How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before its June. My goodness how the time has flewn. – Dr. Suess
Do you ever feel like trying to get everything done each day is like cramming a 16 ounce latte into a 12 ounce mug? And mysteriously, even after we’ve cast aside what we don’t think there’s time for, we still somehow end up spilling everywhere as distraction’s empty calories fill our cup. The result is that we are left feeling stuffed (busy) but unsatisfied (always behind). Given an ever increasing number of demands, how are we to make sure we stay well nourished?
Imagine having a quart sized jar, a pile of kumquat sized stones, some sand and a bottle of water. The challenge is to fit as much material into the jar as is possible, the question is how to do it. Since we’re all busy, I’ll just tell you; first, put in as many rocks as you can. Then sift the sand in to fill the spaces between stones (might have to jiggle the jar slightly). Then slowly add water to top it all off. Shazam! The jar is now crammed full.
Unpacking the metaphor, we see that the jar represents our day; a container that we can fill in a variety of ways with a variety of things. The rocks represent our most important activities, those which must be prioritized. These include our “duties” (work, carpools, meals) though we have to remember that wellness based activities like exercise, artistic pursuits and time outside are also part of a balanced day. By getting the room they need first, we know that these won’t be crowded out.
Once we guarantee space for what’s most important, we can begin to fill the in between spaces. Sand represents the connective tissue, day to day activities that are important, but maybe not essential. Listening to the news, reading during the commute and treating ourselves fall into this category. We like to make sure these things happen, but we won’t go off the rails if something slips.
Anyone who has tried waterproofing anything knows that water will find its way into the smallest spaces. Water is like the distractions and “what just happened?” events that manage to creep into the day regardless. Think #TheDress and llama drama; whether or not we planned time for our attention to take these in, it somehow did. The point is to be aware of how much water displaces stones and sand. Chances are if these diversions didn’t fit in the day, we’d be fine. In fact, if we had fewer distractions, we’d have more time for what’s truly important.
Try this yourself. Even if you only visualize how you would label the stones, this will be enlightening. When you think about the sand in your day, what comes to mind? Lastly, how much room will you allow for water; those distractions and diversions? Are you comfortable with how you have allocated space in your day? Sure, it’s only 24 hours, but only recently has it become not enough time. Be certain you are using it the way you desire.