Tuesday, September 20, 2011

How Do You Fill Your Jar?

You are familiar, I'm sure, with the time management illustration using stones, pebbles, sand, water and a jar. If you want to fit it all inside the jar, do you randomly dump it all together and hope it will fit? No, like many of my disorganized days, you would end up with a big mess spilled all over the counter and floor.

First, the largest stones go into the jar. Then, add the smaller pebbles which will fill up some of the empty space around the stones. Next, pour in the sand which will filter in around the stones and pebbles. The water is poured in last, sifting its way down in and around and under the stones and pebbles and sand, filling every last drop of empty space. And it all fits.
I don't know the source of this illustration, but I've heard it from several authors and speakers. Applied to our daily tasks: the most important, most critical, most time consuming jobs should be done first - those items that absolutely must get done, or, as one time guru says (with slight exaggeration), someone will die if we don't do them.
Next, would be the pebbles, the urgent, but not quite so important, a bit less time consuming jobs.
The "sand" tasks are all the miscellaneous dishes and laundry and beds made and clothes picked up and meals and bandaids applied and lost-socks-found and let-the-dog-out jobs that will easily fill an entire day if we let them.
And the water, the life-giving, vital water, for me, represents the heart of the day - the attitudes, spirit, cause, or "why" behind everything I do.
 If our choices for activities are based on priorities, the critical tasks will get done, for the right reasons, and with a good attitude. (Yes, I fail miserably at this some days)

I don't have the sand and stuff to do the actual illustration for this. The other day, I did realize it was a good way to solve my problem of overflowing the fruit smoothie type shakes I make each day. I was putting the water in first, then the powder, then the fruit. Guess what? A mess.

First in goes the larger fruit, the strawberries.
Then the blueberries.
Then the scoop of powder.
Last, the water is poured in over it all.
No mess!

A simple, easy solution, and a good reminder that when I fill my days (my jar) wisely, it all falls into place in the proper order, with simplicity, with a little less mess and helps me to travel lighter.

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