Feel like a manic juggler?

Animation of 3 ball cascade , also known as a ...Image via WikipediaI don’t know about you but sometimes it can be a little overwhelming.  Okay…that’s a lie.  It can be incredibly overwhelming.

We’re all juggling as fast as we can and no matter how many balls we have in the air, there’s always another one being tossed into the rotation.

There’s a new project (or three) at work, a new book to read, 5,000 new blog posts in your RSS feed reader, six fresh social media tools to explore and 200+ e-mails.  Daily.

That doesn’t even take into account your family, friends and just carving out some down time.  Have a hobby?  Like to travel? Well, sleep’s optional, right?

Never before in my career have I seen a more turbulent time.  Turbulent is not necessarily a bad thing.  There’s just so much swirling around us, our customers and the work we do.  And it’s exciting.  Intoxicating.  And important to continuing to be relevant in our jobs.

So…how do you juggle it all? How do you stay sane AND productive?

Here’s my plan.  Help me spread the word that we’re looking for Sanity/Productivity tips.  Once we get a good collection here, I’ll create an free e-book that we can offer to others suffering from the same manic juggling that we are.

Come on…share a tip, idea or solution that works for you.

 

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25 comments on “Feel like a manic juggler?

  1. Vickie says:

    I start planning my week with three lists, my movables, fixed tasks/appointments, and new items. On Friday I plan for my next week and work my movables around the fixed items on my calendar, always leaving space for new stuff. (Most new items appear on Monday.) Sometimes movables are well, moved again when new stuff arrives.

    The moveables list helps me prioritize without as much stress. Some things are movable within a week and others within a month. When I look at my calendar I know exactly what I can juggle around without consequences.

  2. I couldn’t agree more. A few ideas for what they’re worth:

    – Outsource whatever you can – i.e. the things where you can’t add value

    – If you create content (blog posts, articles) then repurpose and recycle the content you create. One print article can be reworked as a blog post, then form part of an ebook …

    – Turn your email ‘dinger’ off and deal with it all in batches

  3. JLibbey says:

    Only check your email three times a day – first thing in the morning, at mid-day and then late afternoon. Refrain from acknowledging every little email that does not require it.

  4. Lewis Green says:

    Drew,

    I use the pile system, to get my work done. The first pile is “to do” today, second pile tomorrow, and so on. For me, it works well as it structures my work. And I never create a pile that requiress more than 5 hrs work–that gives me four hrs. for all the stuff that pops up on a given day. And, I never, never work more than a 9-hour day.

    That’s my practical suggestion. Here’s my philosophical one–I always put people first, in this order:

    M – F 8 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. clients, potential clients, family, friends, me
    All other hours: family, clients, friends, me, potential clients.

  5. Dennis says:

    1. Make a list of all the things you have STOPPED doing and/or will stop.
    2. DON’T connect (hard for the soc med types) to everything and everyone. Life is not a popularity contest.
    3. Rise 30 minutes earlier – and pray (or whatever your spiritual thing is.)This is like adding sugar to a bitter cocktail of life – and the bigger the cocktail, the more sugar it needs.
    4. Switch off the TV.
    5. Start the day with a hug – preferably another human 🙂

    That’ll do for now…

  6. Bill Gammell says:

    Drew,

    I’ve got to chuckle (just a little). I mean, you talk about how to juggle the stuff of life and business and then you go ahead and add another ball to your own pile by committing to edit an ebook! All kidding aside, here are some things:

    1. Gimme A Break – Never go 2 hours without taking some small break from the stuff of the moment. Your mileage may vary and you may need to break after every hour or every 3 hours. The idea is not to push your limits but rather to take time to regroup, rejuvenate and be even more productive when you are back in the moment. You could get up and stretch, relax for 5 minutes outside in the sun while enjoying an apple, play a few minutes of wastebasket basketball, watch a clever YouTube video, solve a Sudoku puzzle, whatever.

    2. People First, Stuff Second – “Stuff” always seems to find away to creep into our busy days. Commit to make people a priority over stuff.

