A friend recently told me a great story about priorities in your life. Not directly related to software development, I still think it might apply to one or another and I simply like this story very much. When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day just are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and 2 cups of coffee.
A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up the very large, empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls.
When no more golf balls would fit in the jar he asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed it was full.
Then the professor picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into open areas between the golf balls. He asked his students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.
The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. The sand filled up everything else. He once more asked the students if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous "yes".
The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table. He poured the coffee into the jar, effectively filling the empty spaces between the sand. The students laughed.
"Now" said the professor, as the laughter subsided, "I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The Golf balls are the important things - God, Family, Children, Health, Friends, Passions - things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are other things that matter - like your Job, House, Car, etc. The sand is everything else - the small stuff. If you put the sand in the jar first," he continued, "There is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same is true 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.
So pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get that check-up. Take your partner out to dinner. Play another 18 holes. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first - the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand."
One of the students raised her hand and asked what the coffee represented. The professor smiled. "I am glad you asked. It just goes to show that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple cups of coffee with friends."