My Juggling Act

How do we do it? How do freelancers—and others– keep all of the (insert one) balls in the air, plates spinning, knives tossing?—whatever analogy you want to use. How do you manage your juggling act?

  • What tools do you use to keep yourself organized?
  • How do you pick up when something gets dropped, or a connection lost?

And, perhaps most the most important question, and one that we don’t consider often enough:

  • How do you take care of yourself so you don’t get burnt out—or worse—sick from trying to do too much?

These are questions we’ll be asking members over the next few weeks in our conversations with  the Freelance Writers’ Connection group I co-manage on LinkedIn. Please join the conversation, either in the group, here on this blog, or both.

How do you manage your juggling act? Here’s what I am trying to juggle right now:

  • reporting local events for  The Napanee Guide (my newest freelance gig)
  • freelance writing for magazines and journals
  • promoting and teaching writing workshops
  • being the Ontario regional director for the Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC)
  • helping to organize the professional development sessions at PWAC’s 2017 conference
  • leading or co-leading two fitness activities in my community

Don’t get me wrong. I love my work, and I’ve chosen to do this volunteer work with PWAC and other volunteer work in my community, which includes the fitness activities. I chose to be a group leader so that I make sure I show up!

I know—lots of people have a list as long as mine or longer. I didn’t even add in the personal stuff—time with my husband and friends, and keeping in touch with friends—not that those aren’t important, because they are very important—but while they should be at the top of the list, they often get put down to the bottom.

Lots of people juggle paid work, volunteer work, family time, etc. I am not complaining, and this list is in no way in the order of the importance of the people, and things in my life. I am lucky to have a husband who supports me in so many ways, and often helps with my work. I am lucky that we have sons who want to share their busy lives with us, and keep in touch. I am lucky to have good friends to spend time with, and keep in touch with online. I am lucky to have colleagues to share the challenges and frustrations of my work. I am lucky to have the opportunity to share the fitness activities I enjoy with others.

Like our Nordic Pole Walking Group, sponsored  by the L & A Seniors Outreach Services in Napanee. We are now 18 members strong, and will keep walking all winter! Some of these women join me in my “Strength and Stretch” group at the SOS. (Photo courtesy of Grace Vanderzande.) dscn0981

So how am I keeping all of this straight? I am trying to use my Google calendar more—mark everything down and add reminders. That calendar shows up on my phone and tablet too, so I have those devices to help keep me organized. Maybe there are other tips you can share on how you juggle the things in your life. One thing—that personal stuff that often gets put down to the bottom of the list—they are getting moved up.

This week, our social calendar is full with three events in a row—a meeting with other creative people in our community to find out about local arts and culture in the Town of Greater Napanee, and two concerts. So that will help balance out the work and get me away from the computer. If it sounds like I’m “all work and no play,” that is definitely not the case.

I just need to find ways to juggle the new paid work—the writing and the teaching—which I am thrilled to have—with all of the other things I’ve been doing, and want to keep doing.

I’ve been a freelance writer for almost 20 years, and I’ve done this juggling act before, so I know I will manage it better in the coming days, weeks and months than I have in the past month. I don’t know why it seems harder now. I’m not going to spend a lot of time trying to figure that out. I’m just going to get on with it, and I am secure in the knowledge that if a ball doesn’t get tossed, a plate doesn’t spin, or a knife doesn’t get tossed, my juggling act will still go on, and everything will get done when it needs to be done.

So, this week’s question: How do you take care of yourself when your life gets so busy that you’re on the go all the time?

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8 thoughts on “My Juggling Act

  1. I guess this is the biggest reason why I haven’t done any paid writing in a long time! Although I’d love to have the income, living the retired life sure cuts into writing time. 🙂 But once I find the time, I enjoy the work. I’m sure you will do just fine getting it all done since you are determined to keep going. The alternative is to retire.:)

  2. Hi Christine:

    Thanks for your post. I look back with appreciation for your leadership in the class. You did something important for me. My Juggling Act gives in to adapting as issues of one kind and another come up with the passing days. In weeks I’ll be 86. I just had a note from a friend, retired bishop who is in demand even on his time in Florida. Wow and he is 90.

    I still get some letters in the papers—about 1 in 3 that I write. Megan Balogh felt I did not continue to write stuff she could use. That’s the way life is. But I continue to write stuff—hey I may include something. I get occasional comments on my blog—one on the internet this evening.

    Thanks, Roy

    1. Thanks for your kinx words, Roy. You are definitely doing well with your juggling act. I am now filling in for Meghan, who is on maternity leave. Whether your letter would be run would not be my call, but I’d be happy to have a look at it and then send it on. Please keep writing. Cheers.

  3. I looked at my November calendar today and wonder how it will all fit in. I love being busy but sometimes I have to step back and say “No” to invitations or requests to “help out”. Stay healthy and have fun Christine.

    1. Our calendar is filling up too, Lillie, as well as my editorial calendar. I love being busy too, and especially picking up more of the work that I want to do. Saves on the chasing for work, which is nice.
      The Walking Group and the Strength & Stretch class help to keep me healthy–and sane.
      I really appreciate the support of friends like you.

      If your November calendar is filling up, I’m sure your December one will be even busier. It’s good to say “no” once in a while, and I hope you stay healthy and keep having fun too, Lillie.

  4. I can definitely relate to this post, Christine. I find there are never enough hours in a day! Like you, I have many volunteer roles that I fill, in addition to my freelancing work, event/speaking gigs, home responsibilities, and tasks relating to researching and marketing my books.

    My motto is this: As long as I get joy from the things I am involved with, I shall continue with them. When something seems to be too much like work, or worse than work, it is time to give it up and love in another direction. Life is far too short and so fill your time with things, activities, and people who give you joy.

    1. That is definitely a good motto, Doreen. I love being the local reporter again–something I did when we first moved to Napanee. It’s fun getting out and meeting folks in the community and learning about everything that keeps this a great place to live. I also love the fitness stuff I do, and some of those women have become good friends. We support each other and have fun together. The exercise almost seems secondary. Being the Ontario RD in PWAC is one thing that has slipped through the cracks recently, but I’ll get a better handle on it and start keeping in touch with folks again.

      Jim and I are going out to celebrate local arts and culture, and two music concerts this week. It was music that brought us together and getting out to enjoy some great Canadian talent celebrates that.

      All of this gives me joy, and when there is something that I’m doing that is no longer fun–yes, it will get dropped. As you say, life is too short not to be really enjoying what you are doing.

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