Juggle the right balls

11th July 2023

Life is a juggle.

We all have lots of priorities that compete for our time – home-life; work-life; time with the family, friends, bosses, colleagues, customers, potential customers. And then there’s: hitting targets; achieving goals; impressing the right people; daily admin; planning ahead; following-up …

… and when we’re juggling all these balls, it’s easy for some to drop.

Unfortunately, sometimes we drop the wrong ones.

We know which balls we should prioritise. But too often, we simply prioritise the things that are already in our diary, or where people shout the loudest for us to do something.

A simple way to look at this is that the balls you’re juggling aren’t equal. Some are rubber; some are glass. Drop the rubber ones and it’s fine – they bounce back up. But drop the glass, and it can shatter.

For example, if you miss a weekly Update Meeting, it might be a shame – but it probably won’t cause anything to smash into smithereens. It’ll just bounce back up, and you’ll go to next week’s.

But if you don’t spend the right amount of time with the important people in your life – your partner, children, critical colleagues etc – that’s when things can smash.

(I loved something I recently saw on LinkedIn – “In 20 years’ time, the only people who will remember that you worked lots of overtime are your children”)

So how to make sure we spend time on the glass balls – the things that matter – the things we must not drop? We have many options. But I like the 3Ds:

  1. DECIDE – which are your critical glass balls – the ones that absolutely cannot smash. The ones you need to always look after
  2. DIARISE – for these critical activities, schedule time in your diary to do them. For example, every day, I schedule time with my wife and children, time for energy breaks, lunch, etc. And nothing gets priority over these
  3. DISCIPLINE – when your diary prompts you to spend time on these glass balls, have the discipline to stick with it. Don’t snooze/delete this critical time in favour of an urgent-sounding rubber-not-glass ball that someone suddenly throws at you – often because they’re concerned about their deadlines (that’s why I also like the phrase “Bad planning on your part, does not constitute an emergency on mine”)

Do you spend time on the things you should do? The precious glass balls that are the most important things in your life? If not…

Action Point

…do the 3Ds. Your life – and the life of those you love – will be immeasurably better when you do.

(And a Boundsy Bonus – of everyone you know, who would most benefit from reading this Tip? Maybe forward it to them too?)

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