Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom): a tendency to choose to do what is important to you. [If you know what’s important to you, you can free up your time to consider how to get THAT just right by letting go of spazzing about your trivia.]
One of the best visual metaphors I’ve ever seen about time management is this one that involves stacking sand, pebbles and big rocks in a jar. This YouTube video was put together by 7 Big Rocks Productivity System, a company that sells websites and computer hosting services, and was inspired, they say, by Stephen Covey’s classic book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change.
When Stephen Covey first presented this metaphor at a workshop he said the point of it was this: If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you won’t be able to get them in at all.
MAKING IT A PRACTICE
The way to turn the metaphor into a practice basically takes four steps:
- Decide what is important to you. Write them down. Starter ideas might include spending face-time with family or friends, learning a new skill, putting time and effort into a side-hustle, experimenting with new ideas…whatever. These are your big rocks.
- Choose your “jar” – day, week, or month.
- Place your most important things – your big rocks — within that framework first. What one action will move each of your important things forward? Put that in your jar. Make the time for the one action you can take that addresses each of your important things. The rest of your day or week or month can fill up with other stuff, but you’ve got your big rocks covered.
- Do the big rock moves first.
Each time you finish each of the important big-rock actions you’ve put in your jar, find the next action that will move that big rock forward. And so on…repeat, repeat, repeat.
DOES IT WORK?
Does it work? Sort of. The real is that there will be times when “urgent” trumps “important.” The manure hits the fan and you’ve got to pull out the buckets and mops and clean up the mess before the stench reaches major proportions. That one is very likely to take a bunch of time away from your important stuff.
But, once the mess gets cleared up and the mops and buckets are put away, then you can go back to filling your jar with your big rocks and doing the actions you’ve chosen to do.
The little steps you make working on your big rocks do accumulate. The things that are important to you get done, eventually. You can call yourself to order when you go off-tangent.
There is one other reason to try this thing. When you do this, you will have a ready-made system that can help you re-think what is important to you.
If you’ve made the time and the room for the things you call big rocks, but you never complete any of the moves you want to try, it may be an indication that the “big rocks” you’ve chosen really are not yours. Maybe they are other people’s big rocks that you have adopted as your own.
If the big rocks you’ve targeted are not really yours, you won’t do them, even if you’ve set aside the time for them. Try to avoid beating yourself up about that. It’s okay to choose other big rocks if you find that the ones you thought were big for you are really not.
Look at what you’re doing instead. Maybe that’s where your real big rocks are hidden. Or maybe you just haven’t found anything yet that is important enough for you to give up the trivia. Keep looking.
Here’s a poem. It came in response to a quote by philosopher Alan Cohen, who said in his book WISDOM OF THE HEART, “A friend is someone who knows your song and sings it to you when you’ve forgotten it yourself.” I have had so many of those. Lucky, me….
THANKS FOR MY SONG
Thank you one more time.
I had gotten so caught up
In other-people imperatives,
In their projects, plans and priorities
That had me prancing
Like a Lippazaner stallion
As I drowned in the minutia
That led me to forget
That, for real,
I am not a pretty white stallion
And have never wanted to be;
That had me dancing pretty
Going ’round and ’round
Yet another arena
Head held high.
You sang my song for me,
The one you’ve heard me sing
And you brought me back to me.
So, here I am
Getting back on my dragon
The one I parked in that mountain cave,
The one drowsing in the boring blah,
The one who woke up
When you started singing
My song back to me,
Making me remember
Who I am and why.
Dragon’s in the courtyard
Bugling her impatience with me.
I’d better go now
Before she throws a hissy-fit,
But, I did want to stop by and tell you,
by Netta Kanoho
Picture credit: Maui Sunrise by Frank DiBona via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
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