Make your priorities the big rocks in our life

A story circulates on the Internet of a time management expert sharing a story with a group of students.  The origin of this story is unknown but in it, the expert talks about priorities and how to actually make the priorities in your life happen.  And it’s a really important message.  The professor stood in front of his university class with a large glass jar and some rocks.  He started putting the rocks into the jar up to the top and then asked the students if it was full.  The students said that it was.

There are different variations of the story as to what came next, pebbles or rice, but let’s say rice. He picked up a cup of rice and tipped them in the jar, shook the jar and everyone watched as the rice filled in the spaces around the rocks.  He again asked the students if the jar was full and they agreed that yes, it definitely was full this time.

He then picked up a cup of sand and put sand into the jar, shook the jar again and the sand filled even more spaces inside the jar.  Once again he asked if the jar was full.  By now the class was curious as to know what was next but agreed that the jar was full.  Then he took a glass of water and poured water into the jar and of course the water poured in, filled up any remaining spaces between the rocks, rice and sand and filled the jar to the brim.

The class agreed that now the jar was indeed full.

On asking the students what they thought the purpose of this illustration was, one member of the class said no matter how full your schedule or life is, if you try really hard, you can always fit something else into it.  The teacher replied that that wasn’t the point at all – the point was that if you don’t put the big rocks in first, you wouldn’t be able to fit everything in.  If the rice, sand and water went in first, you would not be able to fit as many rocks into the jar.

The demonstration illustrates that the big rocks represent the things that are important in your life whether that is exercise, spending time with family, getting further education, yoga, doing community work, or reading a book etc.  If you don’t put the big rocks in your diary first, other things will come along and fill up all the space.

The rice, sand and water represent all the things that you have to do in life, for example work, client meetings, and other obligations, but if we applied this theory to our life and pay attention to the things that really are a priority to us, we will make sure they get done.

So to have good work‑life balance and achieve the things you need to do for yourself, in order to build resilience, schedule your exercise, your medical visits, massages, time‑out in your diary as if they are client appointments.  Everything else will still happen.

What are the big rocks in your life?