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This is a story about priorities. I have demonstrated this concept in my time management and leadership workshops.

A professor stood before his philosophy class. He filled a large jar with rocks and asked his students if the jar was full. They said that it was.

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

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. The sand filled up the spaces between the pebbles. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded, “yes.”

The professor then produced two cups of coffee and poured the entire contents into the jar. The students laughed.

The rocks are the important things in your life like your family, your health, and activities that bring you joy. The rocks are your priorities, and the rest of life should work around them.

The pebbles are things that matter – like your job and other obligations. The sand represents all the small requirements of life that take up a lot of our time and make us feel busy. If we fill our jars with sand, we don’t have room for things that make life meaningful.

What about the coffee? No matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a cup of coffee with a friend. Having a supportive community is important.

This is an important reminder right now. Some of us have had our jars emptied out on the table in front of us. What was once a priority doesn’t seem important at all given current world events. It feels like our society is at a tipping point that requires us all to determine anew what are the most important things in life.

Once we decide what our priorities are, we want to be sure that we make time for them. We want to block off time for our rocks; then we work in the rest of life around them.

Compare your to-do list with your priorities. Are your priorities on the list of things to do tomorrow? If not, block off some time on your calendar, and spend some time on things that move you forward and give your life meaning. If possible, throw in an action or two that will help the rest of us and our society, too.

For a little bit of fun leadership development, join 53 Leadership Challenges at KathyStoddardTorrey.com.

Want to go further with your professional development? Check out the courses offered at PositiveEffectLeadership.com.

If you are interested in taking your career to the next level quickly, contact me for a sample coaching session at KSTorrey@tapferconsulting.com.