How Many Plates are You Spinning?

Spinning plates with motion blur. The background can be extended for text.

Do you have so many plates spinning that you can’t figure out how to get control of the chaos? Are you adding one more plate, then one more plate, and then yet one more plate? Do you wake up in the middle of the night worrying about which plate is going to come crashing down? Is it going to be the missed email? Is it going to be the uncompleted project that is past due? Are you overwhelmed by the enormity of the many things that you must do?

Spinning plates can come in the form of:

  • to-do lists with 20 items that couldn’t possibly be completed any time soon
  • 100 – 10,000 unanswered emails in your inbox, which distract you (most of them are so far out of date that they aren’t even relevant anymore)
  • starting several things throughout the day, only to be pulled off task by yet another distraction
  • saying “yes” to everyone, but not having the time to follow through

These all lead to a feeling of overwhelm and self-judgment and the question, “Why can’t I figure this out?” You know that you have too many plates spinning when you are in a constant state of anxiety. You are working longer hours, but aren’t making more money. You are short with people at home and you can’t remember the last time you really liked your business or your life.

Over the next few weeks I will give you tips to help you gain control of those spinning plates. Many of you want them all right now, but that would only serve to reinforce your overwhelm, so patience.


Give yourself short to-do lists of no more than three things. Yes, I know you have really long lists of things to accomplish, but try this. Start with three items and schedule in how long each one will really take. When you complete those three things, then add three more. Many people who are overwhelmed by their lists overestimate how many things they can complete and underestimate how long each item will take.

When you have longer lists with unrealistic completion times, you set yourself up to fail. This leads to more self-judgment and the belief that if you only worked faster or longer then you would succeed. That in turn leads to overwhelm, disappointment in yourself, and confusion about why you just can’t get it together. When you have shorter lists and assign true time for completing them you begin to see what’s truly important and take action on those items first.

This simple plan will help you be more productive and effective and give you more space to breathe. What three things are the most important for you to focus on today?

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4 Responses to How Many Plates are You Spinning?

  1. Stephanie Kennedy December 5, 2016 at 9:00 pm #

    Wow! You wrote this blog just for me, didn’t you! OK, done for tomorrow. I’m eager to hear the rest.

    • Cindy Dove, Life Coach December 5, 2016 at 9:31 pm #

      Those spinning plates abound!Good job that you’re done for tomorrow.


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