Fitting Salt & Eggs in a Jar – My Work Life Balance

Chris Davey is a PhD researcher in Peace Studies and, as well as writing his own blog, originally wrote this for our
Career and Employability Services blog

How would I fit salt and eggs in to a jar? Could I fit it all in? Can I even fit the lid back on after I have crammed it all in? Why do I feel like my jar is never big enough? Why am I not able to savour the things I enjoy, and too often get stuck with the things that stink?

As a wily teen my mother often scolded me for “burning the candle at both ends”, implying that doing too much would be bad for me. I largely ignored this wisdom until halfway through my undergraduate degree, studying full-time and working nights part-time, I fell asleep at the wheel of my car on the way to work, and rolled through a red light. Fortunately, nobody was seriously hurt. However, my mother called me the next day, and repeated her mantra. Rather begrudgingly, the penny dropped.

‘Constantly juggling’

Chris Davey at his desk.I would like to think that I am now older and wiser as a postgraduate student who still works, studies, and now have my own children. The lesson of cramming too much into life remains with me. The simple demonstration of the eggs and salt in a jar has helped me figure out how to be safer and less rubbish at prioritising. How, then, can one balance the important big things in life with the small stuff, when they both need attention?

The demonstration goes like this, if you pour all the salt in at once, you might fit one egg in, however, if the order is reversed you can happily jam it all in. The moral here is that the big, meaningful, important things in life can be dealt with first, not only in order to accomplish such, but also to fit in the little bits. Think: “don’t sweat the small stuff” meets “live life to the full”.

Aside from no longer owning a car, I have learned to safely prioritize the important things, getting the most out of life. As a PhD student with responsibilities at home and work, I still often feel like I am constantly juggling. However, I juggle, burn my candle, stuff things in the jar or whatever, with confidence knowing that life can be enjoyable and fulfilling. Although my PhD won’t write itself, I happily fit it in around the bigger things.

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