People Innovation Excellence

The Pickle Jar Theory

We have to understand that time is our best and worst enemy. We cannot take it back, we cannot fight it, we cannot reverse it. We just to have accept it and use it in the proper way.

The Pickle Jar theory is basically based on the idea that time, like a pickle jar, time is limited. Our life, is the vessel (jar) and what’s in it (the volume or space) is limited.

What you decide to fill it with and how and what you’re gonna fill it with, it’s up to you. Life is about decision.

Now, imagine you have a big empty pickle jar and fill it with golf balls. You try your best to fill your jar with something big, something priority. When you can squeeze no more in, your jar is gonna be full. Or is it?
Not quite! The golf balls leave gaps. Now, you drop in some marbles, shake your jar, and let the marbles drop into those gaps.

Next, take some sand and pour it into the even smaller spaces or empty spot that are left, until the jar appears to be completely full. Now is it full? No.

Final step, finish it off with a cup of coffee. Pour in a cup of coffee until the jar can take nothing else…
…then screw the lid on!

Ok, now some explanation.

The pickle jar itself represents our time. Whether it’s an hour, a day or a lifetime, the idea is that time is finite. Time is priceless, time is worth to your life, and time is a gift. Remember, it’s a gift that you shouldn’t be wasting.

1. The golf balls are your roles, goals and commitments that are VERY important to you. Whether it’s people (family, friends, or someone important), your health, your passion, project or problems, these things matter most. They are the things that you want to drop into the ‘jar’ first to make sure there is room for them. Now remember, that you have to understand that this is about who or what you cannot have it again when they’re gone. No matter how you ask or you pray for it, you cannot get it back, like family, friends, kids, wife or husband, parents, even your mother or father in law. When you love it, you prioritise them.

2. The marbles. Even it’s smaller than golf balls, whether it’s more or less. Still, they’re easy to pour into the jar. The marbles mean the things you want to do, but don’t have to. If you can fit them in, awesome, but they don’t matter as much as the golf balls. It can means your 2nd priority. Your car, your job, your house. (Well, sometime people put this as their first priority)

3. The sand stands for all the small things, time taking tasks that are easy to do. The time management matrix theory would class ‘sandy tasks’ as irrelevant, unimportant or inappropriate.
If you spend all of your energy and time into these small stuff, or your 2nd priority (marbles) you won’t have time to spare for all of what matter to you. What is really important to you. Like your family, your kids, your parents. Take care of your golf balls first and later on for your marbles. 
Set your priorities. Take a good care of your important and critical things that gives you happiness. And that’s your golf balls. Because everything else is just sand and marbles.
Hold on. And what about coffee?
It shows that no matter how full your time is, you will always have time to have a cup of coffee with your friends. It takes time, but doesn’t really add anything: Hours spent wasting time chatting with your friends, call your friends and ask what’s up with them, watching football, and other things.
Generally, the smaller and easier it is to pour in to the pickle jar, the less it matters. The trouble is, theses are exactly the types of things we tend to end up filling out time with. The antidote of course is to set goals.

If the coffee, sand and marbles fill too much of the jar, there is less room for the golf balls. In other words, it’s easy to fill time with the things that don’t really matter.

So, the big question is, what will you fill your jar with for the rest of your life everyday?

Published at :
Written By
Johanes Ronaldy Polla S.Kom, SE, MIB
LS-S2 | SoBM/IBM
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