Rocks, Sand & Your Time

I’m delighted that Les Murray from the New England Chocolate Company, Salisbury, MA sent me the following time management tip this week.  Les is a regular reader of my blog “Conversations with Kit” and along with his wife, Jayne Murray, are chocolate extraordinaire entrepreneurs at

I’ve used this time management visual in my past training classes and totally agree with Les that this is a wonderful way to think about prioritizing your time and energy.  You may have even seen it done in a time management class – it’s been around for awhile.  I like visuals like this because we remember them better over the years and this truly is one of the best.

Here’s how it goes . . . the class instructor starts with asking you to think about what “Big Roles” you fulfill at this time in your personal and professional life.  These may be as a mother/father; spouse; son/daughter; business owner; employee; student; community volunteer etc.  Next, list for yourself several smaller things that also fill up your daily life but are not considered “big”.  Examples may be time you spend paying bills, doing household chores, doing errands, sorting paper clips etc.

The class instructor then takes out a big jar, some sand and some rocks.  He explains that the small things are represented by the sand and he then pours the sand in the jar.  It fills up quickly.  Now he asks the class participants to assign their big roles to each one of the rocks.  After that is done, he tries to put the rocks in the jar.  But there is no room – the sand has taken up all the space.  What to do?  The class discusses this and quickly decides to take the sand out and then put the rocks in to the now empty jar.  The rocks go in first – the big roles that each class participant identified that they most cared about.  Now the instructor pours in the sand and you guessed it, the sand fits quite  easily around the rocks.

And in Les’ words . . . “the moral to the story is that each one of us only has 24 hours/day, 7 days per week.  We sleep 8, we work 8 and there are 8 hours that we have for ourselves.  If we allow the “sand”  to fill our lives then we never have any time for our larger roles, those that we care most about.” Les goes on to remind us again to plan our time and energy carefully so that we are doing what is really important to us in this chapter of our lives – like  eating wonderful Belgium chocolates from the New England Chocolate Company!


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