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the 'rocks in a bucket' time management story

'put the big rocks in first' - plan time slots for big important tasks, otherwise urgent small demands will leave no space

Use this time management story to show/understand how planning of tasks is the key to time management.

Start with a bucket, some big rocks enough to fill it, some small stones, some sand, and water.

The bucket is your available time. The rocks, stones, sand and water are your tasks - a few big ones, some more medium-sized ones, and lots of small jobs and continuous demands and interruptions.

Put the big rocks in the bucket - is it full?

Put the small stones in around the big rocks - is it full?

Put the sand in and give it a shake - is it full?

Put the water in. Now it's full.


The point is: unless you put the big rocks in first, you won't get them in at all.

In other words: Plan time-slots for your big issues before anything else, or the inevitable sand and water issues will fill up your days and you won't fit the big issues in.

Note that a big 'task' isn't necessarily a work task - it could be your child's sports-day, or a holiday.

See also:

time management

project management

more stories for teaching and learning


Alan Chapman/Businessballs

Please see additional referencing/usage terms below.