Put the Big Rocks First


Stephen Covey is one of my favorite authors. In the book “First Things First” he describes a story that one of his associates experienced on a seminar. In the middle of the lecture the presenter pulled out a wide-mouth jar and placed it on the table, aside to some fist-sized rocks.


After filling the jar to the top with rocks he asked, “Is the jar full?”

People could see that no more rocks would fit, so they replied, “Yes!”

“Not so fast,” he cautioned. He then got some gravel from under the table and added it to the jar, filling the spaces between the rocks. Again, he asked, “Is the jar full?”

This time the students replied “Probably not.”

The presenter then reached a bucket of sand below the table, and dumped it on the jar, filling the spaces between the rocks and the gravel. Once again he asked “Is the jar full?”

“No!”, the students shouted.

Finally, he grabbed a pitcher of water and filled the jar completely, asking to the public what they could learn from that illustration.

One of the participants answered, “If you work at it, you can always fit more into your life.”

“No,” said the presenter. “The point is, if you don’t put the big rocks in first. . . would you ever have gotten any of them in?”

This little story can be applied to all apects of your life, including blogging. Blogging is composed of many activities, like promoting your blog, participating in online forums, writing quality articles, networking with other bloggers, reading RSS feeds, exchanging emails and so on.

The question then becomes: out of all these activities, what are the big rocks? More importantly, are you making sure that they are going first into the jar?

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26 Responses to “Put the Big Rocks First”

  • Eryaman hali yikama

    Good information and good way your blog post. Good luck blogger man.

  • medyum

    This is my first “new” blog to visit this morning. Now you have made me have to stop and ponder! Thank you for an insightful post. I need to check your archives. I think I have a new Technorati favorite.

  • Barry Zweibel

    I was looking on the web for the retelling of this story. Yours is the best one I found. Thanks, Daniel!

  • Bang Kritikus

    Thanks for your information

  • Rita

    Excellent thoughts, as always!

  • Scott Townsend

    This is always a timely subject. As for blogging, I have made a commitment to read certain blogs every morning before I do anything else. Reading in the morning is one of those big rocks I place first in my day.

    Good job on this article.

  • Daniel

    Fernando, the name and more importantly the domain name are important factors affecting the success of your blog.

    Other than that I agree with the list that Brian did. It is a good starting point.

  • Fernando

    Huh! Pretty interesting. To me, and I’m not a professional of any kind:

    -Have Great Idea or theme for your Blog.
    -Find a good name for it, easy to remember.
    -Have a defined Audience, and then go get them involved.

    I just started mine. You guys have suggestions?


  • Charity

    @ Brian – it’s funny, but putting it into those terms actually helps a little. Thanks. 🙂

  • Brian Auer

    This is very suiting for the life of a blogger. I’m not a professional blogger, but here are my filler materials:

    ROCKS — High quality original content.
    GRAVEL — Socializing and networking.
    SAND — Research and thought generation.
    WATER — Site improvements and updates.

  • Charity

    This is a really thought provoking post, and figuring out what are the big rocks for my blog is something I’m still trying to do. It seems I have plenty of ideas, but I often don’t know if I should pursue them, how to implement them, or how to gauge the amount of time to spend on what. I think bloggers are highly under-rated by the general public with respect to how many things we have to balance at once.

  • benj

    Sadly, a lot of a the new bloggers don’t know this. All they do is tramp around around blogs hoping to get visitors. Maybe they’ll figure out eventually that content is still king in their own time. 🙂 Nice read. Kudos!

  • This Eclectic Life

    This is my first “new” blog to visit this morning. Now you have made me have to stop and ponder! Thank you for an insightful post. I need to check your archives. I think I have a new Technorati favorite.

  • Carlie

    Like the others have said, it really makes you think about things, not just with your blog but with life as well. I love things like that, that really put your life into perspective. 🙂

  • Scott

    Great Post. I have been thinking myself about what my blogging priorities are, to me they are

    1) Writing quality content – and putting out a lot of posts
    2) Networking with other bloggers
    3) SEO through participating in forums, link trading, reviewing sites etc
    4) Reading other blogs

    But it seems like the least important things are always the easiest to do.

    Anyways great post. +1 Digg, +1 Stumble, + Trackback coming soon

  • sparky

    I have to remind myself that, before answering what the “big rocks” are for my blog, I have to know what the big goal is for my blog. And only from knowing what that destination is can I know how to get there.

    It’s easy for me to get distracted – more challenging to keep my eye on my prize.

  • Daniel

    Chris, I guess every blog will have its own big rocks. Some blogs are great due to their design. Others to the community.

    Most of the times, however, the content is the big rock. Just wanted to pass that message also.

  • Chris

    Good post–I have the book, but have not cracked it open yet. Now it’s going to be my next read.

    Gee, was the bolded “writing quality articles” the big boulder?? =)

    Keep up the great work.

  • Matt

    That’s a really great analogy. Really gets you thinking.

  • Daniel

    Tifanny, thanks for stopping by. I have not read the book you mentioned, it is definitely going on the to-read list :).

  • Tiffany C Kelley

    What a terrific demonstration….that one really got me to thinking about my life/priorities…. Stephen Covey’s books are always so motivating. My personal favorite is
    “businessThink: Rules for Getting It RightNow, and No Matter What!” It’s a great read.

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