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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Important, Urgent and Unimportant

For everything you wanted to know on building leadership and management, refer Shyam Bhatawdekar’s website:

(Refer our High Quality Management Encyclopedia “Management Universe” at:

This particular management exercise can be done in the form of a demonstration by you as the program coordinator or workshop leader with the help of a volunteer from the program participants and other participantsbeing the keen observers. This exercise can be very successfully used in your sessions on time management and to explain the concept and model for prioritizationof the tasks.(You will be more equipped and effective to conduct this demonstration if you have a good idea about the four quadrant time management matrix for which you may like to refer: (Time Management)
You will need to two transparent jars of equal dimension and shapes made up of plastic or glass with wider mouths. Other materials required are:
  • Sand or much shaped small pebbles of same size to fill in three fourths of one jar.

  • Around 10 bigger stones or rocks that can be inserted into the jars.
Paste white paper on all the 10 bigger stones.
Now on 8 of the bigger stones (on the papers stuck on them) write by a black ink marker brief descriptions of certain important tasks like seeking opportunities, improvement in competencies, expansion project of the organization, advancement in educational qualifications, relationship building, vacation with family, upkeep of health, children’s education (you should feel free to replace these suggested tasks by any other important tasks you may have in mind).
On the rest 2 big stones (on the papers stuck on them), write the descriptions of certain urgent tasks like attending to an important customer who might cancel a huge order if you attend to him urgently, attending a breakdown maintenance of a vital machine of your organization or the production will stop (you should feel free to replace these suggested tasks by any other important tasks you may have in mind).
Place the jars on the table in front of your audience. One jar will be three fourths filled with sand or small sized pebbles. Request for a volunteer from among your seminar participants to come forward and help you.
Request the volunteer to read the label on each of the large stones (rocks) and decide if he will like to undertake that task on priority. If yes, he should insert that stone inside the jar that is filled with send (or small pebbles). Likewise he should treat all the 10 large stones. However, he will not be allowed to insert the stones if they overflow out of the jar. So, in the process if he may find that the bigger size of few particular stones is coming in the way of accommodating other big stones in the jar. Then he can decide to keep them outside the jar and not insert them inside it. That means that under the existing conditions he will not like to undertake those importantor urgent jobs and they may suffer.
Soon he will find that despite his not liking it he has been forced to keep off some important or urgent tasks and thus postpone doing them.
Now, you as the workshop leader should ask him if he can think of some other way of filling the jar such that he will be in position to accommodate all the 10 big stones in the jar without sacrificing any important tasks.
He will soon realize the better method by himself or by being prompted by the audience of first undertaking the important and urgent tasks on priority i.e. filling in the bigger 10 stones first inside the other vacant jar and then as the next step by filling all of the sand (or small pebbles) from the other jar on top of these 10 stones.
To everyone’s surprise with this kind of new prioritization, not only was he able to accomplished all the important and urgent tasks but even the not so important tasks represented by the sand (or by the small pebbles).
Wind up the session with some participant discussion around the topic of time management and your additional inputs.

Get Hold of the Related Books
You can order the following books on "management games and icebreakers" as printed books and eBooks from Amazon online:

  1. Classic Management Games, Exercises, Energizers and Icebreakers
  2. Classic Management Games, Exercises, Energizers and Icebreakers (Volume 2)
  3. Classic Team Building Games, Exercises, Energizers and Icebreakers
  4. 101 Classic Management Games, Exercises, Energizers and Icebreakers
Related Reading: (Repository of a large number of articles in management and leadership): and

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