I’m sure you’ve all heard the jar analogy when talking about time management. If you have, feel free to skip the next paragraph.
If you haven’t here’s a brief overview of the story. You have a jar, a pile of large stones, a pile of small stones, sand and water. If you pour the water in first, of course, there’s no room for anything else. Same goes for the sand or the small stones. But, if you put the large rocks in first, then the small rocks, then the sand and finally the water, it all fits in. This analogy is pretty easy to break down. The big rocks are the most important things in your life, the little rocks are the second most important. The sand and water are the little things that fill our day up. For me, here’s how that breaks down.
Big Rocks- My family and my health, both physical and mental.
Little Rocks- My writing and my day job.
Sand- Horrible chores like housekeeping and errands.
Water- All my lovely little time wasters like social media, hand crafts, watching makeup tutorials and reading Buzzfeed.
When I first heard this analogy, I actually thought it was bullshit. No matter how I prioritize things, there are still 24 hours in a day. But I also knew that, every single day, there was more on my to do list than could ever get done. And I knew that, as much as I wanted to be a famous writer, I wanted to experience my monster’s childhoods more, not to mention still have a partner in my darling husband when they fly away. So, I decided that even if I lost all of my water and most of my sand, I had to get my big and little rocks into my jar.
As it turns out, though, when I started living by this basic principle, I really am fitting just about everything in. And man did I feel stupid, but it turns out that I can scroll Buzzfeed just as well when I’m tired, but writing my blog posts should probably be done when I’m fresh, even if I still think I’m too tired.
Some things did fall by the wayside, though. Or, at very least, they were dramatically reduced. If you’re struggling to fit writing into your day, here are some things that might not fit into your jar at all.
Social obligations that I don’t actually want to fulfill.
I have a lot of people in my life that I like a lot. They do things sometimes, and they invite me. I used to say yes to everything, thinking I would offend someone if I didn’t. Now, if I don’t have the time, or I just genuinely don’t want to go, I don’t. Major things I’ll sometimes make myself go to, because I’m learning the difference between ‘I don’t want to’, and ‘I might actually like this but my social anxiety is preventing me from saying yes’. But in general, it’s been a relief to not only be able to say, “I can’t,” and be surrounded by people who genuinely understand.
Chores no one but me cares about
My house needs cleaned. Stuff needs to have a home, dishes need to be done and laundry as well. But I think if we’re all honest with ourselves, some things do not need done as often as we do them. I’ve often found myself doing things because I thought it had been long enough since I’d done them, not because they actually needed done. My sheets are clean, and I don’t have any allergies. Unless we’ve been sick, they don’t need cleaned. My jeans don’t need cleaned after every use, which saves on laundry and water.
Basically, if I don’t think it actually needs done, it probably doesn’t.
Time management games
Now, this was a personal demon for me. Some people can play all these games like Candy Crush, Farmville and Tapped Out with no problem. They can play a little, and not have their whole day sucked into them. If you are that sort of person, you play those games my friend. I am the sort of person who can have a glass of wine and not finish the bottle, so I understand how you feel, and will not be the alcoholic telling everyone else to not drink at the party.
For me, though, it was an addiction. I played them way too much, as they are designed to make you do. I lose more time to them than I should. Thankfully, I never got into the habit of losing money to them.
This is not a demon for me, but I know it is for many people. In fact, no longer feeling obligated to read every single tweet in my feed was liberating. These days I take care of my own social media via Buffer, and hop on sometimes in the evening if I’m done reading Buzzfeed. (Usually I just cyber stalk Liev Schriber.)
Now look, I don’t want to demonize social media. If you find value in it, that’s great. But make it a reward. The Pomodoro Method is well adept to this. Say you’ve got some writing to do. Well, set a timer, write for 25 minutes, then spend five minutes scrolling twitter. Or if you’ve cleaned the whole damn kitchen, maybe you’ve earned some Facebook time.
I’ll even go a step further. If your separated from someone you love by distance, then social media might just be one of your big rocks. I have had many a night where a friend and I talked on Facebook. That’s great, and you should do it. I actually hate it when people downgrade chatting and texting as inferior ways to communicate with people. Why is that better or worse than calling someone? I think it’s just because it’s different, and there will always be people who distrust things that are different.
I have this really bad habit. If I have a lazy day, or if I just get sidetracked by life, I get down on myself. I feel guilty. That guilt makes me feel bad, and since I don’t like feeling bad, I avoid the thing that makes me feel bad. Then, my stuff still didn’t get done, so I feel even worse.
The worst thing I do, is when I miss a day of writing, I tell myself I’ll make the pages up the next day. So, instead of expecting three pages from myself, I want to write six. Even if I get four or five pages done, I’m still not reaching my goal. Then, even though I did better in a day than I usually do, all the happiness from that is sucked right out of me.
If you skipped the housework, or didn’t get your pages done, don’t get down on yourself. Especially if you skipped a small stone for a big stone.