Youthwork Management Juggling

The old adage that no two days in youthwork are the same, is true, neither are any two days in a management position in a youthwork organisation.

Some days can be an ongoing juggle of all the aspects of the work, all the different areas of responsibility, all the planned activities, and all the reactive ones.

From all the funding streams, managing staff, budgeting, administration, emails (sigh!) , social media presence, planning, strategy, networking, volunteer recruitment, creating policies and adhering to them. Every day can feel like an act of juggling, juggling what might be in the diary, with what emerges in the day, juggling what to do to be effective, or important in these areas. Juggling with the daily requests and phone-calls.

Though I’ve tried to find, or created my own planning or priority system, none seem to work for me. For me using electronic organising is like Rimmer in Red dwarf and his revision timetable,  I spend more time adding things to task lists, than actually doing the tasks.

Outside of ‘just’ work, then there’s the juggling of study, family and ahem exercise. (no prizes for guessing which one of these has suffered recently)

Im not one for thinking that the roles required in these spaces are a cause of undue stress, but holding things in the air and keeping all of these things spinning around in some kind of order, seems to be the day to day existence of managing in a youthwork or community organisation setting.

Yet there are other aspects of the analogy of juggling that keep ongoing – juggling between values (of local org/national affiliation/youthwork) , juggling between maintaining the organisation via funding and maintaining values, juggling between delivering on plans and having ideas and creativity, juggling between what roles does a particular day, or team, or practice need for that day or time for things to work. Juggling between doing something safe, or attempting to be creative, juggling in the borders, between the systems and yet not implicitly endorsing the system in the work. Juggling between the ideal practice, and the reality.

As i also help to deliver the detached work, juggling between practice, and being responsible for practice. Ironically at times the nature of juggling in management can make it even more difficult to be excited about practice, yet id rather do more practice, spend time energised by and with young people on detached. But mentally this can be difficult after a day of management juggling.

Maybe juggling keeps the balls in the air for so long, on other occasions the clown doing the juggling needs to walk around the stage, needs to change the space, or take the balls being juggled in a different direction. But most of the time, youthwork management on a day to day basis is an exercise in juggling, especially in a small organisation where resources are limited, but the expectations still remain. There are some days when i have to get out, walk the dog or go and have a coffee with someone – chew the fat and get a new perspective on the importance of juggling, or a different method to juggle, or to put a whole load of new, easier balls to keep spinning in the air.






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