Nigel Jones discusses a well-known prioritisation metaphor – find out if you need to get your own rocks in order.
Although it came out a couple of years ago, I’ve only just discovered the book 4000 Weeks by Oliver Burkeman. What a thought provoking read it is proving to be! Subtitled ‘Time management for mortals’, it covers the author’s thoughts on how to make the best use of the ‘terrifyingly’ short time we will have on this planet.
There are so many interesting points contained in the book that I could easily fill several columns with. For now, I’ll focus on one section where the author offers a different perspective on a well-known demonstration of prioritisation.
Most of you will know the one (and if you don’t it’s easily found on YouTube). It involves how best to fit quantities of big rocks, pebbles and sand into a large jar.
The big rocks symbolise the most important things in your life. The pebbles are those things of medium importance and the sand, inevitably the least important. To fit it all in the jar, you start with the big rocks and fit pebbles and sand around.
When it’s attempted the other way round, you find some of the most important things are left out. It’s a neat visual metaphor. It brings to life the old time management saying about not letting what matters most be at the mercy of what matters least.
However, 4000 Weeks has made me think again. Oliver Burkeman points out that, for most of us, there are just too many big rocks in the first place. Some will inevitably have to be left out of the jar.
And that’s really the point of the book. Accept the futility of trying to do everything and make some tough decisions about what to deprioritise. In fact, the author encourages you to experience JOMO – the joy of missing out – rather than feel under constant pressure to be all things to all people.
Which rocks get left out?
I doubt many of us would question that health, family and friendships are all big rocks. But where does work fit in to the categorisation? Sure, it is a significant enabler to help those most important things. It’s obvious that for many of us, the enabler can start squeezing out of life the very things it’s supposed to be helping in cuckoo chick fashion.
All of which brings me to my main point. Even though it may not feel that way, dentists in the UK have choices. Whether from financial, professional identity or contribution to society perspectives, the supply demand imbalance in UK dentistry has created opportunities to fit work into your jar alongside your big rocks in whatever way suits you best. Please, please, grab that opportunity.
If you’re considering your options away from the NHS and are looking for a provider who will hold your hand through the process whilst moving at a pace that’s right for you, why not start the conversation with Practice Plan on 01691 684165 or book your one-to-one NHS to private call today practiceplan.co.uk/nhsvirtual?
For more information visit the Practice Plan website practiceplan.co.uk/nhs