A professor stood in front of his class and walked behind a table that displayed several items. One of those items was an empty glass jar. He held up the empty jar, thoughtfully paused, and then placed it back down in the center of the table.
Smiling up at his students, the professor reached over to a second item on the table. He took several medium sized rocks and began to fill the jar. When the rocks reached the top he stopped. The professor asked the class if the jar was full. They all agreed it was.
Smiling again, the professor looked to a second item on the table. He took several handfuls of pebbles and added them to the jar. Then shook the jar gently. The students watched as the pebbles clinked and trickled down the sides of the jar. The pebbles filled in spaces and crevices left around the rocks. The professor lifted his head and asked the class again if the jar was full. Again, his students agreed it was.
One last time, the professor reached over to the last item left on the table. He took a cup of sand and began pouring it into the glass jar. The sand slid around the rocks and pebbles, filling up every last bit of space in the jar.
“Now,” said the professor, “I want you to recognize that this jar signifies your life. The rocks are the important things, such as family and relationships. The pebbles are the other things that matter in your life, such as work and your interests. The sand signifies the remaining small stuff-maybe TV shows or Facebook.
If you put sand into the jar first, there is no room for the rocks or the pebbles. Take care of the rocks first – the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just pebbles and sand.”*
What are the rocks, pebbles and sand in your life? How are those things reflected in the way that you spend your time?
I wanted to share a worksheet that I made to help me visualize my priorities and time. Your rocks, pebbles, and sand will be different than mine. My rocks/pebbles have changed over the years and in different seasons of my life. You may see the same thing in your life.
I printed the worksheet on card stock, cut out the jar, and pinned it to the cork board near my desk. When I see my “jar,” it helps me remember how full my jar is and where my time is or should be placed. It is especially helpful when I have been asked to take on a new task or asked to pray about a new commitment. When the request does not line up with the my priorities, it makes it a little easier to say no and be at peace with that response.
You can download the worksheet here.
*My version of the story was adapted from many other versions found on the web.