Self-Management is the Key to Time Management

Self-Management is the Key to Time Management


Aya Fubara Eneli, M.A., J.D.

Where does the time go?

“There’s not enough time.” It is a statement you and I repeatedly make, but how accurate is it? The truth is that you and I have all the time we need and all the time we are ever going to get. We can’t give away time, and we can’t get more time.

When it comes to time, we are all created equal; the inequalities arise in just how savvy we are in investing rather than wasting our time. If you are one who seems to constantly ‘run out of time’ consider applying Stephen Covey’s First Things First principle.

A teacher was trying to buttress her point about how to effectively manage one’s life. She placed a wide mouthed mason jar on a table and carefully placed some fist-sized rocks, one at a time, into the jar.

When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, she asked, “Is this jar full?” Everyone said, “Yes.” Then, she pulled out a bucket of gravel and dumped some in and shook the jar causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks. Turning to the group, she asked, “Is the jar full?” This time the group said, “Probably not.”

Next, she brought out a bucket of sand. She dumped the sand and it went into all the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. She then asked the question, “Is this jar full?” “No!” the group shouted. She grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. “What is the point of this illustration?” she asked.

One student said, “No matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit some more things into it!” “No,” the teacher replied. The illustration teaches that if you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.

Time is constant, just like the size of the Mason jar. If you would like to get a better handle on your schedule and have time for the things that mean and matter the most to you, first you must identify what those important things are and you must accommodate them in your schedule BEFORE anything else.

What are the big rocks in your life? Your faith? Your health? Your marriage? Your children? Your career? Schedule the big rocks first. Then, using wisdom, figure out the next most important thing to do.

How should you respond when you have more things that ‘need’ to be done than time
in which to do them? Prioritize, delegate, and eliminate. Prioritize and put first things first. For instance, I do not compromise on my devotional and exercise time. Delegate some tasks. Everyone in my house has to pull their own weight. Eliminate the non-essentials. Stop saying ‘Yes’ out of guilt.

Plan your day the night before including assigning time blocks to each task. Though
some unexpected things may occur, you will find that you are more apt to stay on schedule and minimize time stealers like daydreaming, web surfing and prolonged conversations about nothing.

Stop using lack of time as justification for neglecting the essentials in your life. Get the big rocks in first. I wish you an abundant life.

Join Aya at the First Annual Women’s Abundant Life Retreat. Early Bird registration ends on February 29th.

Aya Fubara Eneli is a best-selling author, Christian Life Coach, Motivational Speaker and Attorney. Her life’s purpose is to empower and equip people to live up to their highest potential.  Register for the Women’s Abundant Life Retreat today at Follow Aya on Twitter @Ayaeneli, on Facebook at or e-mail her at