Juggling

Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree Tilt.

I’m pretty good at juggling.

In fact, it’s one of my strengths as an employee and a human being. I juggle.  I always have a lot of work, a lot of  projects,  a  lot  of  irons  in  the  fire,  pots  boiling— whatever you want to call it.           There’s always  something going on in my head or around me, and I like it that way.

The Long-Awaited Honest-to-God Secret to Being Happy

The trouble with juggling is that, with all those balls in the air, which ones do you concentrate on? Well, the ones in the air, of course!  But which are the most important?

I had a boss once  who gave me our organization’s Top 5 priorities.  Using the get-it-off-my-desk  principle, I finished two of the five right  away, but the other three were  monster  projects,  all  with  major   problems  and strong possibility of failure if any one of the three did not get 100 percent of my time.

Exasperated, I finally went back to my boss and said, “Look, this  isn’t  fair.  I’m  putting in 80 to 90 hours  a week,  and I’m still not  getting all three of these done. Something’s going to drop.”

“Oh, no! You can’t let anything drop,” he told me. “You’ve got the organization’s Top 3 priorities still to do. We’re counting on you.”

“You may be counting on me,” I told him, “but logistically, we do not have the resources, and physically there just is not time in the day to do all three of these.  Trust me. I’m already working  through lunch, late  every day, and on the weekends.   I’m not sure what more I can do unless you want me to give up what little sleep I get.”

“Oh, no! You need to take care of yourself, too.”

“Really? I didn’t think that was one of the organization’s top priorities.”

But then I reigned in my sarcasm and reminded  him that I needed  to know  which project  took  precedence over the others or which one I might get some help with or which one might be okay to let drop.  In short, I asked him to prioritize my workload for me.

He frowned.  “I’m not going to prioritize  your workload.  You  do  that.  You’re  the  employee.  That’s  your job.”

“Okay, great,” I told him.  “I’ll get Project One done. Project Two, I’ll work on during my overtime hours, and Project Three…I’ll have to let drop—at least for a couple of weeks until I get something out of the way.”

“You can’t do that!  You can’t let something drop!”

“Then tell me—” I was almost screeching at him at this  point—”which  project  of  mine  is more  important than the other?”

“They’re  all  important,”  he  stressed.  “They’re all equally  important.  You  have  to  get  them  all  done.” Wimp that he was, he would never give me a list.

I got the top two projects done, and the third slipped a few weeks  but my customer decided not to complain because he’d rather have any of my time than none at all.

Right now, I don’t have three great big fragile crystal glass balls tossed high in the air.  I have more like 1500.

So the question at the moment becomes “What three things and only three things will I concentrate  on finishing this day?”               Maybe by  concentrating  on three things and just three things, I’ll stop hyperventilating.

Surprises

Lots of interesting  things I’ve found or found out in the past few days:

Finding  a  long-missing  tape  with  the  last  dictated chapters of a new book on it.

Finding out  much  time it  takes  to  teach  a teen  to drive.

Finding  several  old blog  entries  that  were  never published…to  add to my collection of another 7 or 8 in the queue to publish.

Finding out that my 16-year-old who is just incredibly thin cannot fit into the silk cropped pants or the velvet jodhpurs I wore when I was 30, though she can fit into the famous red leather dress of that era.

(So far, she’s refused to try on the leather pants I’ve kept or the black vinyl jeans….)Finding out that the puppy can  be  really  sweet,  really  calm,  really  protective—and really a  good  pooch—but  not  when  he’s  visiting  any other house.

Finding out that lots of people subscribe to my blog by email at different RSS services and that I have about, oh, 5000  regular readers.  And finding  that out is very, very cool, especially considering that it started as a healing journal shared  among a few other women  in the  same starting over boat as moi.