Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Put in the big rocks first

OK, here’s what I’ve learned so far. Not having a job is hard work! I seem to have less time now than when my day gig ate up twelve hours every day.

How can this be?

Well, of course there’s “the list”. I’ll have to live to be a hundred and eighty years old to finish that puppy and that’s only if nothing new is added. But as we all know, “the list” is a living document that grows faster than kudzu.

The issue I’m wrestling with now is the scatterbrain syndrome.  You know the feeling – when you lay down your glasses to get a cup of coffee and as you pour your cup, you look out the kitchen window and see the birds haven’t been fed.

You immediately set the cup down and grab the birdseed. Just as you are about to fill the feeder, you glance over and notice the herbs on the back deck are dry as thatch and wilting from the lack of water.

You set down the birdseed and go grab the hosepipe (yes, to all you folks from the north, I call it a hosepipe so deal with it), and drag it towards the herb bed. When you turn the water on, you find the gasket is pouring out more water at the faucet than is going through the hosepipe. You head to the shed to get a replacement gasket when you discover the light bulb has burned out. You reach for the old light bulb to check the wattage but you can’t read it because you left your glasses in the house.

On the way to back to the house to get your glasses, the realization sets in that not only is water pouring from the hosepipe and the birdseed is still sitting on the banister, but also your coffee is probably cold now.

When I had a day job, my priorities were dictated and there was no question as to what needed to be done and when. If I missed something, my phone would scream like a baby with colic, my pager would vibrate off my belt, and my email inbox would be dinging like a bootlegger’s doorbell.

These days, my priorities have changed, but since I don’t have people on my back, it seems I have lost focus. I feel like a ship without a rudder, drifting at sea.

Two of my main priorities are, working on my new book, and recording a singer/songwriter CD with Jilda.  For some reason, this work keeps getting moved to the bottom of the list and that has to change.

Dr. Steven Covey wrote a book called “What Matter’s Most” and in this book, he uses a great analogy. He did a video to illustrate the point of working on the most important things.

He places a gallon jar and some rocks on the podium, calls a lady from the audience, and asks her to put some big rocks in the jar. She does as he asks and fills the jar with several big rocks. He asks the audience if the jar is full and some murmur that it is.

He then pulls a bag of gravel from under the podium and asks her to pour the gravel into the jar, which she does.

When the jar is full, he asks the audience, and this time a few more respond enthusiastically that it is NOT full.

Next, he pulls a bag of sand out and asks the lady to pour sand into the jar, which she does. He then tops off the jar with water from a pitcher.

When he asks again if the jar is full, everyone can now see that in fact, the jar is REALLY full.

Covey ends the demonstration by saying that life is like the jar. You fill it with stuff. In order to live your life more fully and do what matters most, you have to put the “big rocks” in first.

There’s one thing that’s become abundantly clear to me these last few weeks. I really need to refocus and make sure my “big rocks” get into the jar. 


  1. Ken Owens10:49 AM

    Could you forward the following comment to Jilda, I couldn't get it to post on her blog.
    Let me get this straight. One day your blog is about babysitting Jordan. The next you are writing about leaving town(traveling). Is there a connection between the two? Why don't you take Jordan on a trip with you? You all would probably enjoy the "experience".Sorry, I'm just being a bit sarcastic.
    Although I haven't commented on your, or Rick's, blog recently I very much enjoy both. Keep up the good work! I may not comment that much but I do follow the two of you daily. With all the time I spent working on computers you would have thought I would have learned to type. It would make commenting so much easier.
    I have been intending to email Rick concerning retirement and its effect. I have some info about what it has done for(to) me.

    Now as for your retirement. According to your entry, it seems to be progressing much the same as mine. You did leave out the part where the madam comes in from work and asks "Well, what have you accomplished today?". I can advise you at this point. DO NOT try to answer that question. She will not understand about how the day has gone as you have described.
    Kayren is retiring on June 1. I'll get back to you on how that is going. I did see her working on a list for me. I'm sure she is marking off some previous entries. YEAH, RIGHT!
    I going to email you a photo showing how I've changed since retiring in 2005. You can see some of what it has done for me.

  2. Hey Ken, I forwarded the note to Jilda and it put a smile on her face.
    I think she was getting a little discouraged but I told her people would be reading it.
    I've been writing practically every day since December 2nd 2005.
    It's hard to believe that it's been that long.
    Anyhow, many of the readers across the world stumbled across the blog.
    It just takes time.
    I LOVE RETIREMENT so far. We need to get together and do lunch.
    We're playing in Helena at the Monkey Basket on May 8th from 4 to 6 p.m. Hope you guys can drop by.


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