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There’s Never Enough of It

September 11, 2005

Filed under: life — Terry Wohlers @ 17:58

Time. It’s something that many of us lack. As one ages, it seems as though the weeks and months pass by faster and faster. Meanwhile, we are constantly faced with opportunities for more work and other activities to fill our days and evenings. 

Years ago, I read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. In his book, Covey talks about not having sufficient time to accomplish the most important tasks each day. He explained it like this: Suppose you want to fill a jar with rocks and pebbles. If you first pour in the pebbles, there’s not enough space for the rocks. If you first put in the rocks, there’s plenty of room for the pebbles to fit around the rocks.

That’s how Covey recommends we organize our time. First, concentrate on the rocks—the large and important projects and issues—and let the smaller tasks follow. Often, we get the two reversed. Instead of giving proper attention to what matters the most, we spend much of our time reading and processing email, answering the phone, attending meetings, and so on. The jar becomes full with no room for the rocks. 

I’ve tried my best to follow Covey’s advice. And when I do, it works and works well. However, it’s easy—much too easy—to fall into the trap of filling the jar with pebbles, leaving little time for anything else. Email has become the biggest culprit. Before you know it, the day is gone and you feel like you’ve not accomplished much. So do your best to focus on the rocks and I’ll do the same.