This week I put my hand up to stealing this wonderful story from a book by Clare Evans about time management, “Time Management for Dummies”.   (Don’t be put off by the title, it is a great book for us all to use.)  If you are reading this Clare Evans, please forgive me but it is such a great tale.

“A philosophy professor stood before his class, picked up a large empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks.  He asked the students if the jar was full and they agreed it was.

The professor then poured a box of pebbles into the jar and shook it lightly.  The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the rocks.  He asked the students again if the jar was full.  They agreed it was.

The professor poured a box of sand into the jar which filled up the gaps between the pebbles.  He again asked the students if the jar was full.  The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes’.

The professor then poured two cups of coffee into the jar which was soaked up by the sand.  The students laughed.

‘Now’ said the professor, ‘I want you to recognise that this is your life.  The rocks are the important things – your partner, your children, your family, your health, food and water.  The pebbles are the other things that matter like your education, job, house and your car.  The sand is everything else.  The small stuff like television, games, toys, sports, hobbies, email.

If you put the sand into the jar first, there’s no room for the pebbles or the rocks.  The same goes for your life.  If you spend all your energy and time on the small stuff, you’ll never have room for the things that are important to you.  Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.

Take care of the rocks first – the things that really matter.  Set your priorities.  The rest is just sand.’

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented.  The professor smiled.  ‘I’m glad you asked.  It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for coffee with a friend.”