Juggling Knives (a.k.a. Life)

The act of juggling life and everything it throws at me can feel like catching the tail of a cat in one hand and the blade of a knife in the other. Working on more than one project may be inevitable, but the end result will never be successful if I’m not willing to concentrate and make the best of a stressful situation.

I’m not a fan of multitasking.

In the moment, there’s a thrill that comes with deadlines and responsibility and the potential accolades. But, the deadlines loom, the responsibility turns into burden, and what if they boo or berate instead of applaud?

In an average minute, there can be anywhere from 5-27 thoughts floating around in my head, not to mention the 3-6 To Do’s on my list. I prefer to organize everything in a planner (or an app when I’m on the run) and tackle them one after the other. Without a semblance of structure, finishing each project or task feels impossible, and can grow tedious. It reminds me of telling everyone in the house that I’m about to watch a TV show I recorded, then five minutes in I hear “Mom!” echoing down the hallway. No matter how organized I think I am, something always pops up.

Interruptions happen, and some fit cozily in the schedule we’ve already set, while others cut into our plans. It’s those tasks that seem painful I want to address today. There are times when we have to get our hands dirty; get the job done. So, if you can’t say ‘no’ here are some tips to making sure you catch the hilt of the knife and not the blade.

  1. Don’t stop what you’re doing (unless it’s an emergency), at least until you get to a place that’s comfortable for you. You don’t want to stifle your creativity by colliding into your new task.
  2. Avoid going back and forth between projects in the same sitting. I’m reminded of texting one friend only to see another friend’s message flash across my screen. It never fails that I reply to the wrong person. Unless your tasks involve the same content, one way to avoid mixing data up is to plan a meal or chore between working on each project. You can also schedule to work on one task two days a week while working on family errands one day and philanthropic work another day.
  3. Create a schedule for finishing the new task, and set a deadline. Make sure to mark in your calendar when you’ll be jumping back into your previous work. Sometimes, creativity is like food. If you set up your next meal in your mind you can prepare your palette for the dish.

There’s no reason to hurt yourself when juggling multiple projects. Focus and maintaining a rhythm in your life/work schedule can make a huge difference in the way you catch unexpected tasks. My goal isn’t to become the best juggler, but to learn to set the knives down and only pick one up at a time. It’s the best way to make sure no one in my vicinity gets hurt.

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