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“Let’s Talk Business” with Richard Coles “As Time Goes by” – The Time Management challenge

October 7, 2017 Headline News, Training No Comments Email Email

“Time is our most critical resource and we should carefully budget it. It can neither be stored up for future use nor spent in advance, it is totally irretrievable”.

It’s been said that Time is our most precious asset and we should carefully budget it. Let me relate two short stories.

My first airline job was in London with Qantas Airways. I was selected for their junior management program. It meant working in various departments for specific periods of time. At one point in this process I asked my mentor and coach in this process a question.

Being young and very keen to progress I asked, “What do I need to do to get ahead in this business, the airline business. We were seated at our desks overlooking Piccadilly Circus and he said, “get a paper and pen and I will tell you”.

One, “product knowledge, learn as much as you can about your job, product and services, and a working knowledge of your colleagues’ roles.” Fair enough I thought, now what was next?

“Two” he said, “be a good communicator, you will need to communicate with so many types of people and on many levels. (Little did I know that I would live in 10 countries and train in 55 in my career!) Build your interpersonal skills and communicate – listen very well and ask questions.” OK I said, “what’s next?”

Three, “learn to manage your time; you will never have enough time to do all you want to. Prioritize well and be ruthless with your time.”

I can say that all were indeed of use to me and probably to those reading this.

Time / Stress management is a worldwide problem or challenge. We are all trying to do as much as we can but just don’t have enough time. Here is a story about prioritizing.

Big Rocks: A Story About Priorities 

In First Things First Stephen Covey shares the following story:

One day, a time management expert was speaking to a group of business students and, to drive home a point, used an illustration those students will never forget. As this man stood in front of the group of high-powered over achievers, he said, “Okay, time for a quiz.” Then, he pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouthed glass jar and set it on a 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 spaces between the big rocks.

Then, he asked the group once more, “Is the jar full?” By this time, the class was 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 and it went into all 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 up 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 into 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.”

What are the ‘big rocks’ in your life? A project that you want to accomplish? A monthly report? Time with your loved ones? Your faith, your education, your finances? A cause? Teaching or mentoring others? Remember to put the BIG ROCKS in first or you’ll never get

them in at all.

So, tonight, or in the morning, when you are reflecting on this short story, ask yourself this question: What are the ‘big rocks’ in my life or business? The high added value things. Then put those in your jar first.

The 80-20 Rule (Pareto Principal – principle) can be applied to time-management also. Eighty percent of the things we do in a day have only 20 percent value for us. Twenty percent of the tasks on our hand have eighty percent value.

80% of a company’s profits can come from 20% of its customers, 80% of a company’s complaints come from 20% of its customers.

Hence, we should concentrate on these 20 percent of the tasks, which should be our top priority. These are like the rocks in Covey’s story. If we fill our time first with ‘water’ or ‘sand’ as in the story, we shall have no time left for the ‘rocks’, which give us eighty percent value. It’s all about priorities.

“We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”-Aristotle  

Richard Coles, Owner of Coles International Training & Consulting researches, develops and delivers real world learning and organizational solutions to clients’ needs and problems around the world. One area of specialization is Customer Service and leadership initiatives. Richard was in the airline business for over 30 years in prominent roles and worked for the best, KLM, Qantas and Emirates, so understands the travel industry well. To discuss your training needs, challenges, goals and strategy, visit and email Richard on:

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