Most business owners I meet know the things they need to do first… marketing, planning, coaching their staff, focussing on strategic matters. But those same business owners struggle with getting to most… if not all… of those important, business-building activities. Why? Because they’re busy in the day-to-day ‘stuff’ of running their business. In Stephen Covey’s classic, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, habit number 3 is First Things First (habits 1 and 2 are Be Proactive and Start with the End in Mind). And by First Things First, he means making sure those important, strategic matters get addressed FIRST… not ‘waiting’ until you have time to do them. He has a great analogy of filling a jar with sand, small rocks and big rocks.
If you start with the sand and the small rocks and then try to jam your big rocks in ‘on top’, they’ll never fit. Instead, if you put the big rocks in first, then the small rocks and the sand… everything will fit – as the small stuff will fill in the spaces (visit my Facebook page to watch a video demonstration). Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? But ask yourself, what do you fill your days, weeks and months with? Big rocks? Or the little stuff? Don’t get me wrong… the ‘little stuff’, like phone calls, emails, customer emergencies might be ‘little’ in the rocks analogy… and they’re still important. But the problem is, if we don’t put the ‘big’ things in our lives first… well, honestly, it’s just way too easy for our time to be filled with the small rocks and sand of our lives.
So here’s my tip: At the start of each week (maybe even on a Sunday night), spend 30 minutes scheduling the ‘big rocks’ into your week. Make appointments with yourself and block those times out in your diary. And then keep the appointments. The other stuff will still get done – it will fit into the spaces around your big rocks. So before you rush off to the next task on your to-do list… take a moment and check your diary… have you scheduled time for the ‘big rocks’?
Over to you: What other tips do you have for ensuring the ‘big rocks’ get done first?