Put in the Big Rocks First to create time for you MK Biz

 mary kay rock story

As a female business owner, I always have a battle maintaining work and family balance and I ran across this story and I wanted to share it with everyone because it reminded me of that.


Sometimes it’s hard to find the right combination of family time, keeping my business running smoothly and dedicating time and effort into bringing in NEW business.  Time and time again, I hear the same thing from other professional women, and this story really made me put some things into perspective.

Here is the story, I hope you enjoy!

One day an expert in time management was speaking to a group of business students. To drive home a point, he used an illustration those students will never forget. As he stood in front of the group of high powered overachievers and he said,

“Okay, time for a quiz.”

He pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouthed Mason jar and set it on the table in front of him. Then he produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar. When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked,

“Is this jar full?”

Everyone in the class said, “Yes.”

Then he said, “Really?” He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the space between the big rocks. Then he asked the group once more, “Is the jar full?”  By this time the class had caught onto him.

 “Probably not,” one of them answered.

“Good!” he replied.

He reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in the jar and it went into all of the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, “Is this jar full?”

“No!” the class shouted.

Once again he said, “Good.” Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked at the class and asked,

“What is the point of this illustration?”

One eager beaver raised his hand and said,

“The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard you can always fit some more things in it!”


“No,” the speaker replied, “That’s not the point. The truth this illustration teaches us is: If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.”



After I read this story, I thought “hmmm…what are my big rocks?”

I think they are my family, friends, health, and my booking and selling appointments that actually MAKE my business. Most days we fill our days with gravel or sand and when the jar is already full, try to cram in a great big rock… and we wonder why it does not fit.

I read this story at a time when I felt overwhelmed by life. I felt like no matter how hard I tried I could not get it all done.   What it all comes down to is that if I’m not doing “it” what ever that “it” may be. That item that you know need to get done but you are just not doing it (for example your “it” may be coaching your skin care classes)  .  It all boils down to that item is just not one of your big rocks. 

If you go back to the beginning of the story he started with about a dozen fist-sized rocks, I know as a business owner you could write a list about a mile long of what you need to get done.  That can be where overwhelming, and we all have heard the saying “a confused mind does nothing”.

I am guilty of doing this (are you?), I had a confused mind. I went through a stage where I was spinning my wheels when I ran across this story.  I had not clarified what my big rocks were and what was the little stuff (the gravels and the sand) I had complied everything into one huge overwhelming pile that would not fit into my jar.

Take some time and dream about the life you really, really want and see what you would  have to do in order to get reach that life.  Then ask yourself the second question “what on that list am I just not doing”.  If that item is so important that not doing it would keep you from reaching your dream life then that item  must be  one of your big rocks.

jamie water with rocks

Jamie Hogan is the founder and CEO of QT Office, the all-in-one tool for your Mary Kay Business. You can create invoices, track your inventory, do your taxes, manage your customers and more.

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This entry was posted in QT Office® on February 24, 2012