What is the Big Rock Theory of Time Management?

There are lots of tales as to who created the Big Rock Theory of Time Management (or BRTOTM for short!!) and I have mentioned it in previous Inspires but not written a whole edition on the topic.

The story I heard about the origins of the Big Rock Theory of Time Management is that there was a Harvard professor who was fed up with his MBA students complaining that they never had time to do all the reading they were given. He got a glass container, put in some big rocks up to the top and asked them if there was room for any more. They, of course, said, ‘No’. Then he put in smaller stones, which fitted around the big rocks and he asked if there was room for more. They still said, ‘No’ (they may be Harvard MBAs but not necessarily very bright). He then put in sand and later water. The big rocks are the things which are really important to us both in and out of work. It is often said that our emails are like the sand, if we put them in first, i.e. deal with them first thing in the morning we can’t fit in the other things.

There are loads of YouTube videos demonstrating this.

What Big Rock Dreams do you have for 2014?

Usually the Big Rock Theory of Time Management is about managing your time on a daily or weekly basis but I think you can adapt it or use it in different ways. It is useful at the start of the year to not only create a list of ‘things to do’ or ‘things to achieve’ but to start thinking about your Big Dreams for your life. This might be about:

  • The work or job you really want to be doing – but perhaps you think you are too old, not qualified enough, not rich enough to have – all of these are things that coaching clients have said to me as reasons why they can’t pursue their dream job.
  • The holiday or travelling that you keep putting off because you don’t have the time, money, etc.
  • Learning something new – is there a musical instrument, something artistic or outdoors-y, which you keep on putting off learning or trying out.
  • The relationship that you keep on thinking will never happen or you think you don’t have time for, or are not attractive enough, but deep down you want it.
  • The four day week or early retirement that you have been promising yourself for years but somehow work, family commitments keep on getting in the way.

What Big Rock Challenges do you face in 2014?

What challenges might you face in 2014 that you need to bear in mind when looking ahead? For example:

  • A couple of my clients have planned operations coming up, where rest and recuperation needs to be booked in, which will impact on their work and family life.
  • After a few years in famine mode with my business, I am now in the situation of ‘managing abundance’, which is great but it needs to be managed and those activities that support me need to become Big Rocks so that they still happen and help me to manage abundance.
  • Perhaps there is a particular relationship in or out of work that you have decided to challenge and change into a more productive or constructive one.
  • Is there a change on the horizon which might throw up challenges: retirement, organisational change, children going off to university or leaving home for the first time, aging parents, new babies?

What Big Rock Goals do you want to achieve in 2014?

When thinking about your Big Rocks you might want to think about the following:

What are your top priorities?

  • Work: what do you want to achieve or focus on? What targets or goals do you need to hit? Are there new areas of work you want to move into? Are there key relationships with colleagues, clients or suppliers which need nurturing and improving?
  • Family and friends: are there key relationships you want to foster or that need attending to? Are there key people you want to meet up with this year? Is there a significant birthday or anniversary coming up in your family or with friends?
  • Home: are there key jobs around the house or new ventures which need to be planned out and booked in?
  • Fun: which might be covered by some of the above but what do you, as an individual or with your partner or friends, do that is fun for you on a weekly or monthly basis? What fun things can you do with your family?

What activities support you that you need to put in your plans on a daily or weekly basis?

This might be exercise, meditation, writing in your journal, some quiet time on your own to think and ponder, spending fun times with your family and friends, getting a walk at lunchtime.

Break down your Big Rock Goals once you have decided on your Big Rocks for 2014, which might include your Big Rock dreams, challenges, goals and supports, then break them down month by month, then week by week, and even what needs to be done on a daily basis.

  • Prioritise prioritising – as David Rock says in his book, ‘Your Brain At Work’, put in time in your diary so that you can work out what your key priorities are and make sure you plan out your week accordingly.
  • Book time in the diary now – for holidays, long weekends off and, if possible, book well ahead, so there is less chance of them becoming movable feasts.
  • Under promise and over deliver – this is an expression that we often use in relationship to delivering services to clients. So, for example, if I do a free coaching audit with a prospective client on Monday, I would look at my diary and say, I’ll get it to them by the end of Wednesday, even if I know there is a good chance I will get it done earlier. Then I usually deliver earlier than that but, if something unexpected comes up, I know I have leeway. Perhaps we need to do it for ourselves. If you find yourself continuously planning your day or week and never achieving what you set out to achieve, perhaps under promise to yourself what you will get done and you might be rewarded with some spare time to complete other things.

Enjoy the journey and not just the destination!

Melanie Greene

T: 01865 377334
E: [email protected]
W: http://www.inspiretransformation.co.uk/index.html

Melanie Greene is an Occupational Psychologist and NLP Master Practitioner who set up her own business in 1991. She works as a coach, trainer and facilitator in a range of businesses and organisations. Her areas of expertise is in helping people to manage challenging interactions at work, and how they manage their own mind, mood and reactions to events, and the impact that this has on their performance. Since 2006 Melanie has written a monthly newsletter, Inspire, which covers a different topic each month. Visit her website to sign up for free and to view back issues. Her first book, Master Your Inner Critic, Release Your Inner Wisdom was published in 2008 and she is now writing her second book on Managing Challenging Interactions.