Is your jar too full?


Making time for your priorities…


I stumbled across this when I was training to lead to postnatal courses. I use it as a teacher and as a busy working mum when I need a reminder about having a better work/life balance, when I feel tired and I need to rethink my priorities.

  When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the story of the jar and the coffee…

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him:
an empty large jar, golf balls, pebbles, sand, coffee


When the class began, he picked up the large, empty jar and started to fill it with golf balls.
He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

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

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else.
He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous “yes”.

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



The jar represents your life:

The golf balls are the important things – family, children, health and friends – so if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.


The pebbles are other things that matter – job, home, passions.


The sand is everything else in your life – the small stuff.


If you put the sand – the small stuff –  into the jar first, 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 that are critical to happiness – play with your children, look after your health, go out for dinner, make time for your partner and for yourself – there will always be time to clean the house and get rid of the rubbish later. Take care of the golf balls first because they are the things that really matter. Set your priorities, the rest is just sand.



So what’s the coffee?

It doesn’t matter how full your life may seem, there’s always space for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend…

I am reminded of this when life is busy and the to do list feels never ending. Children don’t need things they need time. So I close the doors on the muddle, I put down the laptop and I snuggle with my girls or we crank up the music and fling ourselves around the living room. Giggles and smiles are worth more than a tidy house and getting on top of my to-do list.

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About Janine 659 Articles
As an experienced and qualified practitioner, I specialise in pregnancy, birth and parent support - my aim is to listen, inform, support and reassure when needed. I have worked with parents since 2002 and I set up Birth, Baby & Family in 2011 to provide good information, different voices and links to the best products and services for families.