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 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.
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.