Most of us as consultants are always busy, ticking off tasks and also looking to maximise our time and effectiveness, all in the pursuit of milestones, awards, recognition and the next big challenge.   These pursuits can be noble, grow and develop us as well as allow us to help others.  However, lots of tasks and significant activities can be frenetic at times.   All too often we find ourselves short of time, which is partly due to our inability to manage the 24 hour gift that we are given per day.

When on the plane as I was journalling, the question I was reflecting upon was what activities did I derive the greatest enjoyment from?    This is not an easy question to answer when we are constantly consumed by busyness.  It was not something I had pondered before but it got me thinking around what I really love to do.

I started to identify them and write down a list of activities.  I love spending time with my partner, children, family, good friends and great clients who challenge me and have fun.  I also love playing golf with mates, an afternoon at the races and barbecues during summer.  I’m big into developing new services, innovation and concepts with inspiring co-workers and colleagues who aren’t afraid to challenge and have a laugh. I gain great enjoyment from teaching others through blogs, one on ones, speaking engagements, conferences and other forums.

Reflecting on the list I had just created, I noticed a dominating theme: people and relationships. The cornerstones of everything I enjoy doing rotate around these.  Even though I can get consumed by delivering significant levels of activity, the cornerstone of my satisfaction comes down to quality people and the depth of interaction with them.  This provides me an insight into how I should spend my time and prioritise my activities so that I can enjoy what I do, which helps me live a happy life.

I find it a great way to spend time by going deep rather than wide with those that truly matter to you and those that you enjoy spending time. Not with everyone but those that you love, who stimulate you and you are challenged by. Staying a bit longer with a fantastic client to have a laugh, not getting in to work early for the sake of it so you can have breakfast with your family and regularly ringing those friends you have not seen for a while to check in with their lives are all things I will be doing more of.   Not scheduling back to back meetings, saying no to things up front that are not important to me will be a couple of ways that I will achieve this.

Enjoying the journey is a noble gesture but it is a lonely sport without doing it with good company.    The more important someone is to you, the stronger the relationships should be.    It is not a numbers but a deep connection game.

Time Management is all about “Task management” and “Prioritisation”. Instead of trying to do everything and meet everyone, I find it wiser to do things with the important people in my life. And as I enjoy doing so, life becomes a more exciting game rather than a crazy race. This is how I bring more meaning into my life.

I would like to end this blog entry with a story containing a great meaning behind.

A philosophy professor stood before his class with some items on the table in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks, about 2 inches in diameter.

He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open areas between the rocks.

He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up the remaining open areas of the jar.

He then asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous “Yes.”

“Now,” said the professor, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The rocks are the important things – your family, your partner, your health, your children – things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter – like your job, your house, your car. The sand is everything else, the small stuff.”

“If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the rocks. The same goes for your life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take your partner out dancing. There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, give a dinner party, or fix the disposal.”

“Take care of the rocks first – the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”