Too Many Balls in the Air?  Here’s how to cope!


Almost everyone makes ‘To Do’ lists in order to keep track of what needs to be done.  It feels good to tick items off one at a time.  However no matter how well you plan your pipeline, there are times when everything happens at once, everything is due at about the same time and you feel control, and deadlines, slipping away.  Maybe you start to wish that it was time for another holiday and the exhaustion sets in.  What should you do?
How does it work in the Accident and Emergency Departments in hospitals?  Every patient who comes in through the door is an urgent and important case.  What the emergency ward medical professionals do is to determine which victims are the ones who need the immediate help, those who need it the most, then they figure out whom to treat and in what order.
Here’s what will help you in less life threatening situations:

1. Write down everything that needs to be taken care of

It’s possible for us to remember only a few things at a time.  According to an article published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the average person can only hold 3 or 4 things in mind at once. The danger with multiple projects is we tend to spend the most time on the projects that are going really well (and are enjoyable) or on projects that appear to be doomed and we can’t let it go just yet.  That means we don’t devote enough time to projects where perhaps just a little effort would have mattered a lot – and all because we forgot all about it.

2. What can be outsourced?

Now is the time to give an assistant the opportunity to shine or to find someone to take charge of one or two items that will free up your time to devote on the more urgent and more important stuff.  Make sure check in on how things are going at regular intervals.

3. What can you do away with or negotiate around?

Deadlines may be logical however there are times when they are totally arbitrary.  See if there is room for negotiation regarding delivery dates.

4. List the steps necessary to complete your projects and the timeframe

Tackle projects with the longest lead times now – and also some of the ‘low hanging fruit’ you can complete relatively quickly and easily.

5. Modify your list regularly

Certain priorities may change, how it is important to ensure you keep track of everything that is still outstanding.  Follow up with the team who is working with you if any key component is missing.  Take a minute to breathe, think and identify problem spots in advance.  Remember PPPPP – Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance.

6. Rally your home based troops

There are times when it will be impossible to avoid working long hours and you may need more help.  Make sure you communicate effectively with your partner or family members so that they understand the deadlines you are working to.  Having support at home makes it much easier.  

7. Remember your mental and physical health

Pressure helps us to perform and sometimes exceed expectations.  However what is the cost?  If we are tired and emotional everything seems so much harder and if we feel guilty about not having time for loved ones it hinders our coping mechanism. Perhaps you can’t tuck your kids in every night during busy periods however can you manage it two or three times a week?  Your triathlon aspirations may need to be placed on hold for now but what about a 30-minute run every other day?  A brisk walk in the fresh air, taking deep breaths and focusing on the present moment will help to clear your head and keep everything in perspective. 
Jane Jackson is a career management and life coach.  If you need help balancing your life, visit www.janejacksoncoach.comor contact

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *