Rocks, Pebbles & Sand Analogy For Time Management

Rocks, Pebbles & Sand Analogy For Time Management | The Loaded Pig

Have you ever found yourself wondering how you will get everything crossed off your never-ending to-do list? If you keep reading you will learn a time management technique that will allow you to be more productive and more efficient with your time. There is an analogy that, when applied to time management, helps people plan their time more efficiently by identifying different tasks and goals and scheduling their days.

Rocks, Pebbles & Sand

The story is that a professor shows his class an empty jar and says he is trying to fill it. He dumps rocks into the jar and asks his class if it’s full. They claim it is. Then he pours pebbles into the jar and shakes it until they settle. Again the class says the jar is full. Next the professor pours sand into the jar and the class says again that it’s full. Finally, he pours water into the jar and says that now the jar is full. He explains that if he put the sand in first he couldn’t have fit everything else in it.

Identify Your Tasks

Each material in this story represents everyday tasks on your to-do list, whether it is at work or home. The rocks are big, long-term goals and strategies. These require you to set aside a couple of hours at a time so that you are able to dive deep into them in order to make progress. The pebbles are short-term goals and the sand is small tasks, like responding to emails. The water is a distraction that prevents you from getting other tasks done, which could be social media or TV shows.

The moral of the story is that if you focused all on small tasks you’ll never do what you need to do. Instead you schedule the big important tasks, then the smaller, but still important ones and lastly the busy work. Planning thoughtfully will improve your time management significantly.

Allocate Your Time

Take time to make a list of everything you need to get done. Then identify your rocks, pebbles and sand. Next allocate your time. Legitimately schedule them out: 1-3 pm Monday ROCK #1, 9 pm Monday PEBBLE #2 and so on. The reason for scheduling your tasks instead of just making the list and saying you’ll get x amount of each category done each day is to keep you on schedule. You could spend all day on one task if you don’t schedule your tasks.

Avoid Distractions

Rocks, Pebbles & Sand Analogy For Time Management | The Loaded Pig

Be mindful of the water. Distractions can take you out of the flow and can make you much less efficient with your time.

Silence your phone if you need to or tell your family or roommates to leave you alone during these times. Using headphones can also help you avoid distractions and improve your time management. Try the rocks, pebbles and sand strategy to manage your time and see if you are more productive.

For more productivity tips, read our article 8 Confirmed Ways To Increase Productivity Working From Home.

To learn about tips to handle stress and stay focused, check out our article 8 Tricks To Ease Stress & Stay Focused.

Financial freedom begins with good habits.

Rebecca & Tiago,

Rebecca co-founded The Loaded Pig with the goal of helping people achieve their financial goals. Her passion for financial freedom has landed her on US News & World Report,, Cheapism, and many other sites. Rebecca earned her Master of Business Administration from the University of Florida and her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Miami. She is currently a professor in the business department at Broward College.