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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Jack of Spades

The NCAA basketball tournament has started. This is the time of year commonly referred to as March Madness. For those of you who are not basketball fans, the term "madness" refers to the buzzer beaters, upsets, and overall unpredictability of the games. It is exciting to watch and pull for the underdogs, or Cinderella teams.
The student athletes play at such a high level to win and advance to the next round. The commentators usually provide interesting human interest background stories on some of the players to highlight how these young people balance school, basketball, and life.

This week we will use the Jack of Spades to illustrate how all of us juggle multiple roles and responsibilities in our everyday lives. What are some of the functions that you fulfill regularly? Are you a spouse, parent, child, sibling, employee, employer, friend, mentor, teacher, or student? How do you keep all of the balls in the air at once without letting anything hit the ground? A better question might be what do you do when one position seems to consume all of your time and the other areas do not receive adequate attention.

Deal the Jack of Spades to someone to let them know it is okay to take the time to catch their breath and periodically ease their pace. Let's use J.U.G.G.L.E.R as an acronym for a process to help balance competing priorities.

J = Judge the impact and connectivity of all of the balls you have in the air. Determine how all of the pieces fit together and support each other. This will help you develop a rhythm and routine to maintain balance in your life.

U = Understand the principle of delegation. You do not have to do everything. Build a support system and use it. While it may be true that no one will do things the way you would do them, give others a chance to help you. They will get better at any task if provided the opportunity to do it repeatedly.

G = Give yourself permission to consider your needs, aspirations, and limitations. If you constantly take care of everyone else and never replenish your supply closet, then your ability to multitask is compromised. Make an effort to maintain your mental, spiritual, and physical health.

G = Get an accurate picture of your daily, weekly, and monthly inputs and outputs. Correct information is key to proper planning and execution of your integrated deliverables.

L = Learn the difference between important, essential, and urgent. Important things matter and need to be done. They are often predecessors to other activities. However, sometimes there is flexibility that will allow these items to be completed at a later date. Essential tasks must be done in order to maintain the order that serves as the foundation of your master plan. They usually have a direct impact on the front page and the bottome line. Urgent items are driven by timing and failure to address them can disrupt the entire flow. It is important and essential to remember that everything is not urgent.

E = Educate yourself to find the best strategies to meet your obligations. As you continually grow and develop, there will be opportunities to explore new and improved approaches to constant challenges.

R = Remember to regularly do the j-u-g-g-l-e steps mentioned above in order to reassess your approach, renegotiate your service terms, and rotate your assignments as needed.

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