Put the Big Rocks In First

This is a principle so simple and yet so profound, it will completely change your life if you consistently practice it.

I have written about this previously under the title of Creating an Annual Time Block. However, I just stumbled across this video by Stephen Covey. He describes a similar exercise in his book, First Things First. It is well worth taking seven minutes to watch it.

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The big idea is that you must schedule time for your most important priorities first. If you don’t, you will never get to them.

A corollary to this principle is this: what gets scheduled gets done. The opposite is also true: what doesn’t get scheduled doesn’t get done.

Here a few “rocks” you might consider scheduling first:

  • Pursuit of God. When do you spend time reading the Bible and praying?
  • Intellectual Growth. What books do you want to read? What conferences do you want to attend? If you don’t schedule time for this, it won’t happen. Remember: leaders are readers and readers are leaders.
  • Physical Exercise. Do you have a defined exercise routine? When do you do it? How much time do you spend? You are choosing today the quality of life you will experience in ten years.
  • Your Spouse. Do you have a daily time for debriefing and checking in emotionally? Do you have a weekly date night? Great marriages don’t just happen. They are cultivated. In my opinion, your marriage is your most strategic asset—or liability.
  • Important Projects. The tyranny of the urgent will crowd out the important if you aren’t careful. This is the secret of highly productive people. They schedule time for the really important projects so they don’t get side-tracked by trivial pursuits.

The only way to do this practically is by looking ahead on your calendar. Schedule the important stuff first, before someone else grabs the time.

Question: What are your “big rocks”? How are you making time for them. You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • Anonymous

    This is so good, Michael. Thanks for the wisdom and encouragement!

  • Jeff Jones

    It seems funny to schedule time for a spouse but how important it is to make sure their is time in your day for him/her. I’m a “shoot-from-the-hip” scheduler meaning I resist planning for anything because I enjoy being able to go where I want but this is a miserable burden too often because I don’t get the things done I really, really need to get done. I’m getting better at filling my calendar with time for the important so I can enjoy the spontaneous more knowing I have or will be getting done the things that need to be done.

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  • Fpeiqin

    Reading – do early in the morning.http://www.moncler-cheap.org/

  • http://twitter.com/_salam_ Kevin Bushnell

    Thanks for re-posting this video, Michael.  I remember reading your other post “Creating an Annual Time Block.”  That piece really made me re-think how I organized my calendar – not just the day and week, but the month and year as well.  I love the story about the instructor who ask the question, “Is the jar full?”  I also liked how Stephen asked his volunteer to “use a different paradigm” when he suggested that she change to the empty jar.  How many times do we merely accept the reality that is the least troublesome to adapt to when engage with life?!  

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  • http://twitter.com/joewickman Joe Wickman

    It really is difficult to focus and re-focus on the important when the trivial and shiny lurk right around the corner. Thanks so much for the reminder.

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  • Jenny C

    My work team uses this weekly! Every Thursday, we each individually write up our “Big Rocks” work projects for the following week to keep them at the forefront. 

    Now I just need to carry that over into the rest of my life. Spiritual Growth, Health, Learning, Work and Relationships are probably my active top 5 “big rocks” right now.  

  • http://twitter.com/marymakesmusic Homegrown Learners

    I’m gaining so much from following your blog and reading “Platform” right now.   I have also read Covey’s book and need to be intentional about my BIG ROCKS.    

    Right now my big rocks are time with God, homeschooling my children, and building my blog (this last one is a rock that is getting bigger all the time!).

    Thanks so much for the insight.  I will be hearing you speak at the BEECH Retreat in January.   

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Awesome. I look forward to seeing you at the BEECH Retreat.

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  • SCHH

    i have been living every single day with this BIG ROCK expression…from packing the car from supermarket shopping to recovering from open heart surgery….NEVER PUT IT OUT OF YOUR MIND… you life becomes orderly beyond your imagination…it is what makes your day easier..and what makes your life so much less stressful…

    take a deep breath…and never forget PUT THE BIG ROCKS IN FIRST.

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  • Deni

    Can’t view the video, but appreciate the “big rock reminder”! (Says the video does not exist.)

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      It’s now fixed.

  • youngbean

    Any tips for putting the big rocks in order when your work schedule is chaotic and you have a toddler and one on the way?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Honestly, the principles are still the same. Each of us face our own challenges with priorities.

  • Sherrill Kuc

    Hi! when I clicked to view the video, a “sign” came up that said the video did not exist.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      They moved it, but it is now fixed.

  • http://www.teamworkandleadership.com/ Mike Rogers

    Michael, the video is not working. I did a post on this awhile back and had to replace the video link. You can go there at http://www.teamworkandleadership.com/2012/07/big-things-first-great-time-management-video.html#sthash.qancMotF.dpbs
    I just checked it and the video is still working.
    Mike Rogers

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Mike. It’s a moving target. I don’t know why Covey’s organization keeps having it taken down. It is great promotion for Dr. Covey’s work.

      • http://www.teamworkandleadership.com/ Mike Rogers

        You are welcome Michael. I have wondered the same thing. I have to check several of my blog posts regularly due to this “moving target” :)

  • Shelly moreau

    I’ve been so used to just remembering to do certain things – off the top of my head. I establish a list of priorities in my mind for a given day… But it’s true, when I put things down on my calendar and time is actually allotted to them, they seem to get done more easily. It’s like we seem to be more committed to it. It’s simple, but so effective, from personal to business growth. Thank you for sharing this article.

  • http://SwolePT.com/ Mike Kabbani

    Hey Michael,

    Video seems to be down again. I found another link though:


    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Mike. I fixed it in the post above. It’s too bad the Covey organization doesn’t use this to promote their other products. They could leave this clip be and link to their website, for example, or one of Dr. Covey’s books.

      • http://SwolePT.com/ Mike Kabbani

        Maybe they need to read Platform!

  • Gary Thomas

    Writing my screenplay needs to take priority in terms of projects. I’ve been doing a UCLA course & leaving the writing till last thing in the day and you’re absolutely right, it just doesn’t get done.

  • Dan

    it says the video doesn’t exist. did it move? could you relink?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Yes, I just relinked. Tragically, the folks who manage Dr. Covey’s estate don’t seem to get social media and how this helps promote his work.