Spinning Plates is All About Wiggling Sticks

If, amidst your busy, multi-tasking lifestyle you ever feel like a circus act, spinning plates amongst the sound of china smashing, hold on a second. I have some ideas.

You’ve seen the professionals do it in the variety acts or at the circus. Well they may be skilled but I reckon that as a mum with a business, my plates feel very precious.

If a circus performer drops a few too many plates he shrugs his shoulders and buys more plates. Unless you are Joel Hatton from Blackpool. Joel works with Gerry Cottle’s circus and complains he can’t get enough replacement plates, despite the number of charity shops he visits in the town. OK, maybe he isn’t any good (I thought the object of the exercise was not to drop and smash the plates) but he got me thinking about the real value of the plates we spin in the air.

No, I identify more with Amy Hunter. Amy is a mother of countless number of children, who, when challenged by her 9 year old who, after he watched a plate spinner on TV, told his mother that he thought it looked hard. When Amy claimed that this is what she does all the time, her young son said “Mum. You. Can’t. Spin. Plates. You can’t even juggle.”

Want to bet.  Being a mother of three children of different ages, with different needs means I have to juggle with their priorities as well as my own. None of them, especially the one year old, would take kindly to being dropped on the floor. My plates are more precious than those I can buy at a charity shop to entertain an audience.

So when it comes to home, personal life and business – how do we get everything done and appear to be in control. How do you create a work life balance?

Great insight from Jen Slaw but anyway, back to plates.

How Many Plates Can I Reasonably Spin?

According to Wikipedia, The Guinness World Record for spinning multiple plates is held by David Spathaky, assisted by Debbie Woolley, who spun 108 plates simultaneously in Bangkok, Thailand, on television in 1996. He had previously held and broken his own record four times since 1986.

We only have so many hours in the day and we need to give up on the idea of managing time. We can’t. However, we can determine priorities and choose the time we have on the priorities we establish. Priorities are key.

Busy Doing What, Going Where? 

Notice the professional plate spinners do not attempt to put twelve plates in the air at once. They have a strategy that works.  First, they focus on getting things going and once they have a plate in a stable state, they are able to start on another. We can sometimes underestimate how much effort it takes to get a project started but we need to look for a point when the project has a momentum all of its own or with minimal personal attention.

I always wonder about those people who tell me they’re busy when I ask the question ‘how are things?’. ‘Busy doing what, going where?’ What is the end result of busy – and is it serving your long term plans? Back to priorities.

Am I Spinning The Right Plates?

You may think this is back to priorities but in my experience, when people start to list their priorities, they list work or family priorities first and don’t get much further than that. How about your personal priorities? Your dreams, your ambitions. OK, you may feel you have to put them ‘on hold’ to raise a family, but do you? How about an ambition to give up work altogether so you can enjoy more time with your family. If that is an ambition the first priority must be to make it a priority and to make time to work on it. Yes, you may need to think ‘outside of the box’ and you may need the help of others to consider how you might, over time, engineer this, but surely this is time well spent. Make your dreams a priority, however ambitious they are.

Ask for Help

For some people there’s a thrill in being able to juggle plates. It appeals to one’s self worth but I can’t imagine any serious business person doing everything personally.  Know when to ask for help and it can be something as simple as calling a reliable personal assistant (PA).  They are normally expert at juggling plates – perhaps some of yours.

Wiggling Sticks

You may wonder if you can let  some Plates Fall? Of course you can. Some projects and ideas look great on paper but after a while they don’t look so clever in reality. Knowing when to give up on a project is important. Plate spinners ‘Wiggle Sticks’ but if the occasional plate needs a disproportionate amount of time wiggling, then maybe it’s time to let it drop. Your time is precious and priorities change.

When a plate or project becomes too much like hard work and no fun, maybe it’s the universe telling you something. We need to recognise when to give up on something that no longer serves us. Including time consuming, non appreciative, negative, or no fun clients who sap our energy.

Now, I feel better already. Sometimes the sound of breaking china can be therapeutic.

SPINNING PLATES.
PLATE SPINNING. A CIRCUS TRICK INVOLVING ABOUT A DOZEN SPINNING PLATES ON THE END OF POLES. THE PERFORMER HAS TO KEEP ALL THE PLATES SPINNING BECAUSE IF ANY ONE OF THE PLATES SLOWS DOWN TOO MUCH, IT’S GOING TO FALL OFF THE POLE AND SMASH INTO PIECES.

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