What we need to hear on time

Assumptions are not proven reality. They are what we tell ourselves to make sense of our world or to take action.

And usually, they are helpful. Until they’re not.

Enjoy this beautifully written piece from my friend Stephen St. Amant, from his Savenwood Blog.


Maybe you’ve heard the widely-shared parable about the professor who asks his students to fill a jar with large rocks, pebbles, and sand. The size of the objects is symbolic of their importance.

The lesson is that if you begin with the sand (the small things in life) you’ll never have enough space for the rocks (the more meaningful things). “First things first,” as Stephen Covey would say.

Oliver Burkeman has given me new insight on this concept: it’s a lie.

The problem is not that we fail to prioritize what’s important. The problem is that there are too many things that feel important. Too many worthy causes. Too many rocks.

And yet we must choose. We will never have enough time to tend to everything, so our challenge is to figure out what we will prioritize … and to gracefully let the other things go.

Mourning the loss of all that we will never do is perhaps painful, but it’s necessary. If we don’t contend with that loss, it will continually get in the way of the things we can do.


And perhaps follow it up with last week’s conversation between Oliver Burkeman and Krista Tippett for the On Being Podcast: Time Management for Mortals.