How many balls can you keep in the air? All of us have a juggling limit and we can’t exceed it because dropped balls always have consequences.
The last 30 days or so have been juggling days for my family. My daughter, Cathy, is busy with her job and being a mom while selling one house (TN), buying another house (IN), getting ready to move, and celebrating a 4-year-old boy’s birthday—very high priority! Dottie (my wife) and I have spent a lot of time helping her with the Tennessee end of things. My schedule has overloaded with two speaking engagements, preparation time for a Hard Lessons workshop next week, an important project at church, a major writing project, plus the normal number of meetings, etc. Feeling a bit overwhelmed a couple of weeks ago, I experienced an early morning panic attack, fearing that I would prove to be mortal and drop a ball.
So, here is what worked for me, and what will work for you, when the balls you are juggling become a blur and you know one is going to hit the ground if you don’t do something.
First, identify a ball or two you can put down for a while. You may not want to, but nothing calamitous will happen if you do. For me, it was writing. I put my major writing project on hold until mid-April.
Second, identify which ball(s) only you can juggle. If you don’t keep them in the air, they will hit the ground. For me, it was preparation for my Hard Lessons workshop in Wichita next week. No one can do that for me.
Third, identify some things you can delegate, even if only for a short time. Loading a POD with Cathy’s furniture was it for me. I found someone I trusted to take charge so I could forget it. I wasn’t even there when the POD was loaded.
Finally, for all the balls still in the air, identify the minimum effort required to keep them there for a time. Something as simple as a phone call can keep a ball in the air for a day or two. A phone call to the city was all I needed to arrange hauling a worn-out sofa to the landfill. They picked it up! I didn’t have to do anything except move it to the street. Easy; quick; another ball didn’t hit the ground.
If you are approaching your juggling limit, you have to do something because dropped balls aren’t an option. If you don’t like my four suggestions, create your own four, but don’t wait until after a ball hits the ground. It could be the one that hurts the most.
"The best way to lead people into the future is to connect with them deeply in the present."
Kouzes & Posner