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Saturday, June 23, 2018


October 31, 2011 by  
Filed under Industry News

The last time I checked there were still 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week, 30 (31, or 28 depending on leap year) days in a month, 365 days in a year, and 52 weeks in a year. All of us have the same amount of time afforded to us.

If you are employed full time, typically, a work week is 40 hours – either 4 ten-hour days, or 5 eight-hour days, totaling around 260 work days a year.

However, most, if not all full-time workers get two weeks of vacation (after first year of employment), and at least seven (10, if federally employed) days off for holidays, and usually 10 days off for sickness/illnesses. The more tenure, the more days off that are awarded.

Let’s leave the sick days out of this equation and just use the 10 days of vacation and seven days for holidays to keep it simple. So, 260 work days, minus 10 days of paid vacation, minus seven days of paid holidays = 243 actual work days during one year. But, in those 243 days, the worker only works 8 hours during each day. The other 16 hours are divided between 8 hours (if lucky) for sleeping, 3 hours for eating, 1-2 hours for travelling to/from work, leaving 3 hours for other activities.

Deducting the 243 actual work days from 365 days in a year leaves 122 days off.

So, why does work/life balance, or time management continue to be an issue for some individuals?  Maybe it has something to do with priorities.

During work/life balance, and time management training classes, I conduct an exercise using a large, empty glass jar (introducing different items) that leads participants from an abstract idea to a “visual” image, engaging their senses.

The different items consist of: small rocks, pebbles, sand and water. During the exercise, I take the empty jar and fill it with the small rocks. Then, I ask the participants if the jar is full.  Usually, a unanimous vote is, “Yes,” the jar is full.

Next, I pour the pebbles into the jar. The pebbles fall into any open areas between the small rocks. Again I ask the participants if the jar is full. Some said, “Yes,” while others catching on to the implication said, “No, I don’t think so.”

I then lightly shake the jar and proceed to pour the sand into the jar. The sand falls into all the remaining opens spaces. Once again, I ask the participants if the jar is full. By this time all of them have caught on to the implication and state that, “Yes, this time it is definitely full.”

But, for one last time, I lightly shake the jar, then pour the water into the jar. You guessed it, the water penetrates every open area in the jar. The participants look on in amazement.

Then, I ask the participants the following questions:

  • What would have happened if I poured the sand in first?
  • What would have happened if I poured the pebbles in after the sand?
  • What would have happened if I accepted the jar as being full after placing the small rocks in first?
  • What would have happened if I completely reversed the order of item placement?

I conclude the exercise by conducting a class discussion asking the participants to think about what the different items (small rocks, pebbles, sand and water) may symbolize in their lives, stating that since the jar constricts/contains all of the items the jar symbolizes “time,” their time.

Focus on the right things at the right time.

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