Effective Time Management Using the Pickle Jar Theory

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You would benefit from using the Pickle Jar Theory if you are looking for the most effective time management strategy.

According to Pickle Jar Theory, time is limited like the volume of a pickle jar. To manage one’s time effectively, everyone needs to know the level of importance of each activity. 

Despite doing a lot of work throughout the day, your work does not appear to be productive at the end of the day. You might be holding yourself back from achieving your goals due to this issue. If you wonder how to finish the perks of priorities task on time, this guide is for you.

According to the Pickle Jar Theory of time management, tasks are assigned priorities while keeping an eye on the estimated amount of time each task will take.

You will find out what the pickle jar theory is and how you can apply it to your daily life by reading this blog until the end. 

Related: Are you looking for the best methods to increase workplace productivity?

What is the Pickle Jar Theory?

Alternatively known as Bucket of Rocks Theory, offers an understanding of how much work a person should perform at any given level. Jeremy Wright propounded the Pickle Jar Theory in 2002, based on the concept that time is a non-perishable resource with limits.

Every day, we face important tasks, unimportant tasks, and tasks that are less important. The Pickle Jar Theory plays a crucial role in providing a visual example of what is and is not useful. Setting priorities and planning your daily activities helps you save time daily rather than having too few hours in the day.

Every bit of information in the Jar Theory represents something important and guides our division of the day’s tasks and time.

In summary, the Pickle Jar represents our everyday activities, while the sand, rocks, and pebbles represent our everyday routine. What if other sources were added to this theory – water which means our private life? 

Here are some examples of the types of everyday activities that rock, pebble, and sand can hold:

  • The Sand: In work, the sand represents things that disrupt productivity, such as email notifications, social media notifications, and the mind wandering.
  • The Pebbles: It is a task with a greater level of benefits. It means the jobs we are confronted with daily fill our diaries. They are urgent tasks, but you can wait, like answering emails, phone calls, or attending a meeting. They seem to require immediate action but are less important than rocks. 
  • The Rocks: Rocks are the most important job in our daily life. If we fail to act with concern, we may face serious consequences, as they have a long-term goal and vision. 
  • Water: It means our private life with family and loved ones. 

How does Pickle Jar Theory Work? 

To know How Pickle Jar Theory works, let’s take an example of a large empty pickle jar.

  1. First, fill the jar with 2 or 3 rocks. I.e., the most important task must be completed in a day.
  2. Then, place a few pebbles over the jar, and jiggle them to fit in some way.
  1. After that, place a handful of sand in the jar.
  1. Finally, fill the remaining space with the water. 

Jars contain a variety of things. Imagine you were planning to put sand and water first, then pebbles and rocks. Adding rocks to the jar would cause it to break as it would not fit in there.

Consider the case of your day when you are planning things.

  1. As a first step, you need to identify the top-priority jobs that need to be addressed immediately. (The rocks)
  1. Identify fewer tasks that are important but can wait for some time, such as responding to emails, attending meetings, etc. (The Pebbles)
  1. Next, identify your small and straightforward tasks like social networking. (the sand)
  1. Lastly, you must remember one thing. You must have time for your family and friends. 

Every day has a limited amount of time, just like the jar can only hold a certain number of rocks. Tasks of the highest priority (rocks) go in first, followed by lower-priority items and everyday jobs. A day should be planned around how your pickle jar was filled.

Pickle Jar theory is used as a timetable to keep the necessary and relevant information at the top. Additionally, it helps to schedule and arrange things so that more work gets done in a shorter period of time.

What are the Rules For Implementing Pickle Jar Theory?

To successfully implement the Pickle Jar Theory into your life, you must follow an order in which you organize your tasks. 

  • You must not begin your day with distracting and productivity-killer work such as chatting with friends, social media usage, unnecessary meetings with friends, etc.
  • Work with priority tasks the same way you would fill the jar with rocks to become more productive. Then slowly work on urgent but not important tasks. Finally, deal with some sources of distractions. 
  • You will accomplish the most important tasks and then move on to other tasks. You need to remember that highly productive individuals use their resources effectively and are not obsessed with the quantity but the quality of their work.
  • Last but not least, do not forget the source of happiness and relaxation in our lives. Specifically, water, since it is so crucial to everyone’s development. 

In What Ways does Pickle Jar Theory Help Us?

The Pickle Jar Theory symbolizes “work” and “life.” If the jar is filled with small things (water, sand), there is no room for the big things (rocks, pebbles).

Consider how easy it would be to fill our days with emails and meetings at work. Still, if we fail to deal with some rocks, we may not feel like we have accomplished much.

Most people view family as their most precious possession in life, and spending time with loved ones can be crowded out if we are too busy with work. So, this is when the pickle jar theory gives us some meaning. 

The following are some ways we can apply the Pickle Jar Theory in our daily lives.

Better Division

Pickle jars help us organize the different daily tasks in our lives based on their changing urgency and importance. Our jar size, sand, pebbles, and rocks are all the same. The only difference is the order.

You can schedule all other tasks around these more important tasks in the jar. The rocks represent the most important tasks. It is now okay to turn our attention to the pebbles, the smaller tasks.

Pebbles indicate the task that can wait. Then, we add the sand, and the unimportant tasks, and put all the emails, chat messages, phone calls, tweets, and Facebook posts into the jar.

Eventually, they all settle into the crack between rocks and pebbles.

A better division of tasks made it possible to fit all the ingredients easily into the pickle jar.


Pickle Jar Theory provides deep insights into our schedules and gives us a chance to put more effort into completing our most important tasks daily.

After that, meeting deadlines and managing our time appropriately can be easier. As a result of using to-do lists, the deep understanding becomes even more evident.

