There is an analogy now commonly known, to exemplify balancing priorities and tasks and other factors in our lives or businesses. A large jar is filled with rocks, sand and pebbles in varying orders to represent how best to balance out what to plan into our days, and in what order.
Rocks represent the main priorities. The milestones and big decisions, and the significant actions taken that direct our course.
Pebbles represent aspects that are vital to continuing success; activities or responsibilities that ensure we maintain progress but tend to be consistently present and never really leave our ‘to-do’ lists.
According to Michelle from Virtual Hand “The sand is everything else. The incidentals that flood every day. These tasks and activities, circumstances and interruptions form the body of our experiences and the life and culture of our businesses, but they are also never-ending.” They will also not necessarily be instrumental to your growth or wellbeing – either personally or corporately.
Let’s consider a few examples.
A rock. This could be the launch of a brand or major product. It could be the taking on or departure of a business partner, or the submission of a bid for vital funding.
A pebble. This is up to personal business prioritising, but these tasks could include doing the accounts, staff training, reviewing policies, networking, reviewing monthly metrics, renewing subscriptions, etc. Vital and ever-present.
The sand? Sifting through emails. Social media engagement. Planning and creating posts. Document creation, formatting, and proofreading. Logging receipts and keeping up with bank reconciliations. Booking the appointments and travel arrangements for that upcoming ‘pebble’ trip. Organising cleaners. Chasing those elusive late-payers or taking a multitude of calls.
All of the above will be obvious to most. However, the key to the analogy is the order and quantity in which the rocks, pebbles and sand are added to the jar…or your everyday.
Adding all of your sand to the jar – or allowing all of the minor, persistent activities to fill up the majority of your working hours, or more – will mean there is little to no time for the important steps that will propel your business venture forward.
Equally, attempting to fill your jar with all of the pebbles and rocks you can lay your hands on, means none will have your full attention or be followed through to the best possible conclusions.
Building relevant connections, having the space for defining conversations, and being free to make important decisions means standing back and taking a serious and careful look at what falls into each category for you.
The ‘sand’ of our business days may seem ours to carry, and our alone. The popularity of the analogy would indicate that everyone on the planet can relate in some way. However, as a business owner, entrepreneur, director and operations manager, there are many options open to you to outsource and quantify what really makes you most effective in your role and organisation.