Juggling elephants | submitted by Susan Thomson

What do you do when your life feels like a three-ring circus? Plenty according to Juggling Elephants authors Jones Loflin and Todd Musig. Their story is a simple one, and incredibly valuable for anyone who’s trying to stuff 36 hours into a 24-hour day. Here are my big takeaways:

1. The result of juggling elephants is that no one, least of all you, is happy with the performance. Think about it – you don’t prepare properly for a big sales meeting because you’re in a hurry, you’re late to your kid’s soccer game (again), and you’ve put on 10 pounds because you’re skipping workouts. Nobody wins here.

2. There are three rings in your circus. Work, relationships, and self. And all three rings need attention.

3. The ringmaster has the greatest impact on the success of the show. That’d be you, the leader of your world.

4. The ringmaster cannot be in all three rings at once. Can you say "guilt"? When you’re stressed out about work, you are no fun to be around – especially at the dinner table. When you skip the gym to do work or family stuff, you resent it. When you’re fielding phone calls from the kids during the day, you’re not being productive at work. Understand which ring you should be in right now, and stay in that ring until it’s time for the next act.

5. The key to success is quality acts in all three rings. If there’s something on your to-do list that’s not worthy of your full attention – that means it’s not going to make you more money, bring you more fulfillment, better your relationships, or make you a healthier, happier you – it’s not worthy of being in your circus.

6. Intermission is essential for a great performance. Think of a non-stop action-packed movie that leaves you tense because you haven’t breathed for the last three hours. We need to be able to slow down, reflect, and enjoy the moment – to enjoy the show. So where are you building downtime into your schedule? Where’s the next long weekend?

So what’s your three-ring circus like? What habits have you cultivated that let your 24 hours stay 24?

Susan Thomson is a partner and licensed business coach at ActionCOACH.

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