Source: Scott Webb

It often feels like there is not enough time in the day. As a business owner, this is a common sentiment I hear from my team and other professionals I work with. If I am being honest, it is one I often spout off too. It’s the adult version of ‘the dog ate my homework’ excuse for getting tasks accomplished.

In today’s fast-paced world, we are tasked with getting more done with less. We have competing priorities and can struggle to find or maintain a work/ life balance. I know for me, I am a husband, father, owner of multiple businesses, real estate investor, athlete, son, brother, friend, and the list goes on. While I wear several different hats on any given day, I feel like I get quite a bit accomplished. The work is never done, but I’ve been able to prioritize the most essential things in my life.

One of the key principles that I have learned and try my best to adhere to is to ‘schedule your big rocks first.’ This is a concept from the author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey. He teaches that if we go through life without great intention, the urgent but unimportant requests inevitably fill up our time. The onslaught of emails, phone calls, and texts will make you feel busy but not necessarily effective. Busyness is not an indicator of success or effectiveness.

Instead, he suggests that we schedule our “big rocks” first or the most important items before scheduling anything else. The idea is to make sure things like coaching calls, date nights, children’s events, focused sales times, important client meetings, and important team meetings – should all make it to your calendar in advance. Ideally, any appointment or meeting that is held regularly should be set to reoccurring so it is always in your calendar and can’t be overbooked. It should also be noted that you must honor these appointments, or the system does not work.

In setting up your calendar this way, there will be white space, gaps in between those critical tasks where you can accomplish catching up on emails, returning calls, responding to text messages, and all other activities that are not deemed critical. The small stuff will naturally fit in around your big stuff, not the other way around.

If you find yourself with not enough time in the day, would you instead get the important stuff accomplished and ignore or miss out on the trivial stuff? Setting intention around this is critical, which includes planning your weeks and days and ensuring your most important items come first and you have time available to get them accomplished.

Steven Covey illustrates this in a recorded video made in the 80s or 90s, using actual rocks, small pebbles, and sand. You can see that video here:

This certainly isn’t a new concept, but its simplicity and effectiveness remains true today. It is something I have to remind myself of every time I am feeling stressed and overwhelmed.