I heard this story in church a long time ago.  And like most good stories, 25 – some odd years later, I still think about it.  You may have heard some version of the story.  But the short of it is – a professor talks to his philosophy class and he’s got this mason jar.  Like so….

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And then he’s got walnuts, charcoal, and sand.  And he asks the students to put them all into the jar.  To FIT the sand, charcoal pebbles, and the walnuts into the jar.

So, the class starts pouring the sand in, then the charcoal, then the walnuts.  But, by the time you put sand and charcoal pebbles in – there’s no much room for the walnuts.

Ah, Ha!  – so the lesson begins.

If you put the big stuff (read important) into your life first, the small stuff will find a way of fitting.

So, he had the students put the WALNUTS in first, then the charcoal pebbles, then the sand – and the sand (because it’s small) naturally filled in the gaps between everything.

So — what are your WALNUTS!?

Recently I’d made the mistake of trying to schedule EVERY SINGLE BLOCK of time in the day.  But you end up with a lot of colors on a calendar – and you can keep it up for like… a day.

calendar-week

And you go kinda crazy.  And you feel like you… failed.  Because you can do it one day, but not the next.

So, recently I started “under promising” myself what I would do every day.  And it seems to be working so far.  Under-promising the number of panels I do per day, under promising on the number of pages written, under promising on the blocks of calls I make.

Because, it doesn’t do any good to do 5 panels one day, and none the next couple of days cause you were burned out.

Your life is like an 80+ version of this:

Tour-de-France

These guys have to pace themselves, manage their time.  We live in a world where people tend to live in extremes or, at least, talk in extremes.  I’m not DRINKING AT ALL – I’m not eating ANY CARBS – I’m going to go to the gym EVERYDAY – I’m going to make 150+ calls a day!!! (I was the last one).

Consistency.  Progress.  I recently got a book about managing for progress.

Just think of Denzel in The Equalizer 

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So…. what are your walnuts?  What can you make sure you do everyday.  What if you only “scheduled” 35% or 40% or even 50% of your day — and there was a whole bunch of space for you to – handle other things – recharge, or have the freedom to get new ideas on work?

Progress not perfection.

And remember the walnuts.