in: Advice, Character, Sunday Firesides

Sunday Firesides: Put the Big(ger) Rocks in First

You may be familiar with the famous object lesson Stephen Covey used to reveal the importance of priorities.

Imagine an empty jar, a bucket of big rocks, and a bucket of gravel.

If you put the gravel in the jar first, it fills the jar’s capacity, and the big rocks won’t fit.

But, if you put the big rocks in the jar first, and then pour in the gravel, the pebbles will fit in the spaces around the large stones.

The jar is your life; the big rocks are its most important things; the pebbles are the less important things. If you prioritize the latter, you won’t have time for the former. If you take care of the essential stuff first, you’ll be able to get to everything else, too.

The big rocks analogy is typically used as a way of getting people to think big picture about their lives. It’s a prompt to sit down, pull out your schedule, and block off time for high-ROI work tasks, family fun, exercise, vacations, etc.

But it’s also helpful in thinking about little choices — prioritization decisions you wouldn’t necessarily anticipate ahead of time or put on a calendar.

Every day, and all day long, you’re faced with choosing between bigger and smaller rocks. The more often you choose the former, the more your life will flourish.

Eat your salad before reaching into the bread basket.

Talk to your kid instead of looking at your phone.

Open your Kindle app instead of Instagram while waiting for an appointment.

Have sex before you turn on Netflix.

Always choose the bigger rock in each decision you make, and you’ll discover that you do have time for all the best elements in life, and that everything else can fit in too. Or, that it wasn’t needed in your jar after all.

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