The Big Rocks Time Management Approach [Sketchnote]

The Big Rocks is a Productivity framework to help you get the most important tasks done. It is sometimes called the Most Important Tasks (MITs) system.

The analogy of filling a jar with rocks

It is based on an analogy of filling a jar with rocks of different sizes

  • large – Important tasks that take a long time
  • small – less important tasks that take less time
  • and sand – small things that take only a minute or two.

If you start with the sand, then the small rocks and finally the big rocks, you’ll discover that your jar can’t fit everything in. That means that one of the most important tasks you have will not get done in a day.

But if you start with the big rocks first, then the smaller ones and finally the sand, you can fit everything in.

The reason the real example works is because the smaller rocks and sand fill the gaps between the bigger rocks. When you put them in first, they form a compact layer with the rocks sticking out.

It’s the same with our time.

When we put unimportant tasks first, they consume our time, energy and attention from important tasks.

How the Big Rocks system works for Productivity

Like the rocks in the jar, you should start by planning when you will do your most important tasks.

You need to make time in your day to focus on them. Once you have prioritise these tasks, you can let the smaller tasks fill in the available gaps left.

In practice, I find that some smaller tasks don’t get done and fall by the wayside. But as they are less or unimportant, it doesn’t matter.

How to apply the Big Rocks Productivity System

  1. Every morning (or the night before) set the three most important tasks that you must complete for that day.
  2. Estimate how long each task will take to do.
  3. Block time on your calendar to do them
  4. DO what you planned.

That final point is the trickiest, especially if you have limited control over your time. But my experience has been that prioritising and trying to follow this approach has benefits even if I suddenly find that my time table is ruined for the day with unexpected meetings.

Give the Big Rocks Time Management System a Go

Now you have all the information you need to start doing this system. You can do it with a digital app but I like keeping a small, index card size piece of paper on my desk. It provides a constant reminder all day long.

Give it a try and let me know if it helps.

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