    3. Will Work for F.O.O.D. – F.O.O.D. = Free Of Outside Distractions. Have a sign on your door that you post from time to time telling others that you need time without interruption (be sure to post when you’ll be available again). Use this time sparingly but with a strong focus to finish a particular pressing tasks that can be done quicker without constant interruptions (reading something, writing a report/RFP, brainstorming, etc.).

    4. Stop, Drop or Roll – This is a good way to prioritize. When something comes across your desk, see if it needs your immediate attention (Stop what you are doing), it can be Dropped (deleted, skipped, thrown out) or Rolled (rolled to a different time or person).

    Bill

  7. What works best for me is setting aside a time to focus on only one thing, and blocking out everything else. In college, I literally used to go study in a closet – the floor of my dorm had a big walk-in closet with a chair, lamp and a desk… and nothing else! I would go in there with my homework and not leave until I was done.

    I’ve also found a change of scenery can help, or a change of medium (writing posts in a notebook instead of on my laptop). It’s easier to focus that way.

    Another fun trick I’ve been doing lately (which is probably not possible in the office) is setting a board across the top of our treadmill and walking slowly while I work. It doesn’t affect my typing at all, and I actually work faster because my blood is pumping. Plus, I’m exercising at the same time… which makes me feel like I’m getting more done! It’s definitely nice to be able to check off several miles of walking along with my email inbox and a blog post or two.

  8. Never underestimate the importance of setting your personal, social, and work priorities FIRST! It’ll make decision-making much easier if you’ve already gotten that detail out of the way ahead of time!

  9. Karin H. says:

    Hi Drew

    Robert, you just beat me to it 😉
    Priorities is key, then ‘wrap’ your activities around it. I tend to have a few projects ‘at the go’ every day, but PRIORITY number 1 is clients/prospects. Whenever a prospect or client walks into our showroom everything else goes on hold (even the phone – is switched to answer machine mode). When a prospect or client phones, everything else goes on hold. When an email comes in with a request from a prospect or client, everything else goes on hold.

    Then priority number 2 is regular communication with our prospects/clients projects (included websites etc). Followed by keeping the admin up to date.

    Then and only then my other (private) projects have a look in.

    Karin H. (Keep It Simple Sweetheart, specially in business)

  10. These are great everyone….keep them coming!!

    And yes Bill, I too laughed at the irony of my own inclination to create more work for myself!

    Drew

  11. Ashley says:

    Wow I thought it was just me feeling like everything is moving at warp speed lately – good to know I’m not alone.

    As someone who is working full time as an account exec, trying to help a colleague start a side venture, freelancing as a photographer AND about to embark on an MBA, I could use tips. A lot of them. Look forward to seeing the result!

  12. Seth Gray says:

    I’m never able to do it as much as I’d like, but lately I’ve tried to shift from multi-tasking to focusing. i.e. one thing at a time, no email, twitter, phone interruptions. Obviously you have to prioritize and put fires out first. But once the fires are out, look ahead to the end of the week and the end of the month: what do I want/need to have done? Let’s call it the Smokey the Bear approach to productivity: prevention. Prevent the fires and you won’t have to put them out. Dang! Back to work! I think my desk is on fire…

  13. Kenneth says:

    Every truly time consuming action (at least from a business standpoint)is filtered through the “Rule of Ate”

    Can I eliminate it?
    ” ” delegate it?
    ” ” automate it?

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  24. Linda says:

    A key element for me to be productive while juggling so many things is to have scheduled, deliberate down time in my personal life. It helps me function better both at work and with family/friends. I chose Wednesdays to be the one evening where I don’t schedule anything. No freelance client meetings, no dinners with friends, no volunteer commitments. When Wednesday night rolls around, I do whatever strikes me in that moment – perhaps a hobby, catching up on RSS feeds, or simply watching a movie. If I didn’t block that time for myself, I could go weeks without a free day/night, which quickly drains my ability to function at my best.

  25. Linda,

    That is an excellent suggestion. We schedule ourselves right into a corner, I think. And unfortunately don’t leave any time to just breathe. Or walk. Or talk on the phone with a friend.

    You’re right. If we don’t re-charge the battery, pretty soon we have nothing left in the tank!

    Drew

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