By Sheena Perron
“For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors” (ALMA 34:32).
A professor presented a class with a large empty glass jar and said he wanted to fill it up. The professor then brought out several large, fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them in the jar until they reached the top.
He asked the class if the jar was full, to which every student agreed that the jar was indeed full.
The professor then brought out a bag of small pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar until the pebbles had filled all the spaces in between the large rocks.
He asked once again if the jar was full, to which the class responded yes.
Lastly, the professor showed the class a bag of sand and poured it into the large jar. The sand filled in all of the empty space left between the rocks and pebbles. He asked the class again if the jar was full. The students agreed it was full until the professor pulled out a bottle of water and poured it into the jar.
The professor then went on to explain to his students that the jar is like life. The large stones represent the most important things in life. The pebbles represent the things that are important, but are less important than the large rocks. The sand represents the small stuff, the minor things, that aren’t essential to life or your success. And the water represents the many distractions in life.
If the professor had put the sand into the jar first it would have been impossible to fit everything else. The same goes for our lives. If you spend all of your time and energy on the “pebbles”, you will never have room for the things that matter most, the large rocks.
What Does Your Jar Look Like?
What does your jar look like? Have you strategically placed your rocks first, then your pebbles, and lastly your sand? Or is your jar overflowing with haphazard layers of rocks, pebbles, sand, and water?
“Time is a god-given gift that the wise will cherish and that the foolish will waste or misuse; what we do here will determine what we are in the eternities” (Elray L Christiansen; The Endowment of Time; March 1962).
Organizing Your Jar
There will be times in our lives where our jar is wonderfully organized, and then there will be times where we find our jar a complete mess. No matter what your jar looks like here are a few simple tips to keep in mind when it comes to organizing your time.
“Find some quiet time regularly to think deeply about where you are going and what you will need to do to get there. Write down the tasks you would like to accomplish each day. Keep foremost in mind the sacred covenants you have made with the Lord as you write down your daily schedules” (M. Russell Ballard; “Keeping Life’s Demands in Balance”; April 1987).
In order to fill your jar effectively you must evaluate your life and establish your rocks, pebbles, sand, and water. Take some time and find a quiet place where you can record all of your responsibilities, tasks, duties, and distractions.
Once you have listed everything, categorize them into your rocks, pebbles, sand, and water (don’t forget those distractions). From there you can determine what your priorities are, what you should be spending your time on, what things might not be as important as you thought they were, and what might be a time sucker that you should spend less time on or remove altogether.
“Each night before I go to bed, I take out a small card and write a list of the things I need to do the next day in order of their priority. When I arrive at the office in the morning, I check my card and put all my efforts into the first item on the list. When I accomplish that item, I move on to the second and so on. Some days, I finish every item on my list. On other days, some tasks are not completed. I don’t become discouraged, however, because I’m focusing my energies on the things that matter most” (Joseph B. Wirthlin; “Three Choices”; October 2003).
Creating a to-do list may seem like a daunting task if our jar resembles the jar with the overflowing haphazard layers. We may find ourselves a little overwhelmed and not sure where to begin.
As we establish our priorities (Step 1) organizing our time and responsibilities will become easier. Remember the list from step 1? Keep your list by your bed so that you can easily see what priorities you should focus on first. From there you can fill in the remaining tasks that need to be completed and people who you can serve.
“When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives. Our love of the Lord will govern the claims of our affection, the demands on our time, the interests we pursue, and the order of our priorities” (Ezra Taft Benson, April 1988).
Don’t forget to include the Lord as we establish our priorities and make our daily list of to-do’s. As we put God first, and include Him in our planning, we can receive promptings to know where we are needed the most and how to use our time wisely.
Each night, pray to your Heavenly Father and share what you were able to accomplish each day. Listen for promptings, share your struggles, ask questions, feel His love, and then make your list for tomorrow with His help.
Sheena Perron is the founder of Little LDS Ideas and Seek Christ Daily. Her mission is to help others become seekers of Christ through uplifting online content and events. She has been featured in the Ensign, Deseret News, and KSL Radio. Follow Sheena Perron on Instagram and Facebook