Managing Multiple Demands – Lessons from Dodgeball

One of my favorite games to play as a child was dodgeball. When I played, I was always one of the last people standing. I was particularly good at catching a ball thrown at me (as opposed to avoiding it all together), which meant the thrower would have to exit the game. However, when more than one ball was thrown at me at the same time, my ego often got the best of me and, instead of dodging, I would attempt to catch them all – normally failed. Now it was my turn to exit the game.

In my adult years, I have occasionally seen ads for dodgeball tournaments or leagues. While I’m always tempted to sign up, given my concussion, that would not be wise. As such, I can only relive the joy of the game in my memories.

In the last month or so, I have been playing a more modern version of “dodgeball” because of the increasing amount of tasks competing for my attention. There are multiple projects that need to be finished, and even more people who need to connect with me so they can do their own work.

For a while, I attempted to catch all the “balls” at the same time which, just like in the dodgeball games of my youth, did not work out well. Instead of getting things done, I was merely putting out one fire and then moving on to another. This approach was clearly not sustainable.

Catching multiple balls at the same time rarely works in dodgeball, let alone at work.

About a week ago, I developed a plan to focus my attention – I am carving out time to only concentrate on one project or issue. I do still allow for some flexibility to put out fires, but it’s on my terms. Sometimes I am simply not available, out of the office, or my door is literally shut so that I can focus on whatever project I’ve scheduled for that time. It’s amazing how much more productive I am, and that I’m finishing tasks at a quicker pace than before.

If you are struggling with managing multiple demands, I encourage you to set aside time to focus on a single project or task. Catching multiple balls at the same time rarely works in dodgeball, let alone at work.


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Randy Grieser, Author & Speaker

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