The Juggling Act

Sometimes inspiration comes out of desperation.  It was just so this evening after a two hour marathon team call to review our consulting report for Strategy.  After discussing every matrix any consulting firm has ever developed, and evaluating not just our firm but every firm in the industry against these matrices, my eyes were crossing.  As we were wrapping up our call, my teammate Shaliz Afshar made sure to announce that finals were soon around the corner.  With only a week to go and so much to do for assignments, not to mention final plans for Russia, wrapping up Q2 at work, unpacking from India (which I’m ashamed to say still has not been completed), and all the other normal things like brushing one’s teeth I had to take a deep breath.  I might have shared an emoticon on Skype that portrayed my “uneasiness” as well.

It was in this moment that my sidekick Ravi Bansal popped online.  As each of us in the CCMBA program will attest, there is always that one person in the program that knows exactly what is going with you and can empathize with you so you don’t feel alone.  Here was my conversation with Ravi…and this is how I was inspired to write this blog post.

[5/30/2012 11:45:54 PM] Jordan Cathleen Lofton: bleh..i can’t believe finals are right here

[5/30/2012 11:45:57 PM] Jordan Cathleen Lofton: this is crazzzzyyy

[5/30/2012 11:46:12 PM] Ravi Bansal: i know

[5/30/2012 11:46:44 PM] Ravi Bansal: i have stopped looking at finance i need to start looking at it again but just need to get my dumb part in strategy done

 [5/30/2012 11:47:04 PM] Jordan Cathleen Lofton: i feel like a juggler

[5/30/2012 11:47:28 PM] Jordan Cathleen Lofton: if i can just toss this ball high enough in the air i can catch the next ball and then toss it up and so forth

Of course I am a nerd so I had to look up juggling and find out how it is done.  As if somehow learning to juggle balls would help me juggle responsibility.  It was this YouTube video that caught my eye and not only made me laugh, but think that there might be some practical applications for what we’re going through with juggling the CCMBA.

First watch Charlie then keep reading.  :)

YouTube Preview Image

So as you can see there is a process to learn how to juggle.  It doesn’t happen overnight.  On day one Charlie could barely even catch one ball going hand to hand, but after 8 days of practice and slowly increasing the difficulty Charlie developed a rhythm.

Not surprisingly experts say this same process of “learning to juggle” happens with juggling tasks.

  • Step 1 - Selecting the Right Things to Juggle – before you even begin you have to actually understand what the tasks are you’re about to manage and in some way determine their priority to you.  You don’t have to pick up every task, like unpacking for instance, you just have to juggle the most important ones.
  • Step 2 - Start With Only One – Just as Charlie started with only one ball and practiced tossing it from left to right, experts say that’s how you begin to juggle responsibilities.  By focusing on just one task or project you’re able to learn the rhythm of catching, throwing, and shuffling that is necessary to juggle.  Sooner or later it starts to feel like a well-oiled machine.  Looking back on it, that feels like what work was before I was in the CCMBA program.  I learned how to juggle work really well.
  • Step 3 - Add In Another Task- Now that there is a good balance going on you can add another task or project.  The goal is to move seamlessly from one task to the other without missing a beat.  Work and school, school and work, work and school, school and work….School….ooops work dropped….I’ve felt a lot like Charlie in the Day 2 section.
  • Step 4 – Full Blown Multi-Tasking – Now you’re ready for the biggest test of all….life, work, school.  The trifecta of juggling acts.  In this perfect balance all of your scores are SPs, you earn the promotion at work, and every single person in your family and all of your friends see you as much as they so desire.  Oh yes, and the bags from India are unpacked.  As you can tell I’ve progressed to attempt Step 3 (barely) at this portion of the program.

With that said, I head off to bed past midnight, awaiting my alarm clock, morning rush hour traffic and perfectly scheduled 9am meeting.

To quote Charlie, “Challenge completed.  I can juggle.  Gesticulation.  Awkward ending.  The end.”

 

And then there was one.

Valuation Final Exam - 12 hours of Pain remains

I had a multi-country conference call today to present the team’s Strategy Implementation final project…which leaves just my Valuation final between me and the Duke MBA goal line.  Finished or otherwise, the final has a 12-hour time limit, which means by Friday night I will be free at last.

See you in Hell, free cash flow models!