The Pickle Jar Theory for Time Management

By Stacey
Apr 12, 2015 · 3 min

The pickle jar theory is a time management solution that is simple and actually works.

The Pickle Jar Theory for Time Management | One Hour Translation

Imagine a pickle jar – one of those huge jars that need to fit in lots of thick and bulky pickles. This image is the start of your new time management strategy. Even if you have struggled to keep to a schedule during your translation work, or often fail to meet deadlines, this strategy will help you succeed.

Think of that jar, and then fill it up with rocks. Put as many rocks in as possible, and then put in some smaller stones so they fill up the gaps that are left. Then add in some sand so there is hardly any air left, and complete the job with water.

This is how each day should be.

Don’t Micromanage Yourself

Instead of micromanaging yourself with alarms and tools and schedules that you cannot keep, think of that pickle jar. The empty jar is your day before you plan to do anything with it, and the rocks are the most important tasks that you need to complete.

Avoid worrying about every little task, like checking e-mails or visiting your favourite blog. Focus on those big things, the worrisome things, and the demanding things that you just can’t avoid. As a translation expert, you might have five articles to translate at the last minute. Think of these as five big rocks in your pickle jar. They should stand out, look heavy and be difficult to budge.

The little stones might be buying a new software program or sending an invoice. The sand in your jar might be telephone conversations that you have not planned for, and the water is the little things like clearing out your inbox or simply remembering to be calm and breathe.

Focus On Those Rocks

Every day, think about the rocks that are in your pickle jar. Think about the tasks that you absolutely need to do in your day, and keep these at the forefront of everything you do. Keep an eye on those little stones, and forget about the water and the sand because those things will probably just happen anyway.

If something is so important that it must be completed without any compromise, ensure that you consider it one of your rocks. And, if you have too many rocks, then you are obviously too busy and need to cut back on your obligations or delegate them to someone else.

Sometimes we try and do too much, and end up getting nothing done instead. As a time management solution, focus on two or three key tasks that you need to complete in your day – not the twenty or thirty tasks that you would like to achieve.

The best thing about the pickle jar time management theory is that you do not need any fancy tools or equipment to keep it working. You may decide to use a calendar, but you can also perform well with a pen and paper. Write your rocks down in big letters, and scribble the rest in small letters around them. 

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