This is trying to do many things at once. Ok, you probably knew that already. I just wanted to make sure that we are on the same page. In this short blog post, I am going to share what I have learnt about juggling. I hope you find it useful.
Work expands to fill the time allocated to it. No words are truer than this. Many moons ago when I was a full time student, I would give myself a task to do. “Today I will get this assignment done!” I would start the day by listening to motivational music, and I will be so motivated that I would feel like running outside and carrying a mountain on my shoulders. I would then do everything that pops up in my mine – clean the floor, iron clothes that I haven’t ironed for the past 3 weeks, catch up with old friends. I would do everything but the task. At the end of the day, just before getting into my PJs I’d then ask myself where the time disappeared to. After all, my task was still there undone screaming for my attention. I would promise myself that I would do it the next day and this process would carry on for weeks – until the day before the assignment is needed. I would get the ability to spend 4 hours straight working on my assignment.
When I got two things that needed to get done, one would get done, and the other would suffer. It is kinda like being that sibling that never gets attention. The other task would suffer in silence and if it wasn’t for the mighty task death prevention mechanism a.k.a. deadlines, the task would die and go to the graveyard.
Give a busy (wo)man a task and you are guaranteed that it will get done. It is rather amazing that it is true. The more tasks I get, the more efficient I become. Of course, I do get to a point where I get completely overwhelmed and everything falls apart. I learnt that the simple reason that I get more efficient is the same reason that made me find it difficult to do one task at a time. Work expands to fill the time allocated to it. When you have a lot of tasks to do, you know that if you do not do that new “task” that you have to do RIGHT NOW, it will never get done. This gives a sort of an immediate deadline which forces you to act. This process is called prioritization. It is a very good process.
*I said (wo)man because I believe that women (who are high achievers) perform way better than men when it comes to prioritization. In fact, women are light years ahead of men in very many aspects of life but society tricks them to think otherwise…and they believe it
So What is there to learn about Juggling?
1. Make sure that the tasks that you are doing are important to you
I believe in always having a mission and a vision. In the early days of my dear relationship with my dear girlfriend, Shamiso, I would always scream about the importance of having a mission and a vision. I said it so much that I think it got irritating, but hey it’s true. Have a mission and a vision. From these, you will get your goals. Everything that does not align with your mission and vision will not align with your goals and is NOT important to you. If your mission and vision is to help save the planet then volunteering to be a DJ at a local radio station definitely will not help you reach your mission.
2. Be jealous with your time
Your time is your time. It is yours. Not your brother’s. Not your partner’s. Not your friend’s. It is YOURS. Spend your time doing things that align with your mission and vision. Ignore this at your own peril
You can say no. And no is a full sentence. No explanation needed.
4. You will fail
I am so used to doing a lot at once, but I ignored the fact that along the way I would slip up. I eventually learnt that this is inevitable. Have a plan. Know what to do when the things you are trying to do concurrently start to conflict with each other.
5. You need to communicate
It is like we live in different worlds. Busy people experience time very differently from free people. People who are free have hours to talk about whether or not Van Choga is crazy. People who are busy see time fly by. I remember being so busy that I’d start doing my tasks just after midnight, see the sun rise, take a short nap, continue with my work and see the sun set. I remember being like “Whoa…the day already ended?” It is quite easy to forget that there are other people who are not busy. Make time for them. Say hie. Greet your mother. Say hie to your father. Have a short conversation with your brother and sister. Play with your dog – just for a minute though.
6. You need to rest
I remember spending 12 hour days doing my activities. On one day I did my tasks for 14 hours. This is not sustainable. Not unless you have a really good reason for doing it. 8 hours is enough. Extending it to 10 is ok. 12 hours for a few days in a row is tolerable. 14 hour days for a full week – bad idea. Your devices need to rest too. Don’t forget to switch them off when you go to bed.
7. You need to do backup
Backup, backup, backup. This is such good advice that I mention it thrice. If you lose your data then you’ve worked for nothing. Back it up. No data? Use a flash drive and put it somewhere safe. Internet access? Use cloud storage. I use Google Drive.
8. You need to have fun
I love music. When I am doing very many things, or work that is going to take me very many hours, then I make sure that I listen to music that is going to make the whole process fun. To give me the adrenaline to start, I listen to heavy metal. My goto bands are: Parkway drive, Dividing the Element. After that, I then move onto hard rock. I listen to: Skillet, and songs by Leo Moracchioli. After this comes rock & soft rock. I listen to: BMTH, The Parlotones, Hillson & Celebration Choir. After this comes all other music genres.
Juggling is an art. It involves knowing which balls to use, and how to make them spin. It also involves having a contingency plan for when the balls start falling.
How do you deal with doing many tasks at once?