The art of prioritising

Long gone are the days when we were hunters or gatherers.
Today, we are colleagues and fathers and best friends and food bank volunteers and home owners and soccer coaches and who knows what else.
Roles and responsibilities are piling up, and so does the guilt associated with them.
When it is impossible to do everything, what do we do first?

Jennifer Lynn Barnes recounted a Q&A where someone asked Nora Roberts
how she balances writing and kids:

She replied that the key to juggling is to know that some balls you have in the air are made of plastic and some are made of glass.
You can drop a plastic ball and no harm is done. Drop a glass ball and it shatters.
So our priority will be knowing which balls are made out of glass and to catch those.
The balls aren’t just ‘work‘ or ‘family‘, each task within these categories gets a ball, like ‘Deadline on Project Y’ or ‘Fancy Dress Day at school’.

Some family stuff will be made out of glass and
some is plastic, and sometimes you have to
catch a glass work ball and drop a plastic family one, and that is ok.


Being a good parent or caretaker carries a lot of emotional weight.
Every family ball might feel like glass, and it is up to the family to know its specific circumstances.
If our work life balance is unhealthy, every work ball might feel like glass.
This analogy works great for time management, but overall parenting takes more.
Something like a piano recital might look like a plastic ball, but children might remember your absence for a life time. Clear communication with all family members is a must.

To see situations without bias, we need to heal any intergenerational trauma within us.
Acting out of shame or pity is never the right thing.

For so long, love and guilt were synonymous to me.
I showed up because I felt obligated to, but secretly hated every second of it.
Not only were people able to tell, but it also slowly ate me from the inside.
It’s a different matter for children than it is for toxic and abusive partners or parents of course.
In any case, seeking help from professionals and friends would be best if we can’t see straight.

“Do not keep so many things at priority
so that nothing is left as a priority at all.”
– Arjit Tamrakar

I love the spoon theory that symbolises how much energy we have to spent on activities.
Once you have cared for too many things, you’ve run out of spoons.
What do you spent your spoons on?
Do you act out of obligation or joy?
Are you present for most of the time, or going through the motions?

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