Mental Health Monday–Juggling

For the past several months, I’ve been stressed out (more than usual) with the house, various work projects, and writing. “Only” three arenas, but each one is mushrooming like a nuclear blast cloud blossoming with activity and responsibilities. The deeper I delve into each “project,” the more work there is to be done. As soon as one deadline is met, sixteen others pop up behind it.

I’m never “caught up.”

I never get to let out the relaxing sigh of, “Ah, I did it. Now it’s time to kick back and slack off.”

How did this happen? When did I get *this* busy?

I don’t know.

A theory: I’ve been *this* busy all along, but my mind has never been this divided between equally important things. For instance, when I was in med school, my primary focus was, well, med school. Yeah, I studied for 12-16 hours a day, but I didn’t have other things demanding just as much time, so it worked pretty well. Same for residency.

Then the writing bug hit (2+ years ago now). But I could handle it. The day job was more reasonable (9-10 hours M-F, with some evenings and weekend call days, but not as bad as residency), so I could write in the evenings and/or on weekends.

Add blogging to that. And other forms of social media. Critiquing. Beta reading.

Then, nine months ago, I found The House. Even if I wasn’t physically involved in something house related, my mind certainly was occupied with it and the catastrophes issues involved with purchasing a foreclosed fixer-upper.

I. Ran. Out. Of. Time.

No matter how I figured it, there wasn’t enough hours in the day to fit it all in.

I had to let something go.

My life is still a WIP, but here’s some thoughts/tips I considered useful in juggling things around to maintain some sort of sanity:

  • Take it one day at a time.
  • Realize I can’t get everything done and that’s okay.
  • Prioritize based on which deadlines are most pressing.
  • Tackle tasks in manageable pieces.
  • Accept the fact that it’s okay to let something go for a while with the understanding that I can (AND WILL!) get back to it later.
  • Stop fighting the clock (because it will win).
  • Despite the rush and amount of work, I take breaks.
  • Remember to laugh (humor is a mature defense mechanism–yes, that’s the technical term–and it is FANTASTIC!).

So, dear friends, what’s your strategy when you’ve juggling too many balls?

Be sure to check out Lydia’s Medical Monday post as well as Sarah’s psychology related post!

21 comments on “Mental Health Monday–Juggling

  1. Jessica Bell says:

    Great tips. I certainly have been in the same boat as you lately. And I just had to accept that there is no way I can do EVERYTHING I want to do. Some things just have to be left for another time :o( UNFORTUNATELY.

  2. I juggle all my balls really well–that didn’t sound right–while I’m under stress. But, as soon as a deadline is over, or my schedule clears, I crash. Like several days of sleeping and sensory download. It’s not that healthy, but I know that if I try to buck my system, I’m a scattered twit.

  3. Vicki Tremper says:

    Oh, I sympathize, Laura. As long as the house might take, at least it will be more or less done at some point and you can have those daily hours back in your life.

    My philosophy is that it takes one bite at a time to eat an elephant (I know, ew). That’s what I try to remind myself when I’m overwhelmed. Of course it doesn’t keep me from being all cranky with my family, but luckily they still love me, no matter what.

  4. Kendall Grey says:

    These are all great strategies for dealing with Life (TM). My life has recently gone from “Gee, I don’t have much to do today” to “I am so FUBARed, it’s not even funny.” The thing I learned to do is set goals for myself. I hate goals. I think they suck. BUT, I found that they actually work for me. Who knew?

    In addition to preparing to self-publish my trilogy, *writing* my trilogy, often playing single mom for 3 adorable (demonspawn) children, and (poorly) maintaining our home, I have an editing gig that takes more of my time than anything else. I figured out that if I set *chapter* goals (get through x number of chapters a day), I have far fewer freak-outs and more time in the end for the other things that need my attention.

  5. ciara knight says:

    I’m glad you’ve found balance. I’ve been slipping a little more behind each day, but I keep trudging along. πŸ™‚ Great tips! Good luck with keeping the balance.

  6. Whew, I’m tired just reading your post. Yet, here I am, enjoying one my many computer diversions – your blog! I think we are all a little ADD (take out the garbage, but first I’ll run the dishwasher, but first a snack, now answer the phone, did I put on deodorant?, I should check my email while I’m in the sunroom, but first pick up a few things in here…) ACK – then the end of the day comes and I never took out the garbage πŸ™‚ Good luck multitasking everyone – cherish every small success! My Austrian grandmother always said “My house will be clean and perfect when I’m dead.” She never stressed about it. Have a great day everyone!

  7. Lydia K says:

    Luckily the house will not always be the center of your attention. I hope it goes smoothly and you get some of your “other” life back!

    If I were in your shoes, I’d be grumpy all the time from not having time to write. You are handling it better than I would.

  8. Linda Gray says:

    I don’t think we can overestimate the significance of dealing with house-fixing, from structural to decorative. It’s HUGE, both emotionally and in terms of demands on time. It’s our home, after all. The great thing is, when it’s done (or close), you really do get that sigh of relief and joy and the pleasure of more hours in your day for other things. I especially love your suggestion to laugh. Wow, that is a great one!! Thanks.

  9. I try to listen to the internal nag that attempts to define what is or is not important or worthwhile. Choose this, walk away from that. Unfortunately, I often override the nag and suffer the consequences. Sometimes even the nag is overwhelmed by real demands and succumbs to chaos. Then I strive to make a list and make my way back to sanity. It ain’t easy.

  10. My life is still a WIP too (Love that!!) and I love the Humor is a Mature Defense Mechanism. That is so awesome! you oughta copyright that!

    When I get overwhelmed, I escape with a good book. I can temporarily forget all my responsibilities. When I’m done I’m usually refreshed to take them all on again. Sometimes though the book catches me off-guard and leaves me in a worse spot!

  11. My heart goes out to you. I’ve been there. It’s toxic.

    Prioritizing is a starting place for me. If that doesn’t work, then I begin questioning what I need to eliminate or reduce. Blessings to you, Laura…

  12. Sometimes it’s tough to find a balance, but sounds like you’re on the right track. It’s okay to put things on hold, just like you said. It helps keep our sanity.

  13. Donna Hole says:

    I celebrate each deed clear off my schedule – either at the day job, the blogs, the writing or the kids. Sometimes I pretend there is nothing pressing and have an ice cream break. πŸ™‚

    Knowing I can’t get it all done in one day is usually a good tip for myself to remember.


  14. Kari Marie says:

    I revel in the small stuff and try not to overwhelm myself with the big picture. Like you mentioned small chunks are more manageable. And, when I’m done with each one there’s frosting.

  15. So you’re fixing up a house? No wonder you’re stressed. That is a huge project. I hope you find your balance.

  16. Carol Riggs says:

    Yep, you certainly have a LOT going on! Major stuff. Yeah, don’t beat yourself up trying to get everything done; you have a good attitude about it. πŸ™‚ And laughing is the best thing, to keep your sense of humor. I like that you said your life is a WiP. Great analogy!

  17. lenny lee says:

    hi miss dr laura! wow for sure you got a lotta juggling to do. you gotta be carful all those balls dont get out of control and fall down and bonk you on your head. all those helps you said for not going crazy are just real cool. for me that first one is best mostly cause you cant never know if your even gonna be here on the next day. im just real happy now you got a way to not let all those balls fall.
    …big smile from lenny πŸ™‚

  18. Well,

    I loved the lines “My life is WIP” … it is cool!!!!

    Your strategy about handling all the balls (in your juggle) is cool!!! I think I should take a leaf or two out of them!!

  19. Paul Greci says:

    My strategy is to try to take one thing at a time and devote my attention to it. Definitely a work in progress!!

  20. Talli Roland says:

    Those are fantastic tips, and I’ve certainly felt the same way. I’m with Jessica – I’ve had to let some things go and accept I just can’t do everything.

  21. Danyelle says:


    I hear you, Laura. For me, it’s a matter of prioritizing. There are some things I love like blogging and social networking, but they are also the first things I drop when I’ve got too many balls in the air. πŸ™‚ Best of luck with your house!

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