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How the Pickle Jar Theory helps you optimize your time

January 11, 2021

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with tasks at work, especially when assignments feel like they keep piling on. Take a deep breath, because Carimus wants to share a theory our team uses to helps alleviate this stress, and it’s called the Pickle Jar Theory.

Not only is it a fun name, but this exercise helps us identify and prioritize the most important things we hope to accomplish in our day, week and month. 

The Pickle Jar Theory works as a visual exercise, so we’ll tell you all the items needed and what they represent to help you understand this theory.

Obviously, the first thing you’ll need is an old pickle jar, that no matter how many times you wash, it still smells like pickles (but any jar will work as well). These are the four items that will be going within the jar; large rocks, pebbles, sand and water.

First, you fill the jar with as many large rocks as you can without forcing them in and making sure you’re still able to close the lid. These rocks represent the most important tasks you need to complete and prioritize.

You’ll notice you still have space within your jar. This is when the pebbles come into play. When you pour them into the jar, they’ll fall into the empty spaces between your rocks. These pebbles represent the slightly less important tasks.

Your jar may seem jam-packed, but there’s still space to be filled. Taking your sand, you’ll see the grains fill the remaining space. The sand represents minor tasks that take up more time than they’re worth.

You’re not done yet! The final step will be adding your water, which will fill even the smallest of spaces left. The water will act as the least important tasks.

During the day, it can be hard to distinguish between the big rocks, pebbles, sand and water. They all seem important without context.  Responding to emails is a good example of a small task (sand) that interferes with a big task (rock).  Email can almost always wait.

At the beginning of the week, take time to sort out your rocks, pebbles, sand and water. On Friday, when you reflect on your work week, you’ll realize you’ve been more productive and accomplished large tasks.

We encourage you to implement the Pickle Jar Theory, whether it be in your work or personal life, and let us know if you found this information helpful via social media!

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