Except I've never been able to make good use of the lesson.
Here's the story:
A teacher (who appears to be teaching on a beach in New England, as far as I can tell) fills a bucket with large rocks. He puts the rocks in to the bucket until the bucket can hold no more.
"Is this full?" he asks his students.
"Yes, it is full," say the students. "You can fit no more rocks into the bucket.
So the teacher starts picking up pebbles and dropping them into the bucket to trickle down between the large rocks. He shakes the bucket a little to make sure the stones filter down properly, until he can get no more small stones into the bucket.
"Is it full?" he asked.
"Yes, teacher, it's full. You can't get any more pebbles into the bucket."
Then the teacher pours the sand into the bucket, and it filters down between the small stones and the big rocks, and he shakes it to make sure every little pocket is full of sand.
"NOW, is it full?"
The students hesitate, but on looking around they see nothing more that the teacher can fit in between the sand, and they say the bucket is indeed full.
And this time the teacher agrees with them. But he's not done with the lesson.
He pours the bucket out on the ground -- the sand, the pebbles and the rocks -- until the bucket is completely empty. Then he fills it again, but this time, with just sand and nothing else.
"Is it full?" he asks.
"Um....no?" say the students.
"Oh? Then try to get any more of anything -- rocks, stones or sand."
And of course they couldn't. Sand fills every empty bit of space, and leaves no room for anything else.
The lesson of this story is supposed to be that you need to reserve space for the big important things by putting them in first, and then letting the little unimportant "sand" things take care of themselves.
I've never been able to quite make that darned story apply to real life. Boulders and tasks are just two different beasts. Blocking out time just leaves an empty space in the calendar for sand to get in. And I can't put the most important tasks first, because I don't do those things well first thing in the morning.
But now enlightenment has struck.
This by-the-minute dare has been the first time I have really felt that I've made this thing work. The key was to realize that the thing boulders and tasks have in common is not size -- but definition. A boulder is well defined. Sand isn't.
By defining the task as "nose in book" I empowered myself to actually manage it.
See you in the funny papers.