answer lies in time management—the planning and executing of how long we spend on specific activities. Effective time management provides us:

  • Improved productivity and efficiency
  • Increased professional reputation with our co-workers
  • Improved balance to achieve career and life goals
  • Decreased levels of stress and anxiety

To improve your time management skills, consider this paraphrased version of Stephen Covey’s story about a respected professor who wanted to help his students understand prioritization.

In class one day, a professor set a large glass jar on the table in front of him and began placing large rocks in it until they reached the top. He asked his students, “Is this jar full?” In unison, they shouted, “yes!”

The teacher replied, “really?”

He then grabbed some gravel from under the table and proceeded to dump it into the jar, occasionally shaking it and adding more until the gravel filled the spaces between the rocks.

He asked again, “Is the jar full?” Some nodded yes. Most didn’t say a word.

The professor reached again under the table and this time pulled out a cup of sand. He dumped the sand in the jar and asked, “Is it full now?”

The students mumbled, “probably not.”

He smiled wryly and then poured a nearby glass of water into the jar until it brimmed to the top and declared, “now it’s full.”

His point to his students was that there is almost always more one can fit into his or her jar. But prioritization requires us to decide what to add first. If the professor had not placed the large rocks in the jar before the gravel, sand, and water, they wouldn’t have fit. Small items would have consumed the space. We often forget this lesson at work, filling our schedules daily with the minutia. Doing this jeopardizes our achieving the bigger objectives. We have to remember: big rocks come first. Then, fill in only the smaller items that support those larger objectives.

In Covey’s story, the professor’s students wouldn’t soon forget this illustrative lesson.

Nor should we.

To work on your time management skills, ask yourself: What are your big rocks? What are your little rocks that get in way? What can you prioritize and what can you eliminate?
The reality is, when it’s all said and done, the biggest rocks always comprise the major milestones in our work and our life.

If you want to learn to prioritize your activities, ETA offers powerful webinars and on-site trainings on the topic. Click here to view our course on Time Management.

Article Reference:
Reference:  www.worklifecoach.com/Big Rocks

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