Global Leadership Speaker and Premier Work-Life Balance Speaker
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Drop the ball. All About Balance, Part III

Soon after Hard Won Wisdom was released, my insurance agent asked me to save her a signed copy. When I dropped it by her office, she thumbed through it and said, “Maybe this will show me how to juggle all these balls I have in the air.”

I looked at her and said, “The secret to juggling is to let some of the balls drop.”

Simple enough. In my last posting for this series, I talked about how important it is to know what matters most in your life. Once you have that list of what really counts, you will see that you are wasting time on activities and “pulls” that keep you from the things that really move your soul.

First, look at your calendar. How are you spending your time? How much time are you handing over to tasks and people that don’t hold value to you? It is really easy to hand over your time to obligations that are rather meaningless to your life.

I know that, because there was a time when I spent almost every lunch hour networking and trying to build my business. I thought it was necessary. A part of the job. But, I learned something. Time is too precious to hand over to people you don’t especially like or to waste on things you don’t especially want to do. I know how important it is to network. But, I got much, much smarter at it. Instead of doing five lunches a week, I devoted one-half of a day to it. I didn’t waste time driving downtown for lunch every day. I’d meet someone for breakfast, then someone for coffee, then drop by someone’s office, then do lunch. I would do a week’s worth of networking at once. And after awhile, I became much more discriminating about who I would even network. It is amazing how much time I had once I took control over that.

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You also have to be an expert at organizing yourself because there are a million distractions and “pulls” that will keep you from doing the things you really want or need to do. E-mail is a great example. What a great idea that was when it was first invented. Now, we get hundreds of them every day and have no time for our real work. It is absurdity. And then the cell phone. We used to have lives. Now we can be reached anytime, anywhere. We feel compelled to constantly check in to see what is happening. We don’t fully engage in conversations because we are trying to check the Blackberry or Treo out of the corners of our eyes.

We used to worry about balancing work and family demands. Now we can’t even balance ourselves.

It is because we have not realized that we have the power to set good boundaries that give us room to live and breathe. Who is more balanced, the person who checks e-mail while driving in traffic or the person who only checks e-mail once a day? The once-a-day person has set boundaries that create a healthy life.

Then there are those periods when everything is happening and there truly is no time to stop and take stock of anything. I know about this because the speaking industry has some peak seasons that can really exhaust me. One time, I was so stretched that I hadn’t had a day off in six weeks. I was tired and grumpy and one-dimensional. I took out my PDA and opened up my calendar. Two weeks out, there was a Friday with nothing scheduled. I wrote in the word “OFF.” And that is when I learned the secret that, if you block a day off like that, it does not exist. All of my appointments had to flow around it.

I do that all the time now — just keep a day for myself. It is healthy.

So, as you juggle so many balls in the air, realize that you are the one who decides what you are going to keep juggling and what you are going to drop. Stop killing yourself.

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