I was at Pier 39 in San Francisco and came upon a juggler. He was juggling three balls.

Then out of nowhere another ball appeared, then between juggling the now four balls, he reached into his shirt and added yet another.

I watched as he juggled the five balls and thought, “What an amazing talent.” THEN…

He added the sixth ball.

Six ball in the air, as they swirled with perfect precision only touching his hands for a millisecond rotating in their magical and rhythmic form.

As I watched, I became mesmerized by the balls.

I saw the balls as the many things entrepreneurs and small business owners are juggling at one time (hopefully not in this order): Ball 1 – sales and marketing, Ball 2– compliance, Ball 3– employees , Ball 4 – development, Ball 5– finances, Ball 6 – new business ventures, Ball 7 – Family, and I know there are more.

The juggler was able to effectively keep six balls in the air, and his full concentration was on those balls.

I wondered, how many balls can one person effectively juggle?

I looked it up and apparently there are people who, according to Juggling.org, can juggle up to eleven balls–but only for a few seconds.

The other thing I learned is, there is a science to juggling.

So, what is the science to juggling your many activities?

People who effectively juggle multiple activities have a few things in common:

  1. They plan their day and their activities.
  2. They focus on what is important. I love Stephen Covey’s time management quadrant that looks at what is important vs. what is urgent.
  3. They do what they do well and have other people do the other things. If you have the money, hire an assistant or exchange services with someone.  In other words, they know how to delegate.
  4. They spend time each day on their most important activities. Whether that is exercise, writing, reading, or some other activity that moves their life in the direction that they want.
  5. They give full attention to the thing that they are working on (no multitasking).
  6. They keep things organized so that they are not wasting time looking for the things they need.

How many things can you effectively juggle?

If you find that you are having difficulty juggling multiple priorities, start like the juggler does. Start by putting your full focus on only two of the competing activities and slowly add more.