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What are your big rocks?

My internal Whine-o-Meter goes into the red at least once a week. There’s not enough time! it says. Waaaaaaah! it says. While, during the week, I get pings from the internal Motivation-o-Meter, usually during my day job, saying If I had this time available for what I want to do, I’d do x.

So there’s this great struggle I get to contend with regularly. When I get home, I realize there’s much to do getting the house ready for the arrival of our new son, much of which has to wait until the weekend or until some other task is done.

Now, you may not have exactly the same concerns that I have, but isn’t it true that we all have major things in our life that rightfully demand our attention? How do we make sure it all gets done?

In a previous article, I used the sand and rocks illustration. Well, Ali Hale over at Dumb Little Man posted an article recently called 3 Critical Time Management Techniques You Shouldn’t Forget, and I liked the way she put it:

Schedule the Big Rocks, Let the Small Stuff Flow
I’ve only come across the “big rocks” catchphrase in the last couple of years, but it expresses a timeless trick for great planning: get all the big stuff into place, and let everything else fit around it. Schedule blocks of time for writing that report or having that essential meeting that keeps getting postponed. You’ll find plenty of time to take care of your emails in between.

This is an excellent article, and I highly recommend reading the whole thing. It’s aimed at balancing life & business, and really, can’t we consider our writing our business? Even if we are not yet doing it for pay, if we are serious about writing we have to look at the process in a businesslike way.

Ali quotes from an earlier Zen habits article, which recommends making a list each week of the big rocks. So, what big rocks are in my life this week? I’ve made a list here:

  • Bible study with my wife (r)
  • Prepare a talk for the congregation meeting this week
  • Put kitchen together after having vinyl installed
  • Meetings: Thursday night and Sunday morning (r)
  • Ministry work on Saturday (r)
  • Travel: visiting Mom to show off the baby bump!
  • “Scheduling meeting” with Princess on Friday

Where’s the writing? That’s what I’m working on improving my commitment to. As you can see, there are already a lot of big rocks in the jar. The ones marked with (r) are repeated each week. So, I have caused my writing to become like the sand that flow around the big rocks. I’m working on setting an attainable writing goal each week. And this little analysis shows me that the sand I let flow into the jar has to be carefully selected, that it reflects my ambitions and goals.

I think that if I can look at the week using this excellent metaphor, it can help me prioritize what’s important and deprioritize what is not.

Have a great weekend and keep cranking!

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Categories: productivity
  1. July 30, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    Hi Guy,

    I had to reread the list of what makes up your big rocks, and I smiled from ear to ear because it sounds alot like my list! (…except for the baby bump, I have two children already so it’s Family Worship for us) We must belong to the same organization…
    Laura 🙂

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