Thursday, February 24, 2011

How to Juggle Priorities

Juggling Three Priorities: Start with two priorities in one hand. If you're right-handed use that one, if you are a lefty, begin left-handed. Keep the remaining priority in the other hand.

  1. Start by throwing the priority in the front of your right hand in an arc to your left hand. We were called this priority #1.
  2. When priority #1 reaches the highest point, toss priority #2 (in your left hand) in an arc to your right hand. Catch priority #1 in your left hand.
  3. When priority #2 reaches its maximum height, toss priority #3 (in your right hand) and arc to your left hand and catch priority #2.
  4. Repeat this process. Try not to drop any of your priorities.

Please see the graph below.

You may have noticed a striking similarity between juggling priorities and juggling balls. Truth be told, they are more similar than one would expect.
Don't start with too many priorities. When learning to juggle objects, they teach us to start with just two, progress to three, and only attempt more when you've mastered three. Even the best jugglers in the world can only manage between seven and nine objects, and every one of them started with just a handful.
Concentrate intently on a single priority. As with juggling objects, the key is staying focused on just one of them. The other two are well in hand.
Transition from one priority to another smoothly. As with juggling objects, the key to success is the toss. A smooth transition between tossing one and catching another is critical.
Practice. Unfortunately, reading this article won't teach you how to juggle priorities or bean bags. Only practice teaches us this. Practice tossing catching, and if you drop one, pick it up and try again.
Focus on the pattern. With juggling it's not about being able to toss and catch expertly. The key with juggling is consistency. Work the pattern, or in the case of priorities, work the process until it becomes mechanical.
As your company grows, and you add more priorities to the mix, it becomes more difficult exponentially. Make sure you've mastered your current level of growth before moving forward.
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