Note: I am clearly not a pro in this picture.
Do you ever feel like you’re trying to fit too much into a day? And somehow end up not completing any of the things you wanted to?
It seems to be a common problem for us now. We are often trying to do so much, in so many different areas, that it becomes completely overwhelming.
Then we get struck in this state of complete overwhelm and end up doing nothing at all. It’s the classic “if I can’t have it all, I won’t bother about any of it”.
Identify your juggling balls
We’re often so busy trying to “juggle” we lose sight of what we are actually juggling. We convince ourselves we need to be out there doing, so there is no time for thinking.
Firstly, we need to identify:
what is going on in our lives; and
what we want to be going on in our lives.
The easiest way to do this is to split our lives down into different areas, or “juggling balls”, the most obvious being:
learning a new skill;
You may find it useful to walk yourself through a typical day and see the interactions you have during that day.
You may also need to break down the areas further - family may involve relationships with parents, siblings and also trying to have your own kids, for example. Break it down into as many sub-areas or “balls” as you need to.
Once you’ve listed out the different areas, next consider whether there are areas that you would like to be juggling, but are not. You may want to learn a new language, but are not spending any time on this.
Analyse what you’re juggling (and what you’re not)
Now you have all your balls on the table (!), consider:
which are currently taking priority;
how much time you are spending on each;
which you would like to be taking priority; and
which ones you would like to add to the mix.
This is where the exercise of walking yourself through a typical day is very useful - it will show you where you are currently spending your time, and which areas you are not spending any time on. Think about everything, even the things that seem insignificant. Like stopping for a coffee on the way to work - you are prioritising spending time in the coffee shop, and money on the coffee.
Don’t lie to yourself!
Make it a realistic day, not your ideal day. Many of us tell ourselves that we go to the gym four times a week, but when we think about it, that’s only what we aim for, and in reality we probably only go twice. Remember, you’re only kidding yourself here!
Your priorities are your choice
One of the most common excuses I hear, and one I used to use all the time is “I don’t have enough time”. I now rephrase that statement to: “I don’t have enough time to do X, because I am choosing to spend my time on A, B and C.” For me, this is always correct. I could make time for nearly anything I want, but I am choosing not to.
For example, at some point I really want to learn tennis. Really want to. And I’ve toyed with the idea, looked up instructors (particularly good looking ones), considered costs. But right now, I want my exercise priorities to be riding, yoga and Barre class. If I cut these down, I’d have time for tennis. But tennis is not my priority right now. Riding, yoga and Barre are.
Priorities really are your choice.
In theory, you could quit your job and run away, and have all the time in the world. Trust me, I’ve thought about it! You are choosing how you are spending your time every day.
What are you currently prioritising? Note, it could be watching Netflix, or browsing facebook (I ended up on a friend’s friend’s “blushers” page yesterday and now have an intricate knowledge of his relationships over the last two years). There’s nothing wrong with that, but it just shows how often we overlook certain priorities. You have twenty four hours in a day and each minute of each hour you are prioritising to do something.
Shifting your priorities
Once you’ve worked out what your priorities currently are, and what you would like them to be, you can start to think about re-juggling them.
The key here is not to drastically change things. If you asked a juggler to drop five out of six balls and pick up another four balls simultaneously, even the most skilled juggler is likely to drop balls everywhere!
First, work out one, two or maximum three, areas you want to prioritise right now. Then work out what you need to do to prioritise them. Do you need to wake up half an hour earlier to have time to go for a short morning run?
Next, work out what you can shift around in the other areas of your life to be able to prioritise the priority area. How can you go to bed half an hour earlier each night so you can wake up for the run without losing out on sleep?
Finally, make it realistic. Could you go for the run twice a week, even if you can’t go every day?
So for example, you could choose not to go out for dinner or drinks two nights a week, so you know you will get up the next mornings to go for a run. Priorities shifted, priorities achieved.
You may need to drop some balls!
This can be really hard. Particularly if you’re like me and want to see anything you’ve started through to an end.
Remember, it doesn’t mean you can’t pick them up again in the future.
And it can be the key for making some really positive changes elsewhere in your life. For a while, I dropped socialising whilst I prioritised my health and my new business. Now I’m picking it back up as a priority. If I hadn’t dropped it, I would have taken longer to recover and would have struggled to build up my business.
Is there something you need to drop, even temporarily?
Juggling is a constant act
Your priorities will change all the time, even daily. If a family member or friend gets sick, they may suddenly become a priority, even if that wasn’t a priority when you woke up.
Keep your priorities realistic. Taylor Adams advises you pick three areas to focus on at any one time. If you have one massive area, this may be all you are able to prioritise.
It may be that once you have prioritised something for a while, it becomes habit, and then you no longer need to consciously prioritise it. You can then replace it with a new priority.
Priorities are a flowing, moving beast. But remember, you choose your priorities, you have the power to shift these and you can choose to change them again in the future.