I recently stumbled across a beautiful analogy from best-selling author Nora Roberts on balancing work and family and other important things in life.
She talked about how, when you’re busy, you feel like you have a lot of balls in the air.
This isn’t normal juggling, where you manage three balls or maybe five, if you’re really good.
If you have a home and work and family and friends and hobbies, you likely have dozens of balls you’re juggling at any one time.
It can be impossible to keep them all in the air. And that’s okay!
Sometimes it’s okay to drop a ball or two.
The trick, Nora said, is knowing which balls are plastic and which are glass.
For example, if you find yourself up against an important deadline for a client and you don’t have time to pack your child a lunch that day, it’s totally fine to slip them a five-dollar bill and tell them to buy their lunch. You may look at that as a dropped ball, but it’s a plastic ball. It bounces — so there’s no real harm done when you drop it. You can just pick it up later and add it back to the mix. If you miss the deadline, though, that can be a glass ball… one with real repercussions if it hits the floor.
Or, you may have your grandmother’s 95th birthday to attend to — a glass ball, for sure. If getting there means you don’t zero out your inbox before the end of the day, that’s an okay ball to let fall.
I love this analogy because it recognizes that for each important relationship or role in our life, we’re often handling multiple things at a time. Being a parent isn’t a single thing — it’s a bazillion things, not all equally important. You don’t have to be perfect at it. You can drop the ball sometimes… you just need to know which balls you can’t drop.
Same thing with work. Being a web writer isn’t a single ball you keep in the air. It’s lots and lots. And some of them matter more than others. Those are the ones to keep your eye on.
So next time you feel overly busy and unsure how you’re to take care of everything you’re trying to juggle, ask yourself, “Which of these balls can I drop?” You’ll probably be able to identify quite a few, and that will help you focus on the things that really need your attention.
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That’s all for now. Make it a great week!