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Juggling the Big Rocks to Manage Time

October 6, 2011

This is something that happened last week in my home at 7:45am. My 17 year old son woke up late, raced into my office, and asked me to get him some breakfast while he dressed for school. My 22 year old daughter called from college with a problem, “I need your help now mom!”  And, a new coaching client expected a proposal from me before 9.

 Can anyone relate? Sometimes it is so hard to juggle everything! I decided two things a long time ago. #1 – I can’t do it all perfectly. Hard to admit, but the truth. #2 – Getting all the little things done won’t get me where I want to go. In other words, I might get 20 little tasks done in a day but still procrastinate on the big one that will really move my business forward. But, as a businesswoman with a home office and kids, there are so many little things that need my attention every day! From the new client proposal to the dripping faucet to the pile of filing to posting a tweet to that pesky laundry that I swear grows on its’ own.
What’s the key to managing your time? Set your “big rock” priorities and juggle those first. Imagine a big glass bowl and a pile of tiny, smallish and slightly bigger rocks. How can you fit the most rocks in the bowl? Do you start with the smaller ones first then push in the big ones? Hate to tell you but it doesn’t work. That’s right. You start with the big rocks, place them in the bowl, then when you pour the little ones in they will fit in between in the cracks and crevices.
What are the 2-3 big tasks that if you got them done, would move your business forward? I’ll bet you know exactly what those are. Here are my top 2: install the new operating system in my computer and write the Introductory chapter for the book on Feminine Wisdom. Both tasks are filled with unknowns. So, I put them off. Then blame myself at the end of the week when I’ve lost momentum.
So now I schedule those in the first part of the day – yes, before I go onto the phone, Facebook or check email. I “chunk” it down in bite sized pieces: One: get the program from my husband’s office. Two: ask him about any cautions (I’m not a techie!~). Three: back-up my computer. Four: install. I set the kitchen timer for 20 or 30 minutes and plow in to one part. I either do 1 chunk each day for 4 days or all 4 in one day but I set the timer each time. And I feel so good when I get it done!
So, what are your big rocks? What are 2-3 large tasks you’ve been putting off? What  is a “to do” of considerable importance on your list? A new idea to test? A major step to take? Make a List . If you have a lot, choose 2. Then choose 1 to start. Break it down into small baby steps. Set some time in your calendar. Give yourself the gift of focus for 20 minutes. Set the timer. It’s doable. After the timer goes off – give yourself a treat. My favorite is a spin through the garden, or a chocolate covered ginger. Yum!
Plus, when I’m focused on my big rocks I fix something really simple for my son and tell my daughter that I’ll get back to her after 9. (after all she really would have been OK if I’d been in a meeting and she’d left a message!) My shoulders drop 2 inches, my headache eases, and I can start to breathe again as I finish up that client proposal on time. The next morning? My son probably gets his favorite – scrambled eggs and Canadian bacon on an English muffin. Yum.
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