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Time ManagementTime Management is one of the big questions we get asked about in our team leader and management development programmes.

We’re working with lots of people who just haven’t got enough time in their day.

The technology that was meant to free up time, is sucking time and depleting energy. More and more of us are becoming slaves to our inboxes.

Rocks Pebbles and Sand are a great metaphor for what’s important in life. This story can help us prioritise and make the most of our time.

This is one of our favourite stories to take a “stock check”.



A philosophy professor stood before his class with some items in front of him. When class began, he wordlessly picked up a large empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks about two inches in diameter. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles, poured them into the jar and lightly shook it. The pebbles, rolled into the open areas between the rocks. The students laughed. He asked his students again if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. The sand filled up the spaces between.

“Now,” said the professor, “I want you to recognise that this is your life. The rocks are the important things—your family, your partner, your health, your children—anything that is so important to you that if it were lost, you would be nearly destroyed. The pebbles are the other things in life that matter, but on a smaller scale. The pebbles represent things like your job, your house, your car. The sand is everything else—the small stuff.

“If you put the sand or the pebbles into the jar first, there is no room for the rocks. The same goes for your life. If you spend all your energy and time on the small stuff, material things, you will never have room for the things that are truly most important. Pay attention to the things that are critical in your life. Play with your children. Take your partner out dancing. There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, give a dinner party and fix the squeaky door.”

In your own life, be sure to take care of the rocks first—the things that really matter. Remember, the rest is only pebbles and sand.

What are your rocks?

What are your pebbles?

What is your sand?

In your time management where do you place most attention, energy and time?

Rocks Pebbles or Sand?

As well as our time management, prioritisation and productivity training, we’re working one to one with leaders to help them focus on the things that matter.  If you feel you are being overwhelmed by the daily onslaught of emails then let’s have an initial conversation. Coaching can take place face to face, by Skype or by telephone, and help your prioritise and regain control. Contact Diane Banister on 0845 450 0988 for an initial conversation.