Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree Tilt.
Iâ€™m pretty good at juggling.
In fact, itâ€™s one of my strengths as an employee and a human being. I juggle. Â I always have a lot of work, a lot of Â projects, Â a Â lot Â of Â irons Â in Â the Â fire, Â pots Â boilingâ€” whatever you want to call it.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Thereâ€™s always Â something going on in my head or around me, and I like it that way.
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! Â But which are the most important?
I had a boss onceÂ who gave me our organizationâ€™s Top 5 priorities. Â Using the get-it-off-my-desk Â principle, I finished two of the five right Â away, but the other three were Â monster Â projects, Â all Â with Â majorÂ Â problems Â 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, â€œLook, this Â isnâ€™t Â fair. Â Iâ€™m Â putting in 80 to 90 hours Â a week, Â and Iâ€™m still not Â getting all three of these done. Somethingâ€™s going to drop.â€
â€œOh, no! You canâ€™t let anything drop,â€ he told me. â€œYouâ€™ve got the organizationâ€™s Top 3 priorities still to do. Weâ€™re counting on you.â€
â€œYou may be counting on me,â€ I told him, â€œbut logistically, we do not have the resources, and physically there just is not time in the day to do all three of these. Â Trust me. Iâ€™m already working Â through lunch, late Â every day, and on the weekends.Â Â Iâ€™m not sure what more I can do unless you want me to give up what little sleep I get.â€
â€œOh, no! You need to take care of yourself, too.â€
â€œReally? I didnâ€™t think that was one of the organizationâ€™s top priorities.â€
But then I reigned in my sarcasm and reminded Â him that I needed Â to know Â which project Â took Â precedence over the others or which one I might get some help with or which one might be okay to let drop. Â In short, I asked him to prioritize my workload for me.
He frowned. Â â€œIâ€™m not going to prioritize Â your workload. Â You Â do Â that. Â Youâ€™re Â the Â employee. Â Thatâ€™s Â your job.â€
â€œOkay, great,â€ I told him. Â â€œIâ€™ll get Project One done. Project Two, Iâ€™ll work on during my overtime hours, and Project Threeâ€¦Iâ€™ll have to let dropâ€”at least for a couple of weeks until I get something out of the way.â€
â€œYou canâ€™t do that! Â You canâ€™t let something drop!â€
â€œThen tell meâ€”â€ I was almost screeching at him at this Â pointâ€”â€which Â project Â of Â mine Â is more Â important than the other?â€
â€œTheyâ€™re Â all Â important,â€ Â he Â stressed. Â â€œTheyâ€™re all equally Â important. Â You Â have Â to Â get Â them Â all Â done.â€ 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 Â but my customer decided not to complain because heâ€™d rather have any of my time than none at all.
Right now, I donâ€™t have three great big fragile crystal glass balls tossed high in the air. Â I have more like 1500.
So the question at the moment becomes â€œWhat three things and only three things will I concentrate Â on finishing this day?â€Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Maybe by Â concentrating Â on three things and just three things, Iâ€™ll stop hyperventilating.
Lots of interesting Â things Iâ€™ve found or found out in the past few days:
Finding Â a Â long-missing Â tape Â with Â the Â last Â dictated chapters of a new book on it.
Finding out Â much Â time itÂ takes Â to Â teach Â a teen Â to drive.
Finding Â several Â old blog Â entries Â that Â were Â never published…to Â 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, sheâ€™s refused to try on the leather pants Iâ€™ve kept or the black vinyl jeans….)Finding out that the puppy canÂ be Â really Â sweet, Â really Â calm, Â really Â protectiveâ€”and really a Â good Â poochâ€”but Â not Â when Â heâ€™s Â visiting Â 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 Â regular readers. Â And finding Â that out is very, very cool, especially considering that it started as a healing journal shared Â among a few other women Â in the Â same starting over boat as moi.