Big Rocks, Pebbles and Sand: How To Make Things Happen

I want to preface this post by saying this concept has moved mountains in my world. It has completely revolutionized the way I prioritize my life and has given me the ability to make the important things happen in my life.

Also, this concept isn’t mine. I borrow it from Steven Covey (author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and First Things First) who writes about it in his books. Steven first heard it from one of his associates who heard it at a seminar. As far as I could find, the original creator is not able to be found.

Let’s dive in. 

Big Rocks are things like your bucket list items, non-negotiable goals, your dreams, your true + authentic desires, things you can do to make your business more successful, things that fulfill you, things you can do to make this a healthier and happier world for yourself and others, etc. (Healthy lifestyle, travel, quality time with loved ones, launch or grow a business, your faith or spirituality, etc.)

Pebbles are the things you love to do or need to do but they aren’t crucial to your happiness, success, or fulfillment. (House projects, watching your favorite TV show, book club, piano lessons, etc.)

Sand is your mundane day to day tasks. (Checking emails, laundry, walking the dog, paying bills, grocery shopping, etc.

The jar is your life, your time, your energy, your budget, your resources, etc. You only get one jar.

These are all different for everyone. One person’s big rock may be another person’s sand.

Here’s what we usually do . . . 

We say yes to whatever we think fits in our schedule at the time. We confuse our tasks and calendar items as urgent instead of just important. We blindly add things to our calendar and our to-do lists without asking about the value it actually brings us. 

In big rocks, pebbles and sand terms, we fill our jars with LOTS of pebbles and sand and no big rocks. At all.

Or if we’re somewhat organized, we put the sand and pebbles in first and then somehow try and squeeze all the big rocks in, which unfortunately just doesn’t work. We don’t have unlimited time, energy, money, or resources to do whatever we want whenever we want and fit everything in when we need to.

Here’s a better way to get things done . . .

Say "yes" to your "big rocks" first. Put your big rocks in your jar first, then your pebbles, and then your sand.

This way, you’ve prioritized your big rocks first and you’ve for sure completed them and/or put them into action! If you don't put your big rocks in first, then you'll never get them in at all.

Oh and also, don't feel like you need to explain saying "no" when pebbles and sand try to fill your time. "No" can be a complete sentence!

Here’s how to put this concept into action . . .

  1. Make a list of your big rocks (choose 4-6), your pebbles (choose 5-10) and your sand. Ask yourself questions like, ‘What’s on my bucket list?’, ‘What lights my soul on fire?’, ‘What are my dreams?’, ‘What are my non-negotiables in life?’, ‘What are the things I have to do but I don’t enjoy?’, etc.

  2. Look ahead on your calendar and schedule your big rocks first, before someone else grabs the time. Then start filling in the time with pebbles and sand. Be sure to leave some space for incoming or last minute pebbles and sand. What gets scheduled gets done. What doesn’t get scheduled doesn’t get done.

  3. When looking at your day, do your big rocks right away in the morning. Get em done! Then you’ve got them done in the case of emergencies or things popping up throughout the day.

  4. Moving forward, when making decisions on whether to spend money, spend your time, spend your energy, etc, ask yourself: "Is this a big rock?" If it is, GREAT, do it! If it isn’t, then ask yourself, “If I do this, will I still have enough time, energy, money, or resources to fit all my big rocks in?”. You get the gist from there.

This concept is so simple and yet so profound. It’s not about getting more stuff done but instead, it’s about getting YOUR most important things done. If you consistently practice it, it will completely change your life.

*Note: The big rocks, pebbles and sand concept can work for just about anything: your business, your budget, your health, your vacation, etc.

I'm so excited for you to get started!

Love, Taylor


What are your big rocks? Are you putting them in your jar first? Or are you allowing pebbles and sand to take precedence?