172.- Have a lot of plates spinning. Profesor.

Summary

Have you ever had so many things to do at the same time that it felt a bit overwhelming? It can be tricky when you want to focus on just one task. We have an expression to describe this situation.

Transcript

Feifei
Hello, and welcome to The English We Speak with me, Feifei…

Roy
And me, Roy. Rob sounds very stressed today. I think he’s worried about his magic trick!

Feifei
What magic trick? I know he has a lot of work on this week.

Roy
When I spoke to him on the phone, he said that he had a lot of plates spinning.

Feifei
No, Roy. If someone says they ‘have a lot of plates spinning’, it means that they ‘have a number of different tasks to do at the same time and can’t just focus on one’.

Roy
Ahh, so he was talking about work? Now I understand why he put the phone down when I started telling him about how many times I’d tried to find rabbits in my hats.

Feifei
Right. Let’s listen to these examples.

Examples
As a single parent, I always have a lot of things to do at the same time. I always have so many plates spinning.

He is always busy. He’s got so many hobbies and activities, and that’s not including work. He has a lot of plates spinning.

She decided to quit her job due to the heavy workload. She always complained that she had a lot of plates spinning.

Feifei
You’re listening to The English We Speak from BBC Learning English, and we’re talking about the expression ‘have a lot of plates spinning’. This expression refers to having a lot of things to do at the same time.

Roy
Yes, I’ve also heard the expression used as ‘a lot of balls in the air’. You look quite busy today!

Feifei
I’m always busy Roy! I have so much work and I have a lot of balls in the air at the moment.

Roy
Maybe I can help you?

Feifei
Brilliant idea! In fact, I’ve already created you a list of things to do so I can focus on one task – the most important one!

Roy
Wow! There are so many things on this list! Now I have a lot of plates spinning. What task are you focussing on that’s so important?!

Feifei
My birthday party! Someone needs to arrange that!

Roy
You can’t be serious!

Feifei
Of course I am – I wouldn’t ask you to do that as well. Bye.

Roy
Bye.

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