Struggle versus Juggle

Life is insane sometimes. I tend to make it worse by biting off more than I can chew. I like to accomplish. You could almost say that I’m motivated by pure accomplishment. It doesn’t often matter what I’m doing, as long as I can accomplish something through it. That feeling gives me a rush. If it mattered and I accomplished it, I feel complete.

Unfortunately, my biggest challenge is managing all of my projects and priorities. I’m a full time student, a husband, president of my campus’s advertising club, and the soon-to-be founder of a student run advertising project group. I also used to sell advertising for the student newspaper, and I was a lifeguard at the local city pools. There’s always a lot going on inside my brain, and I often lose track of it all. My desk often looks like it was attacked by post-its, and my inbox pushes forty if I leave it alone for a day.

Being a student complicates things a little bit. Contrary to the one piece of productivity advice that I hear everyone recommend (and that I completely agree with), I spend two full days doing nothing except gather information. I check emails constantly because of assignments and class announcement and I’m listening to presentations all day for two full days a week. It’s hard to get things going when a large portion of my week is spent listening and having things handed to me to do. It’s really hard to start a project at 5 p.m., but if I don’t, I waste an entire day—usually because I forget about everything. It’s a constant struggle to keep on top of things. Plus the deadlines.

It’s bad. I had to quit a job because of the massive amounts of stuff that kept piling on top of me. I got to the point where I just couldn’t dig out. My inbox reached 370 unread messages in just over a week. I shut down. I had been desperately looking for a system that would help me juggle all my projects, but I didn’t find one in time. I dropped all of it.

We really have a tendency to try to juggle too much. We keep adding more stuff until we just can’t take it any more. I think we—but maybe just I personally—feel like we struggling is a sign of success. The more we do, the more valuable we are. But the struggle won’t last long before it starts to crush you. That’s been my life in the last few weeks.

Now I’m back and trying to pick up everything that I can, adding one thing at a time. It’s a constant balancing act—struggle versus juggle. I can accomplish so much by juggling, but struggling under the weight isn’t healthy. I’m on a journey to find the best method for juggling as much as possible without struggling to keep up. I don’t want to be forced to drop it all and start over again.

I’m going to write more over the next few weeks, focusing mainly on productivity, balance, and staying focused. I’ve learned a lot about various systems, tried out a lot of apps for all of my devices, and reorganized my workspaces more times than I want to admit. I figure sharing some of my experiences might help someone else. Check back soon, and if you don’t see another post in a reasonable about of time, remind me, because I’m probably buried under post-its and emails again.

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