Big-Rock Planning

“Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that's the stuff life is made of.” Benjamin Franklin

Big-Rock Planning for Life

Whether you are planning a homeschool year or just mapping out a routine for life, don’t forget to start planning with the big rocks—the things that matter most. Big-rock planning works in every area of life. I’ve written about it in the context of running a microbusiness, but for a more detailed overview, here’s a video from The Art of Manliness.

The first step to planning well is staying focused on priorities. Moms tend to be competent, and often find themselves saying yes to things they don’t have time for. When you begin a planning session by focusing on the relatively small number of people and things that are your responsibility, it becomes simpler to create a realistic plan for life.

Planning Focus 1: What are your big rocks?

Here are a few questions to help you discern the big rocks in your own life.


  • Who are you directly responsible for or to?  (This will be a very small circle of people.)


  • What must be done in home, family, school, and work?
  • What things can be done only by you? This should be a fairly short list of big things — don’t let yourself be lured by perfectionism into including small things that really can be done by others. For example, only you can be your husband’s wife and your children’s mom, but practical tasks can be learned and executed by almost anyone.
  • What things should you simply oversee? These are things that must be done, but not necessarily by you.
  • What virtues or character qualities do you need or want to cultivate in yourself?
  • What brings you joy or peace?

Planning Focus 2: Gravel, Sand, and Water

Of all the activities you are currently doing, how many are related to or support your big-rock priorities? Here are a few questions to help you weigh choices.

  • In addition to the people listed in the first section, what other relationships do you need or want to nurture?
  • Are there ways to nurture relationships that can also connect with one of the Focus 1 questions?
  • What activities are you doing that bring you stress or simply consume time with little or no long-term benefit?
  • What are you doing from habit, obligation, or fear of what someone else will think? This can include good activities such as volunteering or extra church activities.
  • What things belong to another season of life?

Once you have thought through all the things you do and all the things you need and want to do, it’s time to create a time map. There’s not time to write about it today, but in the next post or so, I’ll write more about time mapping and how it can help you order your life consistent with your priorities.

If you’d like to read more about priority-based big-rock planning, I recommend The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, and of course, other time management articles on this blog. Time is indeed the “stuff that life is made of,” and it’s worth using well.

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