How to Survive When You’re Juggling Too Many Balls

If you’ve ever watched jugglers, you know they are dealing with more balls than they have hands for, and eye-hand coordination and timing are key to their success. The goal, of course, is to keep the balls in motion without dropping any.

Sometimes, life feels a whole lot like a juggling act. Just when you think you’ve mastered successfully keeping all your responsibilities and deadlines in motion, someone throws you something extra to add to the loop.

Following are some suggestions to save sanity and successfully handle your juggling act:

Remove the Unnecessary

If you watch jugglers carefully, you’ll notice they occasionally slip a ball or two into a pocket, thus removing some from the rotation. The eyes of the audience are usually on the balls in the air, so often the decreased number of balls goes unnoticed. Yet, for the juggler, fewer balls makes a big difference.

For you, this might look like carefully considering what you can take off your list. Sometimes, we agree to do things for the wrong reasons. Maybe you agreed to chair a committee or become involved in an organization that requires a lot of time because it’s an ego boost for you, or because you felt a sense of obligation. While it might be awkward to decline of resign, the reduction in stress and the addition of some personal time may prove much more beneficial than having your name on the bottom of a program, or in a newspaper.

Lose the Fire Batons

For some performers, simple ball juggling is not enough. They opt for fire batons to create a more thrilling show and keep the audience on the edge of their seats. A few even add fire swallowing to their act. The problem with upping the ante to fire batons, fire swallowing, or fire breathing is eventually you end up getting burned, or dealing with a huge case of indigestion.

Simply put, don’t enhance your juggling act to prove to yourself, or someone else, how amazing you are at the expense of your own health and sanity. Instead, do a little soul searching to figure out why you’re over-burdening yourself. Do you lack self-esteem? Are you seeking affirmation you never experienced growing up? Do you get a high from living dangerously?

Figuring out underlying reasons why you risk adding the equivalent of fire batons to your life will, hopefully, free you to make wiser choices, and carve out periods of rest that later fuel forward motion.

Realize When You’re Off Course

Sometimes, when a juggler realizes he’s about to lose control, he throws a few balls higher in the air to allow himself more time to get the rotation back on course. But often, doing this throws his rotation so off course he’s required to reach out wildly to grab descending balls and pull them back into line.

You may have to do something similar, but unlike a juggler, for you, this might mean assigning priority to various tasks, obligations, and commitments. When your to-do list runs off the page and your calendar has no blank spaces on it, you’re juggling too much.

Life isn’t about weighing yourself down and seeing how well you can handle the stress. Life is about using wisdom to discern priorities and doing what is reasonable for you, instead of mimicking the juggling act of those around you.

Even Jugglers Take a Break

I knew a man who was required to be available to the CEO of his company 24/7. That meant answering his cell phone at 3:00 in the morning if the CEO was awake and had an idea he wanted to discuss or a question that couldn’t wait until normal business hours. Even while on vacation, the man was expected to answer calls around the clock.

Ultimately, the stress of always being “on call” and rarely getting a full night of sleep had a detrimental effect both physically and emotionally and the man quit his job for the sake of his health.

Rest is important, yet undervalued, in our society. Many of us stay on the go so much rest feels unnatural. Yet all of us need to take time to rest. Don’t let anyone else’s anxiety, schedule, or demands keep you constantly juggling more balls than you can handle. Life is short, so give rest proper priority.

And remember, when jugglers aren’t performing, they’re backstage taking a break while someone else takes the limelight.  You aren’t indispensable. Someone else can fill in for you.

Don’t Drop Your Spiritual Connection

Often, when we’re juggling too many balls, attention to spiritual life is the first thing we drop. We reason other things are more urgent (after all, you have several fire batons about to fall) and place spiritual life in a back pocket. But the problem with this is staying connected spiritually is what makes all of life’s balls spin in rhythm. Like a wheel out of alignment, dropping your spiritual ball makes for a rough ride.

Like rest, spiritual connection and nourishment are crucial to your well-being. By realizing the importance of your spiritual life, assigning it value, and tending it, you gain strength, wisdom, and grace to meet life’s demands.

“For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.” Jeremiah 31:25 ESV


Candy Arrington is a writer, blogger, speaker, and freelance editor. She often writes on tough topics with a focus on moving beyond difficult life circumstances. Candy has written hundreds of articles, stories, and devotionals published by numerous outlets including:,,,,, Focus on the Family,,, and Writer’s Digest. Candy’s books include When Your Aging Parent Needs Care (Harvest House) and AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B&H Publishing Group).

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