Put Your Time In The Pickle Jar

Pickle Jar Theory

A man comes into a meeting of co-workers with an empty pickle jar. He fills the jars with rocks and asks the group, “Is there any more room?”

No!   He then adds pebbles to the jar and shakes them down. “Is there any more room?”

No!   He then adds sand to the jar and fill in the cracks. “Is there any more room?”

No!   He adds water until the jar is topped off.

What is the lesson? “There is always more room than you think?”

NO!   Put in the big rocks first.

The jar represents your time. If you put the larger rocks in first (your higher priority activities) you’ll be able to fit in the smaller pebbles (those less important activities) around them. This enables you to fill your time with what’s important and make progress on your goals.  If you fill your time with sand and water (less important activities like playing on the computer, watching TV or snacking) you’ll have no room in your schedule for the big rocks (activities that make your life worthwhile such as playing with your kids, writing that article or connecting with a friend in need.)

This “Pickle Jar Theory” is a popular concept in time management circles.

How do you figure out which tasks are your big rocks? What are your important activities?  Here’s one way:

  1. Block time out to review your to-dos…write them all down
  2. Search your mind for all those things you want to do…large and small…give yourself some time to gather all those promises you’ve made to yourself and others…all those hopes and dreams you have set aside
  3. Sort to-dos into categories such as: creativity – work – family – finances – achievement – romance – community – home – friends – health
  4. Prioritize categories based on which are the most important to implement NOW to move you toward your goals. Pick only 2-3 categories to focus on
  5. Purge items from your list that you think you may not do, or that you will do “later” (which often becomes never) or things you “should do” but know you never will
  6. Pick 1-2 actual tasks from your 2 – 3 chosen categories – a “task” is a one-step item like: make a phone call, read an article, write a list
  7. Analyze your calendar and figure out where those tasks will fit in (When will you do it? * Where will you do it? * How will you do it?)
  8. Rinse & Repeat – continue this process regularly to keep moving forward in areas which truly matter to you

Remember, ideas without implementation are just entertainment!

Next week, how to translate this “Pickle Jar Theory” into how you use your space.

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Filed under Decluttering, organizing, Perspective, Strategies, Time Management

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