07 Jun Juggling Your Many Roles in Life
Most adults today have to routinely juggle multiple roles. These roles can include: life partner, parent, employee or boss, family member, friend, mentor, volunteer, and let’s not forget the role of managing your own self care and downtime. Studies show that the majority of us find it challenging to stay on top of all the tasks that come along with these life roles. Feeling overwhelmed by all of these responsibilities can make it a struggle to concentrate and can eventually lead to burnout. Today more than ever, people are looking to improve their organizational skills in order to feel more confident in keeping all their “balls in the air.” If that sounds like you, here are our top tips and strategies for juggling the many roles in your life.
Because many of the life roles that people have to play are interconnected it makes it very difficult to prioritize by role alone. For instance, if you neglect your work or even your own self care needs like sleep and exercise, it is going to make it much more difficult to take care of your family. So instead of just prioritizing roles, regularly prioritize your tasks within each of your roles. Artful Agenda makes it easy to prioritize your tasks by simply dragging and dropping them in the Day view into the task box and order that you want. Someone once said “The trick to juggling is determining which balls are made of rubber and which ones are made of glass.” Some work tasks like a project deadline are made of glass whereas some family tasks like baking homemade cupcakes for your daughter’s class party are plastic. Inevitably you will need to drop a plastic family ball to catch a glass work one, and that is okay!
Determine what tasks are needed for you to consider each of your roles successful and decide where they will fit into the 168 hours you have each week. When you do this you can identify where conflicts exist and you can figure out how to manage it ahead of time. It is a good idea to involve others in this process such as your partner, kids, or colleagues if one of your roles is currently having to take priority such as an important Monday morning deadline or a sick family member. That way they will be less likely to feel slighted by how your time together will be affected and reassured that soon you will return to the role that is important to them.
To-do lists are key to a successful plan, but how you make them can either set you up for success or overwhelm you. One long list of every task you need to do is unmanageable. By putting only what must be done today on your task lists in the Day view in Artful Agenda and keeping all the rest on a categorized master list in the Lists tab or on your Weekly Goals list will help you focus on today’s important and urgent tasks. Once those tasks are completed and you still have time then you can see what can be accomplished from your weekly goals. Another strategy is to rename each of the task lists in the day view to correspond to the top roles you are managing.
In today’s digital world where so many of our tasks can be performed anywhere and at any time, boundaries have become blurred more than ever. But successfully managing your boundaries doesn’t necessarily mean complete segregation of all of your roles. Research indicates the key to minimizing conflict and stress is the ability to manage the boundaries based on your personal preference. A person who prefers a firm boundary line may want to toggle their work calendar off from view in their Artful Agenda after 5pm and on weekends and keep their personal phone off their desk during work hours. Someone who doesn’t mind integrating them may consider answering work emails while waiting in the after school pick up line, or talking to a friend on speaker phone while preparing dinner for their family.
Another vital aspect of setting boundaries is learning to say “no” without guilt. You don’t have to chaperone every class field trip, answer every email, or accept every invitation. Nobody wants to feel like they are letting people down, but by saying “yes” to one person you are likely going to disappoint someone else. By politely saying “no” with a smile and without excuses and then offering an alternative solution when possible, others will respect you and understand that this is part of your sensible time management system.
Interruptions and distractions can easily derail your concentration and productivity. Whether you are trying to focus on a project or just want to be 100% present in mom mode, there are always people, notifications, and random thoughts interrupting you. The problem with these distractions is that research shows it typically takes 25 minutes to get back to an interrupted task. Learning to manage interruptions is a skill that takes practice, but it is so worth it! First, turn off phone notifications and have rules around checking email, social media, or other distracting websites. Second, keep a centralized place such as a ‘Brain Dump’ list in your Artful Agenda to jot down the request of every knock at your door or phone call, or any brilliant idea you don’t want to lose while you are trying to stay focused on the activity at hand. Although we live in a ‘right now’ culture, most of our interruptions can be dealt with within a few hours. Just don’t forget to write them down!
By giving others the opportunity to learn, grow, and shine, as well as the joy of helping others, delegating certain responsibilities will lessen your load and free up your energy for the tasks that only you can do. Getting help can go beyond delegation and asking for favors, it can include mutually beneficial arrangements with others where you batch tasks. For example, two moms can take turns picking up all their kids from school while the other mom makes dinner for both families. Just make sure to set up a shared calendar with anyone you are alternating duties with so that everyone stays on the same page.
You can also get help by taking advantage of many of the conveniences of the modern world. Instead of spending hours grocery shopping, let others do the legwork for you by ordering online and picking up curbside on your way home. Buying pre cut vegetables, or pre assembled meals that can be popped in the oven can mean the difference between a home cooked meal or another drive-thru dinner. Utilizing technology to your advantage such as using a digital planner like Artful Agenda means you can have access to what you need to juggle your many roles whenever and wherever you need them.
Overall, you need to manage your many roles in life based on your own personal values, energy, expectations, and resources. Remember that nobody juggles all these roles perfectly, and even experienced jugglers drop the ball from time to time!