Time is the limiting factor for all of us at some point in determining how much we have the capacity to accomplish. I have a couple of sparky ideas that I’m tossing around in my head about big rocks and variables.

Big rocks. Yep, those things we are declaring to be our top priorities.We have to set time aside for these activities to ensure that we have hit the mark when it’s all said and done. Steven Covey made this idea stick with the popular analogy shared in this short video…

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So Covey thought in the realm of 7’s. He wrote one of my all-time favorite books, “The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People.” He even has 7 big rocks in the video! The whole idea of the 7 rocks centers on figuring out what is most important to you and focusing on those things. When we choose to fill our time attending to the things that don’t really matter we leave little time for the things that do matter. All the rest is minutiae… or is it? I’m adding a corollary today: the significance of variables.

First the big rocks…

For me, I have to be a person of action. I have to be intentional about this stuff because I want to make a difference. I’m most productive in the morning, so I jump right on the big rocks. I take a thinking break, either exercise or possibly even a nap, sometime during the day. Before you get too excited realize my day typically starts hours before most people ever tip the coffee pot at the office. Late afternoon I typically tackle another big rock. Evening as well.

What are your big rocks? Even if you’re familiar with this concept, have you ever thought through or made a list? You may be a little surprised by the next part…

Here are a few ideas of what the big rocks might look like:

– Faith. Starting the day off with a devotional helps set the tone for me. I also try to walk all day with the Lord by my side. Serving, growing in my relationship with Him, fellowship with other believers, and making disciples. This qualifies as my biggest rock. Ha, Jesus is THE ROCK!!

– Family. I’m extremely blessed with a very close family. I love hanging with the little tikes so I make family a very important big rock. Aside from the joy of being around my grandchildren, helping them learn and grow is an investment well worthwhile to me.

– Exercise. I can get a little overboard on this one, but the bare minimum recommended daily dose of exercise doesn’t really mean all that much to my get up and go. I have found through the ages that my body needs more than the base necessities in this arena. Maybe you do too?

– Personal Growth. A big rock that deserves much more time and attention than we generally give it. Do you have a plan? It starts with a personal mission statement.

Wait… what about work? Heavens yes, work is a big rock. Maybe you thought this post was going to be about the big rocks we tackle at work? Well, I have  a system for them, too! This is a boxy guy concept, but it works to block out time in my schedule for the big work rocks. Whether we punch a time clock, write a book or bill a client by the hour, our big rock work process is similar – we can expect to produce income when we add value.

We’re not going to pay too much attention to the little rocks – you know, that stuff that is simply a distraction to what you are trying to achieve. We’re simply not going to give the little rocks much notoriety, aside from recognizing them for what they are and being diligent to make sure they don’t creepy creep into our lives.

Wagons ho to the variables!

Think of everything other than the big rocks as a variable.

There are two types of variables:

Dependent vs. Independent Variables.

From Wikipedia: “The “dependent variable” represents the output or effect, or is tested to see if it is the effect. The “independent variables” represent the inputs or causes, or are tested to see if they are the cause. Other variables may also be observed for various reasons.”

So variables are either causes or effects.

The environment that I work in is an important variable to me. Interestingly, sometimes my environment is a cause while other times it’s an effect. For instance, if I’m writing in my sweet spot, a comfortable place where I can focus, my environment has the effect of making my time much more productive in comparison to working in a coffee shop filled with distractions. Conversely, going to the coffee shop to meet a friend for a cup and convo will often spark new ideas for me. In this scenario, my environment is a cause, or independent variable. Pretty cool, right?

I think of music, cooking, reading, friends and adventure as variables too. They are so very important to me, like my description of “environment” above. They can all be dependent or independent variables.

So you may think some of my big rocks look like variables. Good, I’m glad you picked up on this discrepancy. Here’s why:

Some of the most important things in life are often NOT the things we consider to be productive.

Ok, yea I said it! It’s OK to consider your faith, family, fitness and personal growth ahead of work. Remember the old saying about the guy getting ready to kick the bucket, and how he never says “I wish I had spent more time at work.” Truth.

So who really is the wise one? Jesus. Yep, quit His job as a carpenter at the ripe old age of 30 to wander around teaching and healing people. Then, just 3 short years later, was removed from the face of the earth (for now anyways). Why? Ha, because it was important. Boom. Maybe it didn’t seem particularly important at the time, but the next time you look to see who’s signing the paychecks, maybe look again and realize it’s Him. Then regroup on your big rocks. I  can assure you that you will never regret it!

What do your big rocks look like?