Posting Priorities

Time for Exercise: five to 15 minutes

Properties Required: pen and paper


  1. One partner reads the following story to the other.

    An expert in time management who spent a lot of his time in the countryside, came to town on occasion and spoke to business people. Now he stood in front of a group of high-powered overachievers and talked about priorities, stress, relaxation, and time for about an hour and half. At the end of his presentation, he answered questions and began to think that things had gone well, that his ideas were well received and accepted. Soon though, someone shouted out that he spent too much time with the birds and bears and was out of touch. When he asked what the questioner meant, a haggard-looking man answered that his own day filled so quickly with so many things to do—all of them important—that he didn’t have time for theories, not even one that promised more time.

    “If you remember,” the expert answered, “I spoke about inner and outer clocks, about how the mind runs away to convince us everything is important; if you weren’t in such an ‘inner hurry,’ you would have dwelled on that part of my talk a bit more. I specifically pointed out that: ‘There is no more time’—each day has only twenty-four hours. There’s only our capacity to properly use what little time there is.”

    He then walked to a small wheeled and cloth-covered table and brought it to the front of the stage. He reached under it and pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouth 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 could fit inside, he asked, “Is this jar full?”

    Everyone in the audience shouted, “Yes.”

    The conference speaker said, “Really?” as he reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. He dumped gravel in the jar and shook it, causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks. Then he asked the group again, “Is the jar full?” By this time the group was on to him and the haggard-looking man stayed silent. “Probably not!” someone finally said.

    “Good!” he replied and reached under the table again, bringing out a bag of sand. He dumped the sand into the jar, shaking it so that it fell into all of the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel.

    Once more he asked: “Is this jar full?”

    “No!” everybody 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 questioner and asked, “What is the point of my illustration?”

    The man answered: “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 expert replied, “that was not my point. The truth that I demonstrated is: If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.”

    The expert finished off by saying, “Your days are numbered and your life is like that jar—limited. Every day will always be filled and can only hold so much. But if you put the big rocks in first, you’ll be amazed at how much room there really is. Having priorities doesn't mean choosing among many things—it means choosing the important things.” And then he added, “Please forgive me for being dramatic. I knew I’d only be with you a very short time and came prepared to show you how time must be managed. Thanks for your attention.” And he walked off to great applause.

  2. Each make a list of the top 10 priorities in your life.
  3. Compare your lists and discuss the issues this exercise raises in your relationship.
Author's Bio: 

Al Link and Pala Copeland own and operate 4 Freedoms Relationship Tantra. They regularly host lover’s romantic weekends near Ottawa Canada, and weeklong retreats in exotic locations. For more information call toll free from Canada or USA: 1-800-684-5308 International long distance: 1-819-689-5308. Visit their website and their blog or send email: They have four books published including Soul Sex: Tantra for Two, New Page, 2003; The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Supercharged Kama Sutra, Penguin, 2007; Sensual Love Secrets for Couples: The Four Freedoms Body, Heart, Mind and Soul, Llewellyn 2007; Tantra Step by Step: 28 Days to Ecstasy, Llewellyn 2007.