The Big Rocks

I am borderline giddy. Smug perhaps is the better word. I know it probably will not last, but for today, today the sweet scent of victory pervades my office.

I am reading The 5 Choices by Kory Kogon, Adam Merrill and Leena Rinne. The subtitle is an over the top promise of The Path To Extraordinary Productivity. This book is the latest from the Franklin Covey folks. If you have read Seven Habits of Highly Successful People or First Things First you know the kind of book I am talking about. For some, the list makers and action takers, this kind of book jacks you up. You clean off your desk, whip out your master list and clean up those files. Others—well let’s just say you wished you had picked up a murder mystery or something fun.

The authors give the oft-repeated advice. Put the big rocks in first. Put on your calendar your most important tasks. Determine what you absolutely must do well to succeed in your job and in life and make time for those tasks. Take care of the big items first, and then fill in your day with the barrage of activities that will come your way.

Which brings me to today. My typical day begins with cleaning out the inbox. This may take 30 minutes or 90 minutes or 10 minutes. Some days one thing leads to another, and I tackle a mini-project and knock it out. But most days the goal is to simply get the inbox down to a manageable number and maybe impress someone along the way that I am the kind of person who responds to email in a prompt fashion.

This morning I skipped turning on my computer and even avoided reading email on my phone on the way into the office. I sat down and read for an hour. A solid hour, no interruptions. It is not required reading, but it is important reading. Then I worked for an hour on another important task. Neither task “had” to be done today. But they were both crucial to my success. They are big rocks.

This is what I know. Whatever waits for me in the inbox could wait on me. If somebody had died or some catastrophe had taken place, they would have called or texted. I could still be sending emails now, two hours later, convinced that I was being efficient as I chased rabbits down holes and got in email conversations that really were only one step above gossiping. Instead I did something important for two solid hours.

What things do you have to do well to succeed? (Don’t forget family and personal health either.) Where do you get the most bang for the buck in your actions? Now look at your calendar. Are your supposed priorities reflected on your weekly schedule?

There is a difference between being busy and strategic.

Put the big rocks in first!