Where did it go?

Have you ever reached the end of a day (or a year) and wondered where all the time went? You know you’ve been busy and working the whole time. But somehow it doesn’t feel like you did much – or anything – at all.

Effective time management is not always as easy as it seems. There will be things that you intended to do that somehow just didn’t get finished. That is only natural, since most of us haven’t yet mastered the super-power way of doing 36 hours of work in 14.

If you are like most people, your list of things that need doing will almost always be far larger than the time to do them in. The real issue isn’t about how much you didn’t get done. It’s about which things didn’t get done.

The best laid plans are often interrupted with something else that seems to be urgent. Unexpected phone calls, visitors, emails and more can pull you off task. You can be incredibly busy. Yet, sometimes at the end of the day, when you look back and check your ‘Daily Action’ list, you find important items remained untouched.

‘Big Rocks’

One day an expert on time management was speaking to a group of business students. As this man stood in front of his group he said, “Okay, time for a quiz.” He pulled out a one-gallon wide-mouthed mason jar and set it on a table in front of him. Then he produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar.

When the jar was filled to the top and no more big rocks would fit inside, he asked, “Is the jar full?” Everyone in the class said, “Yes.”

Then he said, “Really?”

He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. He dumped the gravel in and gently shook the jar causing pieces of gravel to work themselves all the way down to the bottom. The gravel fit nicely into the spaces between those big rocks.

He asked the group once more, “Now is the jar full?” By this time the class was onto him. “Probably not,” one of them answered.

“Good!” he replied.

Next, he brought out a bucket full of sand and started pouring. Sure enough, it went into all the little spaces left between the rocks and the gravel.

Again he asked, “Is this jar full?” “No!” the class shouted.

He said, “Good!” and grabbed a pitcher of water and poured. When the jar was filled to the brim, he looked up at the class and asked, “What is the point of this illustration?” One brave student raised his hand and said, “The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit some more things into it!”

“Good answer!” the teacher replied, “However, there’s an even better answer. Let’s look closely at the jar and the size of the pieces we were able to fit in. What else do you see? Here’s an even bigger TRUTH this illustration teaches us:

If you don’t put your BIG rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all!”

The moral of the story is:

If you do the big important things first, you will always be able to fill the remaining time with other smaller tasks. And by smaller, we mean farther away from your core values.

Schedule the ‘Big Rocks’ FIRST in your day. And make sure they get done first. This falls right in line with the 80/20 rule: 80% of the value comes from 20% of the work. Make sure your most important Big Rocks – those top 20% – get finished.

Once your important tasks are complete, you will often find that you have more energy and feel better about doing the remaining tasks. Sometimes they even seem to do themselves!

You might be asking yourself: Well, what ARE my big rocks? It’s a question we all face at some point. Here’s an easy way to find out. Invest some time today in checking your values and your priorities. Sit down and seriously investigate this question: What really matters in my life?

Take some time and write down your ideas. Maybe it’s a project that YOU want to accomplish? Or more time with your loved ones? Your faith, your education, your finances? A cause? Teaching, coaching or mentoring others?

Trouble getting started? This is a great topic for a mastermind session with those close to you! Thru masterminding, you gain new insights and bring fresh perspectives to your life. By working together, thinking and sharing ideas, your success team can help you gain clarity and recognize values or priorities that you may have overlooked.

Managing your priorities

Once you have your written list of values and priorities in front of you, it will be much easier to see what really matters in your day. Take your list of things you need to do and compare them with your values and priorities.

Those action items that are in alignment with your core values will be your ‘big rocks’. Put those at the TOP of your list. The rest can come later. This is something you’ll do every day. Very soon, you won’t have to compare the lists. You’ll know automatically if an action is a big rock or simply gravel.

This simple process will help you master the super-power way of time management! Then, as you look back at the end of the day, the week, the quarter, the year or the decade, you’ll be pleased to find more and more significant things that are most important to you have been accomplished!

So – What are your Big Rocks ? What is really important in your life?

What will you do FIRST today to maximize your success and bring even more of what you love into your life?

About the Author:

John (“Dealey”) Carpenter Dealey, International MasterMind expert, entrepreneur, philanthropist, author and self-made millionaire is dedicated to helping people solve problems, finish strong and reach their goals with “ease and grace.”

To learn how to use these powerful principles of the mastermind to bring even more of what you love into your own personal and business life, sign up for a free subscription to the weekly MasterMind Tips ezine at: http://www.dr-mastermind.com/

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