I tend to laugh when someone says the word ‘balance.’ “How do you balance work and personal obligations?” seems like a common question, like there is some secret we’re all searching for. One day we’ll discover in some dusty booby-trapped cave the answer to managing working out in the morning, getting the kids to school, walking the dog, checking off all the to-do lists at work, eating a healthy lunch, remembering all your appointments, prepping a delicious dinner, and taking some self-care in the evenings, all while looking perfectly put-together. Getting the dishes done and the load of laundry that you clearly didn’t forget about in the washer, cap off your day. Oh, yeah, plan a date night and call your mom, too. (I think just reading that list gave me more anxiety!) We all are expected to take on more – organizing, planning, nurturing – all while having a career, and right now, dealing with extra stress due to the pandemic, political climate, and unrest in our country.
I recently read an answer to this age-old question, which may be the secret we’ve all been looking for: “The key to juggling is to know that some of the balls you have in the air are made of plastic and some are made of glass.”
The balls are not ‘work’ or ‘family,’ but every little thing you have to do that day. You’re not balancing three balls, but 45. Healthy breakfast may drop today because a frozen waffle allows you to prioritize getting a longer walk in with your dog. A work email is a plastic ball that can be picked up tomorrow because helping a coworker with her project is more important. You can’t drop dinner tonight but doing the dishes can wait until tomorrow. You’ll inevitable drop a few balls each day, but it’s more important to catch a glass ball. Let a plastic one go. It will either bounce and you can pick it up tomorrow, or you can leave it behind. It will be okay.
I challenge you to take a few minutes in the morning to think through your day, categorizing your tasks by either glass or plastic balls. Which tasks can you drop today to allow you to prioritize the glass balls? Are there any you can delegate to others and cut yourself some slack? Which balls are you juggling just because you feel guilty or pressured to keep them in the air? Drop them. Move on.
My answer if someone asks how I’m balancing everything: I don’t. I try to prioritize what’s important today, I ask for help, I drop a lot, and I give myself grace. You can too.