Log in

The Mayonnaise Jar & Coffee

April 16, 2024 8:52 AM | Janet Schiesl, CPO® (Administrator)

by Janet Schiesl

Basic Organization

This is a great story . . . . (about time management) . . .

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle,
When 24 hours in a day is not enough; remember the mayonnaise jar and 2 cups of coffee.

A wise professor stood before his philosophy class and had several items scattered before him. He picked up a one-gallon mayonnaise jar and filled it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured it into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf ball.  He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous  ‘yes.’

The professor then produced two cups of coffee and poured them both into the jar. The students laughed.  It’s full now!

‘Now,’ said the professor, as the laughter subsided, ‘I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. ‘

The Golf Balls

The golf balls are the important things – God, family, children, health, friends, and favorite passions. Things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The Pebbles

The pebbles are the things that matter like your job, house, and car.

The Sand

The sand is everything else — The small stuff.

‘If you put the sand into the jar first,’ he continued, ‘there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life.’

If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you.


  • Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.
  • Take time with your children.
  • Take time to get medical checkups.
  • Take your partner out to dinner.

There will always be time to clean the house and make repairs.

One of the students raised their hand and inquired, what the coffee represented.

The professor smiled.

“I’m glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem,
there’s always room for a couple of cups of coffee and time with a friend.”

For more information contact Janet Schiesl.

NAPO - Washington DC Metro Chapter |  PO Box 7301, Arlington, VA 22207  |  |  (301) 818-1501

© National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals Washington DC Metro Chapter. All rights reserved.

NAPO-WDC is a legal entity separate and distinct from NAPO, Inc. (National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals) and is not entitled to act on behalf of, or to bind NAPO, contractually or otherwise.

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software