Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Time in a, a pickle jar

Ok, what is it about pickles lately, huh? I guess I've had them on my mind. The big pickle in the sky must be trying to telling me something.

If you aren't familiar with pickle jar time management, imagine a big old pickle jar that is empty. Now go get as many virtual rocks (hand held size - no boulders) and put them in the jar. Stuff it to the gills with these rocks. Ok, now get some pebbles and add these to the jar as well. Find a handful or so of sand, add that in too. Finally, top the whole thing off with water. In your virtual pickle jar, you would see that a jar you thought was already stuffed with rocks had room for pebbles, sand and water as well. (Why this example uses rocks and not kosher dills, cucumber chips, relish, and pickle juice, I don't know - but you get rocks.)

So what the heck does that mean? Well, think of the rocks as your important, don't-want-to-forget to do items (cooking dinner, going to the store, doing laundry), the pebbles as the things you'd like to do (crafting, redecorating, "you" time), the sand as the stuff you must do (clean the toilet, take out the trash), and the water as small, daily, few-minutes-of-your-time kind of stuff (clean off the coffee table, wipe out the microwave). The pickle jar itself is the time you have in your day. If you filled it up first with sand or water, you would never have room for the rocks or pebbles.

Have I lost you yet? Typically, time management is applied to work outside the home but it matters just as much in the kitchen as in the boardroom. I've always been one of those people that thrives on last minute adrenaline to get me through. That can work when you have a presentation that has to be done by noon, but not so much when you are talking about laundry; that pile doesn't require a PowerPoint to your boss by 9 AM or else. Time management becomes more important when it is you who is managing your time without external forces.

I'm still figuring out the best way to stuff my pickle jar. My first task is working out exactly what needs doing and what kind of rock/pebble/sand/water category it falls into. Once I have everything identified, each day is going to be its own jar, with some days focused on laundry rocks, some focused on vacuuming rocks.

Whether your jar is a whole day or an hour after work, I think the principle is still the same. I may make a mini pickle jar literally, with NR so we can both use it as a reminder to manage our time wisely (something that is very challenging for him with Asperger's Syndrome and me because...well, just because). I don't know who was the creator of the Pickle Jar theory, but like all good things, it preserves well and it's salty (ok, no more, I promise).


Professor said...

I've always loved the pickle jar analogy for life skills/ meaning of life/ etc... and I do this demonstration during the first week of school... thanks for the reminder!

Anonymous said...

I have never heard this analogy!!!
I am beside myself with inspiration!
And, oddly enough, a sudden craving for pickles.

Lorraine said...

I'm with Hat in respect to both never having heard this superfantastic theory before and also the pickle craving.

Riyo Gems said...
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Doralong said...

Interesting theory.. Personally I finally had to break down and actually make myself a schedule like I used when I was working full time because I was totally floundering. Look at it as project management, not cleaning and washing ;)