How do you organize your daily life to have the time to do the things that you think are most important?
A very powerful and simple time-management tool is to use your time first on what is most important in your life. Stephen Covey, a time-management expert, suggests putting "First Things First". This means prioritizing your time first to activities that are the most important to you. Your purpose and visions in areas of your life are very important to you, and fit into the "First Things First" area of your time. Covey tells a story about attending a time-management seminar where the presenter used the following example to illustrate this idea.*
The presenter sat a large-mouth gallon jar on a table in front of the room. He set a pile of fist-sized rocks next to the jar. He began putting rocks in the jar until the rocks filled the jar to the top. The presenter asked the group, "Is the jar full?" Everyone looked at the jar and said, "Yes."
He then pulled out a bucket of pea-sized gravel from under the table. He poured the gravel into the jar and shook the jar so the gravel would fill in all of the spaces between the large rocks. He then asked, "Is the jar full?" The group was now on to the presenter, and responded that the jar probably can hold more.
The presenter then produced a container of sand. He poured the sand into the jar. The sand filled all of the spaces between the rocks and the gravel. The presenter asked again, "Is the jar full?" The group replied with a resounding, "No." Lastly, the presenter brought out a pitcher of water and poured a fair amount of water into the jar.
So, what is the point of this example? One point you could make from the example is that you can usually fit something more into your life. However, the important lesson from the example is that if you don't put the big rocks in first, you would have filled the jar with other things and never gotten the big rocks into the jar at all. Trying to cram more into our schedule is an easy trap to get into. It’s not the quantity of what is done, but that what is done -- is what is most important.
We live in a fast-paced world with many demands upon us. Most of the time, there seems to always be something urgent and pressing that we need to be doing in our jobs or at home. When you identify your purpose and life area visions as the "big rocks", you will more likely notice an opportunity and have the time to take action when it shows up.
Next Steps: How to use the "big rocks" idea in your life
This week, take time to determine what is most important to you. Put these things at the top of your "To Do" list and schedule specific time every week to take actions. During this time, at a minimum, schedule 30 minutes to 1 hour, 3- 5 days a week. The time can be first thing in the morning, before you get distracted with daily activities, or some other time during the day. The key is that during that 30 minute to 1 hour time frame your only focus is doing things to forward one or more of your visions.
The most important thing is that you decide what’s most important, and you do something to forward these things every week.
Click here to learn more about how the Beyond55 Guide to What’s Next can help you arrive at what are the important things in your life.
* S. Covey, R. Merrill, R. Merrill, First Things First (New York: Simon & Shuster, 1994).