Big Rocks First

A simple concept that will transform your life – if you learn to live by it daily.  No one other concept is more important to the idea of “time management,” and more importantly “life management,” than this.

Here is a video by Dr. Stephen Covey which illustrates the concept of BIG ROCKS FIRST.  The video is about 6 minutes long but trust me, it's well worth watching.  The visual illustration is much more powerful than any words can say and it will stick much longer too.

After you watch the video, consider what are the BIG ROCKS in your life?  Part of living intentionally means realizing that not all tasks were created equal.  The appropriate question to ask is not “did I get stuff done today?” but rather “did I get the important stuff done today?”  Like I said yesterday, the issue isn’t working harder; the issue is how to work smarter and focus on the important tasks that really need my attention.

And realize that this concept is Biblical as well.  In Luke 10:38-42, there is the story of Mary and Martha – two sisters who were blessed one day by a visit from Jesus.  In the story, one sister (Martha) works the entire time that Jesus is there and the other sister (Mary) does nothing except sit at Jesus’ feet and listen.

Great illustration of big rocks vs little rocks.  Martha did more stuff than Mary.  If you look a list of all that Martha did, you’d see that she had many items crossed off on her list (by the way, the desire to cross items off your To Do list is a classic sign of someone who is thinking in terms of number of tasks vs importance of tasks).

Mary only had one item crossed off on her To Do list: sit at Jesus’ feet.  But Jesus Himself paid tribute to her for her wise choice.

“And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.  But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”  (Luke 10:41-42)

Mary wasn’t any better than Martha as a person – but she was more focused on the BIG ROCKS FIRST concept.

What are the BIG ROCKS in your life?  A few areas that you might need to consider:

  • Your relationship with God – what are you doing to further and deepen that relationship?
  • Your physical health – what are you choosing to do today that will help you get in better physical shape and take better care of your body?
  • Your spouse – are you growing in intimacy with your spouse?  Or just getting by?
  • Important projects/initiatives at work – don’t get sucked into just responding to emergencies and putting out fires all day.  You must be able to distinguish between what’s urgent vs what’s important at your work.  If not, you will find yourself slave to your inbox and to less important tasks.
  • Your family/friends – which relationships in your life might need a little extra investment from you?

Coach John Wooden - one of my favorite people of all time - once said "Never mistake activity for achievement."  I couldn't have said it better myself.

Question for discussion:  What are your BIG ROCKS in life?  How are you making time for them?