Drop big rocks in the Jar first

Put in rocks first and then pebbles and sand. (1)

This analogy is about putting important things first. Sounds like the same old crap you hear from self-help books. However, I admire a good analogy that sticks in my head and this is one of those. This analogy comes from Stephen Covey.

Imagine you have a jar and you have big rocks, pebbles, and sand that you need to fill the jar with.

How are you going to fill the jar? Order matters.

If you start to fill it with sand and pebbles and have the rocks come last, there’s a good chance there won’t be enough room for rocks.

If you throw in pebbles and sand first, you’ll quickly find that the rocks won’t all fit in the jar. Image Source.

Rocks are the things that give your life meaning. These aren’t limited to family, relationships, and vocation. They are the things you’re compelled to do and you’d feel empty inside if they aren’t at least attempted.

Rocks are the stuff that you’ll look back on as you turn 70 and say not bad, I feel good about that.

Pebbles are a means of helping you achieve your rocks. Things like school, job, shopping for food, cleaning up, working out or anything else that you need to do in order to free up time and energy to work on your rocks.

Pebbles are important but they aren’t rocks. They reinforce rocks.

The sand represents small stuff and daily interruptions. I’ll ask myself:

is this something I’ll remember 2 years from now and will it still be important?

If the answer is no, then it’s likely sand.

Unless you specifically block out time for rocks, the day will get filled with sand and some pebbles. By the time it’s 9pm, willpower is gone and rocks don’t stand a chance that day.

However if you block out time for rocks before the day starts, you’ll notice that sand will shift around the rocks. Even some pebbles will start to shift around the rocks.

Try shaking a jar with all three and you’ll see sand and pebbles shift and settle AROUND the rocks.

Prioritize rocks first and you’ll be less likely to say where did the day go?


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Nikita Kazakov
Nikita Kazakov

Software Developer and Product Owner.