Pebbles to Sand

You’ve probably seen the demonstration on time management with rocks, pebbles and sand.  Each item represents priority levels—rocks being the most important.  If you haven’t seen this visual lesson, here’s the basic premise:  you must fit a bunch of rocks, pebbles and sand into a bottle.

Pouring sand in first, and pebbles next, leaves no room for the rocks.  It’s impossible to squeeze them into the jar.  However, if you put the rocks in first (which represent your highest priorities), and then the pebbles…magically the sand fits between all the empty spaces when poured in last.  Everything fits in our lives when we start with the most important things first—the rocks.

You can’t do the mundane and meaningless (texting, watching TV, gaming, painting nails) and then at day’s end complain, “Oh, no!  I still have to do THIS and THAT!”—huge rocks that you procrastinated.  These won’t fit in at the end.

But when you start your day with prayer and focus on loving your family and God first and doing all the highest priorities, then the pebbles and sand fit into the leftover spaces in your day.

Sand represents the lowest priority tasks.  I promise that you will never feel bad about not playing 3 hours of Angry Birds on your phone at the end of a day, nor will you feel bad about NOT watching at least 4 hours of TV.  Those things are sand.  They’re not bad, but when you fill your life with them first, neglecting more important things, then you WILL feel bad at the end of the day.

Pebbles are where I run into problems.  Pebbles aren’t unimportant like sand.  They are significant things like exercise, housecleaning, organization, bills, appointments, developing talents, etc.  It won’t kill you if you don’t squeeze them in each day, but over time, you will feel painful results if you neglect them.

It’s easy to justify not putting the pebbles in your jar each day; but as you gain weight, or your house comes to life as Attila the Hun, or a collection agency comes after you, you realize the importance of not forgetting to add these important pebbles in your jar.  They do matter.

Over the past couple months, I’ve experimented with pebbles–trying to find a way to fit more into my daily jar.   The rocks are easier for me to put in, but then I want to skip to the sand, and the pebbles are procrastinated.

These pebbles cause me grief:

  • Exercise
  • Housecleaning/Organizing
  • Nutrition

These are my thorns in my flesh—because I neglect them until they become daunting rocks that make me mad.  In upcoming posts, I will tell about what I’ve learned about the magical process of Breaking Pebbles into Sand…to help fit them into my daily jar.  I’ve been pleased with the results.  Stay tuned.


39 thoughts on “Pebbles to Sand

  1. Oh. I can’t wait to read the next blog. I need some help with breaking up pebbles. Very nice blog post. Enlightening.

  2. Wonderful post, Char, as always. What a terrific analogy. For me, the pebbles are grocery shopping, meal preparation, errands, etc. It’s not like I don’t enjoy these things–I’m actually fond of cooking–it’s just that they become cumbersome when one HAS to do them. It’s as if they take time away from the rocks and sand on which we would prefer to focus.

    Your post is apropos because in my blog post today, I try to emulate you. This lovely entry is why. 🙂

    • Grocery shopping–I forgot that one! I always grumble about that when it’s time to go, even though I’ve organized myself and it’s pretty easy to do–but like you said, I don’t want to HAVE to do it…and dang it, we like to EAT! I haven’t been able to break my family of that habit.

      (Your post today made me laugh! I will have to watch out for trees that give the birdie)

  3. Love the analogy. I’ve got the rocks in place (finally), so I suppose I should work on the next level. It is true, though, that you never miss the sand, but the days I miss the rocks, I feel blah by the end.

    • Definitely. Sometimes it’s hard to discipline myself to not put in sand first though–I love the feel of it running through my hands.

  4. Those pebbles are a pain and sometimes they make me forget to add the rocks in – can’t wait to hear what we can do about them!

    • Yes, they are a pain! I’m going to give you the proverbial ‘hammer’ to smash them up with; just don’t smash your thumb.

  5. I have some big pebbles that rather look like rocks, so I should probably break them down to make it a little easier. I think my biggest pebble is sleep, though. I can’t believe you see exercise as a pebbles, it’s sand! 😉

    • My last Dr. appt showed up that I had beginnings of high blood pressure. Sadly, that pushed exercise into a higher priority…dang it.

      • I have a family of high blood pressure and I’m on the border but I’m not sure exercise has all the answers, although you can never go wrong with it. For me, sleeping enough, being able to relax and not stress, and breathing right are just as important. I’ve also worked on lowering sodium in my diet, which is very hard to do because it’s in EVERYTHING! So I counteract by eating a lot of potassium and I also monitor my blood pressure at home.

  6. I love the analogy and can’t wait for the insight into dealing with those pebbles. I can definitely relate to the housecleaning pebbles—and groceries. Exercising is something I actually enjoy, so it’s easy to do my morning workouts. Plus it can be a good time to work through writing issues. 🙂

    • I think that’s why I don’t like exercising, because it’s usually vying with my writing time, and writing usually wins out.

  7. have used that example in teaching…really great visual! yes, housecleaning is one of mine! hate it with a passion! usually tuck grocery shopping in with errands so it’s not too bad, and workout is a priority for me, can’t live without it!
    great post Char!

    • Thanks, Roxie. I like a clean house, but hate what it takes to make it squeaky clean and shiny! Breaking it down into sand has helped me.

  8. a couple weeks ago I gave myself a new rule: no internet during my kiddo’s nap time (with a very few exceptions). now I use that golden time to read my scriptures and write my next book. I don’t make it on facebook everyday now, I miss more tweets than I catch, and I’m often late catching up on blogs. But you know what, I don’t miss it that much, and I feel like I’m making decent progress on my book. now to find the perfect time for grocery shopping…

    • Tell me the magic for grocery shopping when you find it! I force myself to go every 2 weeks (whether we’re hungry or not–and usually the kids feel that we’re starving because the Nestle Quik is all gone). But I gripe each time. Good for you with the no internet. I bet you get TONS done.

        • Yes, I used to send my husband (but he never gets sweets and that drives me crazy). And now we go to Winco, which doesn’t bag our food, and since we shop for 2 weeks at a time, one of us needs to bag as the other empties the 2 carts. It is a daunting task alone.

  9. How true! These are the questions I’m tackling on my blog. I’ve come to the conclusion that even if I don’t like something but it’s part of housekeeping then I try to make it as enjoyable as possible otherwise my head is full of negative thoughts and my energy levels drop.
    #1 Back to basics, simplify wherever I can (toys kept to a minimum, more outdoor play)
    #2 Make the surrounding inspiring, stylish (little jar of lavender in fridge)
    #3 Shift my focus (clean the bathroom while son is taking his bath)
    has been my solution.

    Have you tried to include something fun while out grocery shopping? (Meeting with friends after for a cup of coffee or lunch? Or including your kids more and make an exciting treasure hunt out of it?)

    • Great suggestions! I don’t know how to make grocery shopping fun. I only do it every other week, so we need a lot, but that’s made me happier than going every week. When I’m done, I don’t think it was so bad…but I just dread it every 2 weeks and always have (like exercise–I hate thinking about doing it…but when I finally just do it, I feel great afterward). Mind over matter.

  10. Great post. I have never seen this analogy, but I was heartened to know that I unconsciously do this. Except I work my time management around my children’s schedules. When they’re occupied and I know they won’t be disturbing me, that’s when I do my writing because I need to concentrate. As far as my pebbles, I work those around my husband’s schedule. For instance I do the grocery shopping at 7am on Saturday morning because he’ll be home and I won’t have to bring the kids, turning what could be a 90-minute pebble into a 45-minute pebble.

    • It sounds like you have life down pat! My shopping experience is WITH my husband and still takes us an hour (I take him so he’ll bag the groceries–we go to one of THOSE kinds of stores). Glad you’ve got the time-management down; you sound so organized! I’m a little jealous.

      • I can still remember when we went with my partner for the first time grocery shopping. It was romantic, exciting and a fun past time. Think about how you could make it romantic again! Pretend that you don’t know each other, have to lists and meet at the end for a blind date. Or is this to over the top? 🙂

        • Nice thought! I just don’t think I have enough imagination in me when it comes to grocery shopping to pull off making it romantic at all. The faster we can get in and out–the happier I am! I could pretend the shopping cart is a racecar and zoom down the aisles, maybe.

  11. I HAD to come over to say hello! I see many familiar faces here. How fun to find you. I see you live in Idaho. My youngest attends Boise State. From our frequent visits, I fell in love with Boise. Where in Idaho are you?

    • Your youngest picked a great school! I think BSU’s campus is awesome and walk by it all the time when I walk on the greenbelt! I am technically in Meridian, but the city line is like half a block away, so I feel like I’m more in Boise. I just sent my daughter your ‘interior library’ post to bug her some more. Thanks for visiting.

      • I will let you know next time I am in Boise. I’d love to get together for a cup of coffee or glass of wine. I meant to put Boise’s Library! on the library exterior post. It makes me laugh every time I drive by. Such enthusiasm for books they needed to add an exclamation point!

  12. Pingback: Pebbles to Sand 2: Cleaning & Organizing | Joy in the Moments

  13. Pingback: Pebbles to Sand 3: Nutrition | Joy in the Moments

  14. Pingback: Pebbles to Sand 4: Exercise | Joy in the Moments

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