When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when twenty-four hours
in a day are not enough, remember the pickle jar.
A professor stood before his
philosophy class, wordlessly, he picked up a very large, empty pickle jar and filled it with golf balls. He
asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.
From beneath his desk the professor picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar
lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar
was full. They agreed it was.
Next he picked up a box of sand and carefully poured it into the jar, vigorously shaking the jar to make the sand
fill the remaining gaps. When the jar was filled to the rim with sand, he asked once more if the jar was full. The
students responded with a resounding “yes.”
From beneath his desk the professor then produced an open bottle of red, mellow, Australian Shiraz, wine and poured
the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.
“Now,” said the professor, ” recognize that the jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things —
family, children, your health, your friends, your favourite passions —things that, if everything else was lost and
only they remained, would still fill your life.
“The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, your car. The sand is everything else, the
small busyness stuff.
”If you put the sand into the jar first, there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes
for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that
are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. There will always be time
for the small stuff — like clean the house, mow the lawn, fix the leaking tap. Take care of the golf balls first,
the things that really matter. Set your priorities in place. The rest is just the cluttering sand.”
“What about the wine?” someone asked.
"No matter how full your
life may seem, there’s always room, and time, for a glass of wine to colour your world. It's an opportunity to
look back gratefully and appreciate how far you've come, and to also look forward expectantly to your goals
ahead. just make sure it’s only a glass and not the whole bottle!"
So, what will you fill your jar with for the
rest of today?
The Time Management Matrix
Doing what matters at work, at home and in
The time management matrix will help
you identify what you really spend your time on. It's a particularly useful tool if you want to know how to
prioritize work, personal roles, goals and commitments.
Popularized by Stephen R. Covey, it's based on
the idea that all your time is spent in a four quadrant matrix. You can't change the size of this matrix -- that's
the time that you have. You can significantly alter the size of the four quadrants within the time
The time management matrix is split into the
following four quadrants:
Quadrant 1 - Urgent and
The Quadrant of Necessities - reactive tasks
that need to be done, often at the last minute. Crises, 'fire-fighting' and looming deadlines are typical
Time spent in this quadrant can't be avoided,
but it can be significantly reduced if you're prepared to spend more time in...
Quadrant 2 - Important but not
The Quadrant of Quality - proactive tasks,
often habitual, that maintain or improve the quality of your work and life. The more you expand this quadrant, the
more you reduce the other three, particularly 'pseudo-emergencies' that should never have been allowed to become
Examples include maintaining and building
relationships, regular exercise, healthy eating or learning new skills, even becoming more aware of the importance
of time management itself.
Quadrant 3 - Urgent but not
The Quadrant of Deception - plenty of people
have gone home in the evening wondering where all the time went. Well, it was here! It's so easy to get sucked into
doing things that are the wrong side of the 80-20 rule.
Many less than effective meetings, popular
activities and easy tasks are probably a waste of your time. Some of the worst culprits? Other people! What are you
like at managing interruptions?
So, how do you deal with time wasting
1. Learn how to be assertive and say 'No'.
2. Delegate work.
Quadrant 4 - Neither Urgent or
The Quadrant of Waste - you know what it is
and you know when you've been in it. The trick is to know when you're in it. Often, it starts out as restful
time (which is Quadrant 2).
The tipping point comes when you spend too
long doing mindless things. Wasting time online, TV and excessively long conversations are classic examples.
Wasting time is inevitable, but there are
strategies for changing bad habits that will help you waste less. You can even learn how to waste time
The best judge of
which quadrant you are in is you. As your awareness improves, you enhance your ability to choose how to spend your