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Hectic world requires skilled juggling act

Have you ever been to the circus or a carnival to see a really good juggler? Everything goes up, up and up, spinning perfectly and never hitting the ground.

Bowling pins? Check. Basketballs? No problem. Swords? Sure. Chainsaws? Not even a problem.

If only we were all that good at juggling the things going on in our lives.

Attend any professional development seminar in the world and you will hear the two words that strike fear in many: Time management.

Every speaker or trainer will offer tips about how to take your day, your job or your life and convert it into neat little 30-minute packages.

Often, these lessons are both infuriating and enlightening at the same time.

Many of the suggestions sound good on paper but fall apart when the real world starts intruding. Other methods are solid approaches that can truly make a difference.

I struggle with this challenge daily.

It is clear to me that time management is an important thing in our busy worlds. It really doesn’t matter if you are a rocket scientist or a part-time couch potato. Finding time to do what you need to do personally and professionally is vital to success and even a healthy life.

Stress is hard on the human body. It can break it down and cause a myriad of problems.

I would recommend that anyone who is feeling a little overwhelmed at their job or at home consider spending some effort focused on time management.

While I won’t bore you with all the details, nearly every good time management system focuses on some level of prioritizing what you do every day.

Sound easy? It really isn’t.

A good first step would be to create an activity log that quantifies exactly where your time is going. That can be an eye-opening experience.

Often times people are amazed at how they spend their time and how it takes three times longer to do some things.

Once this is completed, it would be smart to place these things in particular priority categories.

Some may even fall in the “not important” class and should just be eliminated completely.

Others will be of moderate priority and others will a high priority.

Most will be reoccurring events that can be easily categorized.

The real challenge is to have the self discipline to stick with the routine and not allow yours or other people’s proverbial fires to burn your plan to the ground.

Everyone should leave ample time to address things that might pop up.

Once this has been addressed many people are truly amazed at how much better they feel because they have regained control of their job or their life.

The lack of control or feelings of being overwhelmed can be very damaging both emotionally and physically.

But it is important to realize that time management isn’t a finite process you can do just once and then you are done.

For it to continue to work well you have to re-evaluate it about every three months or so to see if your situation has changed.

Overall, the goal is to work smarter, not harder, in your personal life and your professional one.

Thomas Edison once said that, “Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.”

Managing my time is something that I work on constantly and know others face similar changes.

The key is likely to just like juggling: Keep tossing it up there and do your best to keep them all going. One might hit the ground every once in awhile but even the best jugglers have to keep practicing.

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at mike.caldwell@irontontribune.com.