Put the Big Rocks in First

The only way to get the important things done is to put them into your life and schedule first, rather than trying to get the smaller “sand and gravel” out of the way to make room. The notion that you have to clear out the smaller stuff first, in order to make room for the larger stuff, almost always ends up back firing (one reason being that there is always more small stuff ready to come in).

Stephen Covey explains this better than anyone I’ve read in his book First Things First. I blogged on this a few months ago, and you can read his description of the analogy in that post.

Today on Michael Hyatt’s blog I came across this video where you can see Covey illustrates this principle visually:

(HT: Michael Hyatt)

  • Kent Capps

    I find this to be true with my son’s train set as well. In order to get everything in the box, I have to put the big pieces in first–the mountains and bridges and train stations. Then the individual track pieces and train cars and such things go in and I close the lid. If I reverse the order, I cannot latch the box.

  • http://www.shepherdsnotes.com Drew Buell

    So, how do you think that relates to David Allen’s approach, which is more of a bottom up approach. I think he would say that you have to clear the decks, before you can get to the “mind like water” state. Do you see these approaches as competing with one another or complementing one another?

  • Matt

    Drew: Yes, I think this represents a problem in GTD. I find that GTD, of itself, leads to too much focus on the sand and gravel, making it hard to do the larger and more important things.

    My solution is a sort of hybrid approach between some of Covey’s best thoughts and GTD.

  • Brian Current

    Matt, speaking of your hybrid approach, when will we see your book on this!? 😉

  • Brian Current

    …to clarify, what i meant to ask was – what’s the timeline on writing your book?

  • Matt

    Some good news on that front: The book should be released early next spring, and I’m working on it now!

  • Brian Current

    your blog alone has changed the way i work and how i think about work. i’m looking forward to the book!

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