How To Turn Wasted Hours Into Productive Days

I love the endless possibilities and excitement a new year brings. There’s just something about fireworks and confetti giving way to a new day and clean slate. Events unknown  energize me. I look ahead with hope that I’ll “get it right” this time; Do better, be better.

Even as I look forward to the “new” however, I have to confess I’m usually, at least partially, a little panicked at the close of the year. With the descent of the ball in Times Square I become a little more introspective than I should and fret over not having  managed  my time better. Where did those 365 days go and why don’t I have more to show from them?

You may feel the same way. So, I want to share with you a simple time management strategy called The Pickle Jar Theory. It has nothing to do with pickles but everything to do with setting priorities and using time well. A friend shared it with me and I like it so much I want to share it with you. Hope you enjoy!

 Imagine a large empty pickle jar.

Take three or four large rocks and add them to the jar. Now take a small handful of pebbles and toss them in, jiggling it a bit to make them fit. Next, add a handful of sand. Now fill the remaining space in the jar with water.

There’s a lot of stuff in your jar. But it’s not just the objects, it’s the order and volume of each item. If you were to put the water and sand in first, and then your pebbles, very few of the large rocks would fit. Or if you tried to just put in 10 large rocks, they’d break the jar.

Such is the case with planning your day. Identify three or four high priority items that must get done (the rocks), plus a number of smaller, lower priority tasks such as emails, follow-ups, etc. (the pebbles), as well as everyday routine stuff (the sand). And remember that your jar should contain room for some personal time to do things you enjoy like relaxing a bit, sipping a cup of tea, and taking a walk (the water).

Though this seems like a simple strategy, when applied, The Pickle Jar Theory really can transform wasted hours into productive days.