Do you have a feeling you have too many balls in the air at the same time? Are the everyday life pressures keeping you from your own personal goals? Do you feel there’s always something that requires your attention that distracts you from the things you are trying to improve?
Sounds like ‘juggling’, the activity we women are sometimes almost proud of. Or at least we have decided to own it so profoundly that it surely comes up in every female executive interview (‘how do you juggle family and work?’) and dinner conversation between friends.
I was recently at a lovely dinner with seven brilliant and bright ladies who all manage to combine meaningful career and family life. After hearing my story of building a women’s network whilst spending time with my husband and twin boys, one woman asked me how on earth do I manage to juggle all of this?
That very moment I realised what the secret is, I’ve stopped juggling.
I used to be very stressed out thinking I should do all of these things at the same time. That didn’t work. I remember some years ago I got a panic attack, which was no wonder as at the time I had too many balls in the air trying to build three businesses at the same time, and have time for my family. Like any setback or obstacle in life, it taught me an important lesson.
I’m not supposed to keep all the balls in the air at the same time.
I’m here to keep rolling each ball separately and gently along, at my own pace. And what’s more, I’ve chosen to let go of most of those silly balls all together!
When you find yourself doing a juggling act, take a break and have an honest look. Are you juggling for your own pleasure or creating this show to entertain others?
I’ve learned to be fully present at what I’m doing and I don’t try to do more than one thing at the time. This means that when I’m with my kids, I’m with my kids. I don’t try to write emails or send Tweets at the same time. I fully enjoy my kids company.
Here’s 7 steps that have helped me to stop juggling:
You have to give up part of the workload and delegate to others. Hire help if you can. Let others in the household do their part. Nobody succeeds alone!
2) Trust others
Once you’ve delegated tasks, it’s important to trust others to do the job. They may not do it the same way as you, but not all jobs need to be completed to the highest standards.
3) Focus on one thing
When you are focused on a task, don’t let yourself be distracted by other unfinished tasks. The world (and especially a family life) is full of unfinished tasks. Most can remain unfinished (for now).
4) Create habits
My weekly schedule looks pretty much the same from week to week. I’ve dedicated time slots for self-care (yoga, meditation, journaling), creation (writing, doing video) and admin. Apart from standard weekly meetings, I don’t take many meetings. I know I have to allocate time for getting things actually done.
5) Say ‘no’
I let un-critical things fall by the wayside. I’ve long given up perfection on things that don’t really matter (like keeping the playroom tidy) and I’ve stopped doing things because I think I should.
I wrote a post on this earlier. The idea is to hold tasks until a dedicated time slot and do all similar tasks together. Stops you from working reactively and bouncing up and down according to every impulse or request.
If you got so far as to focus on only one task, and have blocked all distractions, it’s important then to capture that moment to complete what you started. Get that one ‘ball’ over a finish line so you can add an item to your ‘Done List‘. It can be a sub-section of a larger project but important thing is to finish what you are doing to avoid juggling.
I’ve visualised ‘focusing on one ball’ as opposed to ‘juggling many balls in the air’ in my head. This mental exercise has helped me to appreciate everything I do more and not pile up unnecessary (=unimportant) tasks.
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