Your Business Foundation: First Things First

By Nina Kaufman, Esq.

After a couple of weeks of strategic planning, I’m once again ready to put first things first.

Good thing, too, as the New Year is upon us. It was a conversation with Joyce Bone, Founder & COM (Chief Operating Mom) of, a few months ago that made me realize that I had gotten off track and allowed myself to be distracted by “bright shiny objects.”  You know, those tasks and ventures that seem like a great idea at the time, but after close inspection (and devoting some hard-earned resources), turned out to be tiniff (Yiddish for “overpriced junk”), fool’s gold. All in the quest for a more consistent cash flow in this turbulent economy.

I asked Joyce how she managed to do it all—run and business and raise a family (as if the former weren’t enough). How do you put first things first?  She said, quite serenely, “You choose your priorities. Then, you build your entrepreneurial day around that.”  It reminded me of an exercise I’ve seen in personal development seminars.  And, apparently, Stephen Covey, wrote about it in his book, First Things First.  Take a jar and fill it with large rocks. Is it full? You may be tempted to say yes, but really, there’s more space than you realize.  Try adding gravel to the jar.  I’ll bet you can fill some in. Then, try sand.  There’s more room for that, too.

What’s the lesson?

No, it’s not that you can always fit more in. (My husband accuses me of this all the time!)

It’s that if you don’t put the big rocks in first, you won’t be able to fit them in later.  In other words, if you fill your day with all the tiny, unimportant things, the day will fly by and you won’t get to the big stuff.

Look at how this poor woman is struggling mightily with trying to put the big rocks in when she doesn’t put them in first.


So what gets left out?  Important things.  For many years, I left out self-care and health.  That was a huge rock that I left sitting on the table (assuming it was in the room altogether) instead of putting it in the jar first.  2010 brought me face-to-face with what happens when I leave that out.  So in 2011, I’m making sure that goes in first.  It’s one of the reasons that I allowed myself to take the last week of the year for quiet reflection, strategic planning, and a good pedicure. I also do my damndest to avoid early morning meetings, because that cuts into my morning mediation and exercise time.

Another big rock: carving out time for reading. Not just trashy murder mysteries (though I love them!!), but also public policy-related articles.  Books on political theory.  It’s time I really had a grasp of how fiscal policy is made in this country.  More importantly, I want to get back to the issues and ways of using my brain that I thrived on when I was younger—to be a thinker, not just a reactor. To chew on a subject like a dog with a bone (apologies to Joyce), rather than pretending that multi-tasking is the height of efficient performance.

What are some of your big rocks? And how will you handle them this year?  And how will you find joy in 2011 so that the phrase “Happy New Year!” isn’t just a platitude?

You deserve to be paid, protected, and prosperous. Kaufman Business Law can help get you there. Watch this short video to find out how.