When you carefully consider what tasks need to be completed ahead of time, you can fill the most important tasks on your list and treat them as rocks.

Listing Tasks

Preparing an accurate and reliable time estimation is the most challenging part of creating task lists. The average person often plans for one hour for a two-hour project.

You ought to include a time estimate when you create a top-down task or a To-Do list to do this.

The next step would be to prioritize the tasks based on the importance of each task so that you will have the time and energy actually to accomplish them.

Furthermore, a buffer for pebbles and sand would be a great idea. Therefore, it is not recommended to plan for more than 6 hours of work for an 8-hour day.

How Can You Apply the Pickle Jar Theory in your life?

We have compiled a real-life example to see how Pickle Jar Theory works. Let’s see how your day unfolds when you apply Jar Theory to your life and when you don’t.

Your Schedule When You Don’t Apply Pickle Jar Theory

When you are a Bank Manager and do not implement Pickle Jary Theory in your life, you are unaware of it. Your day goes like this. 

10:00 AMPebbles: Respond to emails, and calls and attend meetings.
10:30 AMSand: Chatting with friends, internet and social media usage, and constant phone calls.
10:50 AMSand: Short coffee break, socializing with colleagues
11:30 AMRock: Conduct research and build business plans, and set goals.
12:00 AMSand: Another coffee break.
12:30 PMRock: Back to work and monitor staff performance for providing the best customer service for clients. 
1:30 PMLunch break
2:30 PMPebbles: Attend another meeting, and take another coffee.
4:00 PMSand: Respond to emails and calls again.
5:00  PMNow it’s time to head home.

Here it seems like you have done a lot of work. When you look over your work carefully, you’ll discover that distractions (sand) and unimportant tasks (pebbles) prevent you from doing your urgent work (rock).

The example above illustrates a poor division of work. You start your work with less important tasks and frequently let distractions enter your mind. For a day, you barely accomplished two important things (rocks).

It is clear from the above example that work is not prioritized, and time estimates are not accurate. As a result, it makes you less productive and less motivated at work, hindering business growth and development.

Your Schedule When You Apply Pickle Jar Theory

If you wish to make your day productive and boost your business. Consider the work schedule after implementing Pickle Jar Theory in your real life.

10:00 AMRock: Conduct day-to-day operations, and set business plans and goals. 
12:30 PMPebbles: Reply to calls and emails, and attend a meeting. 
1:00 PMRock: Lead, guide, and manage banking operations.
1:30 PMLunch Break
2:30 PMPebbles and Sands: Social media usage, gossiping with friends, attending a daily meetings.
3:00 PMRock: Back to work and keep going.
5:00 PMTime to leave for home.

The example above shows a good division of workload. After applying Jar Theory to your work, you performed more important tasks first. Your productivity increased after eliminating distractions (sand) and social networking (pebbles) in an organized manner.

Always remember that important tasks must be accomplished first—work according to priority and deadlines.

What are the Advantages of the Pickle Jar Theory?

Pickle Jar Theory has several benefits outlined below.

An Excellent Way to Plan Your Day

When you integrate the Pickle Jar theory into your life, you can gain control over your schedule while allowing yourself some time for private activities at the end of the day. 

Pickle Jar theory is a great method to organize your day in the following ways:

  • Prioritize tasks wisely. Prioritize tasks based on urgency and importance.
  • Set goals correctly. Set achievable goals.
  • Your workday will be better organized since you will better understand important tasks and time estimates.

Prioritizes your tasks

Pickle Jar Theory assists us in prioritizing our tasks more effectively. In the situation of having only one jar but needing to fill it with at least four rocks, you should think deeply about what’s important.

One of the time management skills is prioritizing daily tasks. The Pickle Jar Theory clearly explains that not everything you do is important, and staying focused on your priorities is important for success.

You have to figure out the most important and urgent task. 

Allows you to Enjoy More Free Time

When you implement Jar theory in your life, you can estimate the time for each activity. Work is completed according to priorities, and tasks of lesser importance are delegated less authority.

During your workday, you are not exposed to social media or applications that could affect your productivity. As a result, efficient time management through the Jar theory enables you to have more free time.

Get Rid of Distractions

Eliminating distractions is the key to success. 

In our daily lives, distraction is important in affecting our productivity. Pickle Jar Theory helps you prioritize your life so that you are not likely to be distracted. 

Recognizing your habits and modifying them accordingly will help remove distractions and improve focus, creativity, and productivity.

Your business will be stronger if you implement better time management strategies.

Must Read: Looking for workplace distraction that kills productivity?😖😖

Get Over Procrastination

Procrastination is a habit that everyone follows. Effectively managing your time gives you more control over your workload, increases your productivity, and boosts your confidence.

As a result, you will have fewer chances to procrastinate and will be able to maintain a good balance between work and pleasure.

Using Jar Theory will eliminate procrastination by allowing you to be aware of when you need to accomplish each task on your to-do list.

Avoids Multitasking

The act of multitasking refers to performing multiple tasks simultaneously, switching between tasks repeatedly, leaving one job unfinished, and jumping over another. 

Multitasking is one of the most time-consuming activities affecting your performance. Research has estimated that multitasking can negatively impact productivity by 40%. 

By Implementing Jar Theory, you will have complete insight into your workloads and time estimates. 

You work according to the prioritization of tasks, and there are few chances of multitasking. 

Final Words

Pickle Jar theory is an effective strategy for time management that people of all types can use to gain valuable results. Pickle Jar Theory offers you the convenience of finishing priority jobs on schedule.

Applying the example above to your real life can help you increase productivity.