Maximizing Your Most Precious Resource: Time

The following is a guest post from John Brubaker, consultant, speaker, and award winning author.

Last year I spoke at a state conference for educators and administrators. The topic was work-life balance. When I asked how many of them had a time management system two people in the audience raised their hands. (Technically, neither of them was actually “in” the audience. One was the videographer and the other was the event planner.) So really, out of 150 educators, none of them had a time management system.

While not uncommon, it is tragic because your time is your wealth. We all get the same amount of time in a day, 86,400 seconds, and this fact levels the playing field for you regardless of what industry you’re in. Then how you maximize your time becomes your competitive advantage. If you don’t manage your time no one else is going to do it for you.

Furthermore if you don’t value and respect your time, no one else will either. Effectively managing your time every day is a discipline and takes time but it is an investment and when you invest in something you get a return.

My investment in your success this week comes in the form of an annual time block tool. This is a concept I got from the CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing, Michael Hyatt.

To explain the tool, I’m borrowing a potent metaphor.

There is an old story about a philosophy professor giving a lecture where he pulled out an empty mayonnaise jar. He sat it on the table next to some fist-sized rocks. He filled the jar with the rocks and asked the class “Is this jar full?” Everyone looked at the jar and agreed that it was indeed full.

He then reached under the table, grabbed a bucket of gravel and dumped the gravel into the jar. The gravel went in between all the little places left by the big rocks. He again asked, “Is the jar full?” The class agreed that now it must be full.

He then reached under the table, pulled out a bucket of sand and dumped it into the jar. It went into all the spaces left by the big rocks and the gravel. Again, he asked the class “Is this jar full?” “Yes” the class said but they knew he must be going somewhere with this.

Lastly he grabbed a can of beer and poured the beer into the jar. Then he said, “What’s the point?” Someone said, “If you really work at it, you can always squeeze more stuff into your life.”

“No,” the instructor responded. “That’s not the point. The point is this: if you hadn’t put these big rocks in first, would you ever have gotten any of them in?”

The big rocks in the story are a metaphor for the most important things that you must plan for in your life. The annual time block tool is designed to allow you to plan and block out the next three years of your life. It is not meant for you to enter every little detail (that is next week) just the “big rocks” (board/association mtgs, co. and family holidays) and “gravel” (events, celebrations, time w/ friends).

The beauty of Hyatt’s system is that the items are color coded and listed in priority order from non-discretionary to discretionary. Enter your important dates and prioritize them; otherwise you may find yourself at the mercy of someone else’s schedule. The key piece to remember is balance.


About the Author

John Brubaker John Brubaker is a nationally renowned performance consultant, speaker and award winning author. John teaches audiences how to obtain better results in business with straightforward tools that turbo charge performance.

Using a multidisciplinary approach, John helps organizations and individuals develop their competitive edge. Brubaker is the award winning author of The Coach Approach: Success Strategies From The Locker Room To The Board Room and co-author of the book Leadership: Helping Others To Succeed. He is also the host of Maximum Success: The Coach Bru Show on NBC Sports Radio Boston. Brubaker was recently cited as one of Forbes Magazine’s Top 10 Consultants Who Avoid The B.S.

John is a graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and he also earned a master’s degree in personnel psychology from FDU. Brubaker has completed his doctoral coursework in Sport Psychology at Temple University.

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

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