The concept is simple:  You have a jar, and you need to fill it with rocks of different sizes.  The most logical way to make sure they all fit is to first place the big rocks in the jar, and gradually follow with smaller rocks, until you top off the jar with the pebbles and gravel.

Big rocks first.

This well-known illustration describes how we should prioritize our life’s obligations — take the time to make sure the “big rocks” are where they need to be, and everything else that needs to fit will fall into place.

Habit #3 of our current Book Club selection, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families

, deals a bit with the concept of “big rocks first.”  Like in our recent discussion of understanding the difference of the urgent and the important, focusing on the big rocks forces us to allot the right amount of time to the things that really matter, and to let those lesser matters wait their turn.

There was some great discussion on the Book Club forums last week.  Here are some of your thoughts on what it looks like to put the big rocks first:

“…I think if we have too many big rocks, we limit the little things which can be just as important sometimes. I also think sometimes my big rocks are not on the same page as my husband’s.  …I am going to start a family night once a month and make it fun and make it a no-techno night.  …I don’t remember anytime with my parents growing up; just my grandparents because they watched me all the time. It’s all about the choices you make.”  Organized Mama
“Our big rocks are daily family time — that means that even if I’m not in the mood, I change my mood because that time is my kids’ time with me, and we are going to have fun. It is also very clearly not TV or computer time. We also eat together. Everyday. We set the table and sit together and eat and talk.  For me, that is my biggest rock right now. The second biggest rock is spending 20 to 30 minutes talking with my husband.  Doesn’t that sound ludicrous? How could we possibly go through a day and not talk 20 minutes???  Well, I don’t mean, “Did you remember to pick up milk on your way home?” We try (if we aren’t falling asleep) to spend the last half hour before sleeping talking with each other about our dreams, worries, plans, jokes we heard, whatever — but not the mundane details of daily life…”  – JenT
“Both my husband and I recognize that the biggest rock for each of us is our relationship with God. We make it a priority to spend time with the Lord each day. That keeps each of us focused on the important things in life, and our relationship with each other is significantly better because of it. I can always tell if we’re not spending time with the Lord.
“Since our kids are still young, the other big rocks are in our marriage. My husband and I put our marriage first. That includes regular date nights as well as turning off the TV in the evenings so that we can talk. We know that we need to stay closely connected to each other. Another big rock is to make sure that both of us have personal tank-fillers in our schedule, whether that’s time with friends, reading a book, or playing golf.” – csott

I’d love to open this discussion to the rest of Simple Mom readers. What does it look like in your family life to put the big rocks first?  What does it look like when you unintentionally fill your jar with all the pebbles, and then you don’t have any room for the rocks that truly matter?

Please share your thoughts in the comment section today (and feel free to pop over to the Book Club, if you’re in the mood!). I look forward to hearing your thoughts.