Good, Better, Best…

P1020459I have been reading about managing time and doing important things first. This seems to be something I battle daily. I always want to be productive. Often, however, I get to the end of a day and realize that I spent the day doing busy work but never getting to the most important things. I ran around doing good things but often neglected the best things such as playing with my children, taking time to talk to them one on one, or reading my scriptures. These are the reasons why I wanted to homeschool. And still, they often get neglected. When this happens I feel dissatisfied and discontented. Maybe I am the only one that deals with this, but it is frustrating. It’s as if there is a hole in my soul that didn’t get filled. Maybe, just maybe, some of you who read this will know exactly what I feel!

I believe this is an important lesson to teach our children too. If they learn these life lessons and form better habits early on, they will have so much the advantage throughout their lives. I want to give them that advantage. It will build their character and help shape them into all that they have the potential to become!

So with that—here is what I taught:


The Big Rocks Principle

I began by using an object lesson to help do the teaching. It was first introduced by Steven Covey. I guess you could call it “The Big Rocks Principle.”

1. I set a large glass bowl on the kitchen table.

2. I set a pitcher of water on the table.

3. I let the kids go out to the yard and pick up big rocks from under one of our trees. They put the rocks on the table.

4. I filled small glasses with pea pebbles and set those on the table (I bought the bag of pea pebbles in the garden section at Home Depot).

5. We had a discussion on what things we value the most as a family and individually. To help us, we listened to a talk on the internet from a respected church leader about the difference between good things, better things, and best things.

6. I shared a story and did another little activity with them to help drive the principle home. I will share it at the end of these steps.

P10204547. Then I gave each of the children a piece of paper and a pencil and set a timer for 3 minutes. They wrote as many things as they could think of that they felt were important to do.


8. We made a final list of things that we all felt were most important to do each day and taped individual pieces of paper with one item from our list on each big rock.

9. We repeated this process with less important items on the glasses of pebbles.

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10. We filled the bowl with all the big rocks first then the small rocks and finally the water (actually we didn’t end up pouring the water in because I knew in a few seconds we were going to take it all out and do it again so at the last second I didn’t pour it in to save the extra hassle of cleaning up a wet mess!) At this point the bowl was full right up to the brim.


11. We took it all out and repeated the process but in the opposite order. We put the little pebbles in first and then the big rocks. It was stacked way above the rim when we did it this way.


12. I explained the point. When we take the time for the most important things in our life each day there is more time to fit all the extra things we want to do. But when we try to fit all the extra’s in first there isn’t room for all the important things too!

13. We looked up some quotes that related to this idea and each of the kids wrote one out that meant something to them and put them on their quote boards.


* I do realize that there are things in a child’s life that are super important but would be considered less important for an adult. For example, playing with dolls and army men or jumping on the trampoline are things that children need to have on their list of important things to do! But I think my children understood the overall message that it is important to use our time wisely.

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Modify it to fit your family’s individual needs!


Charles Schwab and Ivy Lee

*There is a story that I recently read about that resonated with me so I shared it with my kids.

There was a man who was a very successful man in corporate America in the early 20th Century. His name was Andrew Carnegie and he owned a steel plant.

One of his top managers was a man named Charles Schwab. Mr. Schwab was a successful enough manager that Andrew Carnegie paid him a million dollars per year. An astonishing amount of money for those days!

One day a man named Ivy Lee came to the plant to sell an idea to Charles Schwab about better time management. Mr. Schwab was a busy man and told Mr. Lee that he and those working under him already knew enough things that they needed to be doing and already didn’t do those things they knew they could be well enough. He explained that he didn’t need another idea. He had a train to catch in about 25 minutes. Ivy Lee told him he could change his company if he could just have those 25 minutes to explain his idea. Once he was through he would leave and left it up to Mr. Schwab to determine if it was worth anything. He could send Ivy Lee a check for whatever he thought it was worth.

Charles Schwab agreed.

Just a 3×5 card

Ivy Lee handed Charles Schwab a 3×5 card and told him to write down the five most important things to do the next day. He then told him to put it in his pocket and look at it first thing when he got to work the next morning. He was to work on item number one first. He was to pull the card out of his pocket every fifteen minutes until item number one had been completed. He could not move on to item number two until everything he could possibly do on item number one had been finished. He told him to take five minutes at the end of each workday and make a new list of the five most important things for the next day. That was it.

Charles Schwab implemented this routine with all the managers of the plant. Two weeks later he sent a check for twenty-five thousand dollars to Ivy Lee. That is one thousand dollars per minute of advice. And that was back when money was worth a lot more than it is today!


*I gave each of the kids a 3×5 card and we all wrote down our five most important things to do for the next day.


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