Time Management

The busier you are, the more important it is to stop now and read this story.

One day, an expert in time management was speaking to a group of business students and, to drive home a point, used an illustration those students will never forget. As he stood in front of the group of high-powered overachievers, he said, “Okay, time for a quiz.” He then pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouth mason jar and set it on the table in front of him.
Then he produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one by one, 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.” Then he said, “Really?” He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar, causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the space between the big rock. Then he asked the group once more. “Is this jar full?” By this time the class was on to him. “Probably not,” one of them answered. “Good!” he replied. He reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in the jar and it went into all the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel.

Once more he asked the question. “Is this jar full? “No!” the class shouted. Once again, he said, “Good!” Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then the expert in time-management looked at the class and asked, “What is 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 in it.” “No”, the speaker replied, “that’s not the point. The truth this illustration teaches us is this: If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all. What are the big rocks in your life? Your children. Your spouse. Your loved ones. Your friendships. Your education. Your dreams. A worthy cause. Teaching or mentoring others. Doing things that you love. Time for yourself. Your health.

Remember to put these BIG ROCKS in first, or you’ll never get them in at all. “If you sweat the little stuff (i.e.gravel, the sand) then you’ll fill your life with little things you worry about that don’t really matter, and you’ll never have the real quality time you need to spend on the big, important stuff (the big rocks).

So, tonight, or in the morning, when you are reflecting on this short story, ask yourself this question: What are the “big rocks” in my life?

Then put those in your jar first.

Allen Raffetto

About Allen Raffetto

Allen M. Raffetto, Ph.D., the group’s founder, brings together psychology and business for clients throughout North America. He has worked extensively with companies in the Midwest since 1983. Dr. Raffetto holds degrees in psychology from Stanford University (B.A.), San Francisco State University (M.A.) and the University of North Dakota, (Ph.D.). His specialized area, cognitive psychology, includes studies of human learning, memory, perception and information processing. He was a member of the faculty and Chairman of the Psychology Department at Beloit College from 1969 to 1984. During those years Dr. Raffetto also held research appointments at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he studied the reading process, and at the University of Illinois College of Medicine, where he participated in an on-going study of how medical education transforms bright students into practicing physicians.

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