August 24, 2009

Mastering the Project Juggle

I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book. — Groucho Marx

We’re all jugglers. We all have many projects going simultaneously. Some of us are better jugglers than others.

How many projects do you have going on, right now?

One? Three? Eight? A couple dozen?

How about 50? That’s how many projects Thomas Edison had going at any given time. Astonishing, isn’t it? Yet he wasn’t a multitasker. On the contrary, he was an exceptionally focused individual.

What was Edison’s secret?

Thomas Edison’s Secret

Certainly he worked a lot — but no more so than any other entrepreneur running a thriving business. He possessed an active intelligence, of course. But Edison’s secret to managing so many projects at once was that he was a master juggler.

Remember the last time you watched a master juggler at work? I do. The man I saw juggled bowling pins, torches, watermelons, and chainsaws — at the same time! I was amazed at the skill required to perform such a feat. When I reflected on how the man was able to juggle such a mixed lot of objects, I observed three things:

  1. He was focused, yet relaxed.
  2. He was grounded and completely present in his body.
  3. All the objects he juggled moved in the same plane. Edison did precisely the same thing. The “plane” in which he juggled his projects was the process of invention and experimentation.

The key to mastering the juggle in your own life is to focus on what’s congruent for you. I work as a facilitator, coach, and information entrepreneur. For me, congruence comes from my focus on bringing out the best in people and organizations. As long as I work in that plane of focus, I can comfortably juggle quite a few projects.

I’m no Thomas Edison, but I don’t have to be. And neither do you.

How to Become a Master Juggler

To become a master juggler, keep yourself grounded, relaxed, nourished, and engaged. Here are some suggestions for doing so:

  • Do one thing at a time. Multitasking does not work. It does nothing more than support mediocrity and create a false sense of haste.
  • Practice complete presence in every moment. Be where your feet are and watch how powerful your focus becomes.
  • Eat regularly and well. Avoid foods with high fat and sugar content. Use caffeine moderately, if at all.
  • Get plenty of rest. Edison was a “napper” — he would take four-hour catnaps at different times of the day. He was as a result always rested and relaxed.
  • Eliminate the non-essential from your life.
  • Engage the minds of others through conversation and reading.
  • Get out and walk every day.
  • Avoid being a whirling dervish. Handle difficulties while they’re still easy.
  • Get some time alone to reflect and enjoy a bit of quiet each day.

Imagine now that you, too, are a master juggler. See yourself focused, in flow, and engaged. Like Edison, bring your full to what is before you in each moment.

Watch your life change for the better.

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