How Successful are Your Juggling Skills?

Juggling on an Elephant on a Ball on a Tightrope

Do you feel like you’re in the midst of chaos because you are juggling waaay too many balls? Are you adding one more ball, then one more ball, and then yet one more ball? Do you look down and see that you are not only juggling balls, but you are standing on an elephant who is standing on a ball and rolling along a tightrope? Even writing that makes my anxiety level surge! And yet, that is how many people try to function every single day.

Do you wake up in the middle of the night because you can’t anticipate which balls are 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? Have you subscribed to the idea that multitasking is a good strategy?

How Many Balls are Going to Crash?

You know you are juggling too many balls 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 work or enjoyed your time at home. The balls you juggle come in many forms.

  • to-do lists with 20 items that couldn’t possibly be completed any time soon (you stress yourself out by adding things to your list so you won’t forget them, but don’t have a way to actually check them off)
  • 100 – 10,000 unanswered emails in your inbox, which distract you (most of them are so far out of date that they aren’t even relevant anymore)
  • 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?”

How Can You Simplify?

I know, many of you are now rolling your eyes thinking, “Give me a break! There is no way to simplify this!” Let’s break it down and try one thing this week to see how it works. This is probably the most important tip I could give you.

Most people overestimate how many things they can complete and underestimate how long each item will take.

Let’s put it into practice. Give yourself short to-do lists with no more than three things. For some of you, your list will be one item long and that’s ok. Yes, I know you have really long lists of things to accomplish. You can put all of those other items on a “holding” list so you don’t forget them. Start with three items (or one) and schedule in how long each one will really take. When you complete those things, then add one to three more.

This is one thing I have seen over and over and over in my coaching business. You set yourself up to fail when you have long lists with unrealistic completion times. This leads to 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 important and can 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? I’d love to hear how this strategy works for you. Leave a comment below.

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