My Secret To Juggling Life in Ten Words

Last week, blogging friend, Sarah Forgrave hosted me for an interview, and she asked me one, and only one, little question. But it was the hardest question I've had to answer on any interview so far this fall. (Thanks, Sarah!)

Here's what she asked: What is your secret to juggling life in 10 words or less? 

I thought about her question all weekend long, wrote down several ideas, and finally decided it was too hard. After all, did I really have a secret? And was I juggling life or merely surviving the chaos?

The reality is that the fall has been incredibly busy for me, busier than I ever expected. As a homeschooling mom of five, my days are already jam-packed with teaching my kids. In addition I’m delving head first into published author life. I attended a big writer’s conference in mid-September. Then on the heels of returning from the conference, my debut book released. I had a big book release party, numerous blog interviews, giveaways, guest posts, along with an assortment of other new-release responsibilities. I had an out-of-town book signing and have been trying to keep up with my blog. AND I’m under deadline for my rewrites for my second contracted book. (Welcome to my pity-party!)

While the debut has been mostly fun and exciting, the stress has been enormous. And there are days when I literally can’t get everything done. I just can’t. And that’s not something I like or am used to.

Sarah’s interview question forced me to evaluate how I handle all my many responsibilities. What have I done in the past? And what can I do to make things work now? I’ve always lived by a couple of principles (#1 & #2). And now this fall, I’ve had to add a new one (#3) .

Principle #1: “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”

In other words, I try to keep up with things as they come up—in real life and work. Whatever the job might be (whether answering emails or washing dirty dishes), I do it when I’m thinking about it and it’s fresh on my mind, instead of putting it off for later.

When we can check something off our to-do list (whether written or mental), we have greater energy and more capacity to freely embrace other things.

Principle #2: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.”

Put another way, I work hard at my priorities and whatever I commit to doing. I labor diligently during the day to be a good teacher to my children, challenging them with a rigorous education. But I don’t expect more of them than I expect of myself. I work equally hard at my writing.

My uncle, who recently published his first book, sent me this email message and I printed it off to keep as a reminder: “The key to staying on top is exerting the same 100% effort and the same detailed preparation as you did for your last book . . . Do your best in all of life’s endeavors. Give it all you got.”

Principle #3: “Live intentionally, clinging to what matters, letting go of the rest.”

So, in answer to Sarah's interview question, Principle #3 is my not-so secret answer to not-really juggling life. It’s 11 words, but it summed up what I’m having to learn to do this fall. I can’t do everything I’ve done in the past. Not even the vital, most important things—like cooking dinner every night or making grocery lists. I’ve had to figure out what things are critical, be intentional about doing those things. But then be okay with not doing the others.

It’s all too easy to get swept away in the day to day rush of activities and responsibilities. But instead of being carried along, I want to stop, go against the flow, and carefully pick and choose to do those things that matter most at this point in my life.

~Summary: I’m not perfect. I fail often. But whenever I do fall down, I eventually pick myself back up and keep on striving to live after the high principles that are set before me.

What about you? Do you have any secrets for juggling writing and life? What principles do you live by?


  1. Thankyou... great post - so inspirational

  2. For me, it's sticking to a schedule!

  3. This was awesome! I love Principle #3!! :)

  4. Printing this one off. Wise words.

    Let me add a 4th (while you're letting go the rest), don't forget to rest--to take care of YOU.

    I may need to spin a post of this. :)

  5. I definitely like #3. Good addition. I wish I had a secret. When it comes to writing, at the moment, I'm day by day. Fall is just so busy.

  6. Your answer blew me away on Sarah's post when I read it. Still does. I've dropped some balls lately and I'm one to quickly beat myself up.

    I'm learning to grant myself more grace.

    Besides, my daughter didn't even care her circus costume was dropped off late anyway! ;)

    Great reminders here, Jody!
    ~ Wendy

  7. Wow! Honestly, after this post, I still don't know how you cope. I feel stressed just thinking about what you have to deal with day to day! Do you ever get any time to yourself? And if you do (my gosh I hope you do!) what do you do? flake out on the couch and wish not to utter a single word? lol :o)

  8. Awesome post!

    I guess my secret to balancing it all is a To-Do list. I put everthing in a list, including me time, which is ultra important in keeping me sane!

  9. Hi everyone! Loving your ideas today--the to-do lists, the me-time, and schedules.

    And Jessica, I don't get much time for myself, especially now during my rewrites. But I'll hopefully be done in a couple of weeks and then have a little more "free" time! I think we can persevere through the really busy times when we know there's an end in sight.

  10. I love all those principals, but your number one has been especially helpful in my life. I try to make goals and stick to them and make a plan to work on every new and important thing as it springs up. Sometimes I get a head and sometimes I get behind but it usually evens out and saves a lot of stress in the long run. Have a great weekend!

  11. Find a way to show love to your family on a regular basis.

    I show love to my family by baking. It gives me joy, and gives them full, satisfied bellies. It's something we can do together, creating wonderful memories from the successes, near-misses and abject failures. Even Hubby has gotten in the act, calling from the grocery store to find out what I'm baking one weekend so he would know what not to buy.

    We think about traditions as holiday events, but more frequent traditions are just as important, I think. Then when I need time to write or do other things, I don't feel guilty and my boys willingly give me a little time. I also find that creating in the kitchen clears my mind to create on paper.

    Maybe you don't bake, but you can spend an hour tossing a ball or doing a scavenger hunt or something like that. As long as the kids know they can depend on getting it from you regularly, they don't care.

  12. Jody, I don't nearly have the same load as you do, but I've learned a few things along the way. I've learned to prioritize, to say 'no' to some things, and to be easy on myself when I fail. So far, so good.

  13. Honestly, Jody, I don't know how you do it all! Congratulations on all of your accomplishments. Now, can you please share with us what brand of coffee you drink? (Just kidding. Seriously, you're an inspiration.)

  14. Good points, Jody. I like #3 a lot, cause I am currently following that.

    Btw..there is an award for you on my blog.

  15. Jody,

    Thank you for your honest post. The grace shines through and your principles can help all of us.


  16. Good ideas. One of my inspirations: don't let the frustation of what you haven't gotten done today (so far) hinder you from getting done what you still can.


  17. I think I'm starting to do better with the third one. It's the first one I really need to work on.

    Ten words or less? That sounds darned near impossible!

  18. Such good thoughts, especially for writing moms. Sometimes it feels like whatever it is I'm doing (writing, cooking, grocery shopping), I really should be doing something else.

  19. Hi Jody -

    I'm at a different place in my life with no kiddos to raise.

    A weekly to-do list and a routine are critical to getting things done. This girl needs structure.

    Susan :)

  20. My answer for juggling life -

    Him first.

    When I forget who I am really living for my life becomes a rollercoaster of my own making!

  21. It definitely comes down to scheduling. One hour in the early morning and one hour late at night are devoted to my writing. I always carry a notebook and do blog posts and e-mails while waiting in Dr.s office etc..
    Great post, very thought provoking.

  22. I try to handle things as they happen or come up. I don't like things put to the side if I can do them at that moment. I also try to think ahead and arrange my day. That said, I do NOT like being swamped or having every single second filled with work. So I also try to arrange things so my life feels peaceful and not hectic.
    We'll see how that goes. LOL

  23. Good rules. It's easy to get discouraged when your passion has such little room to breathe – at least that's a constant challenge for me.

  24. Jody, I still feel bad that I made you think so hard. I really was trying to make your life simpler. :)

    I love this full explanation though. And I like your comment from yesterday about pushing through the busy times. I'm currently in a busy time, and once I get through it, I plan to take a little time to unwind and reconnect with my family.

    Great post as always! :)

  25. My hubby thinks I'm an enigma... I dislike schedules and yet I have a need to be well organized! I don't enjoy commitments that requires me to be in a certain spot at a certain time on a certain day every week -- I'm so *not* a meeting-type of person. I push myself to deal with my reluctance, and I meet whatever commitments I've accepted, but I've learned that it's okay to say "no" occasionally without feeling guilty.

    I try to keep in mind that my body is the earthly temple through which God lives and works. It's a gift and I need to treat it with respect. It's human, not divine, and has physical requirements and limitations. All that to say I've learned it's important to figure into the schedule regular times for replenishing and renewal. When I do, I have more energy for the things that absolutely *must* get done. When I don't, I either get sick or burned out and then nothing gets done.

    As usual, a very honest and astute post, Jody. Made me think. :)

  26. As of today, I've been seriously pondering priorities. (BTW, your book is awesome. I think I've told you this before. And I still haven't written a review, because like you, life has been overwhelming. And that's why I'm rethinking priorities. Blogging is necessary for networking if you've got a book coming out, or one out. But if it overwhelms other important aspects of your life, you have to cut down. You've done this beautifully, it seems. The other parts of the writing life aren't so easy to handle. You just have to do the best you can do. You're really not up against any external standard.

    I was frustrated today because something was really messed up on my blog. I finally deleted the old one, after saving and exporting, and making a new one. Now I have to reconnect with those I want to follow. So I'm re-signing in here as a follower so I can keep in touch with what you're doing.

    I know you know that motherhood is at the top of the list! It sounds like you're doing a great job in this department!! And you're also a great writer. You're amazing!!!


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