We all have 24 hours in a day, but some of us seem to be able to squeeze out every last second in a minute, while others race around trying to get back the minute just gone. The good news is, with a couple of tricks, we can all have the know how to make the most of our time.

I would like to start by using the following experiment called “The Jar of Life”.

The Jar of Life

A philosophy professor stood before his class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large empty jar.

He then proceeded to fill the jar with golf balls.
“Is the jar full?” he asked his students. “Yes”, everyone responded.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly; the pebbles rolled into the areas between the golf balls.

“Is the jar full?” he asked his students. The students responded with a unanimous: “Yes”.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course the sand filled up all the space left.

He asked once more: “Is the jar full?” “Yes, of course,” everyone responded.

The professor then produced two beers from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, filling the empty space between the sand.

Everyone laughed.

“Now,” the professor said as the laughter subsided. “I want you to recognise that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things – your family, your children, your health, friends and favourite passions. If everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house or car. The sand is everything else – the small stuff.”

“If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life.”

“If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.”

“Pay attention to the things critical to your happiness.

“Take care of the golf balls first – the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”

One of the students raised her hand and enquired what the beer represented. The professor smiled and said, “I am glad you asked. The beer just shows that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of beers with a friend.”

1) The first trick is to make sure you prioritize the things that are important to you and make time for the important ones first. It is only in this order that enables everything fits in your jar of life… if you are constantly focusing on the small things, of which there are many, you may not have space for the big ones.

2) Plan the night before how you will spend your time. This gives you the foresight to include what is most important, not just the most immediate. A plan will also help you do one task at a time with full commitment rather than trying to remember what else you need to do that day.

3) Work with your natural body clock. Early risers and night owls can be equally productive but just at different times of the day. Think about what your day demands from you and find the best order to fit your natural energy levels.

4) Energize by taking care of your health. Sometimes it is easy to sacrifice your health for a lengthy to do list. However, if you take good care of yourself (eat well, drink lots of water and exercise) your energy levels will be higher to whizz through those tasks than if you are running your body into the ground.

5) Do the big tasks in the day first. They usually require the most effort and having them loom over you while you do the little tasks can make them seem even bigger too!

6) Slow down to speed up. Rather than just writing down everything you need to do the next day and cramming in everything in, make the list last longer. Spread your tasks over a few days if it is possible and you may find a little more enjoyment in the tasks at hand.

When you find yourself chasing time, empty your jar of life and refill it in a way that helps make the most of your time.