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Home Maintenance and the Jar of Life

Chandy is the developer of, a free online resource for DIY home maintenance.


The Jar of Life

Some of you have no doubt heard the story of the jar of life. It goes like this -

There’s a glass jar, some rocks, pebbles, and a pile of sand on a table. The challenge is to make room for all of the rocks, pebbles, and grains of sand in the jar.

The jar represents the finite capacity (time, resources, energy) you have for the things you need or want to do in your life.

Rocks represent the most important things like family, your health, and relationships.

Pebbles represent things like your finances, job, and career.

Everything else, including things that give you momentary pleasure, is represented by grains of sand.

If you start filling the jar with sand, it is likely that you will have no room for the rocks and, may be, even the pebbles.

On the other hand, if you start filling the jar with the rocks first, there will be room for pebbles, and also room for the grains of sand.

Moral of the Story

The moral of the story is: make sure you address the important things in your life first. You will still have the capacity for other things.

However, if you focus first on things that give you momentary pleasure, you will have no room for the important ones, leading to a life not so well-lived.

Rock, Pebble, or Sand?

What’s the connection between this story and home maintenance, you ask.

Well, most of us would consider home maintenance tasks as grains of sand. And worse, because doing them rarely gives you any pleasure, momentary or not. It is quite the opposite, most of the time.

They do save you a lot of pain at a future time, though. And, yes, every homeowner gets it. And some even take it to heart.

But, if you are like me, when it comes to your home, things that don’t drip, blink, or beep get forgotten. Before you know the list of to-dos gets too long and tracking it gets harder. In the end, even the most well-intentioned amongst us give up and are forced to deal with the inconvenience and cost of repairs.

So how do you deal with this situation?

The Virtual Pebble

Let’s go back to the jar of life.

What if we created some “virtual pebbles”. Think of them as containers with fixed capacity that can hold several grains of sand. And, these containers can be filled with different grains of sand, at different times. This elevates the priority of some grains of sand, but in a very specific and international way.

You could create a virtual pebble for home maintenance. With fixed capacity, say 30 minutes of your time each week. And make sure there’s room for that pebble in your jar of life.

Then you can fill the pebble each week with maintenance tasks, making sure that you include all the maintenance tasks your home needs. Which, of course, depends on your home, its features, and the various appliances and fixtures in your home.

A Home that Works and A Life Well Lived

The home maintenance virtual pebble may be easy to create. But figuring out what goes in it can be a tall order.

You need to be able to personalize, organize and track your home maintenance tasks. And access to resources that show you what the tasks are, what you will need for each task and how to do it. To avoid being overwhelmed, you should start small - just 30 minutes a week to take care of the appliances in the kitchen, for example, and grow from there.

Do this, and keep your home in perfect working order and your jar of life filled with the things that lead to a life well lived.