The Big Rocks

The Big Rocks

We all start our day with the well intended “task list”. Then …we get into the day and find ourselves quite busy.


This busy stuff, though important, eat up large amounts of our day.

We often find ourselves looking at the clock and realizing it is dinner time and we have not tackled any of our well intended list.

Author Steven Covey uses the analogy of a jar or rocks, pebbles, sand, and water to illustrate a time management principal that is helpful for everyone. As a surgical leader, we can often find ourselves with a day full of busy work which look like Dr. Covey’s jar full of sand and water.

Important projects are our big rocks.

Invariably, we get down to a crunch time and we are forced to rush through them. And while we work great under the pressure, in the back of our mind we realize that this project is a small part of many others (also known as opening up a cans of worms) that need our attention or that we really wanted to address.

But our efforts and time tend to be devoted to the other stuff:

the pebbles, sand, and water.

So how do we leaders get the big rocks and pebbles and sand into our jar…

without getting a bigger jar??

Here are some tips to ensure that you start with the big rocks:

  • Make quiet time either at the beginning or end of the day (even better do both) to plan for the next day.
  • Keep a daily journal of tasks and rank each one by priority. For example, big rocks could be your “A” priority tasks.
  • Know your work style and most productive time and utilize it to tackle the big rocks. Do you work best early in the morning before staff and patients arrive or at the end of the day after everyone has left?

Our jar is the same every day and we will always have big rocks, pebbles, sand, and water. The key to making it all work is all in the finesse of time management.

Happy jar filling to you.

Here is a link to the full story.

Author:  Casey McFarland