Building context.
July 25, 2011, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Behavior, Organization

I’m reading this great book called “First Things First,” written by the same authors of “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” and just have to share this great metaphor it presented. Let’s see how many times I can say great in this blog.

I’m retelling the metaphorical story in my own words. There is a professor teaching a room full of students about time management and he pulls out a wide-mouth gallon jar and sets it next to a pile of large rocks. He asks them all how many rocks they think he can fit in the jar and they take their guesses. He begins placing them in, one by one, until the stones reach the top. He then asks his students, “Is the jar full?” And they answer yes. “Wrong,” he says, as he pulls out a jar of gravel from underneath the table. He begins pouring the gravel in and it fills the spaces around the larger rocks. Some students begin to see what he’s getting at and when he asks them again if the jar is full, they answer “no” instead. “You’re right,” he says, as he takes out a cup of sand and begins pouring it around the even smaller spaces between the gravel and the rocks. But the jar is still not full. He pours water into the jar and fills it to the brim.

“What’s the message?” the professor asks his students. One answers that even when we think we don’t have time or space we can always fit more in and accomplish more things.

“That’s wrong,” said the professor. “The question you need to ask yourselves is, would the big rocks have fit in the jar if you didn’t put them in first?”

The big rocks are the important things. The rest is all filler. So when it comes to time management, you need to see if you are planning your life around those large things that are really going to sustain you and bring you lasting happiness, or are you running off of a daily to-do list that requires you to be urgency/importance-oriented.

When you schedule time for the things that matter to you in a week, then you can build around that and that gives context to your week and creates better purpose. I really loved the visual of the jar. It was great!


5 Comments so far
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It’s amazing how God works sometimes. Your post just answered a question that I presented to God. How quickly he answered me. Let me first set the stage so you can better understand.This evening has been somewhat tumultuous for me because of the exact topic you write about.
I have become so focused on my “to-do lists” that just about everything has taken on a sense of urgency. This has been going on for so long that I have forgotten how to do things differently.
As a result, I have grown uptight and am losing sight of the important things. I often have an attitude and am beginning to damage close relationships. I walk around like my “Jar ” is half empty when it really is not.
As you know, I was not always this way. I prayed this evening that God would help me find the solution to my problem. I am not looking for another to-do list telling me step-by-step instructions on how to fix my attitude. Instead, I am desperate for a new way of thinking. Something that will address the issue at the core.
I believe that what you read about and so willingly shared with the rest of us gave a glimpse into one area that I could work towards changing. I am a very visual learner and truly believe that the “Jar” will stick with me.
Others have attempted to explain this very thing but, in ways that I could not receive. But this, I understand this. So, thanks.


Comment by Leandra

Amen! I hear you on the problem… I share it and it’s why this book caught my eye. The jar metaphor makes sense and it spoke to me, too. Check out the book if you’re interested in more…

Comment by simplyenjoy

Well said darling its important to keep our eyes on the big picture, and not get blogged (like the blog humer?) down with the little things. Hope lots of people read this and apply it to their lives.

Love you,

Comment by Nick

Thanks, babe. I like the blog humor haha!! Keep it coming 🙂 x

Comment by simplyenjoy

That will stick with me! Thanks for sharing.

Comment by Daidree